personal, recovery

12.10.17 | Day 460 | Musings + Reflections

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Let’s talk about art. Art, much like the meaning of life (among other things), is subjective; whatever our minds yield and what we then choose to make of it.

There’s a saying that goes something like “you’re allowed to be both a work in progress and a masterpiece at the same time,” and as cliché as it is, it is abso-fucking-lutely true.

If there’s one thing that is just as true, it is that it is possible to create something magnificent out of something once considered completely destroyed. And if this new-ish life of sobriety + in recovery has taught me anything, it is that from the debris left behind by our destruction, that we can unearth our true self, breathe new life into it, and ultimately create this beautiful, ever-evolving version of self that we once thought impossible when we only knew ourself to be little more than our addiction and/or internal suffering.

And alas, art is formed. Our truths are to be used as our canvases, and our stories and strengths are our mediums which we build upon. (Omg this sounds much more corny when I read it aloud, but no fucks are given bc I’m pouring my heart into this and have been writing these words in my head all day.)

Anyway, all this shit has been thoroughly thought through, full-circle, and the carefully selected quotes I journaled for my literary mood board have served me immensely over the last several days. I chose to read Rowe’s words from a recovering alcoholic point-of-view, and it stoked the flames within me that previously felt like they were uncomfortably quieting down. Earlier this week I began entering into a mild depressive spell, and began feeling more full of malaise than anything. It sucked. I found myself inaudibly moping and what was even worse was the noticeable fact I was slipping into a genuine indifference about the hazy, nebulous fog making its way into my brain.

So today I did some things, and put in some work, read + wrote some words, and… my mind, body, and soul started screaming “happy, happy, joy, joy” a la Ren & Stimpy, and fuck me sideways Susan, I sit behind this keyboard a happy woman yet again. (See previous IG post for my dumb face plastered with a big, stupid smile. Bc fuck yeah sobriety + all them authentic feels that come along with a clear mind!!!)

And as I sit here on my happy little clouds (the theme for this post is art, and if you don’t understand “happy little clouds” without having to use Dr. Google, then we need to have a serious talk), it’s because the creative wheels in my mind are turning, and the optimistic realist in me is planning out attainable goals — which are centered around creating: writing, learning, helping, and teaching — and I can feel myself starting to really uproot from out of this stagnation I’ve been subtly yet noticeably sinking into.

If you know me and/or been following my journey at all, you can see I have a very full plate, so maybe you’re wondering how/why I could possibly feel stagnant (play along even if you have no clue where I’m going with this — but hey, if you’ve read this far.. THANK YOU 🖤)… it’s because despite having a loaded calendar, I am aware I’m not evolving in a way that feels fulfilling to me. I’ve noticed behavioral patterns creeping back in, that while I do not fear a relapse, I know the warning signs for more situationally triggered depression, and I’m not having any of that shit. No, thank you. I’ve had my ebbs and flows with depression spells triggered by hormones and exhaustion, but now that I’ve settled more into my life of sobriety, I recognize these behavioral shifts as something I am responsible for + need to take control over, ASAP.

With baby steps towards transformation, and a “progress, not perfection” mindset I’m re-evaluating traits that need to be mindfully explored and worked on as a woman, mother, and wife… Finding ways to make it a priority to learn, discover, and write more (i.e. transition more lengthy posts –like this one– from IG onto a more suitable platform, like this here currently content deprived blog)… which allows for more consideration in the form of research + mental stimulation, as well as more proper proofreading… My biggest end goal is to eventually be able to become a professional counselor or therapist specializing in substance abuse (something along those lines), and use my story + voice as a means of helping others reclaim their lives and possess the ability to rewrite their stories.

However, I cannot accomplish any of these things unless I keep my sobriety first, continue to do the next right thing, and always make sure to live life one day at a time.

P.S. – Shoutout to Hip SobrietyLaura McKowen for being the bodacious trailblazers they are, and helping carve the way for all of us speaking up + unapologetically recovering out loud in a society that very much needs leaders like these ladies, to shine a light on the underbelly of our booze-soaked culture and exposing stats and truths for what they really are.

P.P.S. – And another huge shoutout to @SoberSavasana on her acceptance to Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Graduate School of Addiction Studies!!!

