Hi, I’m Krystal. I struggle with codependency, control, anxiety, toxic shame, and I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic. I say grateful recovering alcoholic because without my addiction, I never would have turned back to Christ. Though my life was an undeniable mess in my addiction, God used it to show me that I need Him.
I grew up in a broken household. After a toxic, 6-year marriage, my parents divorced and my mom, sisters and I moved from North Carolina to Maine, where my mom grew up. My father re-married and we only got to see him for ten weeks out of the year: eight weeks over summer break and two weeks over Christmas break. Growing up, I saw my mom dating different men; trying to fill her loneliness and finding her worth in these relationships. To further medicate her loneliness, she would drink excessively. When I was 7 or 8, she decided she had a problem and started to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She brought us along to these meetings and we grew up knowing what AA was and the meaning of it.
When I was 13, my mom was in a relationship that I did not agree with. Her boyfriend was spending the night and acting as though he lived with us. We were taught that this kind of relationship outside of marriage was sinful and as the oldest daughter, I felt it was my responsibility to watch over and protect her. I tried my best to run off her boyfriend, but he stuck around. After constant fights with my mom and threatening to end my life, feeling like I didn’t matter, I decided it was time to move to my father’s house in North Carolina.
Things were going well when I moved in with my father. I was an honor roll student that loved playing sports and spending time with my friends. When I was sixteen, I got into a serious relationship with a boy, which had to be hidden because I wasn't allowed to date outside of my race. I grew up believing it was against God to mix races in relationships and I had such a fear of Him that I thought if I sinned or made one bad decision, I was going to hell. When my father found out I was dating this boy, he disowned me and kicked me out of our home right on the spot. I started walking down the road with a suitcase and my clothes in a couple of bags.
My aunt picked me up off the street and I stayed with my grandmother until the end of my junior year of high school. Because of my dating relationship, my dad sent me back to Maine on the first day of summer break. He wouldn't claim me as his child or even speak to me to express his hurt or disapproval. This is where I learned the ‘silent treatment’ which I often used to avoid discussing things because of the fear of conversation and confrontation. I went three years without speaking to my father. I learned how to shut people out to keep them from hurting me.
When I moved back to Maine, my relationship, which had been filled with constant cheating and lying, finally ended. It made me feel so sad. I always thought there was something wrong with me; that I wasn't good enough. In my toxic shame and loneliness, I turned to alcohol to numb the pain. I didn’t want to feel anything. I would go to college parties with some girls and drink and still be the honor roll student that played sports and hung out with friends. I seemed normal, happy, joyful, daring, and lovable. On the inside though, I was filling the void with alcohol and bad relationships; longing for acceptance and love.
When I couldn’t find love and acceptance with men, I entered into a homosexual relationship. I knew in my heart this wasn't okay and I was afraid God would not love me. I reasoned that if I turned away from Him first, then He could not hurt me by not loving me.
In my freshman year of college, I continued to party excessively. I didn't go to any of my classes and failed out of the semester. One evening I drank excessively and a guy, who I’d considered a friend, took advantage of me. My friends all thought it was funny and videoed it. I wanted to isolate and disappear. What would people think of me? People would say I asked for it. I had to keep everything a secret because if my partner found out she would be mad at me for putting myself in that situation and she would leave me too. I felt as though I would never be valued.
I was able to ignore what happened and not deal with it until the day I found out I was pregnant. I was an 18-year-old pregnant girl who had been in a homosexual relationship for a year. How do you explain that to people and not feel shame? How do you feel loved? I had to tell my family and partner. I didn’t believe in abortion, so it couldn't stay a secret. I was so mad at God for allowing that man to take advantage of me and for giving me a constant reminder of it. This pushed me further from Christ and towards the world. I told my family, partner, and friends and remained in an incredibly chaotic and toxic relationship for 6 years. Everyone knew I was struggling with everyday life and I would drink excessively so much that I often blacked out and embarrassed myself.
In 2016 I ended my relationship, began living on my own and tried dating guys. I continued to drink and didn't allow anyone to get close to my feelings. Early one morning while my daughter was with me for the Summer, I was charged with driving while intoxicated and was taken to jail. I left jail later that morning having no license and had to figure out how to get my daughter and how I could get to work. I didn't know how anything was going to work and I knew I had a problem that I couldn't fix alone. Remembering the visits to AA with my mother, I attended a meeting with my sister and began my journey of seeking help from others and God for my problems. I attended AA for a month before moving to Estero in 2017.
I got a job in commercial real estate and started attending Summit Church. I discovered that a co-worker of mine also attended Summit. We spoke my first week of employment about my story and how I was trying to find a meeting. She recommended I get connected with Recovery at Summit. She emailed Evan immediately and told me when and where to meet him. I was scared because I did not know anyone. I nervously went to a meeting that Thursday night and met the most welcoming people. I went to the newcomers meeting, where I met Megan and started meeting up with her weekly. I have now been attending Recovery for over a year and a half.
Recovery has helped me discover myself in Christ. I can recognize all the moments in my life where God was there. I can see that He broke me that early July morning to get my attention and set me in the direction of His plan. He placed me in my job to get me connected with that co-worker who was connected to Summit well enough to point me in the right direction. He placed the Recovery family in my life so I could see that I was not alone.
In Recovery, I could finally accept all the hurts, habits, and hang-ups. In this place, I was finally accepted for me and all my “baggage”. I was able to learn what led to my excess drinking, what triggers it, and what I can do to prevent me from going back to it again. I have addressed deep hurts from my past, discovered my daily struggles, and received the tools I need to deal with them in a healthy way. I have learned that I cannot do life without God. I need Him in all things to be able to do this life. I have found my worth in Him; giving my life to Him by declaring Him my Savior in my heart and before others through baptism. I have been able to truly accept the love of Christ. I know He is with me always; before me, beside me, and behind me. Christ has changed my life entirely, and my daughter’s as well. She is now able to witness what strength in Christ looks like which will not fall to the winds of the world, but will stand strong with Him. Only through Him I will prosper.
Jesus is so much better than any other life I could have ever imagined for myself.
Recovery meets every Thursday evening at 7pm at our University and Gateway congregations. All our welcome and childcare is provided.