A Thousand Miles Began With One Step

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And so my journey commenced.

Heading down the highway that morning, trunk packed full, and my babies safely asleep in the back seat, I knew only one phone number by heart. I dialed my best friend and recounted what had just happened. In turn, she contacted two amazing women who’d gratefully entered my life after the New Years’ fiasco. In present day, they are some of my closest friends and mentors. My best friend, along with these ladies, had coordinated what should happen in the moment I finally needed to leave. We’d been planning it for six months. She informed them of the situation and they provided assistance while I ran, making my way cross country, home to my parents house.

It was there I began the daunting task of starting life over. Trust me, living with my parents at 30 was hard enough, but adding three kids to the mix made it even more difficult. That lasted only five months before I decided to relocate again, this time for an old boyfriend. Looking back, I know I shouldn’t have done that, but I learned many necessary lessons bringing me to where I am today. The lowest point of my life was right around the corner.

After remaining clean for 15 mos, I went back to working in the service industry at a gentlemen’s club. It was easy money for me. Serving first, then bar tending, not even two weeks passed before I was offered cocaine. Needing to stay awake til after 3AM most nights, I began using again. It was common for most of the serving staff there, even some of the managers. Energy drinks and coffee didn’t cut it, so I justified my use. I felt I deserved to have it because of all I’d survived over the previous decade. Except, I didn’t and somewhere deep down I knew. I quickly became someone I couldn’t recognize.

Let go from another job as a trainer at a local gym, I would leave my oldest home to care for her sister while I “worked.” It was just my excuse for partying while getting paid. I began to drive home high and drunk from the club. I sold to anyone who would buy for the extra cash, justifying that too because living in the area was expensive. I was just doing what I had to to take care of my kids. However, I was merely supporting my habit, lucky to never be pulled over, or worse, hurt someone because of my use and recklessness.

My phone rang one afternoon. The news on the other end triggered a speeding downward spiral, ultimately causing my lowest point. My ex-husband had been shot by police at the Veterans hospital, while attempting admission to inpatient rehab. Extreme guilt blew up in my heart, had I caused him to get to this point by leaving? Would my children lose their father because of my choices? I blamed myself, then took a hard look in the mirror at the parent I was. They could lose their mother too if I didn’t get it together.

Two weeks later, my boss spoke the words to me she didn’t know would save my life. “You won’t amount to anything.” She was close to firing me because of suspected use and dealing by me in the club. I quit before she had the chance though, and ghosted her and everyone associated. Now she is one of my largest supporters, as she herself is clean and sober 9 years. I send a photo of every chip and coin I earn in my recovery.

I ran away for a weekend to detox and get support from my sisters and family I desperately needed. Walking into my church’s recovery program for the first time in months a few weeks later, I was welcomed back with warm and open arms. I continued attending weekly, determined to do it right this time. I knew without God, it was a matter of time before I would relapse again, just like I had a year earlier.

The Lord then decided to lead someone incredibly impactful back into my life, at the most unexpected, yet most needed moment. I received a message late one evening from my now-husband. He was checking on my children and I, as he had been made aware of my ex’s shooting and knew us in our previous military life. Spending our days conversing via text quickly became regular, and the next month we spent and entire day on the side of a gorgeous mountain, hiking and catching up. We both swore that day neither of us would marry again or have more children. Boy did the Big Guy Upstairs laugh at hearing that proclamation! I knew by the next morning, I was head over heels in love. I would also soon learn he was the man meant for me to spend my life growing old with, as well as growing in my walk of faith. He has stood by my side, supported every moment of my recovery, and stepped into discovering his own faith and love for the Lord.

Turning my life over to Christ has not only gifted me with my husband’s presence, inherently it has addressed my inward issues, especially when applied to the most difficult relationships in my life. Matthew 6:12-13 says “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” I’ve had this verse memorized since childhood, as well as have it tattooed on my body as a constant reminder. My relationships with my parents have grown stronger. I have forgiven their shortcomings, things I resented about them for years. Now I have an open bond, where I’m regularly told by my mom how proud she is of who I am and the love she has for me, words I’ve forever longed to hear. But most of all, the relationship with my ex-husband has healed enough for us to co-parent amicably the majority of the time. I’ve built a relationship with his new spouse for the better of our kids. I try to practice kind, loving, patient, and peaceful parenting. In the past, I allowed anxiety, anger, and frustration to rule my voice and behavior with my children. At one point, my oldest expressed her feelings of abusiveness by me towards her, and since promising her a better mother that day, I have followed through.

The largest part of my recovery is the change in how I walk with the Lord. I seek him FIRST in all I do, before I respond to my husband, my children, or their father. I ask God what He wants me to do. As a caregiver, a person who naturally tends to put others ahead of myself, I now focus on being the best child of Christ I can. I live to please His desires first, over my own human needs. I have transformed from clinging to the trauma of my past and dread of my future, to embracing my current, living one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. My recovery leader spoke words forever burned in my brain: I cannot change yesterday, can only pray for tomorrow, but I can live right now.

Recovery is in no way easy. It is addressing your soul at the deepest possible levels. It is accepting personal toxic contributions to relationships and the fact blame doesn’t solely live within others’ actions. Some days my depression will tell me “nope, not doing this today,” but now I know I cannot live that way anymore. Putting it off til tomorrow only causes me to feel overwhelmed and continue pushing it away, until I find my life unmanageable once again. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” I am not cured, I will continue working my recovery for the rest of my life, but I have all faith in my God never letting me down. Even when I fall, He will pick me back up because He is my protector. Joshua 1:9 says “”This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Almost a year ago, we were notified of pending military orders requiring us to move from the home we had just established. I was upset and angry. I didn’t want to leave my job, my stepsons, our church, our friends, or any part of our life. My best friend informed me God had spoken to her though, telling her this move was not about the military or my husband, it was for me. I was going to do big things, and I am. I am building a new life. I am pursuing my relationship with the Lord and my recovery.

Recovery has given me freedom, lifted weight off my chest, and blessed me with the beautiful growing family, love and support in the present. I have finally found the purpose in my life: serving others, giving back through amazing outlets which utilize my strengths and weaknesses within my story. I could name a giant list of those who have affected me in this journey of a thousand miles. There are many individuals who have touched my life in some way and I do not think words can adequately convey my gratefulness. I have never felt so much love before, and it has aided my recovery immensely! We do life, together right?

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