On today’s Episode of The SHAIR Podcast we have Kelly Fitzgerald joining us. Kelly grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a small town called Royersford. From as far back she can remember she has always had an addictive personality. She lived to party and was branded the “social butterfly” in high school. Kelly attended college at Millersville University in central Pennsylvania and earned 2 undergraduate degrees while playing 4 seasons of NCAA Division II soccer, as well as establishing her drinking career. Binge drinking and blackouts became the norm as she falls deeper and deeper into denial about just how bad her drinking habits had become.
After graduation she moved to Cancun, Mexico where her alcoholism morphed into full blown alcoholic debauchery. In May of 2013 Kelly took her last drink and began her journey into sobriety. In 2014 she started blogging on here website Sober Señorita where she made her first official blog post about sobriety – the post heard round the world!
Today Kelly is the Sober Señorita and her goal is to let others know through her own story that help is available for substance use disorders and that recovery is possible. By sharing her story with the world she hopes to break the stigma of addiction and let others know you can live a life beyond your wildest dreams.
Clean Date: May 7, 2013
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This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation
Here are Kelly’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights:
Kelly: Okay. Today, I’m actually packing my bags getting ready to go to Cancun because I’m planning a wedding and my life is just crazy right now. In terms of recovery, I attend meetings, 12-Step meetings, about 2 or 3 times a week. I try to meditate a few times a week. I don’t always do it as often as I’d like, but I try to sit quietly. I like to be alone. I think that helps me think about stuff in my recovery, and that helps. Other than that, I write a lot on my blog and I write a lot about sobriety and recovery, and that’s very therapeutic for me as well. Exercise is very important to me. I’m really into CrossFit, and I play soccer.
Omar: I’ve seen the videos, so I’ve already seen a lot of the CrossFit videos. You look like you’re pretty intense in there.
Kelly: Yeah. I try to be.
Omar: Are you a bit of a sports fanatic?
Kelly: Yeah. Soccer is my number-1 sport, but I watch a little bit of everything.
Omar: What was real exciting was when your fiancé proposed to you at a football game.
Kelly: I know. I still can’t believe that happened. Yes, that happened, and it was totally awesome. He planned that out, and I can’t believe he did that. It was awesome.
Omar: Yeah. You didn’t suspect a thing.
Kelly: No, not at all. We had talked about obviously getting engaged, but I had no idea when it was going to happen. I totally did not think it would happen at a Philadelphia Eagles game, because he’s a huge Eagles fan. So am I. I grew up outside of Philly, but he’s like the diehard fan. I bought him those tickets as a gift for his birthday, thinking, “Oh, yeah, this is a gift for him,” so that also made me think it was not going to be about me at all or us or any kind of engagement. He totally tricked me.
Omar: Yeah, he did.
Kelly: He did a great job.
Omar: He did. It’s moments like that that you never, ever, ever forget, and that’s the best.
Kelly: Yes, exactly.
Omar: My next question is always how do you maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with a higher power?
Kelly: I always feel most connected in 12-Step meetings when I’m listening to people share and people telling their stories. I love to get outside in nature and be at the beach, and I always feel more connected outside. I like to force myself to get outside even when I have lots of stuff to do. Even if it’s just the back yard, because it’s beautiful here in Florida. Yeah, I think those are the main things.
Omar: Beautiful. Kelly, tell us how much clean time do you have, and when is your anniversary date?
Kelly: I have just over 2 and a half years. My anniversary date is May 7, 2013.
Omar: Awesome. I am May 26, so we are-
Kelly: Yeah, same month.
Kelly: Yeah, I know a lot of people that have their dates in May. I guess it’s a good month to get sober.
Omar: May’s a good month, and also there’s a lot of anniversaries in December and January.
Kelly: Yeah, that’s true. New year, new me.
Omar: I get those, and I’m like, “Wow, here’s another one.” Those rock bottoms come right around Christmas.
Omar: Merry Christmas, right?
