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I Am Not the Problem. Part Two.

I played the victim with my family because in my reality I was the victim. I truly thought, for a very brief three weeks, that Eric was my problem. I was not the problem. All of my drinking and reckless behaviors was because of the dysfunction in my marriage. So, if I could get rid of the problem (Eric) then my life would magically get better, and I would not drink. Boy, was I wrong. It was easier to hide behind the hurt and blame Eric for my erratic behavior. It took me two years of seriously analyzing my own behavior and mess to stop blaming Eric and take responsibility for myself and my actions. I worked extremely hard on forgiveness of Eric and myself and every person I felt harmed by. It was my pathway to freedom. The longer I held onto the pain, the more bitter, resentful, angry, and the more my self-sabotaging behaviors ran rapid in my life. I was the type of person, that I would drown myself in self-pity and unhealthy coping mechanisms and guess what... no one cares! The people who have hurt me do not care. Jesus does, but it was up to me to stop blaming my past on my present. The longer I lived there...the longer what God had for me would be deferred. You cannot live in God's purpose and live in the past at the same time. I had to let it go, not without a fight.

It was November 2017. My daddy loaned me the money to get an apartment about 20 minutes from where we were living. Two weeks prior, Eric called my mama and daddy to let them know I was "drunk, and they needed to come get me." I am still unsure why he called my parents to that degree. Like, I am your wife and maybe if you had an honest conversation without hiding alcohol, we probably would have not been that toxic. Anyway, it is what it is. So, my daddy came and picked me and the kids up and brought me to Alabama to see my mama. From there, we went to the beach and a plan was set in place. I felt like I was drowning and could not catch a break. At this point, I was a binge drinker. I did not drink every day, but I could not control the amount of alcohol I consumed. If it was in the house, I was drinking it. I had no control. I also was living with extreme anxiety and would wake in the morning in a sheer panic from the blackout from the night before. I would wake earlier to check Eric's phone to find disturbing pictures and videos. It messed with my head a lot. I was living in fear of really the unknown at that point. I am sure he was too. I threatened divorce a lot and leaving with the kids. And he would make it very known in my face that I would not have the kids. I was, "a pathetic, disgusting alcoholic. Look at yourself. " I would get in his face and scream, yell, and wrapped my hands around his neck a few times. I am not proud of that behavior. And I am sure he is not proud of his. It was volatile. I was becoming even messier, and the spills of red wine was evident on my t-shirts. He captured it all. Surprisingly, I never did anything at this time except yell and fight and defend myself. I was living with guilt, shame, and started to feel all the names I was being called. The whispers of "bad mama" and how could you drink like this were loud. This was not supposed to be my life. One of the thoughts that kept me somewhat sane was that the kids were so small, "they will not remember". I was praying I could turn it around in time before they were really affected by the damage. I was praying for an escape.

And while all of this nonsense was going on, we were also the picture-perfect family on Facebook and most days during the day if you encountered my presence- you would have never known the hell I was secretly living in. I was good wearing a mask and pretending until I could not pretend anymore. We were the type that honestly could fight like that at night, and I could meet Eric for lunch and be the most loving couple until nightfall when the substances entered our body. It is so crazy to think about! The devil had both of us exactly where he wanted us. At war with each other. The most beautiful thing about our story is the devil tried but he lost that battle. What an amazing God we serve!

When my daddy and my stepmother dropped the kids and I back at home, Eric's demeanor was different. The house was clean. We could tell he had made an effort. It was too late. I had already made my mind up. I could not live like this anymore. So, escaping and running from the problem seemed like the best choice. This was the first of me running from hardships in my life and I quickly adopted the theme because "I am not the problem." He is. That week I made love to my husband and after I told him I am leaving. "I need space, but we are still going to be a family." I was excited about a fresh start but sad. By this point, I was emotionally co-dependent on Eric. That did not stop me packing my bags, Two Men and a Truck coming, and the keys to my new home in hand. The kids were with me. I told Eric he could see them whenever he wanted and get them on the weekends. All was looking up. The kids thought a new change of scenery was cool. They did not understand. The boys were three and Bentley was four. Eric visited and helped hang some pictures. My goal was to get a job, but it is kind of hard to do with no babysitter and very little money. Our finances were still together, or I guess I should say, Eric still allowed me to have a debit card to our bank funds. My daddy paid for my apartment, and he said, "you have one month to get a job, Jill. I am only paying for one month. You need to go to work." Sounds easy. Get a job and get back on your feet, right? At the time, I was working part-time at a church in their pre-school and childcare department, but it did not pay much. I took the job to help with the kids' pre-school tuition. It was pricy especially for all three. I enjoyed working there but my personal life and addiction struggles started to make even the simplest tasks difficult. Eric knew when I was sober- I was fine. The problem was when I was drinking. I was the type that I wanted to do everything I would normally do while heavily intoxicated. That does not work. My most deadly habit was thinking I was okay to drive, and thinking I did not have a lot to make me impaired. I truly believed I was okay to get behind a vehicle. I was not and I did that action many times with my kids in the car with me. I thank God for his grace and mercy over them, me, and everyone driving alongside of me. My story could have ended tragically-BUT GOD.

This day in November, I cannot remember the exact date, I was mentally, physically, and spiritually struggling. I was high. VERY high missing my old home with Eric. I was lonely and felt like I could not get ahead and after three weeks of sobriety I cracked. Turns out, trying to get a job, with three little ones, with no help or family support around makes it incredibly hard especially at the ages they were at. And the fact that I had spent every waking moment with them and did not want to leave them. They were my safety nets. When I did not feel loved at all...I held them. One on each side of me and one in between my legs. That is how we slept. They were why I did not give up. Because when I did not have the strength or love to fight for myself...I found hope to fight for them.

I woke up late and did not get them to the half-day three-day a week pre-k program they were enrolled in. I woke up and chewed a few clonazepam pills and had one shot of vodka. I then grab the kids as they were and strapped them in their seats to leave. I drove to the Mcdonalds by the house. I had to pull-up and wait for the order. While waiting, I took a couple of strong pain pills with one more mini shot of vodka. I remember getting their food and I had ordered a coffee. I get out of my vehicle and open the door to distribute the cheeseburgers to the kids. I was feeling much better. I felt relieved. That was until I felt myself nodding out and I looked over my passenger side window and a police officer was parked right beside me staring straight at me. As we locked eyes all I thought was ..."oh shit. I have got to get out of here." I put the van in reverse and immediately was stopped.

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