Four Years (5.12.17)

sober

It’s still amazing to me that I’ve gotten to this point. God willing I will continue on this journey, and will find the accumulation of each new year just as magical as the first. I remain a work in progress, and hope to be a student of sobriety for the rest of my days. AA has saved my life, and I must continue to give thanks for all that I’ve received by carrying the message of hope to others. It can be done. Life gets exponentially better! Please stay while you are here.

4

I finally got my coin yesterday, as I left town on Friday and got back Tuesday. In a way, I’ve turned a corner on my recovery this year. Or maybe it’s just in my personal growth? I’m sure I’ve written here how I’ve struggled with my sobriety date. It’s a day of both pain and joy for me. The past three years I’ve absolutely dreaded the week of my sobriety date, because on the day before, I relive my car crash. Of course I don’t remember the crash, but I am wracked with guilt and pain because of it. Thanks to the intensive work I’ve done with my amazing counselor, this year I was at peace with May 11th. I see her again next week, and I cannot wait to tell her how I did last Thursday. Nothing I can do will change the events of that day, but it’s such a relief that I made it through May 11th this year without stirring up a horrible maelstrom of emotion. I acknowledged the past, I prayed for my victim and her family, and marveled over how I am alive today. What an incredible blessing!

Cheers, Friends!

 

Marty Dobbs

Do any of you watch the Netflix show Love? Despite it being created by Judd Apatow and having a main story line involving addiction, I struggled to get through season one last year. I remember warming up to it slowly, and finally getting into and enjoying it by the last few episodes. I finished season two a week ago, and was much more into it. I also  sometimes found myself identifying with the main character Mickey, the alcoholic-addict. I remember watching season one and being infuriated with her! Funny, right? God knows I was a right pain in the ass for a lot of years.

The episode that struck me the most was “Marty Dobbs”. In it, Mickey’s father is visiting from out of town. He’s an alcoholic, and they butt heads because they are so similar to each other. Mickey’s love interest, Gus, is invited to act as a buffer, but instead he blows her AA anonymity to Marty. The visit is a complete shit show, and ends badly. Mickey and Gus are fighting on the way home, and eventually Mickey pulls the car over and gets out because she can’t even handle being in the same car with him anymore.

Mickey: I’ll just give you a ride home so you can have a break from me.

Gus: I don’t want a break from you. (awkwardly hugs Mickey)

dobbs

I can’t tell you how many times that has been me. Navigating through early sobriety is pretty terrifying, as is the realization that you are relearning how to do life all over again. Even worse is learning relationships, especially because I never learned the first time around. I desperately wanted to connect with people, but didn’t have a clue how. I remember feeling that I was incapable of being a good girlfriend, because KC in active addiction was a terrible girlfriend.

But back to Mickey…that was me. Sadly, my fiance has often been on the receiving end of that sort of exchange. How many times did I try to push him away because I felt that I was too fucked up to deserve love? Or that I was an unlovable mess? When that rough day snowballs into a terrible week and those character defects start to come out again. Thinking how the hell could someone love this?  Why would they want to?

There was never a button that clicked, where I suddenly realized that I am capable and deserving of love. It just sort of happened. Life got easier and I stopped fighting it and other people. I know that my journey of sobriety will continue to unfold as will my journey of learning to love myself. In the meantime I will remain grateful for all the people who stood by me and hugged me and loved me when I hated myself. I hope in season three Mickey will get to experience the growth and love that I have been on the receiving end of in my own sobriety. Until next season…

 

 

Alcoholic Eating

I’ve battled food my whole life, but with the absence of alcohol my food struggles have intensified. I am now working with my counselor again (who helped me a great deal before my sentencing) to try to deal with my ingrained shitty feelings about myself. I seem to have several issues going on here: I use substances (food, alcohol) to deal with unpleasant feelings, I punish myself more for being “bad”, I have the self-esteem of a snail, and I secretly hate myself. I’m kidding about the last two. Sorta.

