I know you are but what am I?

There seems to be an identity crisis going on here. I don’t know if crisis is the right word to use but, I’m trying to figure some shit out. Some days, I look at myself and the familiarity is comforting. Other times, I yearn for a map to lead me to where I need to be. Where I should be going. A guide out of my own personal hell of self pity and addiction.

Before.

Prior to sobriety I had always hated my body. I’d change my clothes 30 times every morning to try to find an outfit that would make me look skinny. I didn’t have confidence in myself. I thought that it was my job to keep my family and friends happy. If I failed I was devastated. As I got older those things started to haunt me day after day. I hated those feelings. They hurt too much. Fuck that. I wanted to be numb and feel absolutely nothing.

Someone introduced me to alcohol and the rest is history. Alcohol was the solution for everything. I didn’t start off drinking like a fish, that would come later. But the door had started to open and my brain invited addiction in like it was a long lost love seeking shelter.

Beer. Vodka. Tequila. Wine. My new besties.

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*Hey, check out those DEAD eyes… knock, knock! No one’s there. Also, no clue who that blonde was, but she seems to be having a good time* 

 

Alcohol made me feel pretty. My insecurities washed away in a shot glass of whiskey. I felt confident. I flirted with disaster and bad boys. I laughed loud and passed out quick. I took shots of vodka from my water bottle during third period on a Monday. It wasn’t an everyday thing, but the more I drank the better I felt. I invited friends over and raid the alcohol cabinet again and again. I was also pretty dumb, because I decided to replace in the freezer with water. Water freezes. I told my parents it must have been the men outside gardening. They must have come into the kitchen and pounded it all without a chaser.

I used my fake ID daily during my freshman year of college. It was totally normal. I’d start pre-gaming house before the bar or party. I’d put my makeup on while drinking old style. I felt beautiful. I’d dance with strangers and take the shots they offered me.

21370849_10102229351533937_7585698918920757950_n* I’d like to call this my faux mug shot. I’ve never been arrested (Thank you sweet baby Jesus), but I imagine this is kind of what it would be like. There’s nothing behind those eyes*

One night I was talking to my friend and she asked me what I was doing. I replied that I was in my dorm room drinking. She said that drinking alone is the start of something bad.

I stopped telling people what I was doing. I became a masterful drunk. I’d tell my friends how happy I was to be out and drinking beer with them. I’d leave out the part where I had already drank four glasses of wine and two beers. There was also a strong chance that I had popped some random pills too.

Whatever. Didn’t care. I felt wanted, smart, clever, funny and talented. If it meant killing my liver in the process, so be it.

 

The next morning those euphoric feelings disappeared. They were replaced with shame, guilt, confusion, pain, heartbreak and a slew of other horrible feelings. I’d cope with all of that by drinking more. Meanwhile, my self hatred grew and grew. Alcohol fed the beast inside of me.

After becoming a mother my drinking started to spiral. I believed whole heartedly that alcohol made me a better mom. Want to color? Sure! Want to do a puzzle? Sure! Want to bake cookies? Absolutely! In bed at night I’d tear myself down piece by piece. What kind of shitty person drinks to hang out with their kids? Only a piece of shit. I was a piece of shit. I didn’t deserve happiness. I deserved a difficult life (all by my own doings). I accepted that I would never find peace.

17553882_10101959875815437_9215602668637248072_n*Oh, wow look at you, you little emo/moody wino. Still with the dead eyes.*

In the back of my mind I knew that I was an alcoholic. I knew that without a solution that my alcoholism would be fatal. I fully intended to drink my life away until death. I thought my family would be better off without me. I was terrified of messing up my kids. When those emotions crept in I would pick up the bottle again and again.

 

What a hot ass mess.

 

Present

I wake up and fall to my knees. I pray to a God that I had long dismissed as a myth. I ask my God to help me stay sober today and help me follow His will, not mine. I don’t know what His will for me is, but every single day tiny miracles happen in my life. I don’t fear being alone anymore. I just get on my knees and repeat over and over again. I cook my daughters breakfast and we laugh over silly stuff the baby did. I’m slowly learning to love myself. I’m present. I see myself in pictures and I see the face of a girl who finally knows her worth. I know that I deserve happiness, peace and joy. None of that would be possible if I was still pounding drinks every day.

