"I knew my codependency was going to kill me." Faces Of Recovery - Candie Schintgen

My first drink was at age 12. From that point forward I dabbled in many other drugs. Diet pills, pot, acid, anything that the people I was hanging with at the time used, I used. I really wanted to be the cool kid and did everything I needed to fit in, which included losing myself and becoming whoever I needed to be. By the time I was 21, I could look back and call myself an alcoholic. I worked at a day job most of the time hung-over, and then working night job at a local bar.

In September 2000, I was married to the man of dreams. We had such a great dream of a future. Shortly after the wedding, we found out we were going to have a baby. I stopped the partying scene. I began to focus on being a mom, the most important job. Unfortunately, my husband and I were not on the same page.

My first adult rock-bottom came shortly after our 2nd daughter was born. We needed a change, so we started attending a local church. Every weekend we would argue on the way to church, put on a smile as we walked through the door, and then leaving the same way we came in. It was our life. I didn’t think it could be different or should be different. I was married and that was my focus – wife and mother were my titles.

In 2005, my husband and I found out we were expecting baby number 3. We decided to move out of my dad's home and into our first home as a family. You remember that dream of a future? It hadn’t come yet. Up to this point we had just been doing life. The drinking I enjoyed as a kid would come and go in between doing what was best for my kids. I was drinking so I could fit into my husbands lifestyle. I was drinking so I could drown my failing marriage and life.

In 2007, I hit another rock bottom. Our youngest just turned 1, and my husband said he was moving out of state. He wanted to try and relocate us to start a new life. Knowing where our marriage was at stability-wise, I begged for him not to go. I spent the next couple months trying to figure out what to do. I was able to look at my marriage and life from a different viewpoint and see that our marriage was not healthy. Neither of us were healthy. In July 2007, I decided I wanted out for good.

During this thought process of wanting out, I found someone to tell me all the right things and fill in the emptiness. When I was younger, I went from guy to guy. Never really being alone, always blending into whoever they were. The root of my alcoholism wasn’t alcoholism. It was codependency – never wanting to be alone. I assumed I couldn’t raise my kids alone.

My husband and I had one more baby before our marriage ended horribly. My faith was tested throughout that pregnancy. I wondered if God wanted me to stay or go. I stayed in that emotional place of failure, guilt and shame for quite some time. In 2009, my life took a drastic turn. I decided to challenge myself to stay sober for 1-year. Shortly after the challenge I walked into a new church, and it changed my life.

I was finally taught that God forgives me and loves me in abundance – that he wanted to bless, lead, guide and direct my life. I was sober, but I was in such a dark place. I was still living in shame, guilt, failure, unforgiveness, all that I thought was normal.  I was brought into the light. Two years after attending the Church, more light was brought into my darkness. I was introduced to a faith-based recovery program at my church. Yes, I was still sober. But my life was still not where God wanted me to be. I still wasn’t free. I started attending the recovery program, got a sponsor, and started working steps for hurts, habits and hang-up’s, and I attained freedom! Though it was finally a light, during this time, I still wasn’t being honest with myself or sponsor, and I was still hiding from God.

Time to get real: On December 23rd, I went to my sponsor and hit my knees. Surrendering to God once again, I knew my codependency was going to kill me. I never thought that with alcohol or the other drugs I had used. I did with codependency! I was always searching for something to fill the emptiness – not seeking God to fill the hurt areas of my life. I finished my steps, and I experienced healing, I knew the way I wanted my life to go.

Falling again: My new freedom allowed me to think I could start a new relationship. I knew what I wanted and made sure this person knew – I made it very clear that if he couldn't be that person, we wouldn't be together. So he became that person, and I ignored all warning signs.  I was healed, I had God, and I had everything together. We had a whirlwind romance, and then we got married and it became a tornado. He became his true self and we were separated after our first anniversary. I was so lost devastated that God would have this happen. Through my marriage, I learned that even if I want people to change I can’t make them change. I can give them tools, encourage and point them to Jesus. They still have their will that they alone have to surrender to God. I was very angry at myself for allowing this to happen and put my kids through another failed marriage.

Begging for restoration and direction: I still had the desire to make my 2nd marriage work, (sound familiar from my first marriage?). More now than ever, I had surrendered my life to Christ, I was married under God, my kids knew my commitment to a healthy marriage. I was pregnant with my 5th child, and I didn’t want to raise him and the others alone. So I endured 2 years of living in mental/emotional abuse, to the point that I began to believe and live out all the negative words that were spoken over me. This also brought up all negative words, shame and guilt from my first marriage. I stepped into a world of not being present and just doing life. It was a life I had to be at because of my kids. I continued attending church. I felt freedom before and I longed for it again. I knew God was good, but not sure how to obtain freedom in him.

In April 2015 my life hit another crazy low. I lost my mother, my rock, my co-parent. During this time of intense grief and a lack of control, I struggled to hold on to my sobriety. To be lost in a world of numbness was right at my fingertips – a world where I could forget my circumstances and pretend life was different. I chose to hold onto my sobriety. I knew Satan would have a victory if I gave in to my temptations.

I was still trying to find myself, raise kids, heal, stay sober – to do life without just doing life. I wanted to smile again, I wanted to not hurt. This is when during a talk at my church rocked my socks. It was based on Mathew 10:39, which says,  “Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].” Msg.

Shortly after this God was placing people in my life and things to trigger he wanted a deeper relationship with me. He wanted to transform my life. But I had to chose to be transformed.

I decided to go back to school and really dive in to see what God had in store for my life. I graduated with my associates in leadership and ministry in June of 2016. I accomplished something I never thought I could. God has been forming my life, my kids’ lives, and the lives of those around me, all because I decided to surrender to God and allowed God to use me.

It hasn’t been easy to choose the Godly path. He never said it’s always going to be easy, but he has definitely grown me through all of my trials. Every day when I surrender to him, my day is different. Every day I use God to fill and heal all areas of my life. I know sobriety from all crutches are important. I know I am enough to raise my 5 kids solo, even though the world tells me different. I believe that God will always be on my side. I will continue to dig my roots in all promises of God. I belong, I am worthy, I have purpose, I am redeemed and I am forgiven!