AA is for Allelujah, Amen


#IAmAnAlcoholic #MyLifeIsWorthMoreThanABeer

When I was 14, I picked up a liter of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey and never put it down. My fist was superglue, cementing my greatest crutch to my greatest fear: my own self. It would take 6 years to admit to this and to start destroying this barrier of isolation and false sense of security. Yes, I am an alcoholic and I’m not even of legal drinking age. And I can say that with a little help from my friends, I will hopefully never take a legal drink.

I am a proud person. Since my first day on this earth and subsequently every day that followed, I had multiple people tell me how smart I was, how special I was, how beautiful I was, how talented I was. Every person in my life had a “best case scenario” plan for me in their head. Half of them wanted to see me grow up and be a musician. Half of them wanted me to bury my nose in dusty old scholarly journals, figuring out the secret to the universe. And a few of them wanted me to do both “because you’re just so special, honey.” Praise is smothering.

I was never disciplined until I hit middle school, and by then it was too late. I already thought I knew everything, and I prided myself on being “mature for my age.” I was a terror. No one could tell me what to do. No one could tell me no. I got everything I asked for because if Mom didn’t give it to me, Dad would. And if Dad couldn’t do it, Grandma made sure I got it.

So when I took a casual swig of that bottle of Jack I’d been eyeing since I could remember, I felt like Queen Elizabeth: both man and woman in one body. Powerful, beautiful, smart, important, influential. And because I was proud, I took as many sips as it took to down the whole bottle. I wanted to stand up with my battle shield, my beautiful empty bottle and proclaim that I had won, that I was the coolest fourteen year old ever, because my Dad let me have his bottle of whiskey.

But I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t even see clearly. Every movement made was a struggle. And instead of standing up to claim victory, I collapsed into a bottomless pit of emotional turmoil. I don’t remember this night at all after this. In fact, I have one clear memory of sitting on a brick stoop wailing. And the rest of the night is dark, silent, haunting. I’m told I cried myself into a state of hysteria. I’m told I was obnoxious, hard to handle, unstoppable. Crazy, demented, out of control.

The next morning I got up, confused, ashamed, sad, but only for a few seconds. I convinced myself that, hey, I was only 14. I had time to get a handle on my liquor. I had time to “straighten out.” I was young, and there was no reason to get so bent out of shape over one night. It was No Big Deal. I wasn’t even that drunk. It was only a liter of Jack. It could have been two. And this mindset, this “It could always be worse” attitude, would be what propelled me into a 6 year spiral of denial and self-justification.

My first major sign that I could be in trouble, was when I realized my father was an alcoholic. If cement held me and liquor together, a steel shackle ten miles thick held my father to it. He drank by himself, with people, in the morning, at night, during the day, right after work, during any function. If I could count the times I’ve asked him to pick me up and his response was “Sorry. I’ve already had ten beers,” I would be counting till the day I died.

Until the night he raped me, I blocked the idea of alcoholism out of my head. I defended him to everyone. I covered for him if he drove home drunk. I carried him to bed if he passed out in the backyard. I enabled him by convincing my stepmother to buy him more whiskey, partly because I wanted a swig or ten to myself.

I would steal my stepmom’s vodka. I would lie to my family, even some of my friends about where I was, how much I was drinking, that I was sober enough to drive. I would drink when I was home alone and when I was with friends. I even carried vodka to school in a water bottle a few times.  I drove other people’s cars drunk. My roommate’s, my dad’s, my grandma’s, my stepfather’s, my mom’s, and even my own car. I would drink whole bottles of wine at night to put myself to sleep, or rather cry myself to sleep. I would seize every opportunity to get drunk, and I never said no to alcohol. I still get angry and anxious if I know there is no alcohol in the house should I need it to calm down, feel better, deal with life, and any other excuse I could come up with to “need it.”

But then I was raped. By an alcoholic. By my best friend. By my father. After attempting suicide, surviving a mental ward, and re-adjusting to life without him, I hesitantly turned to alcohol again because I convinced myself that I needed it, “just for right now, just until life settled down.”

This passage from “Living Sober” sums up perfectly how I lived my life for the six months after my rape and even before, during the first two and half years of college:

“If [our drinking] bothered us too much, we would cut down, or try to limit ourselves to just one or two, or switch from hard liquor to beer or wine. At least, we tried to limit the amount, so we would not get too disastrously tight. Or we tried to hide how much we drank.