46836961_10102749939970537_4338203563537727488_n*I didn’t get sober for my girls. They inspired me to get sober, but I got sober for me so that they could have the mom they deserve*

All of that shit is awesome, right? Yeah. It’s amazing. I work so damn hard everyday to maintain the serenity I so badly need in my life.

But it’s kinda weird too. I have moments where I miss being a miserable drunk. I know that’s crazy, but getting drunk means I won’t have to feel anything. I’m a lazy ass person. Super lazy. It’s challenging to have to work on myself twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Drunk Kate didn’t have to do anything but sit on the damn couch and watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Sober Kate has to pray, read, call my sponsor, embrace the fellowship of others, use healthy coping skills, be present and be accountable. I share my sober story through this blog, because I need to be honest and transparent with others in my life. No more secrets. I mean, I’m probably going to lie to you if you ask me if I’m wearing the same pants that I’ve been sleeping in for four days while at kindergarten drop off.

 

Of course these aren’t the same pants. I’m super mom. I do 70,000 loads of laundry every morning. With a smile on my face. ***** ALL LIES *****

The pants are comfy man, so lay off.

 

I haven’t been sober for years and years. I’m still learning how to navigate life without wine, sometimes I’m pretty good at it, sometimes I suck at it. It’s progress, not perfection. One day at a time. ONE. Not the next 90 years of my life. Just today. This one day.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but I do know this…

Every single moment of every day it gets better and better. Every feeling, good or bad, brings me closer and closer to peace. Just by feeling them, staring them in the face, instead of ignoring them with a PBR tall boy.

I still yell at my kids. I still have road rage (bc no one in Michigan knows how to drive apparently…). I’m still selfish and loud. I’m still jerk to the most important people in my life- but you know what? I’m sober. It’s only through sobriety that I can grow and learn to forgive and accept forgivness for my actions and those of others. I pray for complete strangers and I feel Gods presence in the quiet moments of the day.

 

If the old me read this, I would probably laugh. A life without alcohol was not a possiblity. I couldn’t even imagine it.

 

I am so grateful to be able to share this journey with others as I grow and learn to love the new me. We don’t do it alone.

 

One day at a time.

 

46853629_10102750615506757_2530707130097336320_n* OMG THERE’S LIFE BEHIND MY EYES*

Joy.

If you ever enter my house, you’ll see about 50,000 things that say JOY on it. The word has a special place in my heart. My grandmother, GG, made it her mantra. So much so that at 75 she got it tattood on her wrist like a bad ass grandmother, if ever there was one. She actually convinced me to get my first tattoo at 18, with half of my family standing around in an itty bitty tattoo shop in Torrington, CT on my 18th birthday. She really, really had to convince me. My first reaction was, NOPE.

Nope. Nope. Nope. And then another thought filled my head. ” You gotta live a little.” That was one of her sayings. I can hear her voice right now, ” Katie, you’ve just got to live a little!” So I did. Fastforward many, many years later…I have 8…and I’m getting another one soon. It’s easy to get addicted to tattoos, right? My cousins followed in my path, and now my parents and my sister have ink.

 

Anyway, I digress.

 

That’s how she lived her life. Everyday she was thankful. Everyday she would reflect on the joys in her life. She wrote all of this down, and after she died, as we went through all of her journals and pictures, we saw JOY on every page. She inspired all of us. Even strangers.

Right after I turned 25 and six months before my wedding, She fell ill. Still, she spread her message of joy and love with every single person she knew. I’m not just writing this to write it. I’m writing it to show the absolute magnitude of acceptance of love and life she shared. If you ask ANYONE who ever came in contact with her their lives were better for having her in it.

Honestly, I could write a book about how this woman changed the world on person at a time.

I struggled with God after she died. I wasn’t religious, but I kept thinking if there is a God, why is he taking her away from us? How could he?

 

The day she died, I had a couple hours with her alone while my famiy discussed hospice in the other room. Her eyes were closed. They would never open again. Her chest went up and down, taking in some of her lasts breaths. I held her delicate hand in mind and I wept. This woman was my rock. She was all of ours rock. It was devestating. We all knew she was ready to go, but she kept holding on. My wedding was coming up, and I had spent countless hours talking to her on the phone about it and how important to me it was to me for her to be there.

