Me, Myself, and I Still Believe

I wanted to wait until after Christmas before I tried to write.  I was hoping, by now, the self-pity I’ve had wrapped around my throat might have gotten loose and fallen away.  It hasn’t.  I’m still all bound up and feeling sorry for myself.  Not because I’ve been craving a drink and feeling deprived.  And not because I didn’t have anywhere to go or anyone to spend Christmas with.  I had a perfectly lovely holiday—surprisingly pleasant for a woman who is only a few days into her fifth month of sobriety.   I have absolutely nothing to complain about.  But that still hasn’t stopped me from feeling sorry for myself.

I was determined to go to church Christmas Eve.  I was, after all, a pastor for more than a decade.  How could I not?  I stepped into the sanctuary, took a candle, found a seat and knew immediately my being there was a mistake.  Everything felt very very wrong.  I didn’t belong in a pew.  I was supposed to be the one leading worship for crying out loud.  The one who would soon rise to preach the Christmas gospel.  The one who would gaze upon the candlelit faces of people she had grown to love.  I was paralyzed.  I couldn’t sing any of the songs.  I tried like crazy to pray.   It took every ounce of strength I had to hold myself together and keep from dissolving into tears.

My alcoholism has robbed me of many things.  It took whole years of my life and knotted them into discarded bundles of forgotten days.  It compromised my health to the point where I got right up to and crossed the line past which I would never again know what it was like to feel well and whole.  And it took away the possibilities of my ever picking up the pieces and trying again, for I am now numbered among the disabled.  But what I grieve the most is no longer feeling at home in sacred space.  I am a pastor without a congregation, a servant without a call.

Christmas came and went without a miracle.  I didn’t wake up to a second chance under the tree.  I can never go back.  I don’t get a do-over.  All  I can do is not drink today and then wake up tomorrow and not drink again.  Eventually, life is supposed to get better.  At least the people in the rooms all say it will.  So far, the promises have eluded me, though.    I am not yet able to imagine what all that happy joyous freedom might look like for me.  But they tell me to not give up until the miracle happens, so I continue to stick with it.  One day at a time.

Thankfully, a new year will soon begin.  I desperately need a clean slate on which to draw four new seasons of possibilities.  2014 was pretty gruesome.  Let it be enough to say the year brought the end of my career and a 30 day stint in a rehab.  I am grateful for the cold days and long nights of winter that lie ahead.  My staying in and laying low will be far less obvious to the world.  Hopefully, by spring, a miracle or two will begin to bud on the barren branches of my sagging spirit.  Between now and then, I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other and waiting.  Easter always comes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Me, Myself, and I Still Believe

  1. I haven’t gotten any big miracles yet myself, just lots of little ones. Everyday I don’t drink and don’t use is still a miracle. I know it’s hard but have faith and hold on tight to God. It will come in time. And thank you for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I try to stay focused on gratitude, I truly do. Some days are just harder than others. I am confident better days are a comin’ though. In the meantime, I will follow your advice and just hold on tight.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll admit, some days I get to the end and haven’t much gratitude myself. Today was one such day. I packed the kids to church and felt more isolated and out of place than ever, cried most of the way home and then wrote a poem to God about wanting to give up. And then, my daughter handed me one of her new Christmas books. A simple little kid’s book brought it all back into focus. (“You Are Special – Max Lucado) A tiny miracle but just what I needed today!

        And please keep posting. I appreciate your honesty and perspective.

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  2. I can’t promise things will get easier for you anytime soon, I was in the throes of depressed when I got sober, I thought stopping drinking would cure it, that the world would go from black and white to color in a matter of weeks, if not days. But I was ten months in before the dark cloud started to lift, and I’m still not running marathons like so many sober comrades. What’s kept me going is faith, a deep conviction that I’m doing the right thing.

    Like you, I am living with some deep regrets. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God can bring good from it. All things work together for good. Not some things. All things.

    You don’t get a do-over, no – none of us gets to reset the timeline when we mess things up. But there’s nothing we’ve done that God can’t use for good. Even if you are no longer able to lead a congregation, you can still minister the gospel. The call to ministry is not rooted in Holy Orders, but in baptism. No one can take that away from you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I appreciate your honesty. Ten months is a long time to wait on anything. You persevered and so will I. In my heart of hearts, I do believe the day will come when color will again explode across the landscape. In the meantime, I will pray and wait on God’s timing. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. May yours be a New Year of blessings.

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  3. You sound like you have so much to give that I’m certain God must have other plans for you. I agree with Elizabeth that some good will come out of the past year – you just have to keep moving in the right direction and a happier life will come in time.

    I have read lots of sober blogs the last few days and those that are in their second or more sober year all seem to have a common thread that this Christmas was so much better than their first. We have to keep believing we are on the right path. It will take time, but a better, happier and more fulfilled life lies ahead, I’m certain of it.

