Sunday, August 17, 2008

Who I am...Who am I?

 I moved to the big ole' city of Los Angeles from Georgia, at the age of 23, with dreams and ambitions of becoming an actress. At the chagrin of my parents, I packed up my belongings in my beat up Acura Integra and traveled two thousand miles to seek my fame and fortune. With the open road before me, a QT coffee, and carton of smokes I sighed in relief...I had finally escaped. I had always hated the south. I felt so trapped growing up there. Every other Sunday, being dragged to the southern baptist church (my parents are divorced) and lectured, once again, about hell and damnation, and how if you didn't believe in the exact fundamentalist way they did, you were going to hell...oh yeah, and there is no Santa Claus. Lets just say it was not my cup of java. Not only did I feel trapped there but I also felt like something was wrong with me-I just didn't fit in. When i was ten, I remember going through my parents stuff  searching for the adoption papers. School was so trite. If you weren't in the in-crowd you were in the out crowd, and I didn't feel like I belonged in either. Long story short, I wanted out. So I was on my way to L.A. and I was going to make it come hell or high water! So after all of this build up of dreams and ambitions and outspoken declarations of how much better my life would be, I arrived in Los Angeles... And had no clue what the hell to do next.
 I hit up all of the hottest clubs in Hollywood, took a shot of tequila with Brittney Spears, and felt like I was apart of life at last. I was so overwhelmed with the swarms of actors everywhere. I had no clue what path to take, so I took this class and auditioned for that agency, but it was beginning to look like everything was a money making scheme (which it is). I ended up getting a job at a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills waitressing for the elite. At this point I had always considered myself a social drinker. I mean who doesn't go out drinking 5 days a week. Who doesn't occasionally black out and not remember the night before. Who doesn't go on a 5 day bender to Vegas and Cabo San Lucas with a guy they met one night while driving cross country? I guess I drank a lot, but who doesn't right?
Then there was a shift. I just kind of went insane. My grandmother passed away shortly after moving to Los Angeles and my drinking took on a more necessary role in my day to day life. Meaning I began to drink every day of my life from that point on. I could go on a drunk-a-log for the next four years but honestly, its all bits and pieces. I do know that I dated a lot drunk losers that made me feel better about where I was. Heaven help the one's I dated that were normal. I just ran from them. And as for my aspirations of acting? I sabotaged any opportunities and was too scared to make a move in any direction. 
I don't know when it happened, but at some point I crossed over the line into full blown alcoholism. I believe I have always been an alcoholic. I remember being a kid in the dentist chair getting a cavity filled, and loving the feeling of the "laughing" gas, reaching behind me, when the doctor left the room, to feel for the switch to turn in up. 
By the age of 27, I couldn't go a day without a drink. By this point if someone asked me what I did for fun, I didn't have an honest answer if it didn't include alcohol. I would say things like rock climbing and horseback riding, basically things I did when I was 12. My life became very small. I would work at the bar, start drinking at 6, get out of work and make sure I got to Ralphs before 1:30 a.m. so i could get enough wine to last me through the night. I even had a delivery service that would meet me at my house by 2 a.m. and could recognize my voice and my order of two bottles of barefoot cabernet when I called. I usually stayed up until 5 or so in the morning, smoking cigarette after cigarette and watching reruns of Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place.I was in constant turmoil with my room mates until one sat me down and said she was done. She said she wouldn't watch me drink myself to death and moved out shortly after. Around this time I met my neighbor across the street and began hanging out with him. He was sober. I had never hung out with people who didn't drink and really never cared to, because they just had to be a bore. He was different... he was happy. I found myself wanting to hang out with him and his friends and I didn't drink when I did. Around this time, I decided to get a dog in hopes that taking responsibility for small animal would help me take more responsibility for myself. Of course it is rather difficult to potty train a dog when you can't get out of bed before 3p.m. It was becoming clear that I could not manage my life with the amount I was drinking. A few months later, I was tired, really, really tired. I asked my friend to take me to an AA meeting and the rest was history. Well, not exactly.