 

daily entry, personal, recovery

day 401 – you + me

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So, I’m participating in a little thing called the “Fall in Love with You” challenge over on the good ol’ instagram and today’s prompt, day 12, is “your passion.”

And so, here’s what I know…
My passions are this: you + me.

My passion went from being a slow-burning build up, to a fire that cannot be tamed.

My passion has been discovering myself, what I like, what I don’t like, what areas I want to explore, what areas are best left alone, who I am, what I want, and ultimately where I want to go from here.

I literally spent all of my 20’s trying to be everything and everyone but me. Looking back, I really was an identity fraud of sorts. It wasn’t intentional… at least it didn’t start out that way, it just kind of snowballed and gained momentum as the years went by.

I mean, I was good at certain aspects and roles in my life, but when I would lay my head down each night, all I knew was that I was lost, miserable, and basically a shell of a person, hollowed out entirely and no real grasp or desire to recapture any potential I once had.

I was good at maintaining a personal narrative full of redundancies and self-pity, and even better at complaining but never moving myself into action. It cost me lots of friends, but even more so, it cost me a complete loss of identity.

So, over the last 13+ months, I’ve patiently unlearned all my destructive behaviors and replaced them with creating the person I am still becoming at this very moment.

I’ve been picking up bits and pieces of the identity I competely destroyed and abandoned, and am continuously falling in love with myself more and more each day.

That being said, the more I continue to better myself and really become an example + living proof that we can and do recover, the more I find myself finding my voice as well as a path to the future: which is where you come in.

As I become the best person I can be, I become more determined to both nurture myself AND give myself to those who need it. A little “puff, puff, pass” if you will, about inhaling all of life’s blessings, and wanting to share/pass them on to others.

*~Getting naturally high on life, if you want to get literal~*

I’ve become increasingly passionate about accepting how beYOUtiful I really am, as well as how uplifting + empowering our sober commUNITY is; and all of these things are JUST. GETTING. STARTED.

My passion is something greater than myself, and I’ve never felt more alive and/or fulfilled than I do now. Showing up, speaking out, helping others, encouraging others, LOVING others is what/where I was destined to be all along.

So if ANYTHING good has come out of my past, it is all of these things, and I am grateful for them every single millisecond.

Here’s to you.
Here’s to me.
Here’s to us.

Here’s to the future; may it be wild and bright and limitless.

personal, recovery

day 400 – observing world mental health day

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“And this time, I can feel my hand. I can feel everything. And I want to keep feeling everything. Even the painful, awful, terrible things. Because feeling things is what lets us know that we’re alive. And I want to be alive.”

“For too long, I’ve made my past my future, afraid to imagine anything else. And I acted like that—static—afraid of my own kinetic energy. Maybe it’s time to start imagining, maybe it’s time to be in motion. Maybe it’s time for me to fight back against the sadness inside of me.” — Jasmine Warga

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, for those of you who didn’t already know.

As a depressed (and sometimes anxious) alcoholic in recovery, I know the depths and the shallows… the darkness and the blinding mania… the wantingness to either sleep forever or never sleep again… and everything outside and in between these psychological barriers… I know *all these things* all too well.

HOWEVER, I also know that pain is temporary… I know the sun is always hiding behind the clouds… I know there is hope… I know how to remind myself things will always get better.

Things get better with (but not limited to): Patience. Time. Work. Kindness. Honesty. Forgiveness. Recovery. Repeat.

I cannot advocate enough about the importance of coping + communicating as opposed to suffering in silence. Even if it hurts too much, or feels like an overbearing indifference. Even if you want time to reverse, stop, or speed up…

You are not alone. Your feelings are valid. You matter. You are perfectly imperfect. You are an exceptional, one-of-a-kind human being, and deserving of love. You are enough. You are SO enough. 🌹

(art is: The Frizz Kid who also had this to say about World Mental Health Day…

“Remember to be there for you neurodivergent/mad-identified/mentally ill friends in more ways than just a supportive status once a year. Remember that mental illness shows itself in different ways, in different people. Remember that being “high-functioning” or laughing and going out doesn’t mean a person’s mental illness has disappeared.

