It’s a peculiar thing when one wakes up on the floor, next to the aftermath of a night of partying spewed across their bedroom. I remember thinking ‘thank God I am on MY floor, and in MY bedroom.’ There was something on the floor that caught my attention. Four bright green balls, the size of a marble, were in the middle of a dried pool of vomit. Upon closer examination I concluded that at some point in the night I had chewed, and swallowed, an entire pack of Sour Apple Bubblicious Gum, and then threw up on my floor, ending my night passing out an arms length away from the vomit.
The mystery of how I had gotten home, who had driven my car, and who had set my phone alarm would have to wait. I was still drunk, still dressed in my work uniform from the day before, and minutes from being late to work-again.
This is how I lived the year before Josh and I started dating.
Drinking. Drunk. Careless. Late for work.
My road to that year of oblivion started as the life of a standard twenty-something collegiate girl. While attending college I met and fell hard for a guy from around my home town. We dated, fell in love, fought, rebounded and promised marriage to each other over a five year relationship. Our relationship was comfortable. It was safe.
Towards the end I became restless. The girl I was at the ripe old age of 18 was not the woman I was becoming. I wanted different things. I could feel our relationship slipping. I knew I was not 100% committed.
I ended the comfort.
The break-up was swift and painful. It hurt in places I never knew could hurt, and in ways I had not expected. My future, my identity, my people..they were all wrapped up in him. The hardest part was letting go of myself, trusting my decision, letting go of my life, and sifting through the wreckage to find myself again.
I was not ready for how acutely aware and insecure I would become. I was not ready to feel IT all.
To cope I threw myself into a different reality. A new bar was opening in a hot spot in Nashville, so I found the least amount of clothes I could wear and applied. Hired on the spot.
During the day I waitressed at a local wing joint in my college town, at night I worked in Nashville. No plans, no future, no desires-just fast cash, little clothes, alcohol and admiration from male patrons to get me through the day.
That’s all I needed.
Every day was the same, every night ending in a drunken tirade about my life decisions. Cope. Numb. Fake Ok’ness. Drink. Text my Ex. Pass out. Repeat.
Josh visited me in Nashville a few times before we were ‘a thing’. That insanley awesome and awkward story will have to be told in another post. I dragged him to the bar each time, thinking if he could see how hot I was bar-tending he would for sure want to fall in love with me. One night I was on my game; the bar was packed and I was husslin’. I jumped on the bar with a can of whip-cream in one hand and vanilla vodka in the other, pouring shots in open mouths as I hooped and hollered my way around the bar. I remember catching a glimpse of him sitting at the end of the bar beside my college room-mate smiling at me. I motioned the vodka bottle his way-as if to ask if he wanted a shot-and he politely shook his head no.
In the charade of it all, on that bar, I remember thinking ‘this is all I have to offer you, this is who I am; I am excellent at pouring vodka down people’s throats.’
I was excellent at not wanting to feel anything. I was excellent at dismissing self-worth. I had mastered the art of being a train wreck.
Here I sit, nine years later thinking about that girl. She had a lot of fun. She made a lot of money. She had a ton of friends. (can I just say that the service industry provides some of the most loyal for-right-now friends anyone could ask for)
She also set the groundwork for damning insecurities that have haunted her since. I sure do love that girl though.
It is hard to feel yourself break. The natural thing to do is survive, and medicate accordingly. The unnatural thing to do is to fall, and let the falling happen, then heal and re-build after. We want to heal in the middle of the breaking. In the middle of the falling. That has never worked for me. I say, fall. Then heal.
If you would have tapped that bottle-flipping girl on the shoulder nine years ago and told her she would one day be a pastor’s wife she would have laughed. If you would have shown her three beautiful children, a home, an opportunity to write, an adventure across the US, a relentless support system of family and friends and the love of handsome man she would have thought she didn’t deserve it.
That girl, with one leg tossed over the bed to stop the room from spinning, used to pray ‘God, please don’t leave me. Please don’t give up on me. I know I am a mess, but I don’t want to be alone. I know I messed up. Please don’t leave me.’
Every night. Please don’t give up on me.
That girl didn’t believe she deserved God’s love. Much less anyone else’s.
At our Christmas Eve service this year my husband said something that pierced that part of my heart that is still trying to keep the room from spinning.
‘For those of you who haven’t been honored or recognized, those of you who have been left out, easily forgotten, those of you who feel unclean, unworthy, despised —
Unto YOU a child is born, unto YOU a Son is given.’
And I thought ‘unto YOU Courtney, who on hard days thinks about slipping into drunkness to avoid feeling and dealing with anything and everything, unto YOU a Son was given. And guess what sister-you can have him.’
~Dear reader :: Settle with yourself that nothing in your past omits you from Jesus’s love. He will bring you to repentance. He will bring you to hope. He will bring you to the end of yourself. He will break you. Then re-build you beautifully. It’s ok. He doesn’t break the good stuff. Only the stuff trying to suffocate you, and you will make it through the breaking. He doesn’t give up. We do. ~
~For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.~ Romans 8:38-39
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