Sobriety and AA have helped so much with my self esteem, but I still have that nagging voice inside of me that tells me that whatever it is that I am doing, it’s not enough. My lifelong battle with myself is exhausting! And my inner voice would never in a million years be as critical to one of my friends as it is to myself. What is it that alcoholics call themselves? Oh yeah. Egomaniacs with an inferiority complex. I’m not much, but I am all that I think about! Ha.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had one heck of a sweet tooth. I’m pretty sure I blogged here about those sugar cravings going haywire in my early sobriety. I’ve also turned to food for comfort since I was a kid. At age 8, I chubbed out after my parents split up. True to form, I found solace in bowls of ice cream and spoonfuls of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter after my car accident. In the 13 months following my accident, I gave myself the green light to smoke and eat heartily. I’m not drinking anymore, so I DESERVE THIS. What’s wrong with me smoking? I need to have one vice, right? I must add that I wasn’t a daily smoker, and if you are, then by all means DO NOT QUIT during your first year of sobriety.

In February I read Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. So much of what Sarah wrote rang true for me. In fact, I was photographing passages and sending them to people as I read the book. Here’s one that struck home:

comfort

I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt because people quitting the thing they love get to eat whatever the fuck they want. And that my friends, was my mindset. I continued to eat whatever the fuck I wanted after I was incarcerated for six months. Six months without fresh vegetables, most fruit, cheese, peanut butter, pizza, sushi, a good curry? I left jail 25 pounds lighter because I worked my ass off as a janitor, and because the food was wretched. I got out during December which meant I got to binge on rich holiday foods. But instead of eventually reining it all back in, my sense of entitlement kept kicking up. And as I gained my weight back, I started hating myself all over again.

I’m the type of person who when watching what I eat, will go on a “bad” food binge for a week after eating dessert when I shouldn’t have. Makes sense, right? Why can’t I just eat the cookie? Instead, I eat the cookie, hate myself, eat 200 more cookies, then hate myself a bunch more. I also know that I am addicted to sugar in the same way that I am addicted to alcohol. It takes time to wean myself off it, but once I do, I don’t crave it as much. However if I have a scoop of ice cream, my body cries more more more until I eat a pint. Until I am disgusted with myself. Here’s another quote I loved from Blackout:

selfdestruction

I’m a walking shame spiral! It should go without saying that I don’t really hate and despise myself, but I think my fellow alcoholics and addicts understand where I am coming from. I also have that same sense of guilt and shame following me around after I eat too much that I carried around with me for days after a bad night of drinking.

I was briefly doing well with my eating and the sugar intake, then I said screw it, and let the holidays steamroll over me. Now I am struggling with sad eating, as I call it. My fiancee is 9 hours away by car, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. He’s trying to relocate here, but it’s proved difficult for him to make a lateral move within a company that he’s worked for for 17 years. Lately I have found it easier to not see him for longer periods of time, because it becomes too painful for me after he leaves following a visit. I’ll have a good day, will work out, eat healthfully, then waves of sadness will hit me after a busy day which leads to me sad eating the contents of my fridge at 10pm. And then I feel guilty and shitty for days after. And the eating continues.

So friends…this is where I’m at. I am working to create my inspiration spiral, to change my palate and crave something good for me. (thanks for the line, Sarah) OH! I did quit smoking at the end of January. So that’s one good thing. I’m hoping I don’t sound too insane with this post. With sobriety comes a lifetime of learning to better oneself. I’ve already changed so much in my life within a short time, so I need to be patient in my growing process. Thoughts? Anyone else get where I am coming from?

Another college binge-drinking casualty…

All is well with my probation officer. We met up Wednesday morning, and talked about my probation-related anxiety. She was surprised at how rattled I was, especially since I am and have been doing all that I need to. She’s also tried to get me out of my probation early, but my judge said it’s a no-go. I just did an online calculation and I have 104 more days until this all goes away (at least from a legal standpoint). It’s been quite the ordeal, but I am grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned as a result of my actions.

I saw an article on Facebook earlier this week that crumpled my heart into a sad little ball. Have you heard about Erica Buschick? She was an 18 year old freshman at Miami University (in Ohio, my state), who died after a night of binge drinking. Her BAC was 0.347. A person in Ohio is considered legally intoxicated at 0.08. The night of my car accident, blood was taken at the first hospital I was at before I was life flighted. It was a 0.275. At a 0.25 BAC, “All mental, physical and sensory functions are severely impaired. Increased risk of asphyxiation from choking on vomit and of seriously injuring yourself by falls or other accidents.” At a 0.35 BAC “Coma is possible. This is the level of surgical anesthesia.” Info on BAC found here.