Remember that you are not owed an explanation as to why your friend may be feeling anxious, depressed, etc. because sometimes explaining why is a challenge, we often aren’t sure why. Remember that one person’s way of coping is not going to be the same as another. Remember that recovery narratives can often be toxic because for most people, mental illness is for life and it’s the ways we cope with them that change. Remember that your self-care, self-love, healing, and resiliency are defined by you for yourself.

Remember to not scoff at self-diagnosis, because psychiatric assessments with doctors to diagnose a mental illness can be extremely traumatizing, inaccessible, and that diagnoses can change over the years. Remember to be kind, to hold yourself and others accountable, to exercise basic empathy, and to keep these reminders in your heart everyday.” )

daily entry, personal, recovery

day 318 – so, i had an awakening…

anaisnin_ownworld

So, here’s a #FlashbackFriday to this past #TransformationTuesday: The Spiritual Edition (if you’d like to see the holy shit visual/selfie version, take a looksie at my IG. Linked on the right side of your screen .)

So, my insomnia has decided to resurface, and with that comes an open gate / onset slew of events: severe flashbacks, intense feelings of regret, shame, and guilt, a tsunami of emotions, internal exploration, brief and simultaneous exchanges of incredibly short episodes of mild mania and depression, an increased desire to write and an increased desire to reel it all back. My insomnia enjoys being the life of the party, because when this bitch shows up, it thrives on throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me just to see what my reaction will be.

I gotta break it to ya, insomnia, I got some tricks up my sleeve this go-round, and you’re not going to bring me down because AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. (this time.)

Anyway, as I tossed and turned until the wee hours of the morning, I had a most beautiful breakthrough that ultimately resulted in a profound epiphany, and I felt alive. And terribly awake. Da fuq cares if it was almost 1:30 in the morning? This bitch had a motherfuckin’ epiphany. And it was glorious. And painful. And conflicting. And I debated 18 billion different times on whether I wanted to go furiously write down everything racing through my mind or not, and finally my brain flatlined (or my sleep-aid kicked in, idk) and I finally fell asleep.

This morning felt different. I felt different. I felt invigorated. I felt happy. I felt proud. I felt good. I felt peaceful. You see, last night as I darted in and out of flashbacks and in-depth reflections, I was sidelined with a pure moment of clarity – and all of a sudden, SO MANY THINGS made SO MUCH SENSE.

I spent so much of my time during active addiction trying to paint myself and my life to be this tragic and romantic tale, an undiscovered muse sucked into a domesticated life, where things were periodically bleak, and despite having a lover a kid and friends (and stability), I thrived on keeping my soul in a tormented state and found myself continuing to try and try and try to be all these things I simply wasn’t. I lived and breathed and longed to be a manic pixie dream girl, and I tried to like all the “right” things, I tried to steer clear of mainstream and monotony, and I flailed and pouted and sought so many (wrong) things in so all the (wrong) ways as best as I could, for as long as I could.

And last night, I sat there retracing all my steps and then it ALL hit me HARD. I spent so much time seeking approval and attention from so many people, despite me keeping myself in denial that I was doing such because I didn’t want to admit I was wasting an endless amount of time and energy — all to just keep myself in this stupid hamster wheel and too scared to jump off. Because I just wanted someone and something (“someone” meaning seeking validation, acceptance and attention from others, and “something” being alcohol used as fuel to keep this negative flame and my candle burning at both ends)… and as I sat there scavenging in my own mind + scrolling through quotes on self-care… IT happened. That epiphany and clarity of realizing: I NEVER NEEDED ANYBODY ELSE TO SAVE ME EXCEPT FOR MYSELF. If I couldn’t ever love myself, how and why in the fuck was I thinking anything or anyone else would do it for me?

I’ve spent so long being this sadomasochist with myself and tried so hard to repel and push and pull at everything, kicking and screaming, and longing and it was all because I never loved or accepted myself. And I never loved or accepted (fully) that all these other “things” I was searching for – besides the whole self-love thing – it had all been there the ENTIRE time. Waiting. Patiently. For me to come around, and thank God I had a chance to wake up before everything I ever needed disappeared out of my life – and then it all sunk in that I could let go of all my old ideas and beliefs… just let it all go because I became painfully aware that I had to stop building up these fantasies and longing to be this special “thing” in the eyes of others… and that I have to be my own superhero, my own muse, my own princess in shining armor, or however the fuck you want to look at this… I let myself down for so long and tried to find it everywhere else but inside of me.

