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Emily’s Story

My alcoholism began when I was about 23. I was in a relationship with a guy that drank every night, so I drank with him.  Over time, he wanted to quit, and was able to quit cold turkey, but I couldn’t.

Instead, I often ended up drinking alone. Being drunk helped numb my depression and anxiety.  I realize now that my problems stemmed from having no sense of my own identity.  When I was younger I’d been a swimmer, and that role helped define my worth and my identity. When I was no longer a swimmer, it felt like I had no identity at all.

I tried AA, and that helped me stay sober for a week or two, but I really couldn’t stop drinking. I eventually got a DWI and was arrested; that was a low point for me.  I had been on the phone with my dad when he realized I was driving drunk; he called the police to pick me up. I was resentful about that for a long time, but now, I realize how much his action helped me.

I woke up the next day, living a nightmare.  I felt so ashamed, depressed, and anxious. I wanted to control the situation and hide my problem from everyone. Even though, I wanted help, I was never quite ready to quit and make a real change.

Somehow, my family convinced me to go to the short-term treatment program at Mn Adult & Teen Challenge. 

The morning I came into the program, I remember feeling that I wasn’t ready. My dad brought me to admissions, looked me in the eye, and told me he was so proud of me.  I carried that look and statement from my dad with me through the whole program. 

That’s what I imagine God is like; he says he’s proud of me.

When COVID first hit, I was tested for the disease, certain my test would be negative. But it wasn’t. I had to quarantine and was in isolation for two weeks. I could have become depressed and angry; that’s what the old me would have done.  But instead I realized that this period of isolation gave me time to focus and work on myself. The connections and sense of sisterhood I felt in the program were so helpful to my recovery.  The pandemic actually slowed us all down and gave us more time to pour love and understanding into each other.

The riots in Minneapolis also affected us more than I thought they would. We knew the 5th district police precinct was being targeted; several of our buildings are very close to it. I remember looking out my window and seeing helicopters and smoke; I prayed that the anger and hatred would stop. By the grace of God and by His mercy, none of our buildings were touched. We were all safe.

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