Kathleen McGreal

Kathleen McGreal

Whatever event or events occurred that changed the trajectory of your life; add substance abuse and you can prolong the agony for as long as you choose.

When I was growing up my emotions were invalidated and criticized so by the time I was a teenager I didn't know what to do with them.  The lack of love, affection, and the inability to regulate my emotions led me to start medicating them with alcohol.

I began to stray farther and farther from what I knew was right.  I fully embraced the destructive role that was created for me.  The faith in God that I held firmly as a child began to wane.  Looking back, God never left me but the alcohol and drugs drown out His voice and created barriers.

While serving overseas I was raped in my barracks room.  After reporting it to my superiors they chose to ignore it.  It wasn't long before I started medicating the toxic emotions surrounding that event.  At the same time I also had to maintain some dignity and do my job as a soldier.  Re-enlisting didn't appeal to me after my three years were up.

The first rehab was two years after I was discharged.  The signs were there but I was still functional and developed a strong denial system.  During that program I made up an issue or two just to fit in.  I wasn't as messed up as any of them.  I was still in control.

The next rehab was 12 years, a husband, and three children later.  We were separated because all we did was drink and argue.  I didn't want my kids to grow up in that environment.  But when he refused to help out financially I lost it.  I gave up on myself and the idea that this would end well.

While in this rehab I received divorce papers.  He lied to the judge and got custody of our children and was not allowing me visitation.  I managed to go on to a halfway house and stay sober for about six months.  But the devastating ache I felt not being with my kids led me to trade in alcohol for crack cocaine.  I was hopeless and made bad decision after worse decision.

Finally in 2009 after ripping and running for another ten years and making it impossible to maintain any relationships, I found myself in the same place I was all those years ago.  Alone.  I had turned my back on God yet He was still there when I was ready.  They tell us in programs to avoid 'people, places, and things' so I cleaned house.  Because by that time the only contacts on my phone were drug dealers and using buddies.

Now it's 12 years later and I am still clean and sober.  Every year I'm always a little shocked when I look back at all the disaster and darkness only to find myself surrounded by light.  Obstacles are a part of everyone's life and that doesn't change when you get sober.

Due to military service I'm being treated for PTSD and major depression (MDD).  In December 2018 my 25-year-old son died suddenly from a heroin overdose that cut with fentynal.  He had been on the methadone program.  Something I would not have approved of had I known.  Then on the following Valentine's Day I lost my 32-year-old daughter to alcohol abuse.  She had struggled with anorexia which weakens the heart.  Heavy drinking caused a cardiac arrest.  She lost too much oxygen while they were resuscitating her.  Had I not leaned completely on God I would have succumbed to the grief and guilt.  I have no doubt I would have self-destructed.

Life is not perfect and uncomfortable situations and emotions aren't permanent.  There is a reason for pain as well as joy and I choose to experience all of it without numbing myself.  I pray that sharing my experience, strength, and hope with you will give you encouragement and strength to take this journey toward the life that you deserve.  The life that God intended for you.

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"You need nothing to be happy --
you need something to be sad."
~ Mooji

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