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Tuesday Topic: My Story So Far

So this week I had some very exciting news, I had officially became a Green River College student. However, I was then promptly laid off. I now have to either find a way to pay for my school full time or go to a different union to rejoin the shipyard. This means if I can not find funding I have to give up on going to school for a while and just work. This week’s Tuesday Topic will be my story, the battles I have fought and the hard work I have put in to get to this messy yet new beginning.

I have lived in the same town my whole life and had a great childhood with amazing parents. Little shout out to my mom and dad: I love you! Growing up I was happy, loved, and engaged in plenty of sports and activities. I can’t say that a shitty childhood drove me down a wayward path, yet I ended up taking one nonetheless.

It wasn’t until late middle school that I started to give into peer pressure and turn into something I wasn’t. I was doing things I didn’t want to do and befriending people I knew weren’t really my friends. I smoked my first cigarette at 14 walking home from middle school and had my first beer later that night. Later that year I learned I was going to a different high school than everyone else. Being the dramatic 14 year old I was, I thought my life was over. That I was going to have no friends and no one at the new school would understand me. However, looking back on it going to a different high school probably allowed my life to not get as bad as it could have been.

My freshman year of high school was not as bad as I thought it would be, and I ended up meeting my best friend at volleyball tryouts before the school year even started. Shout out to my best friend and editor, Megan! I suddenly found myself separated from all of the negative influences that surrounded me in middle school, giving me the space to discover the person I truly knew I wanted to be. However, even with all the new good influences I had and the teachers that encouraged me to be myself and do my best I still fell in with the wrong crowd, and in doing so slipped right back into partying most weekends. When I wasn’t with the few people who refused to put up with my drug and alcohol use in their presence, I was out partying with those that would not just put up with it but share in the experience.

My sophomore year I had a bad knee injury and discovered opiate painkillers. I continued to complain about pain even when I didn’t have any just to keep getting a prescription. The rest of my high school years continued like this—fake the pain to get the drugs. At school, I put on a very convincing façade. I was the student who always appeared to be happy and cheerful, but in reality I hated who I was becoming and I dealt with that self-loathing by getting high and drinking. I thought it was masking the pain.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some very great parts of high school. Some parts of my high school experience were truly amazing and formative parts of my life. Like I said, I met my best friend and I had a great time in Newspaper and Yearbook. I got to study German and travel to Germany as a result of that class. I had teachers who truly believed in me, and continued to push me even when I didn’t believe in myself. There were people in my life who tirelessly worked to inspire me to do and be my best, but it just wasn’t enough to keep me from myself.

When I reached college, everything got worse. I never went to class, all I did was stay in bed, sleep, and get high in my car. I went to a lot of parties, got caught up in an unhealthy relationship, and ended up failing out of college. You would think, at that point, I had reached my rock bottom. That I would have realized it was time to get my head together, but I wouldn’t be telling you this story right now if that were the case.

After being suspended from the university, I got back into school with the help of the most wonderful person I have ever met, Joy. She was a case manager at the university. I was at a point where I was suicidal, doing severe drugs, drinking heavily and without reserve, extremely codependent on people who were not good for me, and close to failing out of college for the second time. Yet, through all of this she never stopped showing me support or love. In total honesty, this woman probably saved my life. Even with her support and hard work, I ended up failing out of college for a second time. At which point I tried to get a job in town and gain some life experience. But I was evicted from my apartment and had failed all the drug tests I was given, so I found myself living in my car on the side of the road.

When my parents finally rescued me from myself, I moved back home and decided I was going to get clean. I got into a program and tried endlessly to stay clean to no avail. After a few months I had a complete mental breakdown. On February 9th, 2016, my clean date, I ended up in the ER waiting for a bed in psych ward. The only thing that kept me sane in that ER room was my best friend Charly. He showed up for me every day, just to sit with me and watch me color. And when I finally got out of the hospital, he was right there when I got home to hug me and tell me he was so happy to see me. He was there to offer me the support I would need to get through the day-to-day struggle of conquering my addiction.

Through all of these experiences I have had an endless flow of people show me love and support. I had countless people cheering me on, offering me sound advice, and trying to point me in the right direction. It didn’t matter though, no matter how many people I had on my side, my addiction—my disease—was strong enough to take me down.

I have spent the past year clawing my way out of the hole that my addiction dug me into. I have truly shown my addiction that I am, and will continue to be, stronger than it. I have worked through breakups and obsessions to use. I have dealt with the loss of friends. I have learned to set boundaries, and deal with success—something I felt I had become unaccustomed to experiencing. I got a job that pays well and have friends who genuinely care. My relationship with my parents is the best it’s ever been. But I couldn’t have worked through all this without my sponsor JR. I have worked infinitely harder than I thought I could to get myself where I am today. I am still working very hard to over come the adversities that come my way. I may have been laid off but that does not mean the end of the road. So now I fight to find funding for school and if all that fails I still have options. I can go back to work through a different union however, that may mean I put school on hold for a while. However, I will not let this set back get me down. I know that if I can overcome active addiction I can over come anything.

