The White Flag: How My Ministry Got Its Name
Monday morning comes and I'm off to the pregnancy center. I'm feeling a bit more "off" than yesterday. The post-weekend chatter around the coffeepot is plentiful and also obstructing the coffee lane. As much as I don't want to engage in any of it, I have to if I want coffee, which I definitely do. I'm filling my travel mug for the third time before nine a.m. when the question comes. "Hey, Sherry, what'd you do this weekend?"
I'm not sweating over the question. I'm used to lying and easily deliver my usual Oscar-worthy performance. I know my lines. I've rehearsed. I'm well-prepared. "I did absolutely nothing. I had the house to myself and was incredibly lazy," I say, shutting my eyes a little to emphasize how dreamy it had been. I made staying home sound like the best thing ever and even got a few envious looks from a few coworkers.
I wonder what would happen if I would've slammed them with the truth?
What if I had said, "Well, after Craig and Olivia left Friday night, I started drinking straight vodka. I slept-drank-repeated until I drank too much and freaked out that I had alcohol poisoning and was going to die. I called some friends who climbed in bed with me for the day, even though I was braless and smelled rancid. They stayed with me all day, and I promised them when they left that I was done drinking for good. However, surprise! I was lying. Then I went out and got more vodka and just drank less to be safe. Actually, I'm detoxing right now. That smell is alcohol coming out of my pores."
Probably wouldn't have gone over too well. I'll stick with the boring-weekend version.
As the day goes on, my detoxing tremors amp up and become harder to hide. When someone comes to stand by my desk, I quickly put my hands in my lap. I need a drink. To have any sort of conversation I have to concentrate hard before I respond. What happened to me over the weekend?
"...I try to drink but it's like my throat closes up and rejects the alcohol."
Finally home and with a few minutes to myself, I try to drink but it's like my throat closes up and rejects the alcohol. I get nothing down. I try a few more times without any success. I'm getting really pissed off about this. I just want this anxiety to go away, I want relief, but it won't come.
After a few more failed attempts I call it a night and go to bed fighting my craving. I wake up during the night a couple of times and, surprisingly, I don't feel anxious. But I do feel something else. I lay there quietly and know without a doubt that I'm feeling God's presence. His words to me are clear but firm. This needs to be it. I'm giving you an open door. Walk away from alcohol and into my arms. I'm waiting.
When I wake up in the morning I feel the same calm. I wait patiently for Craig to leave so I can be alone with God. [...] Craig leaves me alone in the quiet, and I don't open my journal immediately. I just sit and wait with it on my lap, trying to quiet my mind and listen. The song "Revelation" by Third Day comes into my thoughts and I quickly google it. Music speaks to me like nothing else, and God knows that about me. I know this song is from him. So I pray. Please, Lord, give me a revelation, I don't know what to do. I am at a crossroads here and I know I need to choose.
The tears run down my face...
..and I'm on my knees not recalling how I go there. My face is buried in my hands on the chair and I'm sobbing into them. I feel my heart breaking into a million little pieces. The edges are jagged, and they're cutting me.
I know this is it: the point of no return. I need to be put back together. I'm so broken. I know I'm face to face with God and he's waiting for my answer. I feel grief. I lie down on the floor as I feel myself start o mourn what I'm saying goodbye to. This shouldn't be so difficult. I should love this thing, this substance that's almost destroyed me and everything I love. But I do. I cry out all these things to God: "Give me a revelation, Lord! show me what to do!"
I don't know how long I lay there, but it was a while. I don't end the conversation while sobbing on the floor. I simply don't know what to say this time. God's heard it all before. So I just get up, walk into the kitchen, dig out the bottle from the back of the cupboard, and stare at it in my hands.
This liquid that remains has the power to take away everything, Sherry.
Every single thing you love and every single thing you desire for your life. With one hand raised to God and the other unscrewing the bottle over the sink, I say, "God, take it. I surrender my life with this demon and give it to you. I'm yours." The bottle is empty, but the smell of the vodka lingers and is putrid to my nostril. I drop the bottle and now both hands are free, and now I'm raising both of them to God.
Bruised and beaten, I walk away from the war with alcohol I've been fighting for years. I don't feel any joy in this moment of what should be a victory. I feel like I've lost a war and am waving the white flag of surrender. Surrender means to give up - how is that a victory? *
"For thus said the high and exalted One, Inhabiting eternity, and His Name [is] holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, And with the bruised and humble of spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of bruised ones..." -Isaiah 57:15 (Literal Standard Version- emphasis mine).
So I'm still waving that white flag. #SheSurrenders
*Excerpt from my book, Sober Cycle: Pedaling through Recover One Day at a Time