Katy’s Story: Facing the Darkness of the Past to Bring a Brighter Future to Her & Her Family | All Points North

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Katy’s Story: Facing the Darkness of the Past to Bring a Brighter Future to Her & Her Family

Written by Samantha Carter

On the outside, Katy might have seemed like any typical American stay-at-home mom. However, on the inside, she was deeply hurting and in denial. Even though she was aware of her own complex childhood trauma, she was blinded to the ways in which she was repeating the cycle in her own family.

After reaching rock bottom, Katy underwent a series of experiences that led to a breakthrough in her mental health treatment, ultimately changing the course of hers’ and her family’s life. To learn more about Katy’s story, check out the APN podcast episode, I’m Not Going to Let My Alcohol Addiction Win: Recovery x Katy, or continue reading the article below.

Complex Childhood Trauma

While Katy thought she was doing everything she could do to raise her children differently than she was, it wouldn’t be until she reached her lowest point that she’d realize things needed to change.

“I have a long history of childhood trauma complex and PTSD,” Katy said. “You know, big family roles that create a lot of character defects that just slowly, over time, got bigger and bigger. I was really good at stuffing and faking and pretending. I did therapy and that kind of stuff but it obviously wasn’t enough.”

All the stressors of daily life continued to pile up, and Katy’s mask was beginning to wear thin.

“Over time, you know, life builds,” Katy said. “When we had more kids and the husband’s traveling and then Covid hit – you can’t stop the walls closing in anymore. I couldn’t run from it. I was already on this path of destruction with [difficult] memories popping up. I was just feeling very vulnerable and having a lot of trouble with my mental health in total denial. So I started drinking a little heavier, but it wasn’t a big deal I thought.”

Using alcohol to cope proved to reveal a lot of Katy’s deeper struggles. Still, it wasn’t easy to come to terms with her substance abuse.

Alcoholism Denial

“I come from a long line of alcoholics, addicts, and generational trauma. I was always so aware, [I thought]. [The truth is], I was not aware at all,” Katy said.

Like many alcoholics, Katy continued to make excuses for her drinking, chalking it up to difficult times. She didn’t think she was doing exactly what she intended not to do.

“I was determined to not let it happen [to me],” Katy said. “I was like: I am not gonna let this continue. I’m gonna break the cycle. I’m gonna be aware. I’m gonna be open, you know as any good addict or alcoholic [would do]. No–you have no control.

Unfortunately, it would take some tough truths to open up Katy’s eyes to the bigger picture.

Hitting Rock Bottom

“When Covid hit, I started drinking very heavily,” said Katy. “Then, I had a painful memory come up the summer of 2020 that I was [previously] unaware of. It didn’t stop playing in my head. It was constant 24 hours, over and over. I could feel the floor. I could smell the room. I could touch it, feel it, hear it, and it was terrifying. So I drank more and it numbed it for a while. I was never sober. My house was chaos. I did that for about six to eight months probably. It was fast – it was really fast. I had no control.”

Towards the end of this difficult time in Katy’s life, she remembers a particular shift that ultimately led her to healing.

“There was one particular day where I was laying on the couch completely wasted [and] crying because I didn’t want to do this anymore,” Katy said. “[But], I didn’t have a choice. I had no control. I wanted to love my kids. I wanted to hug my husband. I wanted I wanted to function [but], I literally couldn’t. [Then], there was like this one half second moment of clarity and I opened my eyes and I was like, I can’t do this anymore. [After that], I got up and I started looking for treatment centers. Then, I came [to APN]. I have no idea where [this epiphone] came from but I thank God every day for that moment.”

Katy’s family was thrilled that she was going to get the treatment she needed to heal. Still, that didn’t mean it was going to be easy on anyone.

Coming to APN For the First Time

Even though Katy recognized she had a problem and was determined to get some help, she wasn’t quite convinced that alcoholism was part of her issue.

“I read that there was a really amazing trauma-intensive program [at APN],” Katy said. “[At the time], I didn’t think I was an alcoholic. I was like, I just have a really bad relationship with it. I’ve got to work on the foundation. I’ve got to work on the trauma. So that’s why I chose APN.”