My tears poured out as I told her, ” It’s ok. You can go now. I know how badly you want to be there, but it’s ok. I will be ok.” I sat with my head on her bed, placing her hand on my cheek. My heart was breaking into a million pieces.

A few hours later, she was gone. Months went by and I couldn’t control my grief. It was too much. I found myself desperate to hear her voice.  I tried to grasp the acceptance of life without her.

It sucked. Really, really sucked.

 

A few months later I got married. It was beautiful. The sun was about so set as we stood under the gazeebo and shared our vows. Everything was perfect. Except one thing. My GG wasn’t there. Nothing could change that. We all tried so hard be brave, but the tears poured and poured.

What happened next was mind blowing.

Here’s two pictures of myself with her.

 

At some point in the evening, my cousin just so happened to be snapping some pictures on the lake. Then she saw this.

 

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She found a way to be at my wedding after all.

 

One of my biggest struggles is isolation. I hate being alone. I panic. It sucks. Most of my alcoholism revolved around isolation.

 

Step Two says: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

This step was challenging at first. I wasn’t sure if there was a God. I thought this was kind of uncessary. I didn’t need God. Fuck that.

 

Then the miracles started to happen. My sponser said to just get on my knees every morning and night and ask God to help keep me sober throuought the day, and then thank him (or her) for keeping my sober another day. I did this for two weeks. I felt nothing. My sponser told me to be patient and kind to myself.

This shit ain’t easy.

Then all of a sudden, while on my knees, I felt the absolute prescence of my Higher Power, my God. The feeling came out nowhere and blew me away. I was stunned. I went from not believing in anything, to suddenly believing in something HUGE.

It still blows my mind.

 

There were many times when I was drinking that I wished I had GG in my life still. I would drink and drink while asking the universe to somehow bring her back to me. I cried when she missed the birth of my children. I cried at Thanksgiving dinner without her. Hell, I cried driving home from work, because I missed her in my life so badly.

 

Then, just today, another miracle happened.

 

Someone said sonething tonight that touched every part of my soul.

 

He said God works in us in amazing ways. We all will die someday. That’s a given. And, we all go through tough challenges, but we’re not alone. We are jealous of angels. Our loved ones and friends have not left our lives for good. Not at all. They stand side by side with our Higher Power. They live with us and in us along side our Higher Power.

It’s incredible. In that very moment I felt a wave of emotions. My grandmother didn’t leave me. She was waiting for me to find my Higher Power. Through him, she is with me. It’s crazy. Insane.

 

I cried on the way home tonight, because that isolation I had been feeling was gone. I am never alone. Ever.

 

It’s a gift. It’s a miracle.

 

I wasn’t sure about doing this…

I’m trying to be an open book when it comes to mental health, particularly when it involves postpartum issues. I recently wrote a blog about my struggles with PPD/PPA. When I wrote that I was not ok. I thought if I wrote about it, it would make me feel better.

 

I started spiraling out of control. I started to feel hopeless again. I started having intrusive thoughts again. I pushed myself in to a dangerous, deceptive corner. I started to feel like I wasn’t the right mom for these three beautiful girls. I thought a lot of things.

 

I thought too much.

 

I decided to go get inpatient treatment, and it changed my life. I’m not ashamed about this, and I hope by writing this I can help another person struggling. My family (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, THEM), didn’t want me to blog about this. It was kind of like, ” You don’t need to air your dirty laundry.” I respect that very much, but I also know that by writing about this and hoping reaches others, that I will have done something good.

 

I started noticing OCD issues.

 

I discovered I had rituals. I discovered that this OCD was interupting my my life. It caused my brain to spin, spin, spin at night so I never could sleep. I started to feel scared leaving the house, because I was certain something would happen. Maybe we would get into a car crash? It just goes on and on and on.

 

I thought I had tackled my postpartum issues. But, if theres anything I can learn from this is that… you’re not alone, and this shit takes time. Some of us need extra help, outside of the home. I was terrified for everyone to know I was in a psych ward for eight days, but those eight days changed my life. I walked in terrified, and I left with such happiness and bliss.

