WakeUp Carolina is sharing a six-part weekly series, “Turning A Mess Into A Message,” guest authored by Keegan. He has decided to publicly share how a tragic incident led to his recovery in order to hopefully provide someone hope that there is another way to live. This is Part 2 of the series. If you haven’t yet, please read Part 1 beforehand.
August 19, 2022
Impending doom is one of the most terrible gut-twisting feelings to experience. If you have struggled with drug addiction or alcoholism, you have probably known the exact feeling I am talking about. That paralyzing, crippling feeling, that something horrible is about to happen and knowing there is nothing you can do about it. During active addiction the feeling that the world is about to come crashing down on top of you can be unbearable; often, the only way I know how to cope with it is to use or drink more, which in turn would just make things worse. However, now that I have been sober for over three years, I have learned to cope with those feelings in more healthy ways. Also, now that I am sober those feelings of impending doom rarely occur, the last time I had them was waiting for my prison sentence.
When I was using and drinking there was always that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that shit was going to hit the fan at any moment; that everything was going to crumble beneath my feet, and the world was going to crash on top of me. My go-to solution for dealing with these feelings was always to drink or use more which would never work, but make the feelings worse over a period of time. Sometimes the feelings of impending doom were paralyzing, giving me that anxiety and fear that cripples you to the point where you feel like you can’t do anything, not even get out of bed.
Eventually, those feelings of impending doom came to fruition and my world did come crashing down. I was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of an innocent person, while I was under the influence. I was absolutely broken once I came out of the blackout and began to comprehend what had happened. I had nowhere to turn and I had zero hope and faith that my life would ever get better. I contemplated suicide, seeing no light in the darkness of my situation. However, something spiritual occurred and my cellmate in county jail talked to me about spiritual welfare. He told me he didn’t know what I had been through or what happened but he believed whatever it was, there was a plan and a purpose and to not do anything rash like commit suicide. For me, this was my first direct experience with a Higher Power, (whom I choose to call God), which I have come to personally know during my journey of recovery. I was eventually allowed to attend treatment and begin the hard process of getting sober and building a foundation for my future while waiting to be sentenced on my charges. When I finally got sober, the feelings of impending doom were still there, especially early on in my recovery. I continued to feel like at any moment something was going to happen and I would be crushed.
Getting sober is hard enough and having to cope with an almost unbearable amount of guilt, remorse, regret, and sorrow about what happened and the hurt that my actions caused is another thing, but having to cope with all that while having the feelings of impending doom knowing I was going to prison, just not knowing for how long was extremely difficult. I had learned through my AA programs that relying on my Higher Power was crucial for my recovery, but sometimes this proved to be extremely difficult. I 100% knew I was going to have to go to prison, the only uncertainty was the amount of time I was going to have to spend behind bars. Trying to navigate early recovery and dealing with that fear and anxiety required a lot of work, support, and faith (which took time to acquire). I began to pray daily, just something simple asking God to help me through the journey, and that he knew better than I did so whatever happened I would be okay with. Sometimes it was difficult for me to even believe my own prayers, but I still did them. Over time, my faith that things would work out for the best no matter what the outcome grew. It took me a long time but eventually got to a point where I knew that I could be okay with whatever the result of the situation would be.
Another thing that was extremely crucial for me in dealing with the impending doom feelings was allowing others to help me because I believe my Higher Power speaks through other people. When I asked others for guidance and allowed them to help me I often found that they knew exactly what I needed to hear at that moment in time. One of the most crucial things I was told was to stay in the moment, to me at that time it sounded a lot easier said than done, however, I had people who helped me to keep it simple. One of my good friends would always ask me “where are your feet today?” which served as a simple reminder to focus on what was right in front of me at that exact moment. I truly believe that it was my Higher Power speaking through him because it seemed to me that my friend would always ask me this when I was stuck in my head thinking about going to prison. I would be physically there, but mentally I was already incarcerated. I put a lot of trust in my Higher Power daily to help me through my early recovery and give me guidance to ask for help which I needed because I learned very early on that I could not do it alone. I would get inside my head and spin out. I relied on others to support me and help me through. It took a lot of effort and faith to get to a point where I truly believed that no matter the outcome, everything would be alright. Faith for me is believing something without being able to see it, which is exactly what I had when relying on my Higher Power and friends/support/sponsors to help me through my recovery and dealing with my fears and anxiety.
In the days leading up to my sentencing, I leaned heavily on my Higher Power with prayer and asked my friends for their support as well. I was probably a week out from sentencing and had no idea what was going to happen, my nerves were an absolute mess. I had prepared and gotten to a point where I was ready for whatever outcome would be given in court. When I got a phone call saying my court day was canceled and pushed back another week. Immediately my anxiety shot back up and I felt like I prepared for nothing, but I did what I had learned in my recovery and prayed as well as continued to ask for support. Eventually, the day of sentencing arrived and I was fearful, but I knew through the faith I had in my Higher Power that everything would work out. I was sentenced to 7 years, which I am currently serving in the Georgia Department of Corrections. However, through what I learned in my recovery, having faith in my Higher Power, and the amazing support of others I am spiritually free today. It is beyond me how I am completely okay with my situation today. I wake up daily and thank God for life, and I view each day as an opportunity to be of service to others and become a better man than I was yesterday. If I could tell you one thing that I feel you should hold onto is that when things look the darkest and you feel like giving up, that is when you need to ask for help either from your Higher Power or friends. Never give up, just when you give up the next minute could have been when things were going to start getting better, so keep the faith that things can always get better.
Yes, I still deal with fears, guilt, remorse, regret, and anxieties, but the difference is I have a strong support network today and have tools through my recovery to work on them. Today I have hope for my future which is something that was the furthest from my mind over three years ago.