Dear 2014 Me

I wish I could go back in time and give 2014 me a hug. Let her know that everything she’s been through, everything she’s fought for, all the tears and fears and doubts will one day be worth it. Let her know that she is loved, and she is most certainly strong enough.

Four years ago today I walked out of maximum security jail after being incarcerated for six months. My mother, father, brother, and friend Lisa were waiting for me in the lobby. I will never forget the sound of my mother’s sobs as she held me.

At this point in my life, I was almost 19 months sober. I had lost everything, and had to move in with my mother. It would take another 2 ½ years for me to be able to drive again, and I had resigned from my job. Despite my master’s degree, I was terrified that no one in my profession would take their chance on a felon. I was scared and my self-esteem was in the toilet.

Five days later I wrote this on my blog:

I am slowly adjusting to life post-incarceration and am reveling in simple pleasures: sunshine and fresh air, real coffee, walks with my dog, fresh fruits and vegetables, being able to hug friends and family, sleeping in a real bed with a pillow, wearing my own undies, etc. While I am grateful to put the past six months behind me, there are still many obstacles looming on the horizon. I’m scared and hope I have the strength to get through all this. One day at a time right?

Dear 2014 me: You’ve got this! Keep fighting and never give up. Your life will be amazing. YOU are amazing.

I got through it all by taking baby steps. Baby steps don’t seem like much at first, but soon you look back and realize you survived a marathon, and then a triathlon. Only these distances are not measured by speed, but by dedication and perseverance. Four years later, every bump in the road, every time I’ve struggled to keep my head afloat in shark-infested waters, it’s all been worth it.

In the meantime, there’s no end in sight. The work remains, and I strive to keep moving, to stay sober, to keep learning more about myself. I also have a hell of a time doing it! Life today is a blast. I wish I had the strength to do all this work before I hit my bottom, but that’s how my story goes. This is a hard time of year, so please reach out if you need to. Also know that it will get better and better.

Dear 2014 me: The best is yet to come! Trust me.

Freedom

freedom

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.”

I made it! I’ve finally earned my freedom from felony probation after three years. This includes: a six month stay in a county jail, losing my home during that time (i.e. getting officially booted from my ex’s house where I had lived for eight years prior) along with my mind for a short period, resigning from my job, having to move back home with my mother after my jail sentence, being completely broke and having to sign up for government benefits and medical insurance, getting a new AA sponsor and going to new meetings in a new town, being sentenced to 4 meetings per week once out of jail, my license being suspended for three years, paying several thousand dollars of court costs, restitution, and BMV fines (after spending 12.5K on a lawyer), getting a job back with my university library in February 2015, moving back to Akron into a tiny studio apartment, living ON MY OWN (with no roommate or boyfriend) for the first time ever, learning how to live independently without a car (public transit here isn’t the greatest), having to get forms signed and get permission every time I left the state, getting sued, waking in up terror some nights wondering if I forgot to check in or do something correctly with probation, living in fear of being hauled off to prison (not jail – my judge was trying to get me 2-5 YEARS in prison) if I so much as sneezed wrong, and what else?

 

OH YEAH. During this time I’ve stayed sober! I found another new sponsor and new home group when I moved back to Akron, I reworked the steps, I started sponsoring, I started giving leads (other people call them speaker meetings) despite being terrified of public speaking, I became active in my home group, and in general I gave back to AA as much as I could because I owe this program my life. If it weren’t for the program and the fellowship, I would have crumbled. Instead, my life became better than I ever could have imagined.

After my accident, I wondered why I escaped death. I had all these obstacles in my path that I could not see an end to.  How could I do it? I felt like my life was over. There was seemingly no way out.

Kids, if you are new to the program please stick around. Be willing. Ignore the icky God stuff at first or merely think of it as “Good Orderly Direction”. Ask for help. Go to meetings. Get a sponsor. Work the steps. Grit your teeth and ride out all the new uncomfortable feelings. I promise it will pass and that it will get better. One day at a time it gets better, and we recover. I am living proof that this thing works.

Don’t ever give up on yourself. I’m so glad I didn’t.

 

575 Days

A quick post to let everyone know that I am finally free. I’ve missed you all so much, and appreciate your kind thoughts and support. It still means the world to me!

I am slowly adjusting to life post-incarceration and am reveling in simple pleasures: sunshine and fresh air, real coffee, walks with my dog, fresh fruits and vegetables, being able to hug friends and family, sleeping in a real bed with a pillow, wearing my own undies, etc. While I am grateful to put the past six months behind me, there are still many obstacles looming on the horizon. I’m scared and hope I have the strength to get through all this. One day at a time right?

Looking forward to catching up with you all!