So there it is, my story. Hopefully it gave you some insight into what I have been through and over come. If you or anyone you know is suffering from addiction I always accept messages.

Much love,

Karissa

Edited By: Megan Evans

Tuesday Topic: What Dot the Goldfish Taught Me

This week at the shipyard with the combination of the snow melting and the downpour of rain we had quite a bit of flooding to deal with. Someone bought about 10 feeder goldfish and put them in a shallow piece of equipment that had flooded with a sign above them that read, “No Fishing $20 fine.” I had been struggling all week to find a Tuesday Topic, but then I looked at this little white goldfish with a singular orange dot on his head and all of the sudden was flooded with realizations. Unfortunately, Dot did not make it home that night. He passed away before my shift was over. The pond is still there, and I decided to christen it Dot Memoriam Pond in his honor. And although Dot didn’t make it beyond the length of my shift that day, I still wanted to share with all of you the life lessons that Dot the Goldfish taught me in the short amount of time we had together.

  • Be present and enjoy the small things in life

Now when I say this can be anything, I mean it, it can be anything. Whether it’s a powdered doughnut from your favorite bakery or just a new pencil at work, learning to enjoy even the smallest of things in life can make a bad day seem better. It’s all about living in that particular moment—not worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow or what happened yesterday—it’s taking that moment to just be happy that you get to experience it.

When I first saw Dot my day was just another day, I hadn’t really taken the time to enjoy the day. However, when I saw this little feeder fish I smiled and just looked at how pretty his marking was. For whatever reason, seeing Dot made me stop what I was doing and simply be in that moment. Just by being in that flood-made pond, Dot gave me the gift of a moment of joy as I took that second with him to admire his scales.

I know this can be hard to do, especially when you’re having a particularly bad day, but I find it easier when I do a simple exercise that a friend taught me. Make a list and number it one to five. Then write down the shape, color, and name of an object you can see. Focus on that thing, whatever it may be, and really look at the shape and color of it, find a way to give all of your attention to the object. You can always add other things to the list as well like how something feels or smells. It’s all about taking yourself out of your head and just being present and enjoying the small things. Here is an example of a list that I have done when I needed to get out of my own head and focus back in on the life around me.

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  • Accept yourself right where you’re at

This is something that I am still struggling with but it is really important to me. This little fish helped me to realize that I need to be practicing this way more. More often than not I am comparing where I am in my life right now to others’ lives or where I think I should be at in my life. I think we all experience a level of this, and I’m no different—I find myself making comparisons between my life and the life I thought I’d be living right now. The one thing I have learned is that comparison is the death of the soul. When I compare myself to others or my own expectations it’s like saying that the things I have accomplished are not enough. There will always be someone who has had it “worse” than me and someone who is “doing better;” however, that’s not the point, the things I have gone through are unique to me. My accomplishments are still something to be proud of. Accepting myself right where I am at: 24 years old, living at home with my parents, working a job I like and that pays well, looking to go back to school for teaching. All of this is just fine and things will happen when they are supposed to happen. I still have to put in the work for my dreams, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy where I am at today. We are all walking our own, unique paths through life, and that’s perfectly fine!

  • Show love to all

I say this, knowing full well that this practice is easier said than done. It is an easy and simple thing to show love to those we already like and love; however, it is exponentially harder to show love to those we have conflicts with, or those we hold resentment against. From a tiny fish who was thrown into a flooded piece of equipment, to that passive aggressive person at the office, to your best gal pal, showing love to everyone can make even the most strained relationships seem not so bad. Now I am not saying this will fix all your relationships and make you a super loving person, but what I can say is that I have noticed being loving and empathetic has made the day-to-day interactions with people easier to put up with—no matter who it is.

And perhaps the most important of all . . .

  • Just keep swimming

This one is a little obvious, but the point still stands as an important reminder to never give up. Always follow that passion of yours, and follow it through both the choppy waters and the smooth. Life is the most rewarding when you’re pursuing your passions.

So from me and Dot the fish just keep swimming!

(Quick update about school: I finally took the big step and enrolled in a community college! I start April 3rd! More about this next week.)

 

Much love

Kris

Edited By: Megan Evans

Tuesday Topic: What it means to be 24

Sorry for the late post but I discovered the amazingness that is having someone edit your work. 