    Keep writing and moving forward every day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I, too, have observed that the second Christmas seems to have proven easier for folk. Indeed, I am counting on each day getting a little bit better. For the most part, they have been. This Christmas just tossed a bit of a glitch in my otherwise positive journey. I will keep moving and keep writing. There is no other way. Thank you for the encouragement.

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  4. I’m not a religious person but am a very spiritual one. I’m sorry this Christmas was so difficult for you .Please remember that as difficult as things are right now, you’re so much better off for being sober. You sound like such an amazing person with so much to offer the world – there has to be some kind of volunteer ministry work you could do? I wish you easier, better, more fulfilling days as we begin 2015. Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your kind and positive words mean a lot to me. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I do want to find something that might benefit from my gift of time. To be honest, though, shoveling snow and scrapping my car in order to be somewhere during the winter months doesn’t appeal to me. Definitely in the spring though. I am looking forward to those easier, better, more fulfilling days!

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  5. Thank you for sharing this – it’s wrought with pain, as all our journeys are. We don’t come to the rooms on a winning streak of any kind, and many of us certainly have lost things. The lucky ones realize things are awry before hitting lower bottoms. I lost many things, and have also been grateful to get most if not all back. Some of us go the bitter end. But it’s a good reminder to see where we have been. Having said that, lamenting it and sitting in regret also stops us from moving forward.

    It took me some time for the 9th step promises (which most people describe as “The Promises” although there are so many more in the BB) to come true – and that was after starting the step work. Just not drinking wasn’t enough for this alcoholic. I needed to dig deep and go for the gusto – the solution. Staying connected with God and doing His will is where I find my daily reprieve.

    None of us can go back – as they say, can’t turn a pickle back to a cucumber. But where some see loss, I see gain. A new life, a new way of thinking, a new perspective on life. God has bestowed blessings on me and so many others through the pain of alcoholism and addiction. I wasn’t able to see this for some time, but it is clear to me. I needed that turmoil to turn to Him and see what He needed from me. I am still seeking, and that is the journey. I have my not-so-happy days and even string of days. But I just try to do the next right indicated thing.

    Thank you for this – I wish you the best on your journey and for this coming new year.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Paul. For the most part, I have been able to keep a positive attitude and a grateful heart. Christmas just threw a wrench in the spokes of my proverbial wheels. It probably didn’t help that I was simultaneously working on my fourth step inventory leading up to the holiday. I am, however, confident the new year will set me back on track. God willing, 2015 will bring many awesome and wonderful days. All the best to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Having almost 6 months clean, I can sympathise with every thing you wrote about. I too struggled with the holiday season. I’m sorry that happened on Christmas Eve. I know how important being a pastor meant to you. Keep on writing and sharing, you have a very big talent in this area. One day at a time. Your rehab buddy struggles with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I have appreciated your companionship and humor along this journey more than you can imagine. Screw the odds of how many people actually make it. You and I, we’re going to do this! I am proud to number you among my friends. Happy New Year!

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  7. Hi, just found your blog, was entertained by your Christmas post. Sorry, don’t be offended, but if you have only been sober 5 months then you can’t imagine how much better life is going to be if you work the Steps and go to meetings.

    You are trying to make your sober life fit into your drinking life. It won’t happen. That’s why you were petrified when you went to church on Christmas eve. The day may come when you can go back to your old church and fit in, but it will take a while and may not happen at all. That doesn’t mean you are not a faithful Christian or that God won’t love you anymore, but that He is leading you into a new environment. You don’t have to stand in a pulpit to share the Gospel.

    I am sure in rehab you heard that you had to change “people, places and things” that were part of your old life. That may include your church. I am a cradle Presbyterian in the same congregation all of my 65 years, but I still get anxiety attacks when I go through the door. And I have been happily sober for 10 years now.

    Change your pulpit and change your congregation to your home group for one year. You don’t have to utter the words Jesus Christ to let people know your faith or who your higher power is. As they used to say, they will know you are a Christian by your love. My preacher, who was instrumental in getting me to rehab, told me my Christian work was helping other alcoholics stay sober. Romans 12:6-8 will take on a new meaning for you.

    Oops, not supposed to give advice. Well, thats not advice, just the experience of a formerly 1 quart of vodka a day drunk who was born again 10 years ago in AA.

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  8. Thank you for the gift of your vulnerability and telling your story. Cheers to you for your hard-won sobriety. I have no doubt that God’s grace will use your being now as a force for good. I’m a retired Presbyterian pastor with a swerving journey from once upon a time to now. I’ve become what I name “a free-range accidentally occurring Christian pastoral presence in the world”. That’s a long story. For now you are in my prayers.

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