My entire family gave me so much love and support, whethere it was driving from Illinois to help with the kids, or my step-dad who drove 10 hours by himself to make sure he was here if we needed anything. My mom came too and organized all of my closests like a champ. I came out of the facility feeling so grateful and so loved.

 

The I want to share this, not only because I think it’s important, but also to reach out to everyone who is struggling. Life is worth living.

Let me repeat that.

Life is worth living.

To my fellow mamas… Your life is worth living. You are cherished and loved. If you need a reminder of that, hit me up and I will remind you how awesome you are. There’s also no shame in admitting that you might have a postpartum thing going on. Everyone wants to keep it quiet, because they probably dont know the correct response to something like this eithe.

I have some much to be grateful for.

 

My family. My family in Chicago, my family on the east coast… they came all the way out here to make sure Ryan and the girs were ok. We had wonderful babysitters that helped too.

I never thought I would do what I did, but I also know that because this happened I am healthier, happier, and eternally grateful for my entire family that supported and continously supports me.

 

Postparm diseases take away love, hope, sensibility, and your sanity.

 

I’m a warrior. I’m not going to let those things bring me down ever again. I hope you know that you are a warrior as well.

 

We got this mamas, we got this.fullsizeoutput_1c83

Bear.

My dear, beautiful Bear,

 

How can I even begin to sum up the joy that you have brought to my life, before you were even outside of my womb? You were the first. Just like me, just like your dad. The excitement surrounding your impending arrival into this world was something I had never experienced, nor did I know possible. It was magical. It was mysterious.  I laid awake at night wishing and hoping you’d kick, so I wouldn’t feel less alone. Your daddy had to work a lot, so it mostly just you and I trying to make Michigan our home. I washed your clothes in that stupid Dreft stuff. (Still wondering why that shit is so expensive.)

970698_10200673199305871_672312130_n*You were about ready to come out right about here*

Every singe breath I took while doing yoga, was no longer a  breath for me, it was a breath for us. I put my hand on my belly and said, ” Hi baby, I’m your mama”. I always cried. Literally, even single class. It was almost embarrassing.

You were the only child we decided to find out the gender for. I had spent years in Chicago as an actress at night, and days to a few families full of boys. I could play baseball all the time. (GO CUBBIES GO… well, until next year.) I could score some sweet soccer moves…ok. No, I couldn’t . I suck at sports. I liked to impress them by telling them that my uncle was a Major League Soccer Coach for the Columbus Crew and I had the opportunity to sing the national anthem at Crew Stadium when I was a freshman in college for the MLS playoffs.   Their response would be, ” Yeah, but can you TRY THIS TIME actually kick the ball into the goal?” I loved to build fortresses in the sand box at the park. I loved to line up their race cars and see which one went the fastest.

I also babysat for an incredible family with two daughters. They have now become part of our family. I spent countless hours writing plays, wearing tutus, watching ” Jessie” on the Disney channel,  making weird magic potions in their kitchen. We would watch every Disney movie, make popcorn, and snuggle while I sang them to sleep for a decade.

 

(Side note: FUCK JESSIE. I hate that stupid show with every fiber in my being and I hate that I even decided to mention it, because that stupid, stupid, STUPID DUMB THEME SONG IS IN MY HEAD. So, Fiona, if you want to make Mama happy- DO NOT WATCH IT. I’ll throw the TV right out. UGH.)

 

I also had the privilege to spend time with my two beautiful cousins. My aunt and uncle were one of the main reasons I decided to move to Chicago. I loved babysitting for them and watching my brave, smart, opinionated, special cousins as often as I could.

 

What I”m trying to say here is that I had plenty of experience with kids. I started getting a little cocky around 16 weeks pregnant. I was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CERTAIN THAT YOU WERE A BOY. I thought boys were easy. I would let you outside, let you run around in the mud, and call it a day. You’d love trains and cars. None of that princess shit.  I will admit though, I was absolutely terrified to change you diaper if it had a penis in it. Just keepin’ it real over here.

I laid on the table as your daddy held my hand while the technician put cold gel on my barely there bump. She started showing us the various organs and I was thinking, ” Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever… WHAT IS IT?”

 

A girl.

” I’m sorry, can you repeat that?”

A girl.

” How accurate are these ultrasounds?”