Wrap your brain around those numbers, and the fact that she was only 18. Because I just seem to love to feel my blood pressure rise, I read the comments on some of the articles about her death. Thankfully there were some level-headed ones too, which pointed out that many people forget how dangerous alcohol can be. This story struck a nerve with me, because I had a terrible night my freshman year in college that could have turned out the same way. In my case, I am lucky that my friends thought to turn me on my side, or I know that I would have asphyxiated on my vomit.

bottle

That’s me a couple months shy of 19 with my dorm neighbor Morgan, freshman year at college, holding the bottle that could have killed me like it was a prize. I was proud of that damn bottle! Or something like pride. I’m not really sure how to describe it.

Our incident with this bottle occurred the first weekend back to school in January after winter break. I remember thinking that I needed to stay in that weekend, to not get off to a crazy start partying like I did fall semester. I’m not sure how our impromptu party started, but Morgan came back from winter break with the booze. I ended up in her room that night, hanging out in a pair of boxers and a t-shirt, Hi-C juice boxes in tow to act as a chaser. A picture of me survives from that night, and I almost posted it. I’m sitting on the floor, my fist in the air, eye squinted shut with a huge smile, triumphantly wasted. A bunch of my dorm friends are standing around me, laughing at the drunk girl.  My roomie Julie also chose to stay in that night, but Morgan and I kept drunk calling her and singing Janis Joplin.

Morgan and I did shots of that bottle in rapid-fire succession until it was gone. I’d heard that we finished it in 45 minutes or so. We spilled a little bit of it at one point, and apparently I licked that vodka off the floor. Morgan eventually got thrown into one of the showers. I was out cold in her room, so a bunch of the girls picked me up and carried me next door to my dorm. Days later when I was finally able to to be up and shower, I discovered a giant bruise on my hip and thigh. That was from when the girls dropped me (carrying dead weight is hard and at 5’10 I’ve never been a slight, little person).

I lost that entire weekend, and I’m incredibly lucky that I didn’t lose my life as well. My roommate and dorm buddies were too scared to get our RA and ask for help for fear that they would get in trouble. I could have died from alcohol poisoning! Since they could not rouse me at all, they left me. Julie popped her head in from time to time, and at some point I started vomiting. She was forced to sleep in a different dorm on our floor all weekend because of the smell. I pretty much laid in my own puke for two whole days. At one point I was able to stumble and crawl down the hall to the bathroom. I ended up passing out in a stall, on the toilet.

After all that, here I am a few weeks later smiling in that photo. I could probably blog for weeks about college alcohol tales, but that’s boring. I’m not trying to glorify the past, but hearing the news about Erica brought all this back. Her fate so easily could have been mine. Of course I didn’t slow down my drinking after that. I was in college! In another Ohio university (like Erica was at) in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do but drink (or so we thought). I tended to shy away from shots after that point, preferring to get to my needed-level of drunkenness to dance, converse and flirt with the opposite sex via beer, which didn’t make me quite as catatonic. I do feel however, that I could blog quite extensively about alcohol and sexual behavior…

My fellow blogging friends, did you have a horror night like this in college or in your 20s? Did it make you stop or did you continue on? I’m curious to hear what you have to say. And I will continue to extend my sympathies via prayer to Erica’s family and friends. Parents should not have to bury their children. Just a sad, sad situation.

Adventures of Anxiety Girl!

anxiety-girl

 

My depression and anxiety are a million times better in sobriety, but sometimes they still get the best of me. The past week has been a rough one, and I’m fighting these feelings instead of turning my worries and problems over to my Higher Power. Two years ago when I was working with my sponsor E., she would always tell me to put down the boxing gloves.

Me: (overwhelmed. struggling. flailing!)

E: KC, quit fighting yourself. PUT DOWN THE BOXING GLOVES. Turn it over!

Me: But I’ve been fighting myself my entire life! THIS IS WHAT I DO.

E: And where has that gotten you?

Me: Le sigh…okay, fine. (prays, asks for help and acceptance.)

Two days later…

Me: Hey, E! I feel so much better. Why didn’t I turn my problems over sooner?

E: Told you so! That’s why I’m the sponsor and you are the sponsee. (wink, wink)

I’m struggling with a few things that I’d previously had a handle on. But as time moved on and life didn’t move in the direction I had hoped it would by my time frame, I’ve gotten angsty. Frustrated. Completely bummed out. Last fall I kept thinking, okay. This is going to happen when it is supposed to happen. In God’s time! It’s going to work out when it is supposed to. But I’ve gradually lost faith of it happening because it hasn’t happened yet. Looking back on my life post-car accident, I’ve been able to see that everything has happened when the timing was right.People, places and things worked out when they needed to. When I kept doing what I needed to in the program, when I stayed in the middle of the bed (so to speak), the magic happened.

