It was after Jill graduated from nursing school and began working night shifts when it all started. She was having trouble sleeping and so she started taking NyQuil. It helped, but it came at a cost.
“One day I looked under my bed and there were hundreds of bottles of NyQuil,” Jill said, recognizing that there was an easier and more common way of acquiring that same result. “And so that led me to drinking wine. I started drinking wine on the rocks at the bar.”
Yet, it was when she moved to Bend, Oregon, a place where she didn’t have any friends or family and therefore felt lonely, that she turned to drinking more heavily.
“In Bend, I got my first nursing job and the wine took me down in about a year. I remember walking out of the bar one day and realizing I didn’t need anyone anymore since I had my bottle. I decided I wouldn’t trust people, only my bottle,” Jill said.
Eventually, her roommate intervened and Jill ended up at a treatment center. She began a 12-step program and also became a Christian. Amazingly, she would remain sober for the next 16 years. During that time she went through a failed marriage and had two kids. Still, she was able to manage life without drinking until she moved to Wisconsin.
“Even after sixteen years of sobriety, that twist of thinking can happen. I went to Wisconsin because my father had bought a farm there. And there was nothing to do in this town but drink,” Jill explained. “I stayed sober for a while but then one night my dad suggested that maybe I could just drink beer and sure enough I tried it with some “tallboy” cans and was feeling pretty high. And that began my journey the second time around.”
Jill ended up moving to Wyoming with her kids afterward. Since her drinking prevented her from securing and maintaining nursing jobs, she had to do menial labor in the form of painting. It was during one particular painting gig where she met a Christian who was insistent about her coming to church.
“God put a Christian on my job site and this was in 1996 and every day he preached to me about Jesus. I couldn’t stand the guy and the pain of hearing about what I had lost. I just wanted to drink,” Jill said.
On the last day of the job, she told him she would go to his church on Sunday (really just to get him to leave her alone). But something happened.
“I got a beer that Friday after work but I told my daughter that I was going to church on Sunday. On that Friday I heard the Lord speak that it was over and that he was coming for my beer. I knew it was jail, insanity, or death if I kept drinking. And so I drank that Friday and Saturday night and then blacked out and woke up to my little girl telling me that I had promised to take her to church on Sunday. And we went to church and the Holy Spirit touched me and it was like being restored to sanity. I went home and the desire to drink was gone. That was October 10th of 1996. I haven’t had a drink since.”
She started the work of recovery again and continued to work it. Then in 2013, she met a Catholic man who invited her to Mass.
“I was an AA member and a nominal church member and God gave me this gift of sobriety but I had other sins and problems,” Jill said. “I met this man seven years ago and he invited me into the Catholic Church.”
She went to Mass and was struck by the deacon’s parting words: “Glorify the Lord by the way you live your life.” She began learning more about the faith, eventually joining RCIA, having an amazing healing experience at the Sacrament of Confession, coming to know of the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and eventually becoming confirmed in the Church.
She ended up marrying that man as well. Afterward, they began doing a Celebrate Recovery program to merge their faith with recovery. However, they felt something was missing.
“We couldn’t talk about Mary or be open about our faith, and so I just gave up. But then my husband found Scott Weeman and Catholic in Recovery,” Jill said.
One thing led to another, and they eventually started two Catholic in Recovery groups at their Cincinnati parish. Her husband leads the Friends and Family Group and Jill heads up the General Recovery Group.
“I’m really on fire for this Catholic in Recovery program. The Church and this program are helping me grow in holiness. I started to understand the overlap of the sacraments with the steps,” Jill said, explaining how her involvement has helped her find healing and grace. “Christ is the answer and the Catholic Church is a place of health and healing.”