 

I watched Daddy’s face go white. I saw his mind spinning. He was mentally making a checklist for any boy or girl that ever would want to date you. I didn’t even realize how HUGE the smile on my face was. Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified. I”m still terrified, but a daughter. My daughter. I thought you would look like me, have the same interests as me and together as a mommy-daughter team, we could take over the world.

IMG_5136*sometimes, we bake…*

Haha. HAHAHA. First time moms are so cute. 

Originally we were going to name you Aoife, which is Ava in Gaelic, but my family begged us not to torture you  with that. What kindergarten teach is going to know how to say that in Detroit, Michigan. None. The answer is none.

So, I let your Daddy pick your name. Lots of people think we named you after Fiona Apple, because I”m basically obsessed with her. That had nothing to do with it. Daddy wanted you to be his Fiona, and I chose your middle name, Margaret, to honor the life of my precious grandmother.

So, now you’re four and you make me late for literally everything. I can’t remember the last time we were on time for anything at all. But, you did make your grand entrance ON YOUR DUE DATE.

They said it couldn’t be done. I said, ” Fuck off, I”m having this baby today.” Granted, you came out a little more dramatic than I would have preferred, but you were finally here. Finally in my arms. I could almost physically feel my heart grow, explode, grow some more, explode some more. I didn’t want anyoene else to hold you. I placed you on my breast and it was a beautiful moment. ( HAHAHAHA. No it wasn’t. It sucked, literally and figuratively. You were trying to kill me with your inability to latch. Big shout out to all of the Lactation Consultants out there, you saved my life.) I couldn’t stop looking at your tiny fingers and long legs. Other than that, you didn’t look a thing like me. You are your fathers twin. Your blonde hair (what little of it you had) was beautiful. Your gummy smile warmed my soul over and over again.

You made me a mommy, Fiona Margaret.

947360_10200701796300778_1687657825_n*This is Us*

Before you I was selfish. Before you I didn’t care what happened to my body or my mind. I wanted to spend my life numb. I put on a huge act for everyone, so that no one would worry. Something about becoming your mother changed that. I’m not saying this, because I want you to feel the pressure of aways keeping me happy in life, but your birth was a turning point for me. How can I even begin to thank you for that? You showed me the mystery of life. You showed me the wonder of birth. I realized I had to take care of myself for the rest of my life, because you needed me.

20799783_10102187734644517_868879360969540009_n*stop growing up!*

You will always need me. I could have sat and wallowed in my postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, and you know what? Sometimes, I do. More than I wish I did. But, I look at you when you ask me to come play, and my heart melts. I let you sleep in my bed still, because cuddling you at night is still the most powerful moment of the day and night.

11074155_10101113310558997_4325101330229421730_n*Enjoying the view at GGB’s house*

The time is going to fast. I remember the day you sat up on your own for the first time. My next thought was, ” Well, shit, pretty soon she’ll be asking for the car keys to go meet up with her friends.” When you were itty bitty we did yoga together, I didn’t realize you were even paying attention. Now, at four years old you and I practice yoga or workout together in the basement so that we can be healthy and strong.

 

You amaze me. Every day. Even when I’m screaming at you, like today when I said, ” IF YOU DON’T STOP BOTHERING MAEVE RIGHT NOW I AM STOPPING THE CAR AND KICKING YOU OUT.” I”m such a great mom.

1234172_10100726410335147_756170434_n*seemed like a good idea at the time*

You love school, you love the outdoors, you love your cousins and family all across the country. You love to giggle with Maeve and you love to hold your baby sister Lucie. You’re still growing, and I watch you with happiness and also a twing of sadness. It won’t always be like this. There’s going to come a day where you will think you won’t need me anymore.

I speak from experience. You will always need me, and I will always answer your call.

I call you Bear, because there’s no efficient nick name for Fiona. Fi? Eh. Fi Fi? I think that sounds like a dog name, although I do let two of your grandparents call you that. I decided we would call you Nona Bear, until someone pointed out to me that Nona means grandmother in Italian… so Bear it was!

 

You are my bear. You give me nose kisses to wake me up in the morning. You give me big bear bear hugs. You let me hold you as if you were still my little baby when you know I’m having a tough day. You are wise beyond your years.

 

It is an honor being your mother, Bear.

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