383 Days

This might be a long and rambling post, so apologies in advance.

It’s been a rough week for me. My foundation is starting to crack as butterflies and fear keep jostling my insides. I was unbearably nervous for my meeting with HR Wednesday, and the nerves have been with me since. I get hungry, but after I eat, I feel sick. I’m smoking, and I haven’t bought cigarettes since 2005. I sit at my desk and cry as I receive yet another amazing letter of character for the judge. I’m trying not to fixate on my sentencing on the 9th, but that’s impossible.

My meeting with HR, my union rep, and my boss went as well as I could ever hope it would. However, it was an informal meeting and the HR higher-ups so to speak seem to be unwavering in their belief that I should not be granted any leave of absence due to serving time in jail. I am writing my letter of resignation next week in preparation for the unknown. My boss can hold the letter for a week or so and tear it up if need be. Having had a history of shitty bosses, I am overwhelmed and feel incredibly blessed to have a boss that is doing everything he can to keep me here. He keeps acting like it’s no big deal, but to me it is huge. My boss is not here today, and he will be away at a leadership conference all next week. We spoke after work yesterday discussing my resignation letter and my options. We’re both hopeful that if my job does end here in June, that I will be rehired. My leaving the university will be on good terms, and HR has said that they will not discriminate against hiring me with a felony on my record. So, if I am forced to resign, I am trying to stay positive with the hopes that I may be able to slide back into my position at a later date. I held in my tears until after our little chatย  yesterday. It felt surreal to be crying over my boss, since this may have been our last day working together. His letter to the judge was wonderful, with him asking the judge to consider anything other than straight jail time so I can keep my job here. I hope he knows how much his support means to me.

When I got home from work, I received a letter to the judge from my big brother and it left me crying for an hour. My brother and I are extremely close and 3 1/2 years apart. He was the last one to see me before I drove the night of the accident. Apparently he tried to stop me from driving, and I got belligerent about it. The rest as they say, is history. This is totally assholish of me, but I wanted you all to see his letter. Certain names are left out, of course. Here goes:

Your Honor,

This is a letter of character regarding my sister, Kristina.

My name is blah blah. I was born on blah blah, 1976 in blah, graduated from blah High in 1994, and have lived there my entire life. I’m a CNC operator/set-up person at blah blah blah. I’ve been with the company for nearly 17 years.

Growing up, I was (still am, and always will be) Kristina’s big brother. We’d argue, laugh, fight, and have fun together the way most siblings would. We watched the same movies and TV shows, listened to most of the same music, and both loved reading books. Those are four of the things I’m most passionate about in life. Kristina and I have remarkably similar tastes when it comes to these things. As we moved out of our teens and into adulthood, our shared love of movies, music, TV, and books only brought us closer. Although we live an hour away from each other and we don’t see or talk to one another as often as we used to, there is no one I feel closer to. She’s my best friend. I love her more than anyone else in this world.

She went to college after high school and worked hard to earn a Bachelors degree in English, and later, a Masters degree in Library Science. Like a lot of college grads, it took her a long time to find a good job in her chosen field. No matter where she was or what job she had prior to her current “dream job,” she worked hard and took pride in what she did. Those traits are increasingly rare in this day and age, especially for people under the age of 40. I’ve been working in a factory since I was 20 with people of all ages. Believe me, I know how rare a strong work ethic is today. Kristina loves and cares about her job enormously. I have no doubt that she is great at what she does.

The night of May 11, 2013 is a night I’ll never forget. I received a phone call from my Mom – who was in absolute hysterics – telling me Kristina had been in an accident. I told her I’d be right over. When I hung up, I didn’t know Kristina’s condition, whether she was alive or dead. I couldn’t get that information out of my Mom. It was about 15 minutes between the time I hung up and the time I pulled into my Mother’s driveway. She was outside waiting for me, crying, but calmer than she had been over the phone. She told me that “they” said Kristina was going to be okay. Those 15 minutes of not knowing whether or not my little sister was alive or dead were, BY FAR, the worst 15 minutes of my life.

After learning Kristina had been badly injured, but would survive and recover, and learning that the victim of the accident, blank, would also be okay, I felt thankful and relieved. Those feelings quickly turned into anger and disappointment. Why somebody so decent and hard-working and intelligent would make a decision that would jeopardize her life and the lives of others was beyond my comprehension. She made a HUGE mistake. That cannot be overstated. I think it was blind luck that both blank and my sister survived the accident. Any punishment meted out to Kristina would be well deserved. However, I personally don’t know if jail or prison time is given to the guilty as a means of punishment or reformation. If it’s the former, then she committed the crime and should pay for it. If it’s the latter, I think jail time would be redundant. She has completely changed her life. She’s been sober for over a year now and has an entirely new outlook. Unfortunately it took an event of this magnitude for her to realize that she had a drinking problem. It hasn’t been easy, but with the help of AA and an Intensive Outpatient Program for alcohol dependency, she has turned her life around and expresses a desire to help others by sharing her experience. I could not be more proud of her.

