[guestpost]Meet Vanessa Milner. Vanessa spent most of her adult life battling alcohol addiction. It was a battle she was losing, but God had other plans. Read her story to hear how she went from a broken slave to sin to Victorious Child of God.[/guestpost]
I started drinking when I was 15 years old. From the beginning, I had NO control over it. I couldn’t just have a few drinks for fun; I drank until I was trashed, or until we were out of alcohol. I would drink whatever I could get my hands on, and with all the partying came the sleeping around. I come from a very small town and it wasn’t long before people began to talk behind my back – even girls that I considered to be my closest friends. This did very little for my already brittle self-worth, but what it didn’t do was slow me down. I had began drinking to feel more comfortable in my own skin, but it was making me someone I had never intended to be. I had my first black out when I was 17 years old. It would be the first of many. I graduated high school with one thing on my mind, the next good time. I was only concerned with “the now”. I had no plans for my future, no ambition to be somebody. I couldn’t see past the moment I was in. For the next 3 years (18 to 21), I lived for the next party and the next guy. At this time in my life, I also added some drugs to the mix: acid, ectasy, cocaine or pretty much whatever was going around. My existence had no meaning. Sometimes after being up all night, I would stare at myself in the mirror and feel so empty, like what you could see was all there was.
I knew I had to slow down and I began to long for some stability. So I latched on to the first cute guy who showed any real interest. We moved into together very early in the relationship and within a few months I was pregnant. We got married about 2 weeks before Aiden was born. I had just turned 22. By the time my 1 year anniversary came, I knew I had made a terrible mistake. But I didn’t want to be a single mom. So, I decided to stick it out. Two and a half years after my son was born, I gave birth to a daughter, Raegan. But by then I had begun to realize that if I didn’t remove myself from this marriage, my husband was going to break me on the inside. My husband was very controlling and verbally abusive. When I truly believed I couldn’t continue to live this way, I discovered that my husband had been sleeping with other women. It was one of the lowest points in my life. After 3 years of pure misery, I was out of there. I took both kids and left in January 2006, but it was October 2007 before I was able to get my husband to agree to the divorce.
Once I left my husband, I was so ready to get back out there and have some “fun”. I didn’t know any other way to be single. But everything had changed. I was not an 18 year old girl with no responsibilities anymore. I was a 26 year old single mom who had no idea how she was going to support 2 toddlers on her own. As much as I truly loved them, I selfishly wanted to be able to party and stay out all night. The stress of working a full time job, going to community college with a full load, and taking care of two small children while living with my parents was taking its toll. I was very grateful my parents let us stay with them, but us being there caused a lot of tension between me and my mom. Throw into the mix a selfish desire to “do what I want” and a crazy ex-husband that doesn’t want to accept it is over, and I am that much closer to a mental breakdown. That’s when my drinking ceased to be a way to have a good time, and instead became the way I got through each day. I began drinking by myself in the afternoons to deal with my every day life. A few beers or few glasses of wine at first. Then it became a few mixed drinks, and finally cheap vodka straight. I eventually got on my own feet and moved into my own apartment with Aiden and Raegan. It was there that I began to drink even during the day if I didn’t have to work.
Then I met a new guy, Shane, who had a lot of the same issues I did and we spent the next 5 months putting my 2 children through hell as we drank and fought and made up and then did it all over again. It was very toxic relationship. The combination of my smart mouth, and his explosive temper turned into physical abuse many drunken nights. My children, especially my son, lived in fear that any situation would turn ugly and that I would get hurt. He wanted to protect me, but he was only 8 years old. Then I got pregnant and my life spiraled even farther down as I battled quitting drinking while I had a very intoxicated man in my house every day who rarely worked. I was hormonal, insecure, and bitter, but even worse than all of that, I was obsessively in love with this guy who no good for me or my family. I put him before everyone and everything in my life even my children. I absolutely refused to lose him no matter what the cost. In the end, the cost was high. And once I got sober, it was very hard to face what I had done. Shortly, after my 3rd child Andrew was born, I left town with Shane. Everyone was against us being together for obvious reasons. So I left Aiden and Raegan with my ex-husband for about a month and didn’t come home. My ex immediately filed for and was granted emergency custody of my older kids. They were 8 and 6. About a month after I lost them, Shane and I were at his cousin’s house drinking and got into argument. When he slapped me across the face, the police were called. He fled the scene on foot. He called me a week later to let me know he was on his way to Texas. And just like that he was gone without a thought to me or Andrew who was 4 months old at the time. Two days later, the title loan people repossessed my car.
I was forced to beg my parents to let me and Andrew come to their house. I was so broken and hopeless. I spent the next 6 months battling my desire to drink and later battling my desire to reconcile with Shane after he came back to town a few months later. I wish I could tell you that it was a wake up call, that after everything I had lost that I got right and never looked back, but even though I finally understood I needed to quit drinking, I didn’t realize the real problem had nothing to do with alcohol. I didn’t realize that drinking was just a symptom of my problem. My real problem was I needed Jesus. So I struggled in my own strength to change. And even though I managed most days to not fall off the wagon, it wasn’t getting any easier. I still wanted to drink. I thought about it all the time. In May 2012,I was arrested for public intoxication. I was wrecked. I had lost all will to live. It was obvious that I needed real help so I asked my mom to find me somewhere I could go get some help.
I entered the Haven of Hope in June 2012 with an eager heart and an open mind. I was ready to get everything out of the experience so that I could finally overcome my addiction. What I found there was so much more than I could have ever imagined. I met HIM. The guy I had always been looking for, but didn’t know it. The One who really saw me and loved me unconditionally at my most unlovable time. I found Jesus Christ. My Savior, My Lord, My Comforter, My Healer, The One, and The Only Son of God. He forgave me of my many sins and sealed up all my broken places with mercy, grace, and love. I knew my life would never be the same. Over the next 90 days, the Word of God reached out and grabbed me, and begin to replace all the lies the world had told me with the truth. My spiritual eyes were opened, and it was like I was seeing the world for the first time.
See, alcohol and drugs had left me empty. I had ceased to know who I was. The Lord filled me with the Holy Spirit, and told me that I was His. In 2013, I got remarried and in March 2014 I gave birth to my 4th child, Jonah. Since I gave my life to Jesus four years ago, my walk with Him has been far from perfect. My husband and I are both in recovery and are still learning about what it means to have a truly Christ-centered marriage. But with Christ in our hearts we know we can overcome any obstacle the enemy throws our way. Some days, it is hard to not give in to the conformity of the world and instead follow Christ. Some days, I fail Him, more often than not actually, but even on the hardest days I cling to this truth that His love never fails, His mercies are new every day and He will never leave or forsake me. My God is for me. All His ways are perfect and good even when I don’t understand them, I believe He always has best interests at heart.
It is as simple as this. He died for me so I choose to live for Him. He set me free from sin so that I could be made right with the Father. I am a Child of the God Most High and one day when my life here is done I will see His face. Until then, I will never forget where He has brought me from and will never quit telling people how He set me free.
[shareable cite=”Vanessa Milner” width=”75″]Jesus forgave me of my many sins and sealed up all my broken places with mercy, grace, and love.[/shareable]
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save; He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.– Zephaniah 3:17