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)

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…

 

 

Two Years!

heygirl

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.

13 Months + 3 Days

Robin here. I finally got mail from KC today! Two letters, and she included a blog post in one of them. I’ll pass along any comments you leave. 

Hello from jail! So glad that Robin is able to post for me and that she gave you guys an update about my sentencing. Monday (sentencing day; this was written last week) was obviously awful. The victim did not show up, so unfortunately I did not get to apologize to her in person. Someone read a statement from her. She and her husband have forgiven me, but her family is still really angry. I wish we could have talked in person. I hate that I still don’t have a face to her name.

It took me some time, but I was able to read my full page-long statement to the judge/court. I could hear my family and friends crying as I read it. My lawyer hugged me afterwards. The judge acknowledged my 30 amazing letters of support/character and my achievements since the accident, but showed zero leniency. Six months in this hell hole, license suspended for three years, and three years probation. Even the women I live with here are in utter shock. I’m the only one not here for drugs. I’ve done nothing but rehabilitate myself since the accident, and now I’m taking enormous steps backwards.

My alcoholic thinking got the better of me the first two days here. It was screaming in my head, throwing toddler-style tantrums. I actually cursed my efforts to get well, all the time I spent in counseling, in treatment, in AA. Hundreds of hours felts squandered. In my head the court system didn’t give a shit if I was passed out in a gutter somewhere as they certainly didn’t care that I was a year+ sober

It’s amazing how fucked up our thinking is. I was angry at how hard I worked to turn my life around and achieve sobriety. In reality, all that hard work kept me from having a nervous breakdown these past two months. It’s kept me sane. There is no easier, softer way. This gift of sobriety is something I will have to work hard to maintain for the rest of my life. I have to take it one day at a time, just like this sentence. Looking forward only causes anxiety and stress.

The first couple days here were obviously awful. My body, heart, and mind were in shock. To make matters worse, I had to wait a full week until today (Monday) to go to commissary. All I had for a week was one change of clothes, one blanket (it’s freezing here!), a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap. No comb, no shampoo, no pens, paper, snacks, coffee. Thankfully some of the women here helped me out by lending me a comb and shampoo, making me a cup of instant coffee or handing me an apple or a couple cookies. Finding a hair tie under my bed the second day was akin to winning the lottery!

My body is already bruised from my bed. We have a thin bedroll on metal. For the first time in my life I’ve been thankful for not being a petite woman! I can’t imagine how much more painful my bed would be without my extra padding. The food is terrible. Salty and processed, zero fresh vegetables. My fresh fruit is limited to an apple or small orange every other day. The air conditioner freezes us out and we all shiver at night in our metals beds with one blanket. But I have a roof over my head, daily access to a shower, food in my stomach (even if it is gross), and I have the support from so many amazing people. This sucks, but it could be so much worse, you know?

Will send another update for Robin next week. Hope you are all well. I miss you all. Enjoy some fresh air, sunshine, and a salad for me.

 

 

 

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…

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 chat  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.