The age of the adult child

There were a lot of things I wanted to talk about this week—school, being financially and emotionally ready to be an adult, changing careers and passions, and my 1 year mark—and being unable to choose just one, I’m going to give a brief overview of what it means for me to be 24 and dealing with all of those things.

I don’t have much experience being 24 (only about 3 months); however, the experience I do have, has been the most stressful yet. I am not only dealing with the pressures that any normal 24 year old face, but also the pressures of my first year clean and sober. While this means that my experiences may be radically different from others, it seems that most 23-25 year olds I have talked to have the same or at least similar thoughts about being in this age group.

We are dealt all of our adult cards at once, yet most of us are not prepared to receive them. We are pushed into adulthood and all of the decisions that come with it: trying to figure out a career path; wondering if it’s time to go to college, either for the first time or again; and seeing everyone getting married and popping out kids only to find yourself wondering, “Is it time for that already?” All the while we are trying to make enough money to become financially independent and not have a psychotic break down in the process. This, this is what we are dealing with. While we all have our unique struggles we are expected to live as adults without the knowledge of how to do so.

A little background on me. I chose drugs over everything else in my life, and as a result I failed out of college and was evicted from my apartment, with no job and no money. I tried to make it by living in my car. After a few days of living on the side of the road in Ellensburg, my parents found me and brought me home. They showed me all the love and support I could have ever asked for however, my addiction still had its claws in me. One day I will do a post on my whole story; so to make a long story short, after a break down I got myself clean and sober with the help of a program. Now, 2 days away from being a year clean and sober, I am living at my parents’ house with a job that pays well and a drive to finish school and start my career. I am learning to truly feel emotions, both good and bad, as well as how to enjoy them and respond to them. I am finding out what kind of person I want to be and what morals I am choosing to live by. I am finding new hobbies, such as cross-stitch, and rediscovering new passions, like teaching others.

A lot of the time being in this age group is like playing musical chairs with stools on a fresh-waxed floor. Everyone is slipping and falling, stumbling and struggling to get back on their feet. There’s tears and laughter, growth and set-backs. You win some, you lose some, and when you do finally reach your goal, you cling to it for dear life in hopes that your ass won’t slide off that bar stool and find yourself sprawled out on the floor again.I am expected to be an adult in making my decisions, yet when I bring up an idea there are many times I am shot down like a child with a dream that’s too big. I try to be financially ready for everything, yet I have a hard time saving money—mostly because I have replaced a drug addiction with an “oh, shiny, let’s buy it!” addiction. I work more than 40 hours a week and still don’t make enough to survive on my own without my parents. With the stress of all of that I try to keep my emotions at bay long enough to make it home to either laugh hysterically at my life or cry because I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.

On top of all of that I am currently in the process of a major career change. For the last 5 years I have been working toward a career in forensic anthropology. Something I still love dearly, but I’m starting to realize it is neither my passion nor what I want to do for a living. I am about 180 credits into this major and less than a year from graduating if I chose to go back to school, yet here I am, wanting to start over. I have come to realize that I want to be a high school teacher. The hardest part is not letting my previous failure in college dictate my future. However, it is so freeing knowing finally what I want to do. I am excited to see that spark in a student’s eye when they understand something or find a passion. I know there will be hard times and difficult students but, I have good resources to talk to and ask questions to. So I continue to live at home to save money to follow a career that I am finally passionate about. Because what’s life about if not pursuing the things that make you happy?

No matter what life throws my way, no matter the hardships I face, I continue to try to hold my head high and make it through these next few years with as many smiles as I can.

As my dad has always said:

“If you can’t be a good example, at least be a horrible warning.”

Writen By: Karissa Coen

Edited By: Megan Evans

Tuesday Topic: New Blog, Stuck in a Rut

This blog will be a way for me to document my thoughts, goals, plans, and memories. I want to try and post once a week on Tuesdays about whatever my brain needs to get out. I will probably post little things in between, like pictures and quotes. It will be things from my story to what made me angry or happy that week to figuring out what I want to do with my life.

This week I figured out I am stuck in a rut, thus why I am starting a blog. I recently got a job in October with good pay and good benefits; something I never thought I would have, but now all I do is work and sleep. It feels as though I am not working on or towards anything. Ever since getting clean all I have wanted is to go back to school and finish my Anthropology degree. However, today the thought occurred to me that I am not even sure that I want to continue with Anthropology. Now I am taking stupid quizzes to try and figure out my “perfect major.”

To start off slow I am thinking I will just go to my local community college and finish out an AA degree. I believe I am only about 2 or 3 classes away from finishing that.

My inspiration for the day is:

I am neither a monster nor a god among men.

Which for me means that my mistakes and failures do not define me as a monster or bad person. However, my good actions and successes do not make me better than others.