Episode 352 Kelly Killingsworth Rediscovering Life After Addiction Transcript

This transcript is from episode 352 with guest Kelly Killingsworth.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Drive On Podcast where we are focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community. Whether you’re a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio, and now let’s get on with the show.

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Hey everybody. Welcome back to Drive On. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Kelly Killingsworth. Kelly is a veteran who, uh, since leaving the army has, uh, become dedicated to helping others overcome adversity and transform their lives into journeys of [00:02:00] empowerment and triumph. Uh, he’s a creator of Strength Through Struggle, where he shares his reflections on resilience.

So welcome to the show, Kelly. I’m glad to have you here.

Kelly Killingsworth: Oh man, it’s, I’m grateful to be here. Thank you.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, you bet. Um, so your story, uh, if I’m not mistaken, started when you were a young athlete, uh, you know, as a teen, probably in high school age. Um, and you kind of had some struggles there. Tell us about that, that time of your life, uh, but kind of pre military, uh, time, but, you know, kind of leads up to.

Everything that you have experienced. Right. So tell us a little bit about that and, and what you experienced there.

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, so, I grew up in a small town. Everybody knows everybody. And, uh, and I had a pretty troubled childhood. Um My parents, my whole family has been addicts. So when, anyways, when I got to, to high school, I mean, I was an athlete [00:03:00] and I was a leader. Um, but that’s where I started to venture out and drink alcohol quite a bit.

And, uh, Yeah, I started drinking at the age of 15 and it got to the point where I wanted, I didn’t play any other sports besides football and football was the only sport where I didn’t drink. So that was like the only time I didn’t drink during high school. I would, it was, it’s bad to say, but I would drink at lunchtime or I would start drinking before school.

I would skip class. I really don’t know how I made it through high school, but I did. So yeah, so I was in, I was there and then I didn’t go to college because I was partying too much. Um, and right after high school in 2003, I, I got in a motorcycle accident and I broke my neck and my back [00:04:00] and I had a punctured lung and the, that was probably the scariest moment of my life.

And, uh, At that point, or after that point, the rehab for that, I started, you know, really getting into muscle relaxers and painkillers and, and then I started drinking with them. So I’ve got to the point a lot of times where I was doing this and I, and I was taking the meds and I would start drooling on myself and passing out.

And so, so that’s when after that, that’s when I really, my addiction, I think, uh, really started. I mean, I always used. Alcohol and substance to hide something and I never really realized that. Um, and I still didn’t realize it at this point. I just, I was hiding from a lot. And, uh, and yeah, so that, that led me just going down the wrong path.

I mean, I’ve made some really horrible choices, right? So, so then [00:05:00] that’s when I Decided I needed to change a little bit.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And you know, I, I was, I was hoping, you know, through telling the story and, you know, going along this journey with you, um, to me it was almost like watching a, a TV show or a movie or something like that, and you’re, it’s like, oh, I hope this happens next, you know, for, for the character in the show. And, and so when you, when you were talking about that accident that you were in, um.

In my head, I was like, Oh, I hope that’s like the come to Jesus moment or something, whatever you want to call it, where he’s like, I got to get my shit together. And, you know, I gotta, you know, stop doing that. But then, then you mentioned, you know, the, you know, the painkillers and then mixing that with the alcohol.

And, um, I was like, God damn, you know, I was, it was, it was like, I was rooting for you. I was in your corner, I was rooting for you, but I was like, ah, shit, it didn’t go that way. You know, I wish it went the other way, but it didn’t. Um, so, so you, you got to that, that point where you’re [00:06:00] like. Eventually you’re like, okay, something needs to change.

Right. So is that kind of what prompted you to join the military?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, man. My, my life was going nowhere at, at that time, uh, just making the wrong decisions and, and I realized I knew I wanted better, a better life. And I wanted to raise a family at some point. So, um, I wanted to set myself up for the future. So that’s what made me join the military, um, in hopes that when I got out, I’d be set up, um, to succeed in a, in another career, uh, sober career.

Scott DeLuzio: Right. Right. Yeah. And that’s, I mean, one way to, uh, you know, try to sober up is, um, you know, the, the time that you spend in bootcamp, you’re You’re as dry, pretty much as dry as it gets. Right. And, uh, you know, that’s, that’s one way to kind of clear that out of your system, I suppose. Right. And a lot of sweat [00:07:00] too, right?

