I’m sitting here with my Bible that’s been unopened since probably the last time I went to church. There’s still flyers in there from Great Falls Christian Center from 2005.

This has probably been the longest I haven’t had a drink since I had Logan. I’m not even craving wine. Last Thursday, I was sitting on the couch, a moment to myself with Nate & Dillon in town, & Logan in bed. I’m Pinteresting, looking for ideas for my art. I stumble on Kelly Rae Robert’s, one of my favorite artists, website. I would love to learn some of her techniques. She has online classes that pique my interest. I click on Spirit Wings and my soul leaps. I read it and know I need this. I look at the price tag…$149. I mentally calculate how many Black Boxes of Chardonnay that would be (about 7 ½, or about 3 weeks worth)…and make a promise to myself that I will not buy wine and with this money pay for this class instead. I buy it and start reading. Her words start to amplify the whispers I’ve been carefully ignoring for the last 10 years. My desiccated spirit is soaking up her words and I’m desperate for more.

I try her lesson, feeling awkward, not used to journaling anymore…my art journaling had consisted of progressively becoming more buzzed until what looked promising ended up looking mediocre in my eyes. Despair was evident in my pages. I keep going but my soul takes her lesson to a different direction. I let my spirit take over as i create and I am in love with what I created with Kelly’s help. My words slip out from a song that pulled me through when I was at my worst, “Battle Cry” sung by Jussie Smollett. “Fear inside my brain I’m terrified And doubt takes over love I’m paralyzed No giving in, no giving out No…I refuse to lose this battle Let whatever come my way I am stronger than my rival No, I will not fall today.”

I will not fall today. I will not fall today. I will not fall today. I will not fall today.

I repeat it over and over as I work. I will not drink today. I will not give in to my negative thoughts today. I will not numb myself today. I will not fall today!

I have no religious thoughts as I work. I had planned to make my girl looking down, serious, beaten but determined. Somehow she ended up to the heavens instead. I pour my heart and soul into this canvas that weekend, waking up at 2:30 AM Saturday morning, wide awake. I work through until 7:30 AM when my boys wake up. I feed them and a few hours later go back downstairs.  My sweet husband realizing I need this time, lets me pour 20 hours into my work, each minute pulling back another layer from my buried spirit.

Monday morning I stumble on a podcast by Rachel Hart that changes my entire outlook on life with the Think, Feel, Act cycle, and the realization that I have come to depend on alcohol to have fun. Somehow in my mind I had come to believe if alcohol wasn’t involved, it wasn’t fun. What? She gave me the revelation that I had the power to decide if I was going to have fun…I didn’t need the situation/people I was in/with to create the fun with me. It was okay to feel awkward and dance. Why would I choose to sit and watch others dancing, knowing I wanted to but too worried i’d look silly? It was okay to have fun without alcohol. With each word she spoke to me another shackle fell away and I fell out of Chardonnay’s spell I didn’t need a glass of wine to “treat” myself after a long day of commuting and work. I didn’t need a glass of wine or six to get me through the evening until I passed out like a “responsible” adult at 8pm. I didn’t need alcohol to make it easier to be around my boys. I didn’t need alcohol, period.

Tuesday I’m in Hobby Lobby, about to check out when my husband returns my text to get this piece of art on sale. I apologize, leave my place at the checkout counter and grab it. As I come back, I see a friend from high school…my best friend’s older sister’s best friend, Mel. I say hi, thinking she’ll just want to say hi and continue on with her day. Instead she gives me a hug and we start talking like we just saw each other last week. She’s moved back, is doing well. Church comes up, and I ask her where she’s going. New City…the same church I called home so long ago. She tells me there’s a Saturday service and I know I’m going, whether it might be -40 or blizzard outside.

I start my Jeep and head to work, realizing things are happening unseen but so obvious they’re almost palpable. I am hopeful. Instead of trudging through my days I’m joyful. I look forward to being around people and enjoying their spirits and not thinking I need to have a drink to make them interesting. I look forward to laughing because it feels good. I look forward to continuing to soak up each moment with my beautiful boys, giggling and playing with them, creating art with them, creating memories that I will remember.

He’s been right there all along, I have no doubt. I could hear him whispering but for some reason I just couldn’t let him in. I left GFCC after my ex-husband and I parted ways. Really, I can’t even say the church “slighted” me, but it was awkward with our mutual friends. I finished nursing school and met a man who quickly became my best friend and love of my life. Dillon came along in March of 2011 and life was good. I started working in the ER, a job I loved but was hard to leave at work sometimes. I’d come home and decompress with wine, journaling my thoughts…the loss of a young patient, a woman in excruciating pain, the breasts she’d fed her children with ravished by radiation. The look in a father’s eyes as his son was carried away, his spirit no longer with us. Eventually I realized I was missing out on too much of Dillon’s childhood and miraculously my former job was open…a job I could work from home if needed and had amazingly flexible hours, Monday-Friday. I was carrying the burden of feeling like I needed to have one more child and dealing with infertility for over 2 years. I finally got pregnant but miscarried early. In those dark days I turned to God once again in my brokenness, writing to him in my art journal, angry, pleading, then accepting his will. We moved out of Great Falls to a beautiful property and the following month discovered we were pregnant. Logan was born in December 2016.

I had everything…money was a little tight but my husband was amazing, my children were amazing, my home was amazing, my job was amazing.

Why was I contemplating suicide? If everything is amazing and I have no reason to be depressed, then the problem must be me. I became more and more overwhelmed. “At war with my heart and mind/Fear inside my brain/I’m terrified/And doubt takes over love/Paralyzed/Ohh darkness clouds the light…” I even have a plan…as a nurse I know this is bad. I don’t tell anyone how I’m feeling. This is really bad.

July 2017 we have a family camping trip. Everyone is having an amazing time and I am miserable. I don’t even want to be in my skin, I don’t want to be around me. My younger brother and one of closest friends, Cory, pulls me aside. His usual joking self is gone and he’s looking at me. I eventually spill my thoughts, crying and confessing how miserable I’ve been, even telling him how I had thought of just ending it. He helps me realize how depressed I am and begs me to get help.

I go to my doctor and she realizes I have post-partum depression and starts me on a medication. Life gets easier and the darkness is easing up. I’m still overwhelmed most days, trying to get two boys out the door every morning, keeping up with my job. I’m drinking more now than ever, to the point I’m hiding it from my husband. I’m no longer so depressed but I am still so empty. I live for the moment I can go home and have a glass of wine. I have no reason to drink. Motherhood is hard but billions of other moms do it. And I even have a husband who cooks, cleans, does laundry…

I heard his whispers all along. Maybe I needed to walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt, maybe I’m just a stubborn child who has to learn for themselves that they really can’t do it alone. Everything is amazing, and yet I still cannot do it alone.

So God, here I am. I’m ready.willnotfalltoday2018

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