 

But all these measures got more and more difficult. Occasionally, we event went on the wagon, and did not drink at all for awhile.

 

Eventually, we would go back to drinking–just one drink. And since that apparently did no serious damage, we felt it was safe to have another. Maybe that was all we took on that occasion, and it was a great relief to find we could take just one or two, then stop. Some of us did that many times.

 

But the experience proved to be a snare. It persuaded us that we could drink safely. And then there would come the occasion (some special celebration, personal loss, or no particular event at all) when two or three made us feel fine, so we thought one or two more could not hurt. And with absolutely no intention of doing so, we found ourselves again drinking too much. And we’re right back to were we had been–overdrinking without really wanting to.”

When I’m drunk, I hurt people. I spew every emotional feeling I have onto them, and expect them to fix it. I give them my burdens and expect them to carry these heavy feelings because I don’t want to. And then, when I’m sober, I apologize and laugh it off, ignoring how it made them feel, how it affected them at all. That’s not fair to anyone. This realization, that I use people to fix me and listen to me when I’m drunk, and keep them at a distance when I’m sober, is what made me admit that I am an alcoholic. I may not hide liquor in my room, or drink every hour of every day, but I use alcohol to cope. And I am addicted to it. And knowing that alcoholism is progressive leads me to believe that if I don’t fix the problem now, I could end up drinking every hour of every day ten years from now.

On January 29th, 2014, I went to a friend’s house with every intention of having a fun night. I just wanted to dance, to let loose, and laugh. But I kept drinking and drinking and drinking. And I didn’t stop, nor did I want to. And when something, though I can’t remember what it was, triggered my PTSD, I broke down, unleashed the hellish fires of my darkest emotions, and called one of my best friends. I made him listen to me cry and complain and vent about everything that was wrong with my life. I had no concern for his thoughts, feelings, what he was doing, whether or not I was keeping him from something, anything. I didn’t thank him for listening, I didn’t apologize until the day after, I didn’t feel bad. Quite simply because I was too drunk.

And then the morning came and everything from the night before came back to me, I knew. I just knew that what I did was not right for me or for anyone else in my life. And I knew that I never wanted to call my best friend again that drunk. His time was worth more than too many beers and a four loko. His time is invaluable because I love him. Because he’s a wonderful friend and has always been there for me, even when he had every right not to be.

So I choose not to drink, so that I can do the same for him. And for all of my close friends because they deserve it.

And most important of all, I choose not to drink because I, Kaitlyn Marie Jones, am worth more than drunken nights of self-pity. I am worth having as a friend. I am worth more than isolation just because I’m afraid of people leaving me. I am worth so much.

I am good, I am kind, I am loving.

I am sober.

 

 

If It Makes You Happy…..


SAM_0952If I can complain/whine/explain everything that makes me miserable on this blog, then I can  certainly list a few things that make me happy once in awhile, especially since that is my preferred state of mind. So here are a few things that are going to make 2014 a bombshell!