Having found out about APN through her sister, Katy first came to the lodge on 10/2/2020.

“The ride up I was at the point where I was so numb and relieved and scared and sad that I didn’t really have a whole lot of feelings,” Katy said. “I’m an emotion-filled person so I think that shocks me that I was just so numb.”

However, upon arrival, Katy was greeted in the best possible way. As a result, her emotional body began to awaken again.

“So I got up there and I got checked in and there was an amazing, delicious dinner waiting for me,” Katy said. “The intake process–everybody was so nice. It wasn’t like sterile [and] you didn’t feel like you were gonna be put in a straight jacket. You didn’t feel like people were looking down on you. I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I felt nervous because I didn’t know what to expect [as] I’d never been to rehab or a treatment facility [before, but] I really felt okay.”

Determined to do the work, Katy dove right in.

“I was willing to do anything and everything to learn and grow and work on myself,” Katy said. “I went to all the classes. I tried everything at least once. I never missed therapy. I never missed group. I talked so openly and honestly. I did all the assignments and projects [and] actually did my first assignment in quarantine before it was assigned to me. – I am not that person.

After 29 days, Katy was discharged home. However, little did she know that she would be returning to treatment again soon.

Coming Back to APN Without a Relapse

When Katie returned home, she didn’t feel a wave of relief like she thought she might.

“[When] I went home November 1st, I was still sober and I was doing my work,” Katy said. “I was doing IOP. I was doing all the stuff – going to my meetings, implementing the tools and strategies I learned – [but] life still was still unmanageable. I was so scared. I was vulnerable. I was crying. I couldn’t figure it out and I was like, I have to go back. I can’t do this.

Even though Katy realized she needed more help, that didn’t mean it wasn’t difficult to ask for it again.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done when I sat my husband down [to have this conversation],” Katy said. “It was terrifying to be like, I’m not failing and I don’t have enough. To admit that is really difficult.”

Fortunately for Katy, her husband was more than supportive of her mental health needs.

“[My husband] was totally supportive because he could see it. It was all the time. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I was crying all the time. I couldn’t, you know, figure out what I was feeling or where I was. So, I came back January 5th [for a second round of treatment],” Katy said.

The second time around, Katy was much more sure of herself. She knew what to expect, she already felt safe, and she was ready and determined to dive deeper into her healing work.

“It was amazing,” Katy said. “I knew what it looked like. I knew how it worked. So, it was exciting. I picked right back up where I left off only with more insight about what it [was] really gonna take out there [to heal].”

During both of her APN stays, Katy was able to work with two different therapists who greatly impacted her healing journey. Katy opened up about how significant one of those therapists was to her.

“Lana–that woman, I don’t have words for her,” Katy said. “She’s the most incredible person I’ve ever met in my life. I just dove right back in and I told her, ‘let’s do the hard stuff. Like, I want to do it all.’”

With the help of APN’s incredible staff and the ability to keep in touch with her family throughout her treatment, Katy was able to make a lot of progress during her second stay.

“[Fortunately,] I was able to call [my family to] check in and I did that every morning. Thank God,” Katy said. “I wasn’t cut off and [it’s where] a lot of my strength came from. Even if I was low or feeling down or, you know, character defects [were] raging, it was that little strand, that little thread. I could hang on to see their faces and hear their voices and fight that much harder. I was grateful for that.”

Explaining Treatment to Her Children

As a stay-at-home mother to three children of varying ages, Katy opened up about her experience explaining things to her children.

“So I told the kids I was going up to the mountains to go to a hospital to fix my brain,” Katy said. “My husband is in dialysis, so it was a great way to [explain how] Daddy’s nurses fix kidneys and then they get better and how that’s what Mommy’s doing – only for her brain.”

Katy spoke about how well her kids took the news and about their open relationship when it comes to talking about mental health and breaking the stigma.

“[My kids] took it really well,” Katy said. “Kids are amazing. They’re smart and resilient and they understand way more than we think they do. They knew there was something wrong. They knew mommy wasn’t happy, she wasn’t well. My 12-year-old and I actually had the full conversation about me being an alcoholic and what that means. I’ve found ways to age-appropriately explain to them, but I don’t have anything to hide. Education for them is so important and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. We talk openly and honestly about anything.”