Kelly Killingsworth: Oh, a lot of sweat, a lot of work. Um, man, yeah, bootcamp was It was tough. So at the time I was out of shape. Um, I barely passed my PT test to go in. Um, but I worked really hard. I was super motivated. Um, I became a squad leader. I was a banner holder, you know, and, uh, and I loved it. And I, at that time I was like, man, I’m in here for life.

Like, this is great. So,

Scott DeLuzio: Did the, the injuries from the accident that you talked about before, did that, uh, play any role, uh, kind of negatively affecting your, your performance in, in the, uh, military or even getting in? Were there any waivers involved or anything like that?

Kelly Killingsworth: so I didn’t have any waivers. Um, you know, after that accident, I did have to walk with a walker again. And, uh, but it, but I recovered fully, at least my body, I thought did from that [00:08:00] and, um, I think now looking back that, yeah, I can, I can feel it now, uh, from everything that I’ve done in my past and then the military and, you know, um, but at the time, no, I, after high school, I had a knee surgery as well.

Well, during high school from football and, uh, And that was brought up, but, uh, my knee was strong enough to go.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah. You, you feel it now just like, you know, probably. 80, 90 percent of the other vets that get out and, you know, what, what MOS were you going in?

Kelly Killingsworth: I was a 35 mic, uh, human intelligence collector.

Scott DeLuzio: Oh, okay. Okay. I thought you were going to say, like, you were, you were like a grunt, you know, carrying, carrying packs and all that. But I was

Kelly Killingsworth: what I wanted. I wanted that. I wanted to be a Cav Scout, Infantryman. I was like, I want to be in it, in it to win and I want to be on the front lines. But somehow I passed high enough on my ASVAB to be Intel. And the guy I talked to, um, he said, [00:09:00] what do you want to be? I said, well, I want to be a Cav Scout or Intel.

And he said, well, you scored enough to be Intel. So you’re going to be Intel. So I said, okay. That’s where I went.

Scott DeLuzio: you know, and sometimes it’s like, they, they try to push you into a certain direction to, to get you to fill a slot that they, they’re, they’ve been trying to fill. Um, and you know, you’re high enough scoring, uh, which is interesting cause you, you said you’re. Yeah. Weren’t the greatest student in high school.

Right. But, but you still scored high enough, um, on that. So, you know, maybe it’s, I had this discussion with my wife, uh, the other day, it’s like, sometimes like school just isn’t for people, it doesn’t mean that they’re not intelligent, it’s just school isn’t a good indication of, you know, uh, whether someone is, is really smart or they’re really dumb, you know, they, like.

You may get bad grades in school and it may show that you’re, you’re, you’re not a great student, but okay, well, so what? You’re not a great student. It doesn’t mean that you’re stupid. You [00:10:00] can, you can obviously still do great things, right? And, and clearly you got a high enough score on the ASVAB that you were able to go into the intelligence field.

So like obviously means you had some intelligence behind you, right?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah. Oh yeah. It surprised me a little bit. Um, you know, and, and I thought at the time too, that it was going to set me up when I got out of the military, you know, set me up for

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Kelly Killingsworth: And, uh, yeah, and I did a lot of cool things. I learned a shit ton, but, um, after the military, I didn’t really use, uh, what I learned and I’m sure we’ll go over that.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, in, in what way do you mean that you didn’t use what you learned, like you didn’t use like your, your job skills to, you know, go forward or, or did you, is that kind of what you mean?

Kelly Killingsworth: yeah, kinda, I mean, I, so, being a human intelligence collector, I was, um, certified to interrogate [00:11:00] and to run source ops, and, um, in Iraq, I, I, I only did two interrogations, the rest of the time I did source ops. Which was really awesome. I, uh, I mean, super gratifying, you know, um, I was actually reporting on the number three high value target at the time and yeah, I mean, I had sources come in, um, they would tell me where the Bomb caches, weapon caches were, or IEDs, and I would write the reports from the information I got.

And then, and then this was really cool. I, I got to go out on mission with the Cav Scouts on the reports that I wrote to find the weapons caches that. I found, well that I helped find and write about and then dispose of those. So that, that was like some of the most gratifying work. It’s actually saving lives,

Scott DeLuzio: That’s great. [00:12:00] Yeah. And it, when you have that level of, uh, responsibility, right? Like you do a good job, you save lives. You do a crappy job and potentially people get injured or killed. Right? Um, And then when you see the fruits of the labor, when, when those weapons are found or, you know, whatever it is that you’re doing that, that is supporting that mission.

