“Hello, my name is Colleen, and I’m an alcoholic. This is my story of how God saved me.
I grew up in an alcoholic dysfunctional family. As a child I experienced things that no child should have to. The effects of that environment still haunt me today, although now I can forgive and grow. That was not something I could have done without God.
Because alcohol was always something that I was around, it was no surprise that I became a drinker. I spent my early adulthood drinking quite frequently. I never saw it as a problem. I had a long term boyfriend, I had a job. I did all the things people were supposed to do. I just liked a drink to go along with it. When my sister was born in 1986, my mother was diagnosed with MS, and in 2008, she lost the 22-year battle. When she died, something inside me changed. I began drinking every night. I just didn’t care. Night after night I would listen to my boyfriend tell me to put the wine down and come to bed. I didn’t understand what his problem was. I wasn’t hurting anybody.
He put up with me for another 2 years drinking myself to sleep every night, and in 2010 he finally had enough and said he was leaving. I was devastated. He had been my rock for 13 years, and now he was leaving me too. I couldn’t understand it. I would never do that to him. When he left, I completely lost it. I switched from wine to hard alcohol. I spent my nights with the bottle in my hand because that was the only thing that hadn’t left me.
The night before Thanksgiving in 2010, I was supposed to make dinner the next day for my ex and his mom because I was so desperately trying to cling to my dead relationship. I sat in my living room drinking and depressed because my world was over. I felt I had nothing left and I knew it was never going to change. It was then that I decided I was done. I was going to take an overdose of pills and fade away. Before I left this earth I had to make sure that I, of course, blamed my ex for everything, and I told my sister I loved her. I sat on the floor and I said to God..”I’m Done!,” I couldn’t live that way anymore. I told him I didn’t care whether I woke up or not. I was leaving that part to Him. I told him that he had to come and take over because I could no longer do it.
My sister and ex called 911. I was still conscious when they arrived and was put in the ambulance. I made it a block before I passed out. Little did I know it would be 18 days before I would wake up. Apparently, at some point in time, I aspirated and quit breathing for 10 minutes. I was life-flighted to Duluth and was in a coma on life support for 18 days.
I acquired acute lung syndrome in my coma. At first, the doctors were positive with their news saying that I would come out of it because I was young, but as the days wore on, they were less positive. They didn’t know how the lack of oxygen would affect my brain. Even if I woke up, I may have some mental problems. On day 18, they decided they were going to give me a tracheotomy because I still was unable to breathe without the respirator. I’d like to think that I somehow was hearing what they were saying because shortly before my surgery I started breathing on my own.
When I finally came to fully I learned what had happened and the severity the alcohol had played on my health. I had been plagued with pancreatitis before entering the hospital, but I learned that I had a cyst on my pancreas. They told me that if I didn’t quit drinking it would very likely turn into pancreatic cancer. I also learned that my alcohol withdrawals had been very severe, and had I went through them at home, I would likely died. Miraculously I had really no long term effects of the lack of oxygen, and I made a pretty good recovery. Lake Count, however, placed me on a civil stay of commitment and ordered me into outpatient treatment and therapy. As long as I did what I was supposed to, it would end in 6 months and come off my record. I was fine with that because I was determined to stay sober and rebuild my life. Well it didn’t stay like that. I got into a relationship with someone from treatment, and started drinking again. It was only 3 months in when I once again decided I wanted to leave this earth and tried to overdose again. I once again woke up in the hospital on a respirator. This time it wasn’t as severe, but was still bad enough. My stay of commitment was ended and I was placed on a full commitment and was ordered into a state treatment facility for 83 days. I came out of there sober and determined to make it! While I was in aftercare, I started another relationship with a recovering meth addict. He was using and I was drinking
It didn’t stay like that. I got into a relationship with someone from treatment and started drinking again. It was only 3 months in when I once again decided I wanted to leave this earth and tried to overdose again. I once again woke up in the hospital on a respirator. This time it wasn’t as severe but was still bad enough. My stay of commitment was ended and I was placed on a full commitment and was ordered into a state treatment facility for 83 days. I came out of there sober and determined to make it! While I was in aftercare, I started another relationship with a recovering meth addict. He was using and I was drinking within 3 months. It was the worst 2 years of my life. My drinking was so out of control that I ended up with alcohol induced diabetes. I was missing work because I was too drunk to drive to work. I lost my job of 10 years. I really had lost everything I cared about because of alcohol. I was at such a loss. I tried 2 other times to end my life, but each time I woke up more broken than before. I finally decided that I was no longer going to try and commit suicide because it wasn’t going to work and I didn’t want to end up back in the psych ward.
My brother’s ex wife saw how I was suffering and offered to come pick me up in Two Harbors and bring me to Duluth to church with her. I didn’t really want to go, but since I had no better offers, I went to the Vineyard with her. Growing up Catholic, the Vineyard was WAY different from church as I had known as a kid. John was doing the service, and he was talking about freedom from addiction, and that God could save us. Every time I left church, I had a little more hope that this could be true. After all, He obviously had some plan for me to keep me alive when I so clearly didn’t want to be. I was so tired of drinking bottle after bottle, and not knowing what day it was or what time it was. I was headed for death, and it was coming for me soon. That’s when I decided that I was going to check myself into treatment.
I was terrified, but I knew that was my only hope. I told God that if he would have my back that I would do everything necessary to get and stay sober. I found a place in the middle of nowhere in Aurora Minnesota and got into my car and drove myself to treatment. The only thing I was upset about was that I was going to miss church. I found out once I got there that they had a Vineyard in Gilbert that they would take us to. It was a newer church so they streamed the Duluth service…so it was like I never left!
That was the biggest God moment I have ever had. I KNEW I was in the right place. On my birthday in May I was at my last church service in Gilbert, and I was pretty nervous about going home because I needed to make it. At the end of the service, a woman named Jordan came over and said that God had told her that she should come over and pray for me. I started shaking. I was so overwhelmed with God’s love at that moment. I went home, I kept up my end of the bargain and went to meetings and went to church. I did what I needed to do to stay sober. That was over 4 years ago.
Since then I’ve experienced things I never would have believed possible. I got married to a wonderful guy who is also in recovery and shares my faith. I was able to quit smoking because after I realized that with God’s help, there was nothing I couldn’t accomplish. My husband and I volunteer for the Vineyard when we can, so maybe I’ve opened the door for you. There are countless blessing I have had since I opened my heart and said yes to Jesus. When I tell my story at AA I always start by saying that this was a story about how God changed me. He IS Love. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself. If He can change this broke sick soul, then there really is nothing He can’t do. I hope this helps someone. I know what it’s like to know despair. It’s so hard to see what life can hold outside the window when there’s a wall blocking it. Jesus can break down that wall. He will heal your heart!”