Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Struggle to Be Free

Well when I first started I thought what could I possibly have to write about that other people would want to read much less comment about.
Then it came to me. I can only write about the one thing that I know I am qualified to write. The Struggle To Be Free !
I have only written one paragraph and yet I somehow feel like this is a " Divine Appointment" if you will.
I must say right off the bat, I am no one special. Chances are I am not someone you would have even wanted to be friends with or associated with but
that is o.k. Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Tina and I am the proud mother of two teenage boys and the wife of an Amazing Fellow Struggler.
I am also a 35 yr.old recovering Drug Addict that has struggled to be free for 22 yrs. I am a living, walking, testimony of Amazing Grace.
For the first time in my life I am Free. Freedom from a life of misery, shame, and guilt. Free from the death grip of addiction and free from a life of Hopelessness and Fear. Let's go back in time just a little bit so I can share a little about my experiences, because my Only objective here is to share my experience, my strength and my hope with someone who may need it.
There is no way I can write it all down, all though I do believe this is the beginning of me being able to see the purpose in the Life I have lived. My Testimony! To share a common ground with so many people in complete despair and to be able to Shout the good News that " There is Hope".
I was a 13 yr. old girl who for many reasons felt unwanted, unloved and all alone in this world. I must go ahead and say that I felt this way, that doesn't mean that it was exactly that way. Now, getting that out of the way I will move on. I lived in a real small town that had become a cesspool for cocaine.
This is where my real venture begin. I looked quite a bit older than 13 and I noticed I was getting the attention of some of the older Men and I was starved for attention. It was in this way that I had access to all the attention(no matter how bad it was) and Drugs that I could consume.
It wasn't long before I was completely out of control. Eventually I ended up in a psychiatric hospital,drug rehab and then on to reform school, several times. My addictions only escalated so did the feelings of being alone, ashamed and completely lost. I learned how to somehow hide all these feelings that made me feel weak, and that's when ,I believe, Anger became my only defense to this hard,cold , miserable hand that I thought God had dealt me.
I spent many years in the same vicious cycle.One heartbreak after another. By this time it was very evident to me that I was the victim of a bad child hood. If I had only been loved and wanted by my parents(my mother mainly) my life would have been different. It never occurred to me that the choices I was making was in any way to blame. I remember thinking and praying to God, if he would just give me a baby that I could love and that would love me back, my life would finally be o.k. I knew that I would never do to my kids what had been done to me. I did end up having two boys who I loved with all my heart but you must know by now my heart was full of anger,hate, shame,blame and tons and tons of hurt. What I thought was going to save me and change my life drastically for the good ended up not being that way at all. I added more and more guilt and shame on top of what was already destroying me. The drugs started being the only escape I had to get me through the abusive relationships I always seemed to find and to deal with all the feelings of failing miserably as a mother.I ended up loosing my kids when they were both under three because of my bad choices. When this happen I dove head first into my addiction. I was in another state, all alone, not caring if I lived or died.I done the drugs more and more because I couldn't bare being without my kids.Then one day in the near future I realized I was only living to do dope. Everything I done revolved around me doing or obtaining dope. My mother ended up getting my boys which was a God thing because I could not quit using. I later had another son whom I gave up for adoption.I was in active use when I was pregnant with him the whole time. I was living on the streets in Florida when I went into labor. This happens to be one of the worst memory's of my life. I had to take a taxi to the hospital 25 miles away. All alone I walked in the hospital 21 yrs.old, homeless, and strung out on crack knowing that I didn't deserve to live another minute for what I had done to this baby. This was another God thing, if you will, because he came out healthy and was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.A few hours after I had him I went to the nursery and told them I wanted to hold him before he was Adopted. I sat crying telling him how sorry I was along with many other things, then I walked out of the hospital with only one mission, which was to end this miserable life of mine so that I could never hurt anyone else. I did attempt many times that night by doing massive shots of cocaine, but little did I know God had a different plan. I ended up getting off cocaine and had a powerful but brief encounter with God.
I had to spend quite a few more years struggling to try and stay off drugs and to keep my kids.This came with a lot of failed attempts as I was always getting locked up dew to my addictions.I remember one of these times I was locked down in solitary confinement for months. It was at this time God finally begin to break through the steel cages I had built around my heart.
Something supernatural happened to me in that cell all alone.
It was the first time I can remember humbly kneeling down and begging God to change me. I didn't ask him to change my situation or change someone else but to change me. I assume at this time in my life I had maybe begin to see that I was responsible for so many things that happened in my life. Although this was not the end of my struggle it was the beginning of the end.
I end up meeting the man I am married to now and spend many years together, down this path of addiction. We had so many failed attempts at Freedom. Freedom from all the things we had allowed to enslave us for most of our lives. Though our lives had been different, we were the same in so many ways. We both believed that Love was the answer to all life's many problems we faced.
We were going to love each other and save ourselves from the fast downward spiral of our addictions.Needless to say it is impossible to love someone when your definition of it is so severely warped. We seemed to make each other worse at times. This was the first relationship we had been in with another addict. We had a lot of hard times. We fought , we done drugs and we hurt. We couldn't live together but we couldn't live apart. We both hated ourselves for helping each other destroy ourselves. A lot of years we lived in what I can safely say was Hell on earth.Trying many times to break free from the chains that bound us. No one that knew us thought we would be able to beat our live long struggles together. Although, we both knew that we would never see Freedom apart. We always had a saying that we were going to either live together or die together . Many times we thought it was going to be the latter of these. God had a different plan. He showed us both many times that we would one day Have Freedom and for two people who had little hope in anything else we hung onto this with all our might.We have faced being shot multiple times and me with a bullet wound to the chest and him in the arms and legs.Knowing how close we both had come to death we made another broken promise to each other that we were never going to use drugs again and was going to surrender it all to God.That didn't last long because we had got to a place that we had to use to live.We ended up separated .We both started twisting downward fast.I was at a point in my life my only cry to God was "I want to die" I did not want to live.I spent months up on meth and My health was quickly going down.I had been living with a chronic "Liver Disease" that was brought on years earlier from drug use.We both knew that we were probally going to die this round, we were only trying to speed it up. God had a different plan though.My husband ended up in a car crash running from the police and found himself in jail. I soon found myself in the hospitial being told I was in complete Liver and Kidney failure brought own by the progression of my Liver Disease. My whole life started passing through my mind in fast motion. Almost immediatly God reminded me of all the prayers I had been praying begging him to please take me and end this miserable life so maybe my kids could have some peace.When my youngest son came to see me something changed me. He looked at me and I could see inside his heart and it was full of pain and desperation. He could not bare the loss of his mother and live with the feelings that comes from thinking I didn't love him enough to change my life all the times I told him I was. He broke down and grabbed me and said " Mama please don't die I need you, I can't live without you". I knew at that very moment that I was a mother because I no longer thought of my pain or my misery my heart was breaking for him and God allowed me to see with clear eyes for the first time. I seen a boy that loved his mama even though loving her caused him so much pain. I knew without a doudt at this time that my boys would not be better off with out me. I knew first hand how feeling like your mama didn't love you enough to put you before all the other things in her life would affect them. When I cried out to God this time it wasn't for myself it was for them. He had finally got me to a place were I could see past myself and see their pain and not my own. A few days later someone prayed fervently for my life, soul and healing and God healed me immediatly.

