A Believer Who Struggles with Depression, Anxiety, Alcoholism, Sexual Addiction and Codependency

Hi, I’m Sharon, a believer who struggles with depression, anxiety, alcoholism, sexual addiction, and codependency. It’s taken half a century, and five marriages and divorces, and a near-fatal car accident but here I am. I’m glad to be here to share my story with you . As Romans 8:38 & 39 proclaims:

…I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.

I believe this whole-heartedly because I’ve been in some situations I should NOT have survived. I spent years of my life trying to separate myself from God. But God, through Jesus, has walked with me every step.

I grew up in a small country town in New Mexico. We weren’t well off, but we weren’t dirt poor. My father worked hard as a welder to support the family and my mom stayed home with the kids. There were four of us. My older brother and sister were from my mom’s first husband and they were 9 and 11 years older than me. Because they were so much older, I really had no relationship with them. My sister married when I was in 2nd grade. My older brother was out of the house shortly after that and I don’t really have many memories of him growing up. My younger brother and I were from Mom’s second marriage to my dad.

When we were little we were close, but grew apart in late grade school years. It was mostly my mom and dad and younger brother who formed my nuclear family…but it wasn’t much of a family. We seldom did things together as a family — no vacations or trips. My mom would take us kids to Oklahoma on the Greyhound bus to visit my grandmother. Or sometimes Mom would take us on short vacations within a day’s drive. But rarely did my father go. In fact, my father wasn’t around much at all in my life.

I grew up starved for love and attention and learned at a VERY young age that I could get both from the opposite sex. I started fantasizing about boys as early as first grade. As I grew up, all I did was fantasize about one boy after another…or celebrities. I used to make up scenarios where I would meet Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy. The sad part is that I was living inside my head. I had no real life at all. I went to school and came home. I had few friends. My mother wouldn’t allow friends to spend the night, although I was allowed occasionally to spend the night at other girl’s homes.

In reality, I didn’t want anyone to spend the night at my house. I was ashamed of my family and my mother’s bipolar outbursts. She used to scream at us a lot and spank us with fly swatters and hairbrushes…today she would have been accused of child abuse. But the few times my friends were around, she turned on the charm for them and they couldn’t understand what my problem was.

My older brother had told me when I was a junior or senior in high school that I needed to get the heck (he used a stronger word) out of that town. He had left soon after high school and advised me to do the same. I was learning early about running away to avoid pain. Sure enough, I joined the Air Force and left for basic training the fall after I graduated high school.

I had only one goal in the Air Force — find a husband…which I did. When I was 20, I married my first husband, an Air Force captain 13 years older than me. Marrying him wasn’t a mistake maybe, but the downward spiral of the relationship over the next four years certainly was. As soon as there were any conflicts in our relationship, I reverted back to sexual fantasies of other men and it wasn’t long before I turned my fantasies to reality and began having affairs when my husband went out of town. If I had sought help then, I might have saved our marriage and started saving my life sooner, but I didn’t and my first divorce was the result.

Then I spent an awful year trying to “go back home” to New Mexico. That old “geographical fix” you hear about. I was broke… I ran up credit card bills buying things I didn’t need — knowing I would have no money to pay them. I hid from my creditors by sleeping on my parents’ couch and letting them take the phone calls. I drank heavily that year and let a lot of people down. I knew something was terribly wrong, but I kept looking for someone or something outside myself to ease my pain and fix my hurts. I thought the answer was to remarry my first husband. But I did so knowing I wasn’t going to be faithful. I figured I could marry him for food on the table and a roof over my head — and find my fun elsewhere. I had stooped very, very low.

That marriage lasted only six months. I began an affair, moved in with the man who would become my second husband and my life REALLY got bad. I continued escaping with alcohol and I added to it a long list of sexual aberrations…encouraged by my husband. We had an “open” marriage… we joined a swinger’s club… it was the worst four years of my life. I KNOW God was watching over me — my life was in danger from the kind of people I was hanging around, the places I was frequenting and the activities I was doing. Only the Lord’s protection kept me safe and relatively sane during those years.

Actually, it was during this time that I first learned about the 12 steps. I was in counseling and my therapist used some 12 step materials. She gave me a little meditation book based on the 12 steps and reading it definitely was God’s way of tapping me on my shoulder.

But it would take many more years before I was ready to get serious about the Steps. I divorced Husband #2 (which was actually my third divorce since I had married and divorced the first husband twice). I spent a year and a half sliding a little further down the scale by learning to use cocaine. My drinking also continued. My neighbor and fellow druggie used to comment that I had no food in the refrigerator… but I always had a six pack and a bottle or two. And I was running up those credit card bills again by taking cash advances every weekend to buy drugs.