And this whole “a-ha” thing had me SO shook to my bones, that I felt electric this morning as I crawled out from under my sheets and I’ve been walking on sunshine ever since. If I only maintain this feeling for today, I’m okay with that, because I have learned something new. Something profound. On my own, but with the help of others (unbeknownst to them, more or less), and for all of this – I am grateful. I am aware – and all of these wonderful thoughts and growing pains have all been made completely possible because I’m learning to slowly but surely let go of everything I let weigh me down for so many years. And it is love and it is light and it is everything.

And you are everything, and I hope that you know that. And if you don’t know or see that right now, give it time and let it grow and you will reap the benefits. And every waking second until you find and love yourself, I hope you know that you are worth it. And you are enough. You are so enough.

I love you all. xo

daily entry, misc, personal, recovery

Day 307 – Hope Dealer #563

Kristin_HopeDealer563

“Greetings from  DFWTX—

First off, I just want to say THANK YOU for everything this movement stands for and for offering me the chance to be a hope dealer!

Second of all, I want to say that I’m writing this line after I wrote my story, and I didn’t mean to write a novel. It’s just incredibly difficult for me to try and simplify something so complex like living life with both a mental illness and substance abuse problem. I hope you’ll understand.

Now, I’m not going to lie… I was slightly selfish and held onto the chip for a while before feeling comfortable enough to send you my story. You see, I experienced a brief spell of exhaustion and a tinge of hopelessness during chip #563’s stay with me, and I wanted to be sure I was in the best state of mind and able to fully be the best version of myself, before contacting you + realizing there is somebody out there who could benefit from a token of hope more than I. That’s the whole point of this, right? To give hope away and deal it to those who need it more than ourselves? I’m now prepared the keep the hope I’ve regained, and am ready to pass the hope on.

Anyway, let me pull out my “crystal ball of doom,” so that I can give you a good understanding of what lies in my past + life in active addiction.

I didn’t start out drinking at an early age, really. I started out as a “normal” drinker, didn’t really touch or have any interest in alcohol until my senior prom in high school, and even still wasn’t sure why people were so smitten with essentially losing control of their inhibitions. After graduating high school, I would have wine coolers and other various fruity malt liquor beverages on an occasion, but nothing crazy or untypical for an adolescent, really. My behaviors and alcohol consumption were pretty “typical” from the ages of 17-20, as I was considered by others and viewed myself as a studious person, who was passionate about art and music, and enjoyed being as present as possible and couldn’t be bothered with the idea of getting buzzed. Now, between the ages of 17-20 I was becoming more aware that I wasn’t quite feeling happy (or what I imagined being happy should feel like), like people I knew. I was diagnosed with depression, which turned into later being diagnosed as bipolar, riddled with some anxious tendencies. I saw doctors and took my medication like I was supposed to, until one day I decided I’d had enough and took matters into my own hands, and eventually took myself off my medications and turned to other means of “feeling good” instead.

We’ll cut to what should’ve been deemed as a serious wake up call; well, more like two separate incidents that should’ve gotten my attention but didn’t. Mind you these happenings took place between the ages of 20-22; something that might be viewed as me acting in devious behaviors as a subconscious way of making up for the 18+ years I spent under a strictly run household…and more or less as a subsequent to me also playing doctor. Not long after my 21st birthday, like a few months after I turned 21, a doctor heavily advised I become abstinent from alcohol consumption for a lengthy duration of time due to how much gastrointestinal damage I was wreaking on myself. So, I went along with it and as soon as I was “allowed” to drink again…it was fairly obvious I was doing my best to make up for lost time. We’ll fast forward another 6 months or so, to the night of May 11, 2007. I went to see Bright Eyes play a gig with some friends, and the last thing I remember was trading my Xanax for drinks from the bartenders, and continuously popping them myself in between cocktails.

