I DON'T DRINK.
It’s only three words but with these few words, a line is drawn in the sand.
You are not asking the question, “you don’t drink what?”. You know exactly what I mean when I say these three words.
I DON'T DRINK.
You are not wondering if I drink a Pepsi at the movies or a Mountain Dew with my kids. The statement doesn’t cause you to contemplate if I drink coffee in the mornings or iced tea in the afternoons.
BUT IT WASN'T ALWAYS THIS WAY. FOR NEARLY 10 YEARS, I DRANK. I DRANK ALCOHOL. AND I DRANK A LOT.
But everything changed on January 30, 2008.
Today I celebrate 10 years of freedom from an alcohol addiction that nearly took everything from me.
The last time I saw Jeremy Riddle I could barely stand up. I had to lean against a pillar in the middle of the room so I didn’t fall down (I will explain why in a few sentences). To him, the day might have been like thousands of others where he stood on a stage, held a guitar in his hands, and performed to those watching.
But to me it was a day that changed my life forever. It was a day that changed my marriage forever. It was a day that gave me hope that I might be a dad someday.
I finally stopped covering up a lie that I had been telling myself for nearly 10 years.
Back to leaning against a pillar in the middle of the room…
I was drunk. I was completely intoxicated.
I WAS DRUNK AND I WAS SCARED.
The last time I felt this was 10 years ago today. January 30, 2008 was the last day I took a drink of alcohol.
3,653 days of saying these two sentences.
“Not today. I will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.”
I was drunk and I was scared.
These two phrases dominated too many nights to count over a nearly 10-year period. It started off as just the “normal” college fun but quickly changed to happy hour with co-workers to day long drinking binges that became more frequent than I’d like to admit.
The faster I would run, the more powerful it became.
The more I would hide, the more appealing it would look.
The more tired I became, the more it convinced me I needed it to cover the pain.
The more it convinced me that I needed it to hide who I was.
The more it convinced me that I NEEDED it to survive.
It took me down a road so dark and lonely that I was convinced that I had made too many destructive decisions to ever restore what I had ruined.
This story is all too common in today’s society. Alcoholism knows no boundaries.
It doesn’t show favorites.
It doesn’t care if you live in a 1 bedroom apartment or a half-a-million dollar home at the end of a cul-de-sac.
It doesn’t care if you are working for minimum wage only to spend your entire paycheck on vodka or making six figures with a stocked wet bar in the basement.
It will grab anyone within its reach with one specific purpose.
To hurt those around you that you care about the most.
It wants to kill you from the inside out.
It wants to ruin your marriage and make your kids despise you.
It wants to convince you that you don’t have a problem.
It wants you to suffocate until you begin to think of ways to end your life.
The silent drug wants to destroy you.
For some reading this, your throat begins to tighten and tears form in the corners of your eyes because you have felt every ounce of the previous six sentences.
Listen to me very carefully with a trusting heart.
You can beat this.
For others, your emotion comes from being the one hurt. You were the one waiting up all night wondering if they were coming home. You were the one that thought it would never get better.
I need for you to listen very carefully with a trusting heart as well.
They can beat this.
But you can’t do it alone. Trust me. I tried.
Please keep reading to hear Shayla's side to the silent drug.
A decade has gone by since the last sip. 10 years free.
10 years is a long time but it only takes a second to remember the pain of being married to an alcoholic. A memory, a flashback, a restaurant, or even a commercial on TV. These triggers can take me back in blink of an eye to living with an addict and a decade of fear, pain, and sadness.
When I reflect back on the past 10 years of freedom from the silent drug that was killing my marriage and my husband, the word free comes to mind. The past 10 years of sobriety has brought healing and has rebuilt trust in our marriage.
Because Bryan surrendered his addiction, we are free.
I am free.
God has taken the first decade of addiction, removed the desire, eliminated the need, and replaced it with a decade of health, healing, and restoration for not only Bryan but in our marriage as well.
Have the last 10 years been easy? I wish I could say it has been nothing but calm seas but I would be lying if I said that. It has not been easy.
Did it hurt to lose friends because of our decision to not drink alcohol?
Is it hard to do a girls’ night out and not have a glass of wine?
Is it awkward to be invited to a gathering only to have your friends whisper, “there will be alcohol in case you don’t want to come”?
Just because we have made the decision to not drink, it doesn’t mean that we can’t be around those that do.
We still like to go to social gatherings. We still like to laugh and joke. We enjoy game nights with friends.
It just looks different than it did before January 30, 2008.
We do these things sober now.
Today we are celebrating 10 years of sobriety with each of you reading this. Today we celebrate together. Today we want to give someone hope who is tired of fighting their own addiction. You can beat this but you can’t do it alone. You have tried and you have failed.
We know because Bryan tried to do it alone. We tried to do it alone. It would work for a few weeks at a time or sometimes even a few months at a time but the darkness would sneak back in and the temptation would be too great and it always would restart with just one drink. I watched him continue to struggle with the silent drug and felt helpless.
Bryan, celebrating 10 years of freedom with you has been an incredible experience that I had always hoped for but wondered if it would ever be possible.
No one has walked in our shoes. But many can relate to our story.
It is worth it to politely say, “no thank you” to a drink because we are in this together. We have faced many challenges and WE have pushed through them together.
I will always support your decision to fight this addiction. You experienced 10 years of being a drunk through your struggle of alcohol and now 10 years of freedom and being a man of God who loves Jesus more than anything else.
I can’t even explain the joy that I have experienced watching you be set free from the silent drug that was slowly killing you.
It is only by the grace of Jesus that WE survived what the enemy tried to take from us.
I am so proud of you.