The thing they never tell you when you walk into the rooms of AA is that just by making that one step, you will never be able to go back to your normal way of drinking. It changed me. I stayed sober for a few months, but expected to be overwhelmingly happy and free immediately. It was not immediate. I relapsed on a bottle of wine and blacked out immediately, not that I stopped drinking mind you. You see, I can't stop until I pass out. I woke up so sick, I could barely make it to work. The panic attacks ensued and just to be able to take a step I had to make a drink immediately. I was no stranger to this ritual. It was how I functioned for years, but the alcohol had become so poisonous and I could no longer function on it. With bitterness, guilt, shame and remorse I crawled back to the rooms to pick up a new comer chip. This time would be different. It wasn't. I kept doing the same things and always went back to my demon lover, alcohol, like an abused wife asking for another pummel. I honestly can't tell you why I kept going back, thinking each time it would be different. Alcoholism is insidious, if you can't remember how bad it was with sufficient force, its over. I did this for 13 months. My last drink was 11 months ago. I decided to get a beautiful  bottle of Pinot Nior and decant it while snuggling with my dog on the couch watching a movie. This is how that relapse ended:
Bottle of wine=$80.00
ER visit=$921.00
One way ticket back to Atlanta=Priceless
Within a week, I was back home in Atlanta in a treatment facility for alcohol and drugs, weighing in at a whopping 94 lbs.I was there for 5 weeks during which I had been told if I went back to L.A., back to my apt., and back to my job, I would most certainly relapse again.
I thought everyone had gone mad. How was I going to get sober in the town that I hated most, with all of these religious, conservative , hypocrites!!??? Out of options I moved back to Atlanta and into a sober living for women.
In retrospect, this place saved my life. It wasn't easy to have a 10:30 p.m. curfew, having to go to meetings every day, and work a part time job that paid in two weeks what I made on one good night at my old job. It was very humbling for me. I couldn't even have my dog with me. I felt like a transplant, I had nothing. What was worse was that everything I held onto seemed to be taken from me. At three months of sobriety, I was robbed at my work and my computer was stolen by a gang of transvestites. Two weeks later I was laid off.  People I cared about began dropping out like flies around me. I had nothing to depend on...which was exactly where I needed to be. I only had my higher saving grace. I suppose the hardest part was at seven months my boyfriend, who had walked each step with me since treatment, relapsed. I found him in bed with a girl I had lived with in my sober living. It turned out the betrayal had been going on the entire time.I was heartbroken and depressed, but turned to Alcoholics Anonymous and the women around me and chose sobriety. I haven't been the same since.
I now live in Los Angeles and have no clue what I am going to do with my life. Every day I am taught to walk through my fear and show up no matter what happens. I am beginning to have real fun again and laugh in a way I never used to. Right now I am scared shitless. The things I do have I hold onto dearly. My little dog Bella has turned out to be my companion in sobriety. The true friends in my life have stayed and held me through this walk when I couldn't take another step. Oh, and I found out I really like to knit!!!!

 This blog is meant to reach out to anyone who has come to the end of the road, feared the worst, and reached for the end only to find the beginning.


Kelly said...

Raw, honest and funny!! Very inspiring and real. This is going to be a great outlet for you...
Even though I know the story, it is really cool to read it like of my favorite parts was when you talked about your last drink and used the Amex formula for it...priceless!

Esi said...

Katie - I love your honesty even if it can be brutal. Thanks for bringing your story to people and being so inspiring. Love you!

Jen said...

Wow. Honestly, I'm blown away. Although I've known and loved you for years, seeing what you've been going through in black and white on my screen makes it so much clearer. Your are one hell of a strong woman, and have SO much to offer the world. Thank you for being such a good person and such a good friend. xoxoxo

Angel said...

Thank you Katie for reminding me what sobriety is all about. To thine own self be true. You are a great example of courage and strength. Continue to grow in the sunlight of the spirit and you will be blessed!

I love you Katie, thank you for sharing your life with us all...


Sonya said...

funny how you had to go back down south to get better!!! ahh the good ol' south! ha! This was a great blog. I really felt like you were telling it to me yourself, your a great writer and i hope thats the path you chose in life.
Love you-