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.

 

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Four Years (5.12.17)

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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.

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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!

 

392 Days

Here’s hoping I can get some rest tonight. Whatever happens, I will survive. Hell, I’m already a survivor! And I’m so proud of myself for the changes I’ve made in my life. My sobriety is a precious gift, and it will help me to get through whatever life throws at me tomorrow. Say a prayer or send me some good vibes if you can. Hopefully I will be back here with you all sooner than than later. Until next time…

365 Days

This post is dedicated to my mom.

I spent Saturday May 11, 2013 with family in my hometown for my grandmother’s 80th birthday. Before going to my aunt and uncle’s house, I stopped to see my other grandmother, to give her flowers and a card for Mother’s Day. My plan was to go and see my mom after the party (my parents divorced when I was seven), so I wouldn’t spend two days in a row driving back and forth to my hometown. I could have spent the night at Mom’s, but she understood. My mom doesn’t guilt trip like her mother has done for her entire life. If I can’t make it to a family birthday, she gets it. Of course she wants to see me, but she gets that I have my own life.

When I got to the family party, I was surprised to see that my aunt had a pitcher of fresh sangria sitting out in the kitchen. Alcohol is never served at family functions on my dad’s side of the family. My grandparents do not drink. In fact, my grandpa’s dad was a mean drunk who beat up on and eventually left his mother. My grandfather (who is a wonderful, caring man), never drank as a result of his father’s actions. My aunt and uncle have an entire temperature-controlled wine room in their mini-mansion. It killed them to never serve wine at holiday dinners. I am not sure why they did not serve alcohol at family functions after all these years. My brother and I were often puzzled by their actions. After all, it’s their house and they can do what they want, right?

Leave it to me to cheat death the day my aunt and uncle decided to serve booze at a family function.

It was a chilly day for a barbecue, but we made the most of it. Grilled brats, a ton of yummy sides. Cake and ice cream for grandma, and later we had s’mores over the fire. At first, I had one sangria an hour for the first three hours. No sweat. Later, my aunt started digging for wines in the wine room. While I preferred dry reds, a good Gewürztraminer always perked me up. As we all loosened up, we moved inside to play Apples to Apples at the dining room table with my younger cousins. And that’s the last of my memory for that evening.

I started taking antidepressants in spring 2012. My drinking spiraled out of control after that. Constant blackouts. I passed out in a public park, for Christ’s sake! And of course those drugs did shit for my depression, when I poured alcohol down my gullet on a regular basis to deal with my problems. In April 2013, I started another drug in addition to what I had already been taking the past year. That month I went to visit my best friend in St. Louis, a trip I make at least once a year (the city is my home away from home). I was there for the better part of a week, and I had two spectacular nights of drinking during my stay.

But back to that night. I don’t know what happened, but I didn’t end up going to my mother’s. In fact, my accident had me going toward the freeway in the direction of home. Who knows what was going through my mind? Did I pass out behind the wheel? Maybe I wanted to die at that moment? I have no idea. According to state troopers and witness statements, the crash happened at 10:03 pm. At 11:20 pm, mom sent me a message on Facebook that read: “Check in I’m worried. Just a beep when I try to call you.” At that point, I had been extracted from the wreckage and was at the first hospital, which was only a couple miles from the crash site.

Last night I prayed at 10:03 pm. I prayed to my Higher Power for sparing my life, and for sparing the life of the woman I hit. For giving me the brunt of the injuries that night, for keeping her relatively safe. I prayed for her, and hoped that she was doing okay on this anniversary of our lives colliding, hoping she had a good Mother’s Day with her family. She was picking up her son from a friend’s house when I hit her head-on. I prayed for my sobriety, and for being a completely different person today. I gave thanks. Thanks for my strength, my clarity, my new attitude. For everything. These days I am overflowing with gratitude. I prayed for peace of mind. I prayed for the strength to get through my jail sentence.

And I cried. And I cried. And I cried.

Back to my mom who probably worried herself sick before falling asleep that night. When she answered the phone at 2 am, it was officially Mother’s Day. She got the phone call that all parents dread: that her daughter had been in a horrible car accident, that she was in critical condition, that after being at one hospital briefly, she had to be lifeflighted to the number one trauma hospital in the state. Mom said that I was conscious when she arrived. She held my hand while the tears streamed silently down my face. I didn’t make a sound. I wonder what I was thinking then? I must have been terrified. I will be forever grateful for having zero memory of all the trauma involved with that evening.

