My First Lead

Hi hi hi hi hi!

I hate that I’ve turned into the world’s shittiest blogger. I’ve never been good with balance, and now that my professional life is booming my writing here is nonexistent suffering. But I’ve got to roll with it. Before I was incarcerated, I was bored to tears with my job. Granted, I got hired back by the same university library (which really was a blessing), but this time in a different department. A month ago I sort of fell into another   position when a coworker left for a new job. I was stoked to get this position, and it’s been incredibly challenging. Everything is continuing to fall into place for me, and I’m feeling great. So much good stuff is happening! But I think of you all in the sober blogosphere so much, and curse myself for not writing as often as I used to. I’m one of those folks that will get great ideas while performing mundane tasks (dishes, showering, etc.), but when it comes time to sit down and write, all those great ideas have vanished.

Earlier today I thought to myself that I needed to post an update today. Naturally I forgot, until I got a WordPress “Your stats are booming!” notification on my phone. That was the kick in the pants I needed. No idea why said stats are booming, but here I am.

As was previously posted, my two year soberversary was Tuesday, May 12th. I gave my first AA lead on the following Sunday, the 17th. This was not a planned lead; it was sprung on me about 10 minutes before the meeting.

fuckshitpanicOMGfuckshitpanicOMGOMGOMGPANIC!!!

I was bit freaked out.

I go to two large meetings in a row on Sunday mornings. The first is a discussion meeting, the second is a lead. I announced my soberversary during the first meeting. I was talking to a buddy during the break between meeting one and two when I was approached by E. to lead.

At first I thought he meant next Sunday, but I soon realized that he meant for the next meeting. Turns out his scheduled lead was unable to make it, so I became his next victim. At first I almost turned him down, but I said yes. In AA when you’re asked to do something for the good of the group, you always say yes. I was sitting next to my treatment counselor at the meetings like I always do, and she was so tickled when it was announced that I was going to share my experience, strength and hope with the group.

Of course this isn’t a standard meeting. It’s a big meeting in an auditorium, with a podium and a mic. Public speaking is pretty much the worst thing I can be asked to do. My fear of it is so great, that I’ve dropped college classes that required a lot of presentations. The first thing I did was crack a joke about how had I known in advance that I would be leading that morning, I would have at least bothered to shower for everyone. With these meetings, I usually roll out of bed, grab some coffee, and go. For those of you not familiar with AA, people who lead always dress up. I was in jeans, a t-shirt, flip flops, hair in a ponytail, no makeup. Classy gal I am! Oi…

Because I had such short-notice and my rising panic took over my brain, I didn’t give a typical lead. It was…around 10 minutes long. But in that time span I was able to give a concise talk about my lowest moments, how it all started, what it’s like today and how absolutely grateful I am for this program and the fellowship. The comments, thanks and feedback from others lasted twice as long as my lead. Everyone was so sincere and sweet. Even after the meeting I had a line of people waiting to shake my hand or hug me, and give me their thanks. Apparently I struck a chord with many, especially with a lot of newcomers. I’ve gotta admit, it felt incredible. I hugged E. after the meeting and thanked him for asking me.

Sobriety is full of unexpected blessings. The longer I’m sober, the more I can see God working through the actions of others. My lead and that entire morning was God doing for me what I could not do for myself. Had I been asked to lead the following Sunday, I would have spent the entire next week being nervous as hell and not sleeping. I’m so grateful to have had that experience! I spent the rest of that day walking on air, and as of today, I still have folks from that meeting approaching me and thanking me. All for sharing a sliver of my story. Pretty cool, right?

Two Years!

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So I officially suck at blogging. Sigh. In my defense, I am crazy busy but it’s good busy! Since I was last here I turned 35, got a nasty case of food poisoning (well, that part was bad), started physical therapy for an ankle injury from my jailbird days, found out that I am getting sued (has to do with my accident – also bad, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now so I’m not stressing over it), finally moved my cat from my ex’s place into my apartment, got a promotion at work, and I am still juggling my mandatory four AA meetings a week. I also got my first sponsee last week, but now I think that isn’t going to work out. All I can do is wish her the best at this point. So yeah…I’ve been busy.

Oh, and as of today I’ve been sober for TWO YEARS.

Last year it was a huge relief to hit that one year mark. This time around, it snuck up on me. About a month ago, I had a couple days where I was overcome with anxiety and dread. It was triggered by an episode from Mad Men season seven. Don’s drunken behavior hit too close to home. Big surprise, right? Then I was going through a purse that I must not have used in eons because I dug out some old bar tabs. I quickly turned into a mess and called my sponsor. Instead of looking forward to being sober for two years, all I could think about was how this would be two years since My Accident. Since I went left of center while driving in a blackout and injured an innocent person. I guess this time of year will perpetually be bittersweet.