Realizing Alcohol is the Symptom

For Katy and many others who’ve struggled with alcoholism, it can be eye-opening to realize that alcohol is merely a symptom of a much deeper problem. Katy spoke openly about this topic with co-hosts Andy and Dan throughout the podcast episode.

‘So, [for a long time] I would say, ‘Hi, I’m Katie and I don’t know what my relationship with alcohol is, but it’s not good,’” Katy said.

After taking away the alcohol, Katy was able to dive much deeper into the underlying issues to do the hard stuff it takes to heal.

“I’m a grateful alcoholic,” Katy said. “I don’t hold any shame or guilt. I am proud of what I’ve made of it and [how I’ve] radically accepted it. I’ve turned it into something positive and it’s part of who I am. It’ll always be part of me, but it isn’t who I am. I will not allow it to dictate [me]. [Therefore], I’m grateful for it and I will talk to anybody and everybody about it openly and honestly because I have nothing to hide.”

Recoupling and Reparenting

Being brave enough to initiate healing work is merely one aspect of the process. After that, comes the long-term commitment of “chopping wood and carrying water.” In other words, Katy’s life now revolves around practicing the concepts, tools, and interventions she’s learned throughout her treatment with APN. In particular, recoupling and reparenting are two major themes that continue to arise for Katy.

“It became very apparent that my husband and I were so close that our identity was almost one. So we worked really hard to push back from [that],” Katy said. “It’s [a lot of] navigating new things. So we started to slowly have our own identities while still keeping that incredible bond, which ended up being much stronger. [We were finally able] to talk about how we feel, what we need, and really hear each other.”

With her kids, Katy took a different approach.

“So with my kids, I completely changed the way I parent,” Katy said. “[I realized] my kids are not all the same [and] I cannot parent them the same. Also, I cannot parent them how I wanted to be parented [as] I’m creating the exact same generational trauma. I didn’t realize it. I thought I was giving them everything I didn’t have so that it would never happen to them [but], I was so closed off. So I started parenting very differently and differently for each kid. It took a while [but] they’re happy and they’re healthy and they’re making so much progress on themselves. Now, I have boundaries and they respect them and I respect theirs’.”

In this process of recoupling and reparenting, Katy has uncovered multiple benefits to her overall well-being.

“Now, I hear my kids and I listen to what they need. In turn, I have naturally re-parented myself without even knowing it,” Katy said. “I pull out the feeling wheel quite often with my oldest. He loves that [and] it works really well. There was no way I was capable of these things [before]. I was too broken for anything. But now, I have broken that generational cycle and I’m proud of that.”

As anyone who does this kind of work knows, it comes with its fair amount of messiness. Katy further reflects on the ways in which this process has shown up in her relationship with her husband, as well.

“You know, I was I was really selfish,” Katy said. “I would say, ‘no – we’re going to do it this way.’ I would control a lot of things and I didn’t know that or understand it. Now, I’m very aware of character defects so I did a lot of recognizing and apologizing and stepping back and changing those things.”

Grateful for APN

As you’ve already learned, Katy’s life has changed in some incredible ways since first coming to treatment at APN in October of 2020. As she reflects on her journey, there is one overarching theme in Katy’s story – her incredible gratitude for APN.

“So the first time I came to APN saved my life and the second time I came has allowed me to live my life. That’s a gift that is incredible. If I can share my story – which is a terrifying thing for me – and it can help someone relate to it, feel hope, or be like – wow, maybe I should change – that’s what it’s about,” Katy said. “Even if it’s one person to say – hey, you’re not too broken; you are worth it; you can love yourself; it gets better. [Today], I am living a life that is ten thousand times more incredible than I thought it would be and it only gets better.”

If you’re interested in learning more about All Points North and our addiction and mental health recovery programs, submit our confidential contact form or call us at 855.934.1178 today. You never know how good your life can get until you let yourself feel the things that are hard.

More From Katy

Listen and watch Katy’s episode of Recovery x APN below, and find more episodes on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.