He had to get me and my husband to a place to where we could see how much he loved us and wanted to see us happy, joyous and Free.

We are now living life the way we had always dreamed.
We did not win the lottery and God didn't go in and change our past and take out all the bad things that happened.The Amazing thing about how we got to where we are now is that everything didn't change so that we
could get better, but God is changing us so that we can help everything else get better. Our happiness and blessings are not just for us to benefit
from. It is a gift that has been given to us so that we can in return give it to someone else.That is why I want to share my hope. Although I have spent many years behind bars and many more in bondage I know that my past is one of my greatest presents. Had I not lived a life that was so full of misery and pain, I would not be able to tell you how great it is to finally be Free.I would not be able to give a testimony of God's Amazing Grace. Nothing is impossible with God. No addict is too hooked, no heart is too cold, no hurt is too bad for My God to heal and make you whole.

My husband and I have always had a heart for couples who are battling addictions. Even while we were still fighting addictions ourselves we always felt that we would one day be used in this area.
We just know what a battle it is and we just hope that our lives give someone else Hope.
We would love to hear from anyone who is struggling or has overcome their struggle. May you be blessed and walk in Freedom.
Your Fellow Struggler,
Tina Graves

Since First writting this I have spent a lot of time thinking of
were I was and how far God has brought me . I try to remind myself whenever I get to feeling down or discouraged. My goal is to keep an attitude of Graditude. I can't help but shout how good God is. Sometimes I think people wonder why I am always smiling and always talking about the Lord but if you been were I have been
you couldn't help but smile and praise him every chance you get.

1 comment:

Roz said...

Hi Tina,
Thanks for stopping by my website the other day. God Bless you as you reach out to the Internet Community. I pray God will increase your influence to reach many more for Jesus Christ!

Isa. 41:10
Blessings, Roz

There is HOPE!

Clarksville, tennessee, United States
I am a happily married mother of two teenage boys and step-son. I have spent many years in addiction and bondage but I have been set free by God. My only objective for sharing about this is let people know there is hope no matter what the struggle God is ready and willing to set you Free.

Christian Artist