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Voices for Recovery

Teresa Schultz (02/11/2011)

Teresa Schultz

Like so many people, I come from a broken home.  I watched my father physically abuse my mother, and was sexually abused by an uncle when I was twelve, then repeatedly abused by a family friend.  I fell in love when I was seventeen but right after my high school graduation, he died of brain cancer.

I had already had my first drink of alcohol at the age of sixteen and I liked the way it made me feel and how it seemed to dull the pain and emptiness that my heart was feeling.  So when I got to college, alcohol was the first thing I turned to.  I began a downward spiral of self-destruction that started with alcohol, and then when that wasn’t enough, went to drugs.  I hit my first bottom when I woke up half-dressed, locked in someone’s garage.  I didn’t know how I got there or what had happened to me.

When the next step in my life would have been death, I called a dear, supportive friend. She sent me a plane ticket, and by the grace of God, I made it to the airport.  I was greeted at the airport by my friend and her family.  They loved me and prayed with me and kept showing me God’s love and compassion.  I finally got back on the right track and was clean and sober and serving God. 

Six months later, God had a very special surprise for me – the one He had always intended for me. A man I had not seen since we attended the same church as teenagers(who I had crush on) moved with his family to the same city and town I was living in.  We began dating and he has now been my husband for 22 years. My story does not end there.  God continued to bless me with two beautiful children.

Since that time in the garage that I thought I had reached my lowest point, I have battled my own self-will and self-hatred.  I have had long periods of sobriety, followed by relapses. Even after having so many blessings in my life, I could not conquer my addiction.

No matter how many times I was on my back porch puking my guts out, making stupid choices, saying stupid things, blacking out, having serious health problems, and even wrecking my car with my children in it, I could not make myself stop drinking. 

I had to get to the end of my rope before I could see how far down I was.  I had to come to the point that I wanted to quit—and I had to want to do it for me.   No matter how much I loved my family and wanted to be sober for them, until I wanted it for me—until I realized I was worth it, I could never take the necessary steps.

Once I came to that realization, I had to understand that I could not do it by myself.  For me, it took coming to terms with past trauma through counseling, support and tough love from friends, and learning to love myself.  The most important thing was realizing how much God loved me, and being able to see myself through His eyes.

That was not the end of my struggle.  In order to stay sober, I had to change in other areas as well.  I had to avoid situations that could cause me to stumble.  I had to be mindful of emotions like self-pity and actions like withdrawal or isolation.  I truly had to take my thoughts under captivity and begin to have an “attitude of gratitude”.  I found that once I took time to look for positives in my life, there were so many more than I ever realized.

I am now thirteen months sober, but things are different now.  The reason is because I had always tried to stop on my own.  I never got help, from God or from others.  I never completely surrendered to God.  I never dealt with my past, and I never loved myself.

Once I surrendered myself completely to God and understood His love for me, He was able to come in and make the changes in me and give me the strength I needed to succeed.

Once I recognized that all of my self- destructive behavior came from my own feelings of self-loathing, self-doubt and self-pity, I could change my thought pattern.  I asked God every night to let me see myself the way He sees me and I learned to be thankful for everything God has done for me and given me. 

Another way I stay sober, is by taking what I have learned and helping others.  I know what it is like to feel abandoned, abused, humiliated, degraded, alone, unloved, and hopeless.  I also know what it feels like to be God’s child – protected, appreciated, approved, forgiven, restored, reconciled, and never alone.  Most of all, I know what hope feels like and it is powerful. It just takes that little spark of hope to start a wildfire.

That is my goal – to give hope through Jesus Christ.  I am a living example of redemption, and of what Christ can do with a life that has been broken, shattered and scarred.

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