by Women of Hope

I never imagined I would be a drunk.

After Women of Hope

After Women of Hope

Out of all the childhood aspirations I had…veterinarian; psychologist; counselor; writer.., the thought of being in my thirties divorced, no children, and miserable with decisions I had made, and with myself in general, had never occurred to a young girl that at one time hoped the sky was the limit.
I never even thought about the possibility of alcoholism for myself though both of my grandmothers were alcoholics. I got to see them both during their active drinking. I remember the wild look in their eyes and the overall feel in the air of a heaviness and uncertainty. I didn’t think after seeing my mother during her drinking phase, how it affected us and left me with an overshadowing feeling of insecurity that has seemingly lasted a lifetime, that I would ever have a problem such as that.
Who knew that I would learn at such a young age to use anything I could to fill a void and relieve a melancholy that I couldn’t shake…food, relationships, recreational substance and alcohol use, people, things-I tried them.
I did what I thought were normal things, with just a desire to be self-sufficient. I went to night classes to graduate from high school. I worked and put myself through college. I got married, had a career.
ChristieEchols_before1Then came divorce. The closest thing to a death to me. My world flipped. All of my plans had failed. I drank to relieve the sleeplessness; I drank to relieve the sadness; I drank to alleviate the fear. Who knew that all of those things I was trying to numb and drink away would just envelop me tenfold during my darkest days of the drink.
I had become the full-blown thing. I drank in the mornings to rid myself of the tremors; I began drinking during the day to “make it through”; I drank to work; I drank to drive; I drank to play; I drank to get up and take a shower if I made it; I drank to prepare a meal. I had to drink to do anything. I resigned my job as a social worker. I moved to the city where I started working jobs in the service industry. It wasn’t long before I was drinking on those jobs..and losing them. I lost my car. My money was gone to buy alcohol so I began stealing it. I would stuff bottles of wine in my bag at the local grocery stores that I could walk to. Sometimes I couldn’t wait to get to my apartment, and would creep along the back alleyway of my apartment building so I could drink on the way home hopefully without someone seeing me. My actions were becoming more seedy. I started taking the bottles to the bathrooms of public places rather than try to get out with them. I would sit in stalls, listening to people come in and out while I became increasingly more fermented. Sometimes I would pass out and have to be found and either told to leave or, more often than not, arrested. Shoplifting; criminal trespassing; disorderly conduct, all became regular charges for me. I lost track of how many times I was locked up. I can remember once being on suicide watch while in and having to lay on a cement floor with no mat listening to someone screaming next to me. I would pass out on Marta trains and busses, and miss my stop just to be woken up at the end of the line by Marta officials and/or police. My apartment was gone. I couldn’t hold a job. For the following two years I lived in several half-way houses; went through detox facilities; tried to stay sober and found it almost impossible to. No one knew what to do with me anymore. My few friends had distanced themselves. My family did not know how to help me. I wasn’t welcome anywhere anymore and I was ready to give up. I had become a shell of a person, and was afraid most of the time.

And then a divine intervention happened. My father knew someone who told him of the Hope House, a restoration for women. I didn’t think I could ever be restored, but I had nothing else to lose except my life. I showed up that grey morning in January, 2009. I was broken, emotionally and spiritually, absolutely devoid of contentment or hope. And I was bitter. They took me in, though I had no money to give, nor anything of myself to offer- only a trail of probation and pending court appearances. They helped me with these matters; they fed me; they supplied all of my basic needs; they took a genuine interest in me; they saw me at my lowest; they saw me kick and scream; they knew my struggle; they understood my anger; they encouraged my recovery; they taught me about my addiction. I also came to believe that there was no human power that could have relieved my alcoholism…and then there was the biggest gifts of all.. I was given unconditional love, a place to heal, and a place to begin a new, never imagined before, relationship with my God. Seeds were planted…and as with most seeds they take time to flourish, and then they must be nourished and pruned. Change can be painful, but the beauty that comes after the pain just cant be explained.

ChristieEchols_after1I never imagined I could live happy, joyous and free-sober. Or that I could find a love that would fill such a deep hole.
I never even thought about the possibility that I would receive such fulfillment in dancing before my Lord in worship and praise.
I didn’t think I would ever feel peace inside my own skin.. Yet now I feel His presence all around me, even on the bad days.
Who would have known that I would come full circle with a man that I had known seventeen years at the time, childless and unmarried, and that we would have a beautiful two and a half year old boy named Gabriel and a lovely one year old named Corinne.
My Savior, and friend had other plans..!

Thank you Pastor David and Ms. Connie, I couldn’t have done it without you.

About the Author

Women of Hope