  1. Singing birds- I will always stop and enjoy the fluttering in my heart every time a bird makes that simple, singsongy sound.
  2. Coffee and tea- There is NOTHING more comforting to me than the feeling of a warm mug on my lips. Simply divine.
  3. Cats- Over the past few years, my love for felines has increased exponentially. And I know most cats are not affectionate most of the time, but the few cats in my life have made me feel more loved and needed now than I’ve felt in my whole life.
  4. The Pups- Our house has never been without a dog. They make every day more interesting, more cuddly, easier, and definitely more rewarding. I cannot imagine going to bed without having snuggled with Belle or given Porter a kiss while trying dodge his gigantic tongue.
  5. BGLSA- Never have I come upon something I’ve felt so passionately about. When I am with this group of people, I truly feel there is not a single place I would rather, or should rather be. BGLSA has opened my heart, eyes, mind, soul, and body to a world of true acceptance and true stewardship. It is the highest honor I will ever receive, to be president of such a group.
  6. My voice- When I breath in to sing that first note of a song, when my ears perk up at the sound of a favorite melody, when I form my lips in an “o”, raise my palette, read a score, float above the treble clef, my entire existence is justified and the mess of my life makes perfect sense.
  7. The Girl- Even if we don’t work out, even if it turns out we’re better as friends, she has changed me and shown me a simpler, truer way to live life. And for that, I will be forever grateful and she will be forever good in my eyes. Never have I met someone more genuine and caring. <3
  8. The Friends- What more is there to say, other than, I have THE ABSOLUTE BEST FRIENDS IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. I’m never bored, I’m never lonely, I’m never afraid of being without someone to talk to, I never feel stuck or misunderstood, or less of a person than them. It took 20 years to sort through all the bad to find the good, but I have, and the 5 that remain will be with me until we’re all keeling over in a nursing home.
  9. The Family- It took awhile for me to be okay with my family situation, as the size was severed in half when ‘the incident’ occurred, but I can finally put this issue to rest and say that I’ve found peace with the family that has stuck by me. And I am grateful and I am blessed that things have turned out as well as they did.
  10. My creator- I do not know if I will call them “God” and I have no intention of picking a denomination, belief system, or set way of life any time soon, but I do know there is something bigger than us guiding this world. And above all else, I am happy to say that I exist, that something greater than every being I have come in contact with thought I was worth a shot here on this earth.

With all of these things in mind, I am going to try and remain positive and happy. I will be doing the #100happydays challenge to help keep me in the mindset! I hope for the best 2014 to anyone who reads this. <3

 

Big Gay Leap of Faith

Quote


“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max Depree

I am scared.

Of sacrificing everything and getting nothing in return.

Of depriving the community of a valuable resource because of my own weaknesses.

Of robbing my board members of a once-in-a-lifetime leadership experience because of my fears.

Of failing my university by not representing it in all that I do and am while in this position.

Of failing the members of an organization that has been integral to their college experience by lacking creativity, passion, and drive.

Of failing my friends because I cannot do what they seemed so sure I could.

Of failing my family because BGLSA got in the way of schoolwork.

Of failing myself because I lost what it means to be a human in this sea of responsibility, isolation, and stress.

Most of all, I’m scared of being the end. This chain of command ends with me. I am the final link which holds BGLSA together. I have to hold on tightly to all that I can. I am FORCED to depend on my directors, my friends, my family, my members, the community, my school, my own sense of self, EVERYONE I AM SCARED OF FAILING, for support and strength.

I have to trust. I have to learn to trust.

My passion for serving the LGBTQ community at the University of South Carolina has conquered much, but being president comes loaded with fears I’ve yet to experience. I only hope I can define the reality of my organization and serve it with every atom in my being to the best of my ability. If I can do that, I wholeheartedly believe these fears can be conquered.

To 2014 being another victorious year for my fellow gays. I promise the world that I will try my damnedest to make BGLSA the most dazzling it has ever been. And to you, Change, I lift my rainbow glass higher than the moon. <3

Tis the Season to be Bitter


 

#tistheseason #complicated #irrelevant #iwishiwasthemoon #nofriendsdontcare #usedandabused

It’s complicated.

VERY complicated. But I never say anything. I can’t stand to call people out because I know how hard it is to be okay with yourself. Adding criticisms to the mix of my friends’ already fucked up life scenarios wouldn’t make them feel good.

But what the actual fuck.

I’m sitting here, alone and isolated in a dingy library trying my fucking hardest to be a good president to the student organization I love so much. I’m doing work and research on a Saturday. All day. I’ve been working on BGLSA ALL DAY.

But when I’m 25 and I look back on 2014, will I see fun and excitement and “the college years” everyone wishes could go on for eternity? Will I still be friendless because I’m spineless? And do I really expect these people to change, to treat me better, to treat people better in general if I don’t say anything?

I’m more than a president. In fact, first and foremost, I’m a person. I have feelings, needs, desires, bad habits, all of it. I have bad hair days, times where my outfits leave much to be desired, months at a time that I am much less than happy. Of all people, I expected my friends to get that, to still love me, to stand by me, to be there when I needed ice cream and Doctor Who, or a glass of wine and endless Youtube videos.

