This is Andrea's story - also from right here in Charlotte!!! Give her a follow on Instagram @andrea_marie311 (she's going on a mission trip to Haiti, so keep her in your prayers, too!)
"For we are Gods masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" - Ephesians 2:10
"My name is Andrea, I have about 10 months sober (this time around, as you will come to find out).
I had my very first drink, which I can still taste that bitter, almost metal-like taste of the beer, when I was around 14 years old. I was at a house party and I got DRUNK. I remember stumbling home with some friends and them telling me “We are going to play the silent game… ANDREA…” and me obnoxiously screaming “I LOSE!!!” I completely skipped over the “fun” kind of drunk girl and went straight into the annoying, sloppy drunk, from the get-go. Throughout high school my group of girlfriends would do, what I thought everyone was doing in high school, which was buy bottles of water filled with vodka (essentially rubbing alcohol, it was so cheap) from older boys, take warm shots in the basement of our parents house, dance around a little bit, throw up on the floor and pass out. During my senior year, we decided we would do, again, what I thought everyone did before football games, and drink some more of that warm vodka and go into the game. We got busted by a parent, who told security, who told the police, who in turn called our parents and sent us home with an under drinking ticket along with a 10-day suspension from school for drinking on campus. This was the beginning of a series of consequences that came crashing into my life like one wave after another for way too many years.
By the time I was 21 years old, I had collected 4 underage drinking tickets. But those aren’t that big of a deal, right? Wrong place, wrong time, everyone gets them at college campus’s. But then one night I was driving my moms car and I had a few drinks, I wasn’t familiar with her vehicle so I apparently did not have my lights on all the way – this lead to me being pulled over. That lead to me being put in handcuffs and escorted down to the police station under arrest for a DWI. Again, everybody gets DWI’s right? Because of my DWI I was required to attend AA meetings. There were other people in my DWI class that went to the meetings with me and all of them seemed to co-sign what I originally thought, that we all just had bad luck, were in the wrong place at the wrong time and this was certainly nothing to think twice about. I was able to get a restricted license and continue to drive, and that I did. But I also continued to drink. To drink and drive, so 10 months later I received my second DWI. This time the stakes were a little higher and I was court mandated to go to inpatient rehab as well as serve some time in jail. So, there I am, 22 years old and in jail – giving away my livermush and powdered milk in attempt to make friends so I don’t get beat up. This is not exactly what I had in mind for myself, but then again, I don’t think I ever really thought past Friday night. I don’t think I had a plan for my life, being that at this point everything was dictated by when my next court date is, if I was able to leave the state or not, if I was going to have a drivers license or not. I was not the running my own life, essentially the court system was.
In rehab, I really thought that I had come to accept that I was going to have to change my life. I got baptized when I got out and I immersed myself into the program of Alcohol Anonymous. I didn’t have a drivers license, I had moved back home, I was practically indigent and AA was all I had to consume my days. To make an extremely long story short, it didn’t stick. I bounced in and out of the rooms for years, bouncing from one relationship to another, always finding someone or something else to be “my higher power”. Eventually, my disease progressed… alcohol wasn’t really working and cocaine became my new best friend. And cocaine is what would eventually bring me to my knees. Just like I skipped the “fun” drunk girl, I skipped the “social” cocaine use. It was a drug I preferred to use alone, it quickly got me to a very isolated existence. Cocaine was great because it numbed me, but when you are numbing your pain you are also numbing your joy. I don’t think I cried for almost two years, but I don’t think I laughed during those years either. I eventually got to a point where the only person I would leave my house for or the only calls I would make would be to the person supplying me with this drug. This was when I experienced sheer powerlessness, when with every fiber in my body I wanted to NOT go get that next bag but I would ultimately end up succumbing, time after time. I did not want to use but I had lost any say in if I was going to or not. Eventually one night, and mind you, this is 6 years after my very first encounter with going to a meeting and a drawer full of white chips, I had had enough. I heard the still, small voice of God telling me for months “If you ever want to be truly happy, you will HAVE to get sober. You will NEVER have a life that is satisfying until you decide to get sober. You might have fleeting moments where you THINK you’re happy but true joy, meaning and purpose will only come after you lay this down”. This night I got out my journal and I remember writing asking myself why I was in so much pain? Why I continued to do this to myself? Why I didn’t want more out of my life? Isn’t there more TO life??? I got down on my knees and I begged God, I BEGGED HIM, to please remove this obsession and to release me from bondage, to break these chains and to give me a miracle. Because at this point, nothing short of a miracle from God himself was going to help me get out of this hell.
That was 10 months ago. I can tell you, not only have I not had a sip of alcohol or gone anywhere near cocaine but I have not had the desire. God lifted that from me instantly. As soon as I was willing to truly surrender, He met me there and worked His magic. In hindsight, I see that God was trying to get my attention from the beginning. He was not going to make using or drinking easy on me, all of those consequences were attempts to shake me. But all of the legal consequences in the world did not work, it wasn’t until I experienced an emptiness inside, so ugly and so deep that even drugs and alcohol failed to fill, that I was ready.
Today, my world has opened up in ways I could have NEVER imagined for myself. For example, when I was using and drinking, I had a 600 dollar airplane voucher to fly anywhere I wanted to for a whole year, I never used that voucher because my world was so small. In these past ten months I have traveled ALL OVER the country and had some of the best experiences of my life. One of the biggest differences in my sobriety today and when I attempted to be sober before is that today I own my truth. I own my story. In the past, I almost led a double life, I would let some people know about my past… I would let some people know I was sober and others I wouldn’t. I think I did that on purpose to not have to be held accountable coupled with a fear of what others would think of me if they knew who I really was, or what judgment they might make of me. Everybody in my life today knows that Andrea does not drink. I tell my story because I never know who I could inspire or who I could help by telling it. The Bible tells us in Revelation that there are two things that defeat the enemy, one of those is the blood of the lamb and the other is the power of our testimony. That is why I share my story, not to boast but to give the glory to my higher power whom I choose to call God. When I stopped using, God got busy using me in ways that absolutely astound me. God and I still have a long road, I still have amends to be made, I still have to work on forgiving myself daily and overcoming the shame of my past, I still have things to learn, day-to-day adult life things to learn that I didn’t participate in for so long. I still am working on being the good friend, the good daughter, the good sister or good employee that I could never ever be when I was caught in the grips of my addiction. I have to suit up and show up for my life but I know that as long as I don’t take that first drink, I have a chance. I have a chance to live a life that is filled with true joy, purpose and meaning and all the good things that He planned for me long ago."