I will always support your decision.
I will stand by your side as your wife and best friend until my last breath to bring awareness of this addiction that is stealing joy, destroying marriages, and slowly killing people from the inside out one drink at a time.
We were somewhere off the coast of Cozumel in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. It was the K-Love Cruise. A cruise ship adventure where Christian musicians have concerts in the evenings.
When I woke up on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, I never intended to hurt Shayla again.
The plan was to have a fun day snorkeling together, enjoy Cozumel for a few hours, and listen to a great concert in the evening.
The day started off as planned. We got off the cruise ship and boarded a bus to go to the snorkeling excursion on a catamaran boat. Little did I know that as the catamaran boat left the dock, my past was waiting for me. It was going to try once again to destroy me.
The drinks flowed and my decision making wavered. Shayla was counting drinks so I began to sneak shots of tequila and extra beers while she thought I only had a couple of margaritas.
I couldn’t outrun the demons that I had tried to bury just over a year before.
I was drunk and I was scared.
I will never forget the disappointment on Shayla’s face when she realized that the old Bryan had entered back into the picture.
We had spent the previous 15 months reconciling a marriage that was torn apart by infidelity. Any trust that was rebuilt through this time period was destroyed in a matter of hours.
I broke Shayla’s heart once again.
There was one concert that we were looking forward to all week above all of the others.
All week we anxiously awaited to see Jeremy Riddle.
I would have to go alone.
For some of you, the name Jeremy Riddle means nothing. For others that listen to Christian music, this name might be somewhat familiar.
To me, Jeremy Riddle represents a new beginning. It represents surrender.
I mentioned earlier that I was standing against the pillar. The room was spinning because of the alcohol that saturated my bloodstream.
As Jeremy sat on his bar stool and began to work through his playlist, I was in disbelief.
This is not what I wanted. This is not what I had planned.
Often times, God uses His plan to override our plans.
His plan was for me to give in to the temptations of the silent drug. His plan was for me to see the hurt in Shayla’s eyes once again. His plan was for me to find myself drunk all alone and in desperate need of my savior, Jesus.
As the evening came to a close, Jeremy began to sing the song, Sweetly Broken. As the music filled the room, my heart opened to hear the words.
At the cross, you beckon me.
You draw me gently to my knees.
And I am lost for words.
So lost in love.
I’m sweetly broken.
This is when everything changed. I heard Jesus speak to me very clearly even with all of the noise echoing in my head.
This is what I heard.
“Bryan, you gave your life to me over 15 months ago but you didn’t give THIS to me. Leave your addiction at the foot of the cross. I will bear your addiction.”
While in a drunken daze, the God of the universe reached down and beckoned me. He was begging me to leave my addiction and wholly surrender.
I had to surrender all of me.
It was at that moment that I put a stake in the ground. I would no longer let the addiction control my life. I surrendered my addiction to Jesus.
I woke up on January 31, 2008 with my final hangover.
I only needed to worry about not drinking for that specific day. I didn’t have to worry about the next day. I would worry about tomorrow when tomorrow would become today.
To Jeremy Riddle, thank you.
I hope to one day personally thank you for being the one that God used to play a vital role in our story. Sweetly Broken changed not only my life but generations to come.
If anyone reading this knows Jeremy Riddle or has connections with someone who knows him, please forward this post to him to thank him.
To the one reading this that is in the middle of an addiction, you can beat this.
You can beat this but it’s not easy. You will have to acknowledge the truth. You will have to take ownership in your actions. Your addiction doesn’t care about anything but taking everything away from you.
Don’t give in to the lies. The enemy is trying to trick you.
There is hope and a way out of the darkness you are in. If you are willing, there is healing. You have to be willing to wholly surrender just like I did on that cruise ship 10 years ago.
You have to surrender to Jesus and give Him your addiction. He will take the temptation away from you.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Jesus has already beat your addiction. HE HAS disarmed the power of the enemy by defeating the grave. He beat death so you could gain life. All you have to do is invite Jesus into your addiction.
Lord, forgive me for my decisions.
I cannot do this alone.
Please take this addiction from me and remove the evil desires from the soul.
From this day forward, I am surrendering my addiction.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Remember, you only have to say, “not today”. You can worry about tomorrow when it gets here. We believe in you.
To the one who is watching a loved one destroy themselves from an addiction, they need you.
Let them know that you believe in them and that you will fight with them against their own demons. They feel like they are on an island by themselves without any hope of ever finding a way home. They need you more than they can express. Don’t give up on them. Keep praying for them. Keep fighting for them even if it seems they are not fighting for themselves. It will not be easy but it will be worth it.
To Shayla, I am sorry.
I am sorry for the pain that I caused you all of those years. I am sorry for the late-night calls that I didn’t answer. I am sorry for the wasted mornings that I was hungover. I am sorry for the nights out that turned into drunken arguments. You didn’t deserve any of it.
Thank you for standing by my side and fighting against the silent drug with me. You chose to fight with me and not against me. Your perseverance is inspiring and your faithfulness is breathtaking. I love you.
Thank you for celebrating with us today.
We hope that our story of celebration encourages you. Our prayer is that our story gives you a little bit of hope in your own story to overcome whatever you might be going through.
Please contact us if we can help you in any way. We believe in you.
There is hope. Hope has a name. His name is Jesus.
Bryan & Shayla
About Bryan & Shayla:
Husband & Wife for over 18 years. Best friends. Hope Givers. Jesus Followers. Our purpose is to share hope with the world through authentic conversation. Anguished Hearts exists to lead broken people into a powerful relationship with Jesus. Our desire is to see others experience the same freedom that we have experienced.