Country Lights Uganda Blog
What does it take to break the cycle of addiction and shame? One woman knows. She enjoyed a seemingly perfect life as a wife, mom, and leader of a megachurch while she hid her alcoholism that almost destroyed everything. Are you, or someone you know, in an addiction cycle, unaware of how unmanageable your life has become?
Bible Gateway interviewed Irene Rollins (@irenerollins) about her book, Reframe Your Shame: Experience Freedom from What Holds You Back (W Publishing Group, 2022).
What were the circumstances that led you to alcoholism?
Irene Rollins: Shame of my past caught up with me when carrying the weight of wounds that hadn’t been dealt with. I had an early introduction to alcohol and abused alcohol in my adolescent years. I had a lack of emotional health or awareness to carry the weight of the responsibilities that went along with leading a growing and thriving church alongside my husband while managing a home with three children and a marriage that was full of dysfunctional ways of communicating and operating. With trauma that hadn’t been dealt with and unhealthy emotional behaviors, using alcohol to escape after a long day at work unconsciously became my normal way of coping with stress. Without me seeing it coming, I fell down the slippery slope of addiction over a period of six years.
Can you speak to the circumstances that lead you to hide your addiction?
Irene Rollins: Shame was the real reason I hid my issue with alcohol. I wish I had known it was okay to not be okay as a leader. I believed I had to have it all together, so admitting my brokenness, addiction, and marital issues seemed like an occupational hazard. Hiding is exhausting and magnified my marital issues, which led to more binging and an increase in dependency. Hiding my issues was the precipice to my rock bottom where my husband and I had to take time off from leading the church in order for me to go to rehab and when as a family we focused on getting emotionally well. Taking time off for what was most important—my personal health and marriage—became the new beginning God promised us! Emotionally healthy leaders with a healthy marriage equal a healthy church. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
What did your counselor mean when she told you, “We create our own misery. The battle starts in our minds.”?
Irene Rollins: Our emotions and our bodies send signals to our brains that it’s time to deal with something. The problem is that when we are unaware of or disconnected from our emotions or our bodies, we don’t notice or listen to what the signals are trying to tell us to address. This impacts our behaviors both consciously and unconsciously. My behavior of self-medicating with alcohol was leading to a sense of isolation and powerlessness. But I was clueless that the negative cycles in my thought life and my emotional world were the source of my motivation to medicate in the first place.
Before there was a drink to anesthetize my pain as a child, there was a mindset that trapped me into a negative way of thinking, which turned into a cycle of pain that cried out to be numbed. A mindset that led to negative self-talk, distorted thinking, blaming others, or denying my issues held me back. I struggled to define what was real and truthful versus what was a story or script I made up about something I experienced. These dysfunctional cycles began in my mind and compounded into debilitating emotional pain that would eventually lead to self-medicating and then my full-blown addiction to alcohol.
How does shame become toxic?
Irene Rollins: When we believe the lie that what happened to us is our fault, we become the victim, and the negative cycle in the mind perpetuates the toxic shame responses. We can become stuck in the fight, flight, or freeze response that shame triggers. As a result, the emotion of shame can become toxic if we lack the tools to address it in a healthy way. When in shame we fear being truly known, accepted, and seen, so we hide, which causes isolation and mental health issues like depression and anxiety that can lead to medicating with a person, place, or thing. The vicious cycle is subtle, until it’s urgent. When we’re powerless over self-hate and believe the lie that we’re not enough, broken, unfixable, and too far gone to be forgiven, shame has become toxic.
What is a “functional adult”?
Irene Rollins: Functional adults are those who are in touch with their inner wounds and their deepest feelings. They have affirming relationships with themselves, have healthy self-esteem, and know how to honor and respect themselves, which allows them to fully engage in relationship with others in a healthy way, trusting their intuition and gut.
As I worked my program of recovery, I became aware of my emotions and the importance of expressing them in moderation and asking for what I need and want. Functional adults know how to set functional boundaries both externally (physical boundaries) and internally (not allowing in what doesn’t belong to them). Prior to my recovery, I had empathy but took on the weight and responsibility of others’ problems, crises, etc. as if they were my own. Codependency is the culprit, and it starts in childhood when we experience imprints from caretakers who modeled dysfunction and had a lack of tools to be a functional adult themselves. The impact of this on a developing child can cause developmental immaturity that fractures relationship with self, God, and others.
