Triumph Over Temptation: Vanessa’s Battle Against the Craving to Drink

Planning a Surprise

A few months ago, I decided to surprise my mom by visiting her for her birthday. Family and friends jumped at the chance to be part of the surprise and everything began to fall into place just as I had hoped.

The week leading up to the trip came and went with only moderate work frustrations, but by Saturday I was so ready to have a mini-vacation! Soon I was on my merry way blasting tunes and cruising with the sun roof open.

The Trip—A Rough Start

I drove about 2 hours and decided my eyelids were too heavy and I needed to stop for lunch. After a great meal at Cracker Barrel, I headed to the car to continue the journey only to realize I couldn’t find the keys! I Emptied my purse, searched the table, the bathroom and retraced all my steps, only to find nothing.

I was left with no choice but to admit they were locked in the car. The manager graciously helped me call for help, but it was going to take an hour and a half for them to arrive.  “Well” I said, “that’s life!” I decided to make the most of the situation and go for a walk.

Not even 20 yards into my relaxing walk, I slipped into lovely puddle of mud. My brand new shoes, favorite pants, jacket, dotting my face and hair all were covered in mud. As if my walk wasn’t going poorly enough, a car full of teenage boys had to pass by right then and yell some stupid, immature things.

I don’t usually swear, but feeling embarrassed and lacking anything truly creative I shouted a few choice words back while giving the middle finger.

The Convincing Little Devil

While that felt great in the moment, I suddenly heard this convincing little devil pop up on my shoulder and say, “No one knows you here, you could go for a drink. Just one to take the edge off won’t hurt.”

“I didn’t work 40 days to throw it all away because of a little mud and a car full of punks!” I shot back. “No way!”

Soon I was back on the road and, thankfully, the rest of the weekend was smooth sailing. Mom was tickled pink by the surprise!

The next day, I made an awesome meal of all my mom’s favorite foods. We had a wonderful time chatting and relaxing. Before I knew it, it was Monday morning and time for me to head home.

Unfortunately, the nice weather didn’t hold out and we were under a nasty little winter weather advisory. It snowed the previous night and into that morning, but then the snow finally let up for a few hours. Thinking I’d be able to follow the pocket of good weather home, I decided to hit the road.

A Tough Journey Home

What I didn’t know was that the bad weather through the night had left the interstates an icy mess! Combine that with the 40 mph wind gusts and it wasn’t looking too promising for me to make it home that night.

About 2 hours into my trip I took my first exit. In the middle of the deep curve of that exit, a huge gust of wind came from behind and my car was forced straight into the ditch!

Having never been in a ditch before, I called my dad and asked him what to do. While on the phone with him, another car came around the bend and slid into the same ditch not 40 yards from me. We were both rescued by a tow truck, and I was soon on my way once again.

Driving off, I prayed out loud to my higher power thanking it for keeping me safe. This is totally unlike me, as I struggle with feeling a higher power in my heart. But I felt it appropriate to thank whomever is up there for protecting me, as the situation could have been a lot worse. Thankfully I was safe, and I would make sure to drive as carefully as possible the rest of the way home.

Three miles down the road, another gust of wind blew the tailgate off a semi and into the back end of my car! This sent me into a spin across both lanes. One again, I ended up in the ditch.

Give Me a Break!

This time I knew exactly what to do. After getting towed out of the ditch yet again, I was fuming mad at that higher power and in need of a break! By this point, I deserved it!

I decided to get off the highway as soon as I could and stay the night in a motel. Choosing to stop for the night, I found three hotels in a row. The end two had bars attached, the middle one simply had a Perkins. I chose the one with the Perkins.

Though I had struggled to know a higher power, it got a lot harder to deny after the events that followed. I walked into the lobby and stopped dead in my tracks, lost in amazement. There in the center of the lobby was a magnificent sculpture of a fairy with her arms out stretch to the sides, wind blowing her hair back and a giant pair of rainbow stained glass wings.

When I was younger, I always felt special comfort in tales of garden fairies. To me, it was a sign that I was exactly where I needed to be.

Crawling into bed, I turned on the T.V. to find a cowboy movie I’d seen with my dad probably 1,000 times on the first channel that appeared. Yet another sign I was where I needed to be. I awoke the next day ready to tackle whatever life had to send my way.

Fortunately, the rest of the trip went fine, other than my white knuckling the wheel and going well under the speed limit. Then, there was the rest of the week.

Arriving back at work I found that no one had picked up the slack while I was away. And having to take an extra day of vacation due to my perilous, journey, I was even further behind.

The Real Temptation Begins

Work that first day back was one disaster after another and I thought the day would never end. On top of that, I found myself alone most evenings that week due to my husband’s second job, giving me a lot of alone time—and alone time has always been a trigger for me.

If I think I can get away with something, I’ll try to get away with EVERYthing. On one of these nights alone, I couldn’t stop thinking about drinking. Even though I’d been sober 50 days, I was still haunted with thoughts of getting drunk.

Each day that week was more of the same. Work tested what little patience I had left, and after my husband left for his second job I was tempted to go get a drink. After talking myself into, and then out of taking that drink several times, I decided to just go ahdead and do it!

Finding Serenity

Just as I was about to grab the keys, a picture of my grandpa inexplicably fell off the shelf. My grandpa had always been a source of comfort and understanding in my life. In my darkest days during high school, he was there to reassure me. When mom and I fought uncontrollably, he was the one who helped me regain control of my emotions.

He never judged me. Never told me what to do. He just offered me advice, compassion and love.  He always let me be myself and loved me despite all my faults, so when his picture fell from the shelf, it was just the slap in the face I needed.

It’s good to know that my higher power is there and will always be. I’m still working on surrendering myself to that power completely. I want to—need to learn to surrender.
Just as an eagle must learn to surrender to the air currents to soar through the skies, I keep reminding myself:  “Open your wings so you can catch the gusts of happiness and enjoy the good things to come.”