Um, yeah, definitely super gratifying. So, um, so after you got out of the military, you said you didn’t, you know, put your, your skills to, to use, what did you end up doing?

Kelly Killingsworth: Um, I, so I got out, like I said, I live in a small town. Everybody knows everybody. Um, the skills that I learned. I was hopefully going to go to like a three letter agency is what I thought, but, um, at the same time when I, when I got out of the military, um, that’s, there’s none of those positions right where I’m [00:13:00] from, right where I, from where I call home, so I’d have to go like five hours away or move and, which was okay at the time, but at that time, I also ended up getting, uh, my girlfriend at the time pregnant, So that kind of held that back, um, a little bit.

And so I just kind of did, uh, jobs to earn money. I always figured out a way. I took a lot of that from the military. I learned a lot. I used a lot in that sense to, to get the job done. If you need to do something, fire and adjust and figure it out. So I took that from the military and, um, and then actually I.

In 2012, I signed up to be a civilian contractor and I went to Afghanistan for a year. I did that. I made, you know, really good money. I thought I was going to go back. Um, I went, came home on mid tour leave. Four days later, my daughter was born. [00:14:00] And I ended up, it was an open ended contract, so I stayed home.

Um, and that was probably one of the most helpless times I’ve ever, I’ve ever felt. My daughter was born emergency C section, and she, she didn’t breathe for literally about 10 minutes, and I was, I was in the room so I could see everything, and, uh, and I didn’t think she was gonna make it, but, but she did.

And so after that, I I just, I got in the wrong, I started making the wrong decisions again. And I, I started where we live in Humboldt County. It’s pretty known for the marijuana industry. And I was in the hills and I was growing it and it was just not the right place to be. And so it was a lot of drinking and a lot of drugs.

And, um, and I did that for a few years and then, and then that’s when I came through [00:15:00] again and I’m like, man, I got to do better for my family. So I used my GI bill and I got, um, licensed to drive a commercial. Uh, Semi Truck, and then I used my GI Bill to be Heavy Equipment Certified, and after that I got into the Union, and I was making, you know, six digits easy, um, but, I mean I guess easy, it just took all my time, and it was like, you know, being in the military so I’m used to missing Christmas, I’m used to missing Thanksgiving, birthdays don’t mean shit really, because Yeah, you’re always busy doing something.

So, so it was okay for me, but after a few years, after like six years, I’m like, I, I’m missing my kids games. And I remember as a, as a kid, my mom not showing up to any football games and how it affected me. So that’s, that’s [00:16:00] when I took my own route and I started making my own money. I became my own boss.

And at the end of last year. I became, um, a licensed contractor. So, and everything’s been going good since then, but there’s a few things on the way that pinnacle spots, I would say

Scott DeLuzio: Sure. Well, you know, uh, one, one thing that I think, uh, that you touched on, um, is how you use your GI bill and you’re able to get, uh, you said the, the trucking, uh, license and heavy, uh, what was the other one? Um,

Kelly Killingsworth: heavy, heavy equipment certified.

Scott DeLuzio: Okay. Right. Um, so you’re able to, to use those two, uh, or use the GI Bill to get those two. Um, and the reason why I wanted to point that out is, uh, for the listeners.

Uh, a lot of times we think of the GI Bill and it’s like, Oh, I don’t want to go to college. I, [00:17:00] so I’m not going to use that or whatever, but there’s other things that you can use the GI Bill for. It’s not just college. You can, you can get these, uh, These certifications or, you know, whatever it is that, uh, that you want.

I’ve talked to other people who became yoga instructors by using the GI bill. Like there’s. There’s a whole world of things out there that you can do, um, you know, job training and other things like that, that you can use the GI Bill for, right?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, I would, I would highly recommend anybody transitioning out or, or anybody that’s been out for a few years. I was out for, I mean, five years, I think before I. Actually use my GI Bill. I mean, you could become a pilot, uh, you could really, any trade that you could think of, you can use your GI Bill to go to schooling, to be able to do, and then after you do that, after you do your schooling, you’re making money, like you, you’re not paying back a bunch, well, I guess you wouldn’t [00:18:00] anyways with the GI Bill, but, but I mean, you’re making high dollar per hour jobs,

Scott DeLuzio: Well, and a lot of the jobs, uh, like, and especially in a lot of the trades these days, they’re in high demand because they, and this is just me speculating here and correct me if I’m wrong, I’m sure someone will, uh, you know, out there who’s listening, right? But, um, you know. For so long people, like you’re, you’re in high school and people were just being pushed, go to college, go to college, go to college.