As I’ve mentioned before, I came to (so to speak) sometime that following afternoon. Family and friends were surrounding me. I was intubated, on a backboard with a cervical collar, on oxygen, my arm in a giant soft cast. I found out I needed surgery for my three nasty forearm fractures, but that I would have to wait until Friday because the swelling was too great.

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The day was a blur. I didn’t know what happened, and I was afraid to ask. Once my endo tube was removed, I couldn’t stop vomiting. The nurses were upset because I kept trying to lift my head to vomit into a container, but they were still worried about me having a neck injury. Mom stayed with me, and gently helped me to aim without using my neck (bit rough, trust me). Finally everyone went home for the night. I didn’t have my contacts in, but I was able to listen to “The Golden Girls” on television. Sleep is impossible in the ICU as your vitals are being taken so frequently, and nurses are coming and going all the time. My nurse that night was a man named James. He was also there when I came in the night before, but I didn’t remember him. He was in his late 20s, and very kind. We talked that night, and while I don’t remember our conversations that well, I will always remember his kindness. My mother felt the same way about James, as she spent that entire first night with me (and him). I’ve always regretted not getting his last name so I could send him a thank you to the hospital. Of course that was his job, but none of the other nurses treated me with that same level of kindness. I will always remember him, and be thankful for his soothing words during one of the scariest times of my life.

Here I am, one year later. That night in the ICU, I knew that I had to stop drinking. Hell, when I started this blog I couldn’t even call myself an alcoholic! I am astounded by how much I have grown in 365 days. One thing I have learned is that my experiences are unique to myself. I know it sounds silly, but I remember reading wonderful blogs here by folks with much less sobriety than I had. I felt like these folks had it together while I was still dealing with my mess. It took me a long time to get my “Aha!” moment. To know that I am an alcoholic, and to recognize that this accident was the best thing to ever happen in my life. To plead guilty to a felony, wait to be sentenced to jail, and still remain in a good state of mind. To those of you in early sobriety, do not base your recovery on the recovery of another. Just a guideline.

I had a great day with family yesterday. Most of it was spent with my mother and family at my grandma’s house. After, I visited my dad and grandparents. I talked at length with my grandparents about My Drinking for the first time. My grandfather started to cry as he recounted a time when his father came home drunk again, and starting hitting his mother. Pappy’s older brother (one of them – there were ten siblings total) attacked his father and drove him out of the house. Pappy eyed me and nervously asked if I was done with the alcohol. With tears in my eyes, I reassured them both that I was done with alcohol for good.

 

 

355 Days

Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful!”

The above quote has been swirling through my head all day. It’s helping me to make sense of what is happening, with what I have done, with my consequences. Today I pled guilty to a felony in court. It was part of a plea offer, but still, I pled guilty to a felony in court.

Me.

I did that.

This is my life.

And then the quote from the Big Book runs through my head again and again…

This was never going to happen to me. I’ve always been the quiet shy one with my head in a book (unless booze was involved, of course). I love school and learning. I was the first person in my immediate family to go to college. Not only that, but I have a Master’s. I am the type of person who would never eat a stray grape in a grocery store. Wouldn’t the flashing lights come on? ISN’T THAT STEALING?

Silly, I know, but that’s how I think. Okay, I’ve got a bit of a wild, rebellious streak in me, but I’m a good person. And good people aren’t criminals, right? Wrong. What I am trying to convey is that if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Granted, I was not in my right mind when I committed a crime. Sober me would never be so reckless, thoughtless, careless. Sober me has swerved on country roads to avoid running over snakes. Other animals too, of course, but I’m trying to make a point. That person who hurt another person almost one year ago was not the real me.

Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful!”

Give me a couple days, and I hope to be back to feeling good and kicking life’s ass. But right now I am scared again. Rough week, plus my car died on the freeway yesterday (great timing) followed by this today. Life will not give me more than I can deal with, but it does a good job of knocking the wind out of me from time to time.

