Addiction Recovery – there is a great deal of confusion, stigma, shame and discrimination surrounding addiction, addiction treatment and addiction recovery. Yet those who have the disease of addiction (whether to illegal or prescription drugs or alcohol) and are in recovery live healthy, productive, engaged lives — the same kinds of lives as people who do not have this disease. But all the words and definitions and explanations in the world are not as powerful as the people themselves. To that end, we are grateful to the people in recovery who have decided to share their experiences so that we all may put a Face to Addiction Recovery.
Addiction Recovery – It’s real, it happens to real people, and it happens all the time. It is my great pleasure to introduce Kyczy Hawk, today’s Face of Recovery.
How did your addiction start?
I am both an alcoholic and a drug addict. I started using drugs first; as a child of the 60’s in San Francisco, it was a natural fit. I moved around a lot as a child, much of it internationally. I often felt like an outsider and this continued even when I returned to the states. I am also the child of an alcoholic so I had codependency and insecurity issues familiar to anyone coming from that kind of home. Using drugs was entertainment, it represented an immediate community, with no effort at all you knew who was who and how to act with them. Drinking soon followed, but as a 13 year old it was much easier to get dope than it was to buy booze.
So what happened? Where others decreased their use over time, became more serious students and found other activities; I stayed close to those for whom using and drinking WAS the activity. I wasn’t interested in stopping, and like many, when I wanted to stop I couldn’t. High School was something to be endured until you graduated and were free to leave home. I worked hard to graduate early and I moved out. I left, did geographics, returned to school (college) time and again, dropped out, moved some more, met HIM, had his kids, broke up with him, moved again, tried school, tried work, wanted to be a good mother – but nothing I did would reign in my drinking. It got worse, my decisions became more impaired, the children were more neglected, and my internal self, my sense of who I was disappeared entirely. I tried antabuse, and while that stopped my drinking, it increased my drug use. Relationships couldn’t fix me, children couldn’t fix me, I went to therapists and they couldn’t fix me. Even having gone back to school, desperately trying to improve our financial situation and find a career, did not fix me. I was physically sick, exhausted, the children were suffering, and while I had a job, it was not long for this world in my current condition. The end had come.
What was the turning point for you – what made you want to get sober?
It wasn’t a fabulous drunk. I had had much worse. I hadn’t even embarrassed myself in an extraordinary manner. I just got drunk. I went home. I was looking forward to a lifetime of sour stomach, dirty clothes, neglected kids, over flowing garbage, unwashed dishes and floors, dusty furniture and tattered drapes. My breath never cleaned up, my sweat always had that alcoholic tang. I was abused by my boyfriend, was on a treadmill of sleep deprivation, preschool shuttle, work (which took every fiber of my being to remain alert and aware), small amounts of shopping so I could feed the kids and buy more rum, manipulate people for drugs or money to buy drugs, and then the whole thing started again. I couldn’t take it any more. I felt like there was nothing holding my soul inside my ribcage. What ever true being there was in me was in danger of slipping away permanently. It was too hard holding it together. I had a choice. Walk out the door and down the block leaving behind EVERYTHING, my children, my clothes, my belongings; everything and become a street person, tricking for drugs. Or… And I took the “or.” I made a call to a friend of mine I had heard had quit drinking 6 months earlier. She took me to my first meeting. I struggled with drugs for about 18 months, but I quit drinking that day.
What was your initial treatment?
On July 5, 1983, I went to my first AA meeting. There was not the option to go to a treatment center. I just went to meetings. In fact, within the first two months I only went to a meeting a week because my boyfriend accused me of having an affair rather than going to meetings and was so verbally abusive that I didn’t have the strength to go more than that. So I moved to San Jose into my parent’s rental house. That boyfriend came to visit me off and on over the next year or so. I became less able to resist the drugs and eventually didn’t know if I was attracted to him or what he brought. So I had to stop seeing him in order to get clean. And to develop self esteem.
Do you do anything differently, today?
My whole life is different. I look at life with more enthusiasm, I am honorable in my relationships, I have relationships that are based on respect and not on what I can get out of them (drugs, money, alcohol, and so on). I take care of my body, mind and spirit in a very intentional way. I have also taken up yoga. In about my 17th year of recovery, I became very despondent and drained. I feel now – looking back – that I was in risk of relapse. I don’t believe that you can get sober doing yoga by itself; but it saved my life back then. I still practice every day. It brings me breath, calm, strength and flexibility not just on the mat, but in life in general. I also love the teachings. I refer to them nearly as often as I do my recovery literature.
What is your life like, now?
My life has been so full. My kids have grown and we have good relationships now. I was able to become well enough to attract and be attracted to a healthy man and we married. I became a good employee. I went back to school and became a CPA. I have worked for big companies and received corporate recognition for my contributions. And I changed my life again – I became a yoga teacher and now am able to include recovery service in my yoga teaching. I work in recovery centers, jails and with people in recovery in classes in the San Jose area.
Do you have anything you’d like to share with someone currently struggling with a substance abuse problem or an addiction? How about anything you’d like to share with their family or friends?
When you are ready to stop suffering reach out. Feel the feelings, and sit on the chairs in the rooms of recovery and listen. Let people help you by reaching to them. Let them know you are ready.
Families suffer so much. There isn’t intervention for codependency – but it is a tragic illness. I feel as if there were 10 people developing codependent issues for every addict. No matter what the addiction – when that pebble drops into the pond there are circle of ripples. They over lap and intersect. I am an adult child of an alcoholic. I developed certain skills. I used them to perpetuate my relationships with my mates, and then with my kids. I also am an addict / alcoholic. I have caused many to develop these special skills. If you know or love an alcoholic; get help. Really. You will discover your SELF for yourself. And this toxic cycle may come to an end.
What is the best part about your recovery?
The best part of my recovery is freedom. Freedom to open my heart without guilt or shame, the freedom to grow because I can employ the courage I have developed in the 12 Step programs. I can become who I am meant to be, and at the same time allow others to grow and become themselves. I am not always happy, comfortable, or free of depression and anxiety. What I have now are tools to go through the feelings, to feel them and let them go. While I live in the moment, and some minutes feel like an eternity, the moment in not forever. I can stay in the moment with the clear experience that it will change. Another one of the contradictions we learn to accept in recovery – be here now, but don’t worry – it will change.
Thank you, Kyczy, so very much for sharing your story, and CONGRATULATIONS on 27 years of RECOVERY!
Kyczy also invites you to learn more about her current work with Yoga and Recovery.