Omar: All right. Tell us how old you were the first time you drank or used drugs, and, more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Kelly: The first time I drank … I have 2 stories, and I can’t remember which one came first. One was I was with a girlfriend of mine, a high school friend, and we raided her parents’ liquor cabinet and we just drank whatever was in there. I know one thing was gin, and we were being really quiet because we didn’t want to wake up her parents. I think I was like 15. We were drinking straight from the bottle because we didn’t know anything about drinking or what to mix with or anything. Basically, we would take shots and then throw up into the sink. That was not really fun. I do remember it making me feel weird and different.
Then the other time was, I think I was 16 or 15 again. I was with my boyfriend at the time and we went to Homecoming, and then we went back to his house and we drank and had Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Also, I threw up again, so that should be a precursor to how my drinking habits were the whole time, over the next 2 years.
Omar: You already started drinking like a champ.
Kelly: Yes, yes. I think I seriously have that physical allergy.
Omar: Oh, there’s no question about it.
Omar: Number 1, what was keeping you from getting clean and staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Kelly: What was keeping me from getting clean and staying clean was that I was terrified of a life without alcohol or drugs. I thought that was boring, and I thought there was nothing fun about being sober. I didn’t really know who I was without drugs and alcohol.
Omar: Yes, absolutely. I asked that question because most of the time it’s so consistent with everybody else’s. We’re so afraid of losing that crutch, “Who am I now without the alcohol? My life’s going to be boring,” and blah, blah, blah. You couldn’t be further from the truth.
Kelly: Right, exactly. That’s what I try to hammer home in my blog. It’s so far from boring. I can’t even articulate how not boring it is.
Omar: No, and you get to remember all of it.
Kelly: Yeah, exactly. That’s the best part.
Omar: Kelly, tell us about that spiritual awakening, that aha moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover.
Kelly: I like to say my moment of clarity was in the airport when I was hung over. Also, later, I think after I started my blog and I was really putting the word “sober” into it, I just knew this was going to be my way of life. Spiritually, I was like, “Okay. You know what? I’ve accepted this way of life.” My life works better this way. I think for the first few months I was fighting it. I was upset that I was an alcoholic. I was made. I was like, “This sucks.” Then I got over that hump, and I was like, “You know what? This is my way of life,” and that was my moment. I was like, “Okay, this is how it is,” and I love it.
Omar: You just surrendered.
Omar: Excellent. Kelly, do you have a favorite book you would recommend to a newcomer you read in early recovery?
Kelly: Yes. Oh, I have a bunch, but my favorite one, one of the first one’s I read, was by Veronica Valli. She is also a sober blogger and has written 2 books. The first one I read my first few weeks of sobriety. It’s called Why You Drink and How to Stop.
Why You Drink and How to Stop: A Journey to Freedom – Veronica Valli
Omar: Beautiful. As a matter of fact, I just interviewed Veronica 2 weeks ago.
Kelly: Oh, perfect. Yeah. I love that book. I tell her all the time it saved me. I feel like it played such an integral role in my sobriety. I got to meet her at UNITE to Face Addiction, and I was a little star struck.
Omar: Yeah, right?
Omar: It is a trip. You know what I mean?
Omar: When she approached me and she’s like, “Hey, I want to be on SHAIR.” I was like, “You? Really? Awesome. I can’t wait.”
Kelly: That’s so cool.
Omar: She’s got another one. She’s got a hell of a story.
Omar: Hers is going to be coming out, oh, in a few weeks.
Kelly: Oh, good. I can’t wait to…
Omar: Look out for that one. I’ll let you know.
Omar: What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Kelly: Oh, gosh. It’s so hard to pick just one. Best suggestion I’ve ever received, I think from my sponsor, who gives lots of little nuggets of wisdom. I sometimes can get overwhelmed with trying to help others or always trying to say the perfect thing to anyone who’s asking me questions or they need help or to pass on the message. She had said to me one time, “I think the biggest help we can ever offer is to be the example. Live the highest good you want for others. That’s the best thing you can ever do for anyone, so don’t worry about always saying the perfect thing. Just be the example.”
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“Your life is not over. It’s just beginning, and it’s going to get so much better.”
Omar: Ooh, I like that.
Kelly: Yeah. I love that.
Omar: Sweet. I hope I didn’t take the next one away, because the next question is if you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would that be?
Kelly: Oh, a newcomer. I would say, “Your life is not over. It’s just beginning, and it’s going to get so much better.”
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Kelly!
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See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.