The next morning I found myself in the ER, with absolutely no recollection of what happened past the point of trading and popping pills. But, being the good little barely 22 years old girl I was, I decided (well, not decided, more like just got too caught up in chasing the next buzz) that I stopped taking my oral contraceptive somewhere along the way, and found myself pregnant come late summer of 2007. The last 3 1/2 years leading up to that point had been “fun and games” and I didn’t really see or care what was happening to me. So, I found myself having to drop out of college in order to pursue a life as a young mom.

April 2008 I gave birth to my first child, then I returned to college and graduated with my B.A. in 2011, and so forth. I was doing good and things were looking up, only they weren’t as happy-go-lucky as I made it to be. From about 2010 or so until I became pregnant again in 2015, I drank pretty much every night. At first it was still “normal” (what I thought was normal, but what turns out to be textbook binge drinking by definition), but hey — I was still maintaining control and my inhibitions most of the nights, so it was okay, right? Only it wasn’t, and I can’t even recollect how many nights I can’t recollect. I began checking out, began filling my head and my heart with endless pity parties, even further trying to make up for lost time and convincing myself that getting buzzed was a decent way to compensate myself for the amount of hard work I was doing. It’s not something I look back at fondly.

Now we’ll spin ’round the tornado that became my final and absolute “wake-the-f***k-up call” / the event that has changed me as a whole for the better, the battle I finally lost but gave way to the war I eventually won (and will continue to battle every day for the rest of my life), as I finally threw up white flag against my raging, high-functioning alcoholic way of life. Leading up to the day that provided me with my “awakening” I had already tested too many waters, was lying to those who loved and cared for me the most, I was becoming sloppy and crafty with trying to conceal all that I was doing, and I was just basically killing everything inside of me, physically and mentally. But for some reason, I just kept chasing that imaginary feeling I had never and would never be able to capture.

September 6, 2016 is the day I simultaneously died and was reborn — and I haven’t been the same since. While I still prefer to keep these details as withheld and private as possible (I’ve only told less than 10 people in real life what actually happened, and I’ve shared some within a private sober commUNITY), I can safely say I no longer have to keep up the tiring, ruthless way of living that was that of having an active addiction + love affair with alcohol. I’d hurt and lost enough people over the years, because I fancied courting Mr. Al Cohol instead, and the time had come to fully stop hurting the person I was cutting down the most, myself.

Since September 6, 2016 I’ve experienced more spiritual growing pains than I had in the 31 years leading up to that day (roughly 10 1/2 of those years involving a continual reprieve I believed only alcohol could provide), and I have handled more stressful situations than I have ever faced — and not only did I live through them, but I’ve learned from them and have found an inner strength in myself I never knew was possible. I’ve successfully completed an intensive outpatient program with a substance abuse counselor, I am incredibly active within various online sober commUNITY families, and I aspire to become a substance abuse counselor of some kind once my own children aren’t so dependent on me. My number one job in life is that of being a mother, and everything else comes second until my kids don’t need me as much. Outside of being a mom, my other number one focus in life is that of my sobriety and life in recovery, and until I can become educated and professionally certified to become a counselor or therapist, I will continue to be as active as possible within my newfound family, those who have also converted to a sober way of life.

Recovery is most certainly not a cure-all for life’s problems, and I still have depression, but I’m now coping with these things as opposed to viewing myself as a victim or sufferer of these illnesses. I’ll always be an alcoholic, but I don’t have to live a life full of fear because of it, I simply just don’t partake in its consumption anymore and I don’t feel sorry for myself because I “can’t drink.” I choose to live now, not exist, and I’ll be damned if I don’t make myself find the magic in the mundane on a daily basis — because it’s the little things that add up to the big picture, and that’s all life is — one, big picture. It’s a f**king masterpiece, and I am so insanely grateful I get to be present for every millisecond I get to spend on this earth.

It gets better, friends, and I’m living proof.
So, now it’s time for me to pay my hope forward, and deal it to somebody who needs it more than I do.

Sending strength, support and love.
-Kristin”

The above letter was the one I wrote to the lovely folks who started the Hope Dealer project, Plus P Productions. You can find out more by visiting them here.