I know my sister well enough to know that the guilt and remorse she feels over injuring and traumatizing blank cannot be measured. She would do anything to undo the damage she caused that night. But it did happen. This is reality. Both parties have to live with the events and consequences of that terrible, avoidable accident, for better and for worse. Kristina can’t change what happened and I’m sure she’ll regret it for the rest of her life. What she has learned about herself and the changes she has made as a result are an unexpected blessing. Everybody makes mistakes. The wise and the penitent and the conscientious learn from theirs. I know Kristina will NEVER make that mistake again.

Thank you for your consideration.

Fuck, right? I don’t have any words for this.

Two weeks ago I met up with one of my former drinking buddies. I’d seen her only a handful of times since my accident, and had a growing resentment with our situation. I won’t get into detail, but she’s not one of those people I can blow off by saying she’s a drinking buddy and only a drinking buddy. We kept in touch via text after my accident, and she was there for me for the death of my greyhound and three weeks later when we had to euthanize our cat early this year. She hired me back in 2007 to man the front desk of a very busy county humane society. While working on my masters I decided to take on my passion of animal rescue/welfare. I had already worked in libraries for eight years and wanted to indulge this passion before spending the rest of my life in libraries. Anyway, we became great friends. And drinking buddies. I felt abandoned by her after my car accident, as previously she had all the time in the world for me when I was sitting next to her on a bar stool. So when we got together a couple weeks ago, I finally told her how I had been feeling.

I was not expecting her response. Turns out my drinking had become so bad that she forced herself to detach from me. She was there the night I passed out in the park, she helped to drag me out of a cab and get me into my house and on a couch on my birthday last year. I was gobsmacked that one of my drinking buddies was disgusted by my behavior. I was once again overcome with shame and embarrassment. And then anger. Anger because whenever I tried to control my drinking by not drinking for two weeks or a month or whatnot (ridiculous, right?), she was the one who never respected my desire to try to stop for said period of time. I would still be deluged with texts from her: “Drinkies tonight?” “Margs tomorrow?” “Beers on Friday” “Day drinking on the patio Sunday?” I’m struggling with what I should do with this, with her. The best thing would be to continue to detach with love, to walk away. It’s hard with shared friends, though.

Last night sucked. I was overcome with so much emotion, especially after reading my brother’s love and anger toward me and this situation. I feel horrible for hurting so many people with my actions, even worse so that I am still the cause of stress and worry because of my potential jail sentence. I hate that I was so out of control for so long that it took me cheating death and hurting another person to stop the madness. I wonder how long I will feel shitty about my actions? How long people will bring up my actions thus bringing back all the hurt and guilt and shame again and again? I am so proud of myself, and of what I am becoming. But still, I have moments where I wish this was all a bad dream.

I’m tired.

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9 thoughts on “383 Days

  1. I hope you get a favorable outcome and that you can keep moving on with your new chapter on life. Still sending you love and strength…we’re here for you no matter what your mood.

  2. Of course you wish this was a bad dream!!!! It sucks ass in the worst way!!!

    To answer your question about how long? For as long as it takes. I’m not a big AA person but going through those steps helped me more than anything else when I was trying to get past my past behavior and what I did to others. I made amends and then…eventually…after a long time…I forgave myself..

    You’ll get there. Just remember that the “bad times” are just a part of your life. It doesn’t define who or what you are now. Now that you’re sober those times are OVER – time to move on to a bigger and better life.

    AND if the worst happens (which I truly don’t believe it will) and you have to do some jail time, just go with your head high and be the best Mother Fucking Super Ninja Sober Lady that jail has ever seen!!!

    Sherry

  3. That letter…. Yeah… Fuck….

    The job… You’ve got people in your corner. That’s good. You’ve done all you can. That’s one where The Serenity Prayer works well.

    The friend… Trust your gut. Cut her some slack, I mean we’re all screwed up to some degree, but where she is may not click right now where you are. People change in time, maybe things will change in time again. But if drinking is a priority to her, and not drinking is a priority to you, then it’s gonna be difficult right now. Get a little more on secure footing, some more time, some more stability; she’ll understand. If she doesn’t, well then that’s telling too.

    Breathe in. Exhale. Rinse and repeat. It’ll be okay.

  4. Dude….put me down for a letter. Seriously. Send me your email addy to : carrythemessage164@gmail.com and I can write you a letter. I won’t have a problem coming up with one, even though I don’t “know” you per se, but I have experience with these letters – so many of the folks out here wrote them for me, and it would be an honour to write one for you. It’s up to you, though.

    As for what’s coming up – I can identify. I too have a great boss in that regard, and HR too. It’s hard to have so many people in your corner when there is still a small part of you that thinks you are not worthy of it. That is what had me crying like a baby when reading my letters – I am not worthy of it!! Ugh. But then there was a part that told me, yes Paul, you are worthy of this. The universe would tell me when I could pay it back. Perhaps this is one of those times, you know?

    And your friend – i agree with Chrisy – give your friend a wide berth here. We don’t know what we put others through until we ask them and they honestly answer. Frankly, I have no real idea what damage I did to others. I will never know, and my gut tells me that I probably don’t want to know. So what she said was refreshing and a good barometer to where you were at.

    Anyway, breathe. It will work out – no matter what the judge says or does – it will work out.

    Let me know about the letter, my fair lady!

    Hugs,
    Paul

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