But where are they? Here’s a list:

  • Snapchatting/texting/facebooking me from events and parties with a “wish you were here” caption
  • snuggled up next to their significant others ignoring my calls until they are in DIRE need of something
  • at home alone, too proud to admit that they also need and miss me, too
  • judging my three months of depression caused by my father raping me (fucking sue me for taking time to get better) JUST BECAUSE they don’t know what happened (a general, family emergency response is what I give when asked)
  • “letting me be” because emotional Kaitlyn isn’t fun to be around or because they do know what happened and don’t know what the hell to say
  • and some of them just generally have important shit to do. Ironically, those are the ones who contact me the most. AND THEY HAVE BUSIER SCHEDULES THAN ME.

So, Mason, William, Jess, Raia… What’s your excuse? All of you are famous for them. But don’t worry. I’ll hear you out. Because I’m “that friend” who’s just always there when you need them, right? “That friend” who can be tucked back on the shelf until I’m useful again.

In all seriousness, I love my friends more than anything in the world, I do. And in all honesty, it’s half my fault for not saying anything. Maybe my desire to have them in my life is blinding me from seeing the truth, maybe. But I have friends who DID step up to the plate and in my gut and in my heart, I feel like I cannot take all the blame for this disconnect. For fuck’s sake, I lost half my family and I had to grieve that. And I had to figure out a way to live without them. And it just would have been easier and nicer (it would STILL be easier and nicer) if my friends could just be there for me.

 

‘Tis a Wonderful Place to be Stuck Indeed


trending thoughts: #loveforgood #loveforall #somuchlove

Being stuck in the terrible maze of grief is hard, but when I finally find a path that leads closer to the light at the end of the puzzle, I tend to milk it for every ounce of happiness it’s worth. And I keep this pathway deeply engraved in my memory in case I must call upon my experiences there to help me through the times I hit obstacles and dead ends.

Today, the path led to spiritual growth and healing, away from the towering wall of hopelessness I hit about a week ago. It was the first week that our choir was back to singing at the 10:30 mass, and I had not realized how much hope I had pinned on the singing experience until it fulfilled my deepest wishes for the improvement of my current mental health. Not only did the music and liturgy stuff my head full of all the good bits of life, but I allowed myself to push out much of the dreary emotions which had attached themselves rather deeply to my heart as of late.

I do (unfortunately) constantly dwell on my rape when left to my own wandering thoughts, but I have to say that today’s homily has given me a different outlook, a rather relative, holistic view of my current situation: that although my tragedy is grotesque and horrid and unfathomable to many who have crossed paths with me on their own maze, every bitty detail is drastically relative to the world’s current problems. I look at Syria, and Africa, and even our very own people in America, and think “What the hell is wrong with humanity? And why aren’t those of us who are fortunate enough to have the luxury to worry putting these issues at the forefront of our minds? Can we not take five minutes out of our day to meditate on the inhuman and incomprehensible pain our brothers and sisters are facing over seas? Can we not turn to our neighbors and give them thirty seconds of our time? Can we not hug our family and friends close and be thankful we have them with us?” And then I realize how truly blessed I am in spite of the hardships with which I’ve been faced.

Picture this: A church crowd awaiting the start of the service, each (hopefully) getting into the mindset of worship and true stewardship. A music director who can barely stand the excitement of having her choir back in the loft, who never tires while trying to get through to us what music ministry is all about, who never gives up on a piece of music because her faith in us and in the Lord to carry us through the service is that profound. The choir itself, perched on the rows and in chairs, itching to bring back the wonderful choral experience to a church that has always been steadfastly dedicated to an authentic Catholic experience from the moment we walk into the church until the moment we leave, hopefully carrying a revised and enlightened attitude about the way in which we should lead our lives.

In that hour of meditation and utter holiness, it somehow (I suppose this is one of the great mysteries of the human faith in a higher power) does not matter that Catholic doctrine is not the standard by which I choose to live my life. Nor does it matter that I am ten years younger at least than every other soprano with whom I sing. Or how expensive my shoes look, or whether my hair is sticking up funny. What matters to me is the endless flowing energy pouring out into the air, running through a purifier of love and truth before it returns to all of us, re-igniting our dimmed passion for our Creator, re-energizing our tired minds, re-feuling our hope for and faith in humanity, and reminding us to love our neighbors as we desire to be loved. It is in that hour of letting go of past worries and pushing future problems out of the present time that I feel the most freed from the oppression of sadness and grief.