How did God lead you to stop drinking?
Irene Rollins: I couldn’t stop on my own. I needed to hit rock bottom and face the shame of my issue with alcohol. God’s hand was on me all along the way, ordering my steps even when I was at my worst. He gave my husband the courage to give me an ultimatum to go to rehab. He sent me friends and an amazing counselor who confronted me about my drinking in love and didn’t shame me about my behaviors. It was through my experience of the grace and compassion they demonstrated that I was able to finally agree to go to rehab. God was with me, leading in the choosing of the treatment center that was right for me. God was in every doctor, nurse, counselor, and patient I encountered in treatment who shared their testimony and gave me hope that I could recover too. I related to the stories I heard and used them to help me find freedom from addiction. Revelation 12:11 AMP says, “And they overcame and conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, for they did not love their life and renounce their faith even when faced with death.”
What do you mean when you tell readers to “reframe your fear”?
Irene Rollins: Reframing involves choosing to look at something from a different point of view. When we’re functioning in fear-based thinking, we filter our perspective of the world, our circumstances, our relationships, and more through the lenses of fear and/or foreboding, which hinders us from walking in faith and hope. Fear prevents us from connection with God and others because we fear rejection. Shame reminds us that we’re exposed, imperfect, and vulnerable. The walls that go up in protection prevent us from being our authentic selves and coming boldly to the throne of God’s grace (Hebrews 4:16). We skew negative naturally as human beings so we must make an intentional effort to reframe what we have looked at as shameful or through a lens of fear. We can do this by asking ourselves, “What do we fear the most?” Then answer the question honestly. What if we chose to reframe our fear and shame rather believe the lies of the enemy?
What are a few Scripture passages that helped you in recovery?
Why did you write this book?
Irene Rollins: My goal is to bring awareness to readers that their shame around their issues and hurts can lead to mental health challenges and hang-ups (unforgiveness, fear, shame) that can be debilitating and lead to habits like addiction and, when unaware, can render them powerless and wreck their lives. Shame does not have to hold us back from being the best versions of ourselves. Psalm 34:5 promises that when we look to him, shame will not overtake us and we will be radiant with joy! We can reframe the shame of addiction and walk in freedom using practical and biblical tools as well as storytelling to heal and help others as well.
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Irene Rollins: Romans 8:28 is my favorite passage of Scripture because I’m living proof of God reframing all the good, bad, and ugly of my past for not only my good, but for the good of others and generations to come.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?
Irene Rollins: Love the App! Listen to it throughout the day and use it for studying and diving deeper into God’s word. It’s a part of my daily recovery disciplines.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Irene Rollins: Hebrews 12:1–2 shows us that Jesus is the ultimate example of reframing as he experienced the shame of his crucifixion yet received honor as he is seated at the right hand of God. When we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, it activates our faith that our future is in the hands of the Healer and that he will be faithful to complete the work he’s begun in us (Philippians 1:6) regardless of what our past looks like or what we’ve done.
We, too, can experience the promises of God to reframe our shame into victory. We don’t have to be the victim of our circumstances. We can deal with our issues before our issues deal with us. We can endure shame as Jesus did and receive a double portion of joy on the other side of surrendering our brokenness and sin (Isaiah 61:7). His grace is sufficient and perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and I want to encourage readers to get honest with themselves and God, then receive the forgiveness and grace needed to overcome the shame of sin that tries to separate them from God and others so they can live free! Then once we get free, we must give it away and help set others free!
Reframe Your Shame is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Irene Rollins is passionate about the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of all people. As a certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, she loves to study human behavior enabling her to understand a wide variety of people, guiding them to be the best version of themselves through her teaching, writing and coaching. Irene’s fervency to help others overcome their self-defeating habits comes from her life experience as an overcomer of alcohol addiction and trauma. Irene models accountability and often reminds those in the addiction community to “do the work” and “If you aren’t working on your recovery, you’re working on your relapse.”
After almost 25 years in full-time ministry, serving as senior pastors of a thriving church called i5 City, Irene and her husband Jimmy felt a shift in their ministry focus. Irene and Jimmy founded the ministry of TWO = ONE with a mission to help build strong marriages that result in healthy families that impact our communities for the better.
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The post How to Break Free from Addiction: An Interview with Irene Rollins appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.
As reported on Christian News Uganda - Access the Original News Source Here.