I am grateful to be sober another day. I am grateful to have so many wonderful family, friends and coworkers who have flooded me with texts and phone calls today to see how things went and how I am doing (even though I’m wiped out, totally overwhelmed, and haven’t responded to everyone yet). I am grateful for being able to borrow a car from my father while I decide if my current car is worth putting more money into. I am grateful for you all here, for reading the words of a stranger and offering support and encouragement. I am grateful to be able to sleep in my own bed tonight. My sentencing is June 9th. One more month of freedom for a while. Very grateful for that right now.

352 Days

Life continues to be all kinds of crazy these days. I’m also a wee bit behind on reading blogs here, but I’m hoping to catch up on all your lives soon (promise!).

I had a rough go of things last week, but I really am feeling better. It took a few days to digest the news from the prosecution (not backing down on me doing six months in maximum security jail), but I am over my little pity party. Obviously it is up to the judge to decide my fate, and I will continue to believe and prepare myself for the full six months. My judge is tough, so I am not anticipating leniency on his end. However, if he gives me a lesser sentence and/or work release then that will be wonderful.

As of last Thursday, I have a new sponsor. Back in February I was considering dumping my first sponsor. After a crisis at the end of that month, I told her that I needed her to “kick my ass, AA-style”. We got together for breakfast and a meeting, and kept in touch a few times after that. I haven’t seen her since then, and decided that I need and deserve someone who is going to push me along on this journey. My new sponsor, M., has been sober since 1997. She’s in my home group, and her lead blew me away last fall. She’s had a really amazing life, and didn’t get sober until alcoholism took her husband and soul-mate from her. We met for coffee last week, and I told her my story. It was agreed that we were a good fit, and she gave me assignments immediately. We’ll also be meeting once a week, plus we share our home group. I am grateful to have her on my side as I prepare for my jail sentence. I need this, big time.

My job is still up in the air. I have a union rep working on my behalf, and now I am thrilled to have my boss in on the fight. He has no idea what I’ve been going through, and yesterday we met and talked for about an hour. I was so nervous to discuss my case with him that I was worried I was going to hurl in his office (“If you’re gonna spew, spew into this“). I told him everything, and he was incredibly supportive. Blown away by all I’ve been dealing with and what I’ve done (busting ass to get well, seven week treatment program, etc) to get well without hurting my work performance in any way. He’s going to reach out to HR, and do anything possible to ensure that my job will still be here whether I am gone for six months or two months. He is also going to write to the judge on my behalf prior to my sentencing. I went back to my office when we were done talking. My door was cracked open a bit, and a coworker who has become a good friend came in to see how our meeting went. I was so overwhelmed (in a good way) by my boss’s response that I just started sobbing at my desk while she came over and hugged me.

I cannot get over how many amazing people I have in my life right now. Family, friends, coworkers, sober bloggers. The amount of love and support I continue to receive is mind blowing. All this support plus my continued sobriety has shown me that whatever happens, everything will be okay. I will get through all this, and be stronger for it. Hell, I already am! 

Come on, life! BRING IT.

 

Six Months

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Six months ago I came to in the ICU of a major trauma hospital in NE Ohio. I was on a backboard, in a cervical collar, intubated, on oxygen, and had a giant soft cast on my left arm. Not only did I not know what had happened to me, I had zero memory of my first helicopter ride (I have to insert humor somewhere…). The past six months have been the most physically and emotionally taxing of my life, but I am making progress in so many ways. This month (and always), I have gratitude for so much: for the unwavering support and love of my family, for my friends who have seen me at my worst and still stand by me no matter what, for my fur-kids who act like they haven’t seen me in ten years each and every time I walk through the door, and for the courage to change and grow.

Today also marks six months since I’ve had alcohol. It was in my hospital room that I realized that I had to change. I had known for a long time that I had a problem, but I wasn’t yet ready to say goodbye to alcohol. It is a miracle that I am alive today, and it took that miracle to give me the strength to give up my crutch. I was done feeling bad for being unable to control something that I would never be able to control, no matter how hard I tried. I was done feeling guilty for lying to friends and family to cover up my tracks. For waking up and not knowing how I got home. For feeling this horrible sense of doom all day following a particularly crazy night, worried to hear from my friends about the stupid things I had said or done while being drunk out of my mind. I was sick of two day hangovers, and getting really shitty sleep.

I hate that it took such extreme measures for me to give up drinking, but it had to happen. And despite how hard this lesson is, it has filled me with gratitude.