My Journey To Sobriety: CEO & Founder, Kaitie Degen

The end of August represents an ENTIRE year of Sober Saturdayz events. August 28th 2019 was our first event, The Daytime Disco. I know it sounds SO cliche to talk about how "a year ago I would have NEVER seen myself here at this point", but it's true. This time last year ... I was a dumb ass, lol I'm not going to beat around the bush. I was not taking responsibility of my life and because of that I was getting myself into some dangerous situations. Legit and I think it's really important to remember why things started, because it wasn't a cute beginning.

Sober Saturdayz was born because I wrote a blog post for an Edmonton based Instagram named @yeggers. I wrote this piece while sitting in my Acupuncture Clinic, I remember I looked at the sky and said "Okay Universe, please help me to write exactly what I'm supposed to" and just like that I pumped this baby out in one go.

This is that blog post: "There is no greater pain than to be helpless in the face of a loved ones suffering."

My first memory as a child was my mother forgetting me at daycare. I remember my Grandma being nervous about giving her the responsibility to pick me up, but the social worker insisted. The social worker also insisted that my grandparents shut off their phones and book themselves a nice hotel for their night without me. I’m sure you can guess, my mom never showed. My Grandparents were the emergency contact and so I waited until every last child had been picked up and eventually they contacted my Great Grandma to come and get me. Being forgotten by my mother has always been the norm for me. I can’t begin to explain what it's like to have the woman who created you care so little about you. Most of my childhood was filled with me trying to be something that she would want. Maybe, if I spoke softly, maybe if I helped with my siblings, maybe if I was the best at the sports I played, maybe then, she would pay attention to me.

At her prime, people used to say my mother looked like Angelina Jolie, she had gorgeous long brown hair, a smile that could kill, and the skin of a naturally tanned Brazilian woman. When her attention was on you, it was solely on you. Her hugs meant so much, but they only came in small spurts. My mother suffered from drug-induced mental health issues. One of these was: Border line personality disorder. In case you’re not familiar with this disorder, this is what it was like for me as a kid: My mother always thought that people were conspiring against her. She wouldn’t allow my sister and I to walk together without her because she thought we were creating an alliance. So, my mom and sister would walk ahead of me, and I would trail behind. She was also an insane germophobe and would never share her drinks, even if her children were thirsty. It's always been her world and we’ve all just been living in it.

My mother, Julie, had me at 15 years old. She was always confused about whether she wanted to be my mom or my friend. I remember my guy friends would call her hot and she loved the attention. That was the thing about my mom, male attention was above anything else. I remember, since she didn’t have full custody of my sister and I, once a year she would take us each on a solo trip with her. Its funny, being from Kelowna, one of the trips she took me on was to Edmonton. I remember being so excited to finally get to spend time with her. But it ended up with her partying, meeting some guy (whom she later married) and left me to sleep on the couch, all while I could hear everything from the living room.

It was early on that becoming the “easy going” or “chill” girl was embedded into my personality. “You're my eldest Kaitlyn, you understand that Mommy needs adult time too. Thanks for understanding, sweet-pea”. And just like that, like the book Flowers in the Attic, I was left alone. I’ve watched my mother go from flaky- to blood shot eyes- to abusive- and now, homeless. I’ve seen the light drain from her eyes. I’ve seen her body deteriorate, I’ve witnessed her talk to people who aren’t there.

Don’t get me wrong, since I was 12 I have been trying to find ways to help her. I've given her my allowance, I've let her live with me, I've lived in abusive relationships for her, I’ve gotten her jobs, I've talked to the police to get her out of trouble... I’ve had my soul crushed more times than you can imagine. I can tell you what it's like to have your mother come out of prison, still in her jail clothes, asking for a place to stay, only for me to have to shut her down for my own safety. I've been called more names than any child, teenager, or young adult should ever be called. But still I try. I’ve written to Intervention, I've gone from seeing her daily, to cutting off ties for years. No matter how many self-help books I read, or how much therapy or medication I took, I could never find a way to fix her.

The hardest thing I’ve ever learned, is that she doesn’t want to get better. I know what you’re thinking: addiction is a disease, she’s sick! ...and believe me, I know. I’ve been to the lock down part of the hospital while she’s trying to convince the doctor that the government has put a camera behind her eye. But, whether I want to believe it or not, she chose drugs over me. She always has, and I honestly think she always will.

We need change in the way that alcohol and substances are controlled in society right now. I never want another kid to go through what I went through. I don’t want them to see a parent decompose in front of their eyes. I don’t want them to be bullied at school for having parents that “didn’t want them,” and I definitely don’t want them to have relationship issues because they’ve never been loved properly. It's time for change, and it has to start with changing ourselves.

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