And as I sat there this morning, dwelling on the rather inconvenient commitment of having to sing at mass because I am indeed paid to do so, I felt stuck in a rut of hymns and long rehearsals. And then I stopped myself, astonished that I would ever think it inconvenient to be paid for my voice, something I’ve worked for since I could sing. And I looked around at all the loving people who make up the best choir I’ve ever known. And I examined the beautiful walls and stained glass windows which surrounded me. And I remembered how it felt to sing Mozart’s Ave Verum. And I exhaled. Because if ever there were a place to be stuck, this would be my first, second, and third choice.

I do not think I will ever be able to precisely convey the connection I feel to music without it lacking every true bit of passion and gratitude I have for it, but I can say that with absolute certainty music has been the one constant in my life, keeping me from falling further into pain, and helping me rise above even the happiest happy.

It might sound manic to say that when music is sung with a selfless attitude, a service provided by us for the congregation, I cannot help but inwardly cry with an overwhelming hope and love for all the wonder that makes up humanity, but it is as true as the grass is green. And today I felt it. And today I healed.

The Rape Crack: Being a Surviver of Incest Means Lots of Therapy


trending thoughts: #loveconquersall #neednotforgive #schoolrush #stressedanddepressed

Traumas should only happen one at a time. For instance, if a close family member or friend dies, yes, it’s sad. Yes, losing someone dear to one’s heart is overwhelming and scary and tends to leave a lingering melancholy that if not carefully combatted, can become permanent and drudging. But if one were to lose two family members at the same time, every part of life and functioning becomes multi-faceted (all negative of course) and tedious to sort out. On top of DOUBLE the pain, DOUBLE the grief, DOUBLE the confusion, sadness, anger, etc. So when tragedy strikes twice simultaneously (or more), the victim of said tragedies has no choice but to notice the tremendously hideous crack running right down the center of the beauty life is supposed to bring.

Let’s start with the overarching trauma with which I recently (well, in my mind it is still very new, but in all fairness, it will be six weeks tomorrow) came in contact: rape. Not “just a little harassment,” not “he was drunk and just persistent enough to rub up on me a few times.” Actual, real, messy, disgusting rape. Like, he came inside of me while I laid there stock still from shock. As in, his dominant feeling of needing power over me blocked any sort of humanity that was still left in his alcoholic body.

Now, the shocker, and second trauma that makes the rape ordeal infinitely worse: he was my biological father. The father who cared for me, picked me up from school, cooked me dinner, and seemed to love me with his entire being. That father. The one I sang Atlantic Starr’s “Always” with in the middle of the night after a few beers. The one who swore to support me until he was laying in the ground. My protector and best friend.

So how to twist this into something good, as I’ve done with every other tragedy in my life? I have yet to find a way. And I doubt I will. This is the essence of my tragedies. I have lost a valuable part of me, the part which normally saves me from being sucked into the black hole of depression and the world of “I’ve lost my way and can’t get back on track.” It is stuck somewhere between my meek cries of “no” and his gravelly voice asking me if I wanted his “cum” inside of me.

I have kept busy, kept up an appearance of normalcy, allowed myself to feel without emotional judgement, surrounded myself with, and I truly believe this, the best and most profoundly caring people in the world, and refused to let these tragedies to run every minute of my life. But no matter how slowly I open my eyes, with which lenses I use to look out into the world, or how far or close I choose to focus, the ever growing present crack which has separated my beautiful life into the distant past which seemed good and right, and my future which seems daunting and perilous, protrudes in the most grotesque way, tripping me into more sadness, popping my security bubble, and pricking at all of my already fried senses.

I am hurt in every emotional way possible and all I hope for is a day when I wake up and the crack is just a hair smaller than it was the day before. A day when, I am able to stop it from triggering panic attacks and am strong enough to balance with it on the seesaw of all of these extreme emotions. When happiness outweighs sadness, even if it’s only by a second. I want to laugh and mean it. I want the joy of humanity to come home with me as it once did, serving as a constant reminder of all the good and potential people hold within themselves. I want to live, not just survive.

With my whole heart, I could never wish this pain and trench deep sadness on anyone, even my father. And if this has happened to someone who reads this, know that you are not alone, because this fact, all by itself, has gotten me through the toughest days.