My Addiction Story: Part 3
I can’t put my finger on why, but I think my red wine incident stuck with me longer than the others. My first year of college included some nights of drinking, but I did not seek significant supply, and I usually took it upon myself to withhold and help everyone else with their hangovers instead of nursing what would be my own. I must have felt motivated by my fresh start in life. I had things to do. I had a new life to live, away from the pain of my own family, away from the hurtful memories I escaped by crossing a few state lines and pretending they never happened.
Something changed when I was 19. I had been involved in a campus ministry, and my self-identification as a “liberal” Christian was wearing thin. During the day, I worked with international students from all different countries, backgrounds, and religions. When it came time for me to step into leadership and run my own Bible study group, I knew I had to back out. I only believed bits and pieces of the Bible. I couldn’t comprehend the notion that the beautiful souls I had met who just happened to grow up with different beliefs wouldn’t have the same afterlife as me. I couldn’t make sense of the Bible’s truth being translated over and over and over again. I just didn’t feel right.
I chose to separate myself from this strong support group, yes, but I did not choose the way this decision affected my relationships and my emotional state. I went into a deep depression. I tried dating with unclear boundaries, and I received nonconsensual sexual penetration from a male partner. In other words, I was raped. I decided to immediately make that person my boyfriend, to cover up this pain from others and from myself. I felt so guilty for letting this happen to me, so I lived in a fantasy of false happiness, desperately trying to prove to my family and my ex-friends in the Christian community that I could still make sound decisions and live a happy, healthy life without calling Jesus Christ my Savior and excluding others from eternal life. That’s how I saw it at the time.
I dated this person for one month, until we saw the movie 2012 and I realized in the movie theatre that if it were the end of the world, I would NOT want to be spending my days with him. I ended things. My first break-up, my first sexual experience, my first life-changing lie. I would not speak about this incident again until 10 years later. What a decade 19-29 would turn out to be.
I ran away fast from my feelings. I ran away daily from my depression. I ran away consistently from loved ones who reached out to me. Ignoring their calls and texts, assuring them from time to time that I was doing great; meanwhile, my world was crumbling – both internally and externally. I dropped almost every class that semester. I drank alone. This time orange juice and Malibu. Regularly. More cheap wine. Whatever I could use to escape from my pain, my loneliness, my heartache, and my desire for something more. I was still a spiritual person, but as soon as I lost the safety of my Christian label – and my innocence – I failed to keep up with my worldly responsibilities, and I started to lose my sense of self-worth. My family questioned my morals. I questioned my motivation. I hid my misery from my roommates in my own tiny apartment. I acted like I didn’t need anyone, when really I needed everyone.
I almost lost my scholarship. I did lose some friendships. I brought on my first shameful financial situation, which I kept a secret until the very last minute. And next, I met another guy.