After a year and a half, I met Husband #3, who is the father of my boys, and moved 1500 miles to again “change my life”. Yeah, right. I could move, but my hurts, habits and hang-ups moved right along with me.

Motherhood definitely did not agree with me. I had married this guy and moved to Cleveland in order to have grandkids for my father, codependently trying to get that love and acceptance from him that he’s never given me. I was jealous that my little brother had given him a grandson already. But I had no idea how to care for children. I was still a child myself in so many ways. Add to that the fact that I was living 1500 miles from any familiar faces, foods, or customs and you have the perfect recipe for insanity. I again ended up in therapy. I spent the next ten years living in a hell of my own making.

On the surface we were a happy family, but inside I was dying. I was always on edge, seldom expressed my true feelings to anyone and my health was shot. I had all kinds of allergies and upper respiratory problems, and I began to develop stomach and eating disorders. And my drinking continued. Once I left work mid-day with what I thought was a chest cold. My husband took me home because we had only one car at the time. I asked him to stop at the liquor store first. I wanted to make hot toddies for my cold. I ended up drinking half a bottle of Jack Daniels and had to be rushed to the ER with a severe allergic/asthmatic reaction. I finally left my husband and my two young sons and said that’s it.

I was pretty lost for the next 7 or 8 years. I fought depression and still believed if I just found the right man… the right relationship…that I’d be happy. I met Husband #4 and entered my 5th marriage. I practically stalked the poor man and nagged him into marrying me. I was so sure that’s what I was supposed to do. I had maintained a relationship with my 2 young sons and I thought they needed a good male role model.

Again, I made choices based on trying to win love and acceptance — this time from my children. This man was a strong, good man with a solid faith. But things were still very wrong. I just could never feel comfortable with him or the lifestyle we shared. He’s a Merchant Marine so he’d be gone for weeks at a time and when he returned, we were like strangers having to get to know one another again. I couldn’t deal with that. Furthermore, his schedule and my visitation with my sons did not permit the bonding between him and my sons that I longed for. I was so trying to control the people in my life to bring my own happiness. I again turned to counseling and tried to get my husband to go with me. He informed me in our first counseling session that he’d had enough and wanted out. So in Spring 2008 came my fifth divorce.

I turned to someone from my past. Someone I had loved very much. We had had a brief affair 8 years prior when I was divorcing my sons’ father. He asked me to move in with him and my heart soared. But I agonized about living with him instead of marrying him. I still hadn’t learned enough…I still wanted to please someone…to do whatever necessary to love and be loved. So against my faith, I moved in with him, but living together didn’t work for him either and he asked me to move out.

Then my real awakening came. A month after I moved out, I survived a freak car accident during a severe thunderstorm. My car was totaled and I nearly was. I broke almost everything on my left side. I had cracked ribs, collapsed lungs and internal injuries that would kill most people. Yet, miracle after miracle occurred and I lived. During the four weeks I was in a drug-induced coma and the months of rehabilitation afterward, there was one person faithfully by my side. The man who had asked me to move out of his house truly loves me and never left me. After I had recovered enough, this man asked me again to live with him — but this time as his wife. It wasn’t an easy decision but after months of fervent prayer we did finally marry. This time it feels totally different and good and God blessed. I went through a lot, but as Paul says in Romans 8:28:

…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

I could not have worked through the pain of my accident, the pain of rejection, and then the acceptance of this man’s love if I had not been in 12 step programs. I started in 2002 with Sexaholics Anonymous, then I went to Emotions Anonymous. Most recently I’ve attended some Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In 2005, I discovered Celebrate Recovery. I feel uncomfortable when all the other Anonymous programs talk about Higher Power. I want to proclaim Jesus Christ as my Higher Power.

In addition to Celebrate Recovery, I belong to Christians In Recovery here online. I joined briefly in 2008, then rejoined in January 2010. Now that I participate in CIR, I feel more at peace. Here among fellow Christians, I know I’m safe and on track. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and only through Him can my messed up life be straightened out. I believe the 12 steps are a direct result of the Holy Spirit’s intervention. I really get a lot out of the chat meetings and reading the various posts…and posting my own thoughts.

I need the interaction with safe, caring family that CIR provides. My CIR family was there for me during my physical recovery from my accident. Those chat meetings in the winter/spring of 2010 really built up my spirit. I know I have a long way to go. I’m a work in progress. But in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul said the Lord told him:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul went on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

That’s why it’s so important for each of us to share in meetings and to take our turn at giving our stories. Each of us has struggled and with Jesus’ help, each of us is victorious. As the Fourth Promise of the Anonymous programs states: “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we see how our experience can benefit others.”
May God bless you all and keep you in His care.

Wait for the Lord’s help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the Lord’s help. Psalm 27:14