Note to self: pray, turn it over, help another alcoholic, have faith. You’re gonna be fine!

An unrelated source of anxiety is my probation. It officially ends on June 9. I’ve lived in perpetual fear since being released from jail that I would make one wrong move and/or forget to do something, and I’d be immediately booted to prison. Since moving back to Akron and getting my probation transferred to a much bigger county with more crime, I am small potatoes here. Instead of seeing my PO each month, I go to the police station downtown and check in to a kiosk. I’ve only had to see my PO when I moved down here, and when I’ve needed to fill out paperwork that grants me permission to travel out of state.

Despite marking each month’s probation check in multiples time on my Google Calendar, in the past couple years I have woken up several times in the middle of the night, sweating profusely, heart racing, thinking that I missed my check in day. And being terrified of getting shipped to prison. Even jaywalking terrified me for a while! My judge is no joke, and I know that if I even sneezed wrong around that guy, he’d want to ship me out. I promise that I am not overreacting. My anxiety of jaywalking is, however his seriousness is not.

I had to check in yesterday, but the doors were locked. Government offices were closed for President’s Day. I immediately emailed my PO, and told her that the doors were locked, I didn’t see anyone, and that I hope it was okay if I would check in today. My anxiety rose on the bus this morning as I neared the police station (which is conveniently located where I exit the bus every day to walk to work). Worse Case Scenario Girl imagined me checking in, then promptly getting handcuffed and carried out when a buzzer went off. SHE DIDN’T CHECK IN WHEN SHE WAS SUPPOSED. SHE FINALLY FUCKED UP!

My PO told me once that if I was unable to check in on a certain date, to let her know ahead of time. Well, I wasn’t anticipating not being able to check in yesterday but at least I notified her ASAP. Tomorrow I will see her to get some work travel cleared, but I’m still freaked out. Deep down I know that I have nothing to worry about. I’m not a threat to the system in this county. She likes me.But I will still be on edge until I am done talking to her tomorrow. Until then, I know that I need to pray and turn it over. And calm the fuck down! (wink, wink).

I’m Still Standing

Hi all! World’s worst blogger here, but I am still sober. I just looked online to calculate that I am on Day 1374. Not too shabby!

I know I have mentioned this before, but I often think of my blog and feel guilty. My life is great, but I am incredibly busy these days. My blog also didn’t go in the way that I had planned, and that stalled me for a while. I’ve been out of jail for two years now but I had intended to blog about my experience there. I had written for my blog while incarcerated, but the person who had agreed to help me only published once and never gave me the rest of my writing back. You can only depend on yourself, right? Right.

Last year was an incredible one for me personally and professionally. I got to travel to the Outer Banks, Virginia Beach (for a work conference), and Boston. I started sponsoring in AA, and gave a bunch more leads (speaker meetings). Giving a lead still terrifies me, but the payoff is so worth it. In June I got engaged to my best friend! We are getting married in October. Life is moving along at a dizzying pace, but I can remember all of it! No more hangovers, no more guilt, no more shame. Sobriety is and will remain the best thing I’ve ever done.

One of my best friends just joined the program, which was an answer to my prayers. I shared my blog with her, and in doing so, got to go back and relive these entries. I am still grateful for all of you who traveled on this journey with me, and offered encouragement during those early days. The pain is palpable in so many of those posts, and it is a relief to be more settled in sobriety, to have overcome the unimaginable in my life.I hope to be here again on a regular basis, and I will do my best not to let you down.

3 Years

A brief note to let you all know that I am still around and still sober. Three years today! I still cannot believe it, but even better, I am amazed at my life now. Obviously it hasn’t been a cakewalk, but every moment has been worth it. I hope you are all well, and that you are working hard. I lost a member of my support group to suicide on Monday, and it’s left me pretty shaken. At this point, it still doesn’t seem real, but it will be downright painful when we celebrate her life Saturday. This disease is no joke! You’ve got to work your ass off and become uncomfortable to change. You need to reach out and ask for help! People are dying everyday from this. I promise you, your efforts will be rewarded. Don’t leave before the miracle happens.

Much love to you all,

KC