When Ben Isaacs met his future wife, Mindy, he had no idea the extent of her drinking problem. What appeared to be a drink here or there was actually full-blown alcoholism that went unnoticed at first. Mindy says, "I couldn't imagine my life with alcohol. I couldn't imagine my life without it. Awful, awful stuff."
This week on Overcome With Auntie Anne, we're finishing up our Isaacs Family themed month and talking with Mindy and Ben Isaacs. Every member of this family has their unique story and their own struggles that they're very open to talking about, which is one reason I love them. And as I said before, I want you to hear from all of them.
So head over to the podcast to catch up on the first three episodes if you missed them. And then listen to my full conversation with Ben and Mindy or keep reading below for some of the highlights.
Who are Mindy and Ben?
Ben is the lone son of the Isaacs family who plays bass and sings with the group. He spends two to three days a week on the road, two to three days a week in the studio producing or playing on other people's records, and two to three days a week at home with the family taking care of their property.
Mindy, Ben's wife, is not someone you'll see on stage with the Isaacs. She's a massage therapist by trade, and I remember the first time I met her. It was on a Gaither Homecoming cruise, and the chatter around the cruise was that Ben Isaacs had found himself a girlfriend. I was really curious to meet her, so I did. And I remember thinking how crazy it must be for her to be introduced into this huge world of gospel music.
But she has a beautiful heart and her own story to tell.
Mindy's first marriage
Mindy's first husband, John, was her best friend. They enjoyed life together and did everything together. John introduced Mindy to the outdoors, and she fell in love with it. She had never really spent much "fun" time outside, but John showed her hiking and camping, and through it all, she says she "found a deeper level to myself that gets me through a lot of things."
Unfortunately, though, their marriage took a turn for the worse, and they weren't in the best place when he passed away. They were trying to work things out, and so one day they went for a hike. During the hike, they talked through some of their issues and ended their time together by expressing their mutual love and a commitment to find a counselor and get back together.
But that was the last time they were together.
The next day, Mindy's husband drowned in a kayaking accident. She's grateful for that last day together and feels God gave that to them. "17 years later, I can see his (God's) stitchwork. I can see the handiwork. I can see pin drops." But on the day she found out, she remembers having so many emotions.
Mindy felt "rage, disbelief, [and] so much grief." But she also felt hope. John's body was actually missing for 30 days, so there was a little hope that maybe he survived. Eventually, though, the friend he was with while kayaking confirmed his death.
But Mindy survived. It's difficult to talk about our pain, but it's a process we learn and continue to learn. According to her, "It really is a beautiful aspect of our journey as humans. It's beautiful to be able to feel all these emotions it's scary, but it's part of being alive."
And I'd say it's also part of our healing.
Searching for God
Mindy was baby Christian when her first husband passed just three days old. As she recounts, "I had been searching for years and years and years." She looked into Buddhism, Daoism, and Wiccan. And even though she never practiced, she says "I was on a search for God, and I could not find peace."
One night, some members of a Baptist church came to her door, and she talked with them. She relayed her tiredness in looking and not having peace. And they encouraged her to give Jesus a chance, to ask him to reveal himself to her and to give it 30 days. So she did and prayed right there that night.
The next day, she went on that last hike with her husband. And the day after that, she found out about his passing.
As she was grieving the loss of her husband, Mindy feels Jesus came to her in a very tangible way. One particular day, she lost it and was screaming and crying in her pain. But she felt the arms of Jesus wrap around her, and it brought her peace. She says, "There was this little voice that said, 'Weep not my child, for I have a plan.' And I did cling to those words even though my story takes me to full-blown alcoholism."
Life as an alcoholic
When asked whether or not the death of her first husband led her into alcoholism, Mindy says that she believes she was born an alcoholic. She was never able to put it down. "From the time I first had a drink, I did not have an off button. I drank until I puked."
But what actually got her to cross the line into full-blown alcoholism is that she didn't know how to handle life and had an inability to process the emotions she was feeling. So she drank to cover them up. Drinking made her numb, and when she was numb, she didn't have to deal with the emotions. It got to the point where she couldn't imagine her life without alcohol.
Once she and Ben met and got married, she didn't hide the fact that she drank. But she didn't drink as much when he was around. But that changed when he went on the road. At that point, she'd drink everything in the house and then restock all that she drank by buying new bottles and drinking them down to the point they were at before Ben left.
For a while, she functioned, even as a mom to her kids. But after quitting the job she had, all functionality went out the window, and she started drinking all the time.
Ben admits that Mindy did a good job of hiding her addiction, and at first, he didn't really know it was a problem. They would go out and have a beer or some wine, but he had no idea the level to which it could go. Eventually, she admitted to needing help, so they found an inpatient facility for her to go to and begin rehab. But rehab was just the beginning of the battle.
Ben says that during that time, his love for Mindy was so strong, and he wanted nothing more than for them to remain together. But through counseling, he also learned he needed to set boundaries. He's not proud of this part of their story, but when he'd come home, he'd tell Mindy that if she was going to drink, he was going to leave. Not because he didn't love her, but because he just couldn't watch it happen. So he would take the kids and head off.
I want to pause here because what Ben and Mindy are sharing is real life. And they're showing the importance of telling our stories and being vulnerable. So often in our world, we love personas. We love to make life look like everything is okay when really, under the surface, there's so much more going on. And that would be easy for people like the Isaacs who are often in the limelight. But being open, honest, and vulnerable--like they're emulating--allows us to be real with one another and allows us to be healed and redeemed.
And that's what happened with Mindy and Ben.
The final time that Ben left with the kids, Mindy was in her Alcoholics Anonymous group, and all she wanted to do was grab a bottle of Vodka and drink it all away. She shared this with her group, and one man there encouraged her by saying, "Mindy, every morning when you wake up, thank God for removing the desire to drink. And thank God for keeping you sober. And then at night when you go to bed, thank him for keeping you sober and for removing the desire to drink. Even though he hasn't done it yet," he said, "I promise you, if you keep doing those things, he will. And before you know it, you won't struggle."
And that's what happened for Mindy. At some point something switched in her brain, and she just knew that she was good enough and that God wanted her. And it no longer was about getting sober for her kids or for Ben, but it was about getting sober for herself.
For Ben, he had to learn to surrender the situation and all the emotions he was carrying to God. "I had to choose fear or faith, and I chose faith." He knew he couldn't make Mindy stop, but he could love her and support her through it.
Today, Mindy is completely sober, and there's no question in her mind. "I am done. I am so in love with my life that I don't want to do anything to wreck it."
And Mindy and Ben's relationship is healthy. Ben says, "We've been married 15 years now [and] the last five years of our relationship has been so great. There's an honesty. There's a love [and] a healthy dependence that I never experienced before."
Where love is, miracles can happen.
Thank you Mindy and Ben for sharing your story. I know there's a whole lot more, but this was powerful, and I'm blown away by your vulnerability. These kinds of stories show that redemption can be full and complete. And I'm so proud of both of you.
You can keep up with Ben and all the Isaacs at her family's website, or follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. They have a new album that just came out called The American Face, so be sure to check that out. And the Isaacs were recently invited to become members of The Grand Ole Opry, and I'm very excited for them.
The post Getting Vulnerable About Alcoholism with Mindy and Ben Isaacs appeared first on Auntie Anne Beiler.