This blurb from today’s entry of the 24 Hour Book really struck me:

“Turn out all thoughts of doubt and fear and resentment. Never tolerate them if you can help it. Bar the windows and doors of your mind against them, as you would bar your home against a thief who would steal in to take away your treasures. What greater treasures can you have than faith and courage and love? All these are stolen from you by doubt and fear and resentment. Face each day with peace and hope.”

Progress not perfection, friends. I’m excited to see where this next year will take me.

Weak Spots

As most of you know, this past year has been a constant transition period followed by transition period followed by transition period. I am currently adjusting to my new life on my own, a new job, and another (partial) loss of freedom by being unable to drive. The past four weeks have been another “Look Ma, no hands!” rollercoaster ride emotionally. With change comes anxiety, vulnerability, depression and moments of weakness.

Life would be so much easier without Facebook, wouldn’t it? I wish I could sever the ties completely, but I can’t. Being incarcerated was both a blessing and a curse when it came to human contact. I was no longer a slave to my phone and to social media, but it was harder to get a hold of people via letters and expensive phone calls. There were so many periods where I was so depressed that I couldn’t write letters. And then I felt guilty for friends spending exorbitant amounts of money for 15 minute phone calls just so I could rant or cry to them. Towards the end, phone calls and visits were too much. I went through with them, but it seemed better to isolate myself completely. Hearing a voice over the phone or seeing a face through a glass window left me despondent and missing them more. It was painful.

What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Facebook. Sigh.

Last night on Facebook, there were some photos of a few people that I love dearly. They were sitting on barstools at my old hangout, pints in hand, with big smiles. I had an overwhelming urge to be sitting there next to them, drinking away my anxieties, feeling that warmth and instant happy wash over me. To have effortless conversation, to not feel like the shy awkward one, to be with my friends in that setting again.

I was jealous. Jealous that I couldn’t be there, jealous of their fun, jealous that for most of them, they can go out and remember what they did the next day. It was a really shitty feeling.

Friends, I know what I need to do, but I also needed to vent with people who understand. Thanks for being here with me.

647 Days

Holy shit, you guys! So much is happening. I’m sorry for being quiet but I went through a much needed phase of rebuilding with a wonderful new sponsor. I’ve been working the steps, redid 4 and 5, and have been making amazing progress with myself.

Jail erased all the confidence I’d built up prior to my sentencing, and it physically and mentally wiped me out. I went into survival mode there; it was all I could do. But that’s behind me now and I’m moving forward.

I have gotten a job back with my previous employer: same job title but different department. And I just signed the lease on a cute little studio apartment! I move in this weekend, begin work on Monday.

Holy shit!

My head is spinning.

In the meantime I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that I cannot stop it from spilling over onto my cheeks and down my face. I’m blown away by how fast my life is progressing and moving forward. And I am so thankful for AA! I’ve survived the scariest and most awful moments of my life without having to take solace in a bottle, to remove myself from, well, myself. I am so humbled and so proud!

Once I get settled, I will return to regular posting again. I will have my desktop at my place, and that will help. I’m terrible at using tablets and my phone for long correspondence and blogging. Not my thing.

Thanks for being patient and for following me on this journey! Life is good, and transforming from a glass half-empty person into a glass half-full person is pretty fucking great. I hope you are all well!

Reminders

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I bought these Doc Martens the first time I was in London, March 2002. They’re wickedly uncomfortable, but I love them. There’s a blue and red stripe up at the top of the boot, some extra flair that my jeans cover up. And thanks to a night of heavy drinking in November 2012, the toes are scuffed all to hell.

Perhaps it makes them look a bit more weathered, but the scuffed toes tend to piss me off. I’m pissed that I fucked up my Docs, even more pissed that it’s because I was well (as the Brits say), pissed.

I was out celebrating the birthday of one of my best buddies that night. It began innocently, with sushi and a beer. I can’t remember where we all ended up or what happened. I just remember thinking once again that it was going to be a laid back night. Seems like those laid back nights always caused me the most grief! They often ended up being a catastrophe.

I have hazy memories of walking stumbling back to J’s house from a bar. It was her birthday, and while she was also a heavy drinker (and the birthday girl!), she was in charge of getting Drunky Drunkerton back to her house. Apparently throwing me into a cab wasn’t an option. Only a couple months earlier that happened at another birthday celebration and I ended up passed out in a park. Clearly I wasn’t to be trusted to get home safely on my own anymore once I reached the point of no return.

On the walk to J’s house, I was so drunk I kept falling down. It was freezing and I was done. I wanted only to sprawl out on the sidewalk and pass out. J kept dragging me back up, and I would stumble and fall on my face again. I woke up with some incredible bruises and some banged up Docs. I kept hearing J coax me back up: “Come on KC, we’re almost at my house. You can do this!” She was and still is so sweet to me.

It felt like I was attempting to cross the Appalachian Trail instead of a sidewalk. Our journey back took what seemed forever, but we finally made it. I crashed in bed with her, and never gave one thought to letting my ex know where I was. Probably because at that point, I didn’t know where I was and didn’t care.

That night reminds me of a party I was at before I turned 18. I ran around my friend’s house double fisting beer and wine the entire time. The night ended badly of course. At one point I was in the bathroom and two of my buddies were trying get me to stand up, coaxing me just like J had. I could see our reflection in the mirror, see them struggling to hold up my dead weight. 17 year old me and 32 year old me were exactly the same. It took until I was 33 to end the madness.

I wore my Docs yesterday for the first time since the spring, and tying those laces, seeing the scuffs brought all those memories back. At first it was shame and embarrassment, but the longer I wore them yesterday, the better I felt. I’m never going to be that falling down drunken disaster ever again. And that feels amazing.

Oy Vey

A quick update: I’m still alive and kicking. Good news! *wink, wink* And I’m still sober, but I am having a hard time with my new normal. Getting out of jail and suddenly being surrounded by booze (my mom and her husband are drinkers) after being completely removed from it for half a year was a weird feeling. Like walking by an open beer made me feel…really uncomfortable. Almost like it was going to leap out and bite me. In fact, my entire state of mind is akin to my newly sober days. I am not coping as well as I was prior to my sentencing. I feel like I’ve taken 50 steps back in every aspect of my life and emotional well being. I’m not gonna lie, it sucks.

But I just wanted to let you all know that I am here and doing okay but still adjusting. Still trying to get caught up with all of you again. I just NOW checked my blog’s email account for the first time since I’ve been out. Oops! And there are others of you that I still need to reach out to and reconnect with. Please be patient with me, I’m in a bit of a tailspin at the moment. To all of you who are newly sober and checking out my blog (my stats are going up again, so I’m guessing that there are a lot of you here – Welcome!), I hope that you find my archives helpful. If you need help, do not hesitate to ask. Please email me if you’d like.

I hope you all had a great holiday season. I was spoiled as usual, and despite getting sick, had a wonderful time seeing family and friends I hadn’t seen in ages. And overindulging in lots of delicious food! I lost weight in jail, but I think I’ve gained most of it back already. No worries though, as I am out of that cold, depressing place! Today I applied for a job at my former place of employment. Unfortunately, it’s not my previous job, but it would be a step in the right direction. And trust me, direction would be great right now. Please cross your fingers for me.

Alright kids, be good! I promise to be back shortly.

585 Days

I am still struggling to keep up with texts, emails and phone calls. Still adjusting to real life, along with my new normal: living with my mother and being unable to drive. There’s a lot that’s happened during the past six months, and I’ll get to that. There are also three more posts I wrote in jail that need to be published. Unfortunately the whole blogging from jail thing didn’t work out as planned, but that’s okay. Shit happens.

In September I received a copy of Hazelden’s Twenty Four Hours a Day book from a fellow inmate. It was custom to dole out extra commissary or other goodies to your buddies upon release. What a wonderful feeling it was to get to that day myself and distribute my shampoo, lotion, candy, notebook paper, etc.

In treatment last fall, we read from the 24 Hours a Day book every morning. I still don’t have a copy of my own, but enjoyed adding the daily reading to my morning rituals while incarcerated. One of the first things I did after getting the book was to flip through to June 9, the day of my sentencing. I was floored when I read it. I took this photo of the entry at a meeting yesterday morning:

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Coincidence? I don’t know, but it brought me to tears. The day of my sentencing and the start of my incarceration wasn’t my bottom, but it sure felt like another bottom. I was sober, but felt like I’d been drop-kicked into a sewer. Thanks to my drinking, I was broke, spiritually bankrupt, I hated myself and yes, life seemed impossible.

“We had to end it all or do something about it.” Waking up in the ICU, not knowing what I had done (aside from drinking and driving) to get there, I knew it was do or die time. Not everyone gets a second chance, and there’s a reason that I got one. There’s a reason that I lost nearly everything. I am here to help others and to show them that the impossible can be done. That despite all the shit stacked against us, it is possible to climb your way out the rubble, the ruins of drink. To come out of life on top. To succeed. To deal with hardship without diving into a bottle every time something bad happens.

Am I glad I did something about it?” Hell yeah, I am! Onwards and upwards, friends. Onwards and upwards!