And so many people got, got to go to college and they got all these different degrees and all these different things. And not enough people were going into the trades, you know, becoming plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, you know, whatever the case may be, not enough people, and so now there’s people out there trying to build houses and they’re like, I can’t find a plumber and I can’t find an electrician, so yeah, they’re It’s just simple supply and demand.

There’s a low supply of whatever the, the trade is, [00:19:00] uh, the demand’s gonna be higher, so they’re gonna pay more for it. So, yeah, like, it’s not a, not a bad thing. Like, I, I, I know, like, when we were growing up, when we were younger, um, it was, you, you were pushed almost towards going to, to college. Like, like, this is the path that you need to go.

This is the way, but It may not necessarily be the right thing for everybody, you know,

Kelly Killingsworth: No, I don’t think so. Um, you know, the American dream to own a house and go to college, I think that maybe has shifted a little bit. Um, you know, it’s very hard to even buy a house or be in the position to buy a house now.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, like what you’re just saying, the, you know, it’s hard to, um, you know, even live that American dream these days. Um, but I, I think again, because so many people have gone to college and gotten degrees that. They’re not really totally interested in, uh, or maybe they don’t have good paying jobs on the, on the [00:20:00] other side of college after getting those degrees.

And so now they’re stuck working jobs that they don’t like, or they hate, and they’re, they’re bouncing from job to job, and they’re, they’re not advancing in their career. Um, like maybe our, you know, previous generations would have done. And, um, You know, so, you know, everybody starts off kind of low on the, on the ladder, but you work your way up.

But if you’re constantly bouncing around, it’s like you’re, you’re moving from one ladder to another. And, and you’re not, you’re, you’re dropping down a couple of rungs on the way over. Right. So, so eventually you’re going to get to this point where, um, uh, where, yeah, you’re going to have difficulties buying houses and, and all that type of stuff.


Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah. And, and that brings me back to, to going into the trades. Um, and being in the military, it seems like we learn really well with our hands. We’re, you know, we’re very intentional. Um, and, and man, the future, [00:21:00] the future is there’s going to be AI. AI is already here. It’s going to take over a lot of jobs, but it, It’s never going to take over a, a trades job.

I don’t think they’re not going to hire a billion dollar robot to go into a crawl space and fix a leak. You know, there’s, it’s like, there’s so many options being in the trades and working with your hands to, to where you’re, you’re going to be able to keep your job.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. Yeah, it is. And a lot of those things are kind of recession proof too, when you think like, like you’re going to need plumbers to go and fix that leak, you know, like there’s going to be those, those types of things, or, or truck drivers, grocery stores need to get food on the shelves. Right. Whether, whether the economy is good or bad, people are still going to buy stuff, uh, you know, to eat, so, um, you know, that, that type of stuff is, is, is a good way to go, so, I know we took a little detour there, it’s not, you know, totally the, the [00:22:00] direction of the, the conversation, which is fine, um, I, I, I was just, Wanting to point out that the GI bill is not only for college.

There’s other things that you can do all sorts of, of, of things. So, um, so getting back kind of a little bit more on, on track, what we were talking about here. So, um, you know, you were making some bad decisions, uh, again, you, you realized. You know, maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Um, what sparked your, uh,

Kelly Killingsworth: uh,

Scott DeLuzio: your mindset or change, help change your mindset to kind of overcome what, what it was that you were, you’re doing and, and make you want to make that better change.

Kelly Killingsworth: came to a point where, so now at this point we’re talking about, I had two kids and a girlfriend and, um, I had bought my house, um, well I’m paying mortgage, so at this time, and [00:23:00] it was a very toxic relationship and, uh, and I again wasn’t making the right choices either. Um. So I made the hard choice to separate from my girlfriend and that ensued a three year child custody battle.

And, um, for the first year, I, you know, I still wasn’t making the right choices. Um, but it came to a point after that first year where I’m like, holy shit, I could lose my kids. I might lose my house. Um, my kids was the main thing. I like, I can’t lose them. Um, so, so that’s what made me this. And then my grandma passed.

And so I made some promises. I made some promises to myself and I made some promises to my kids and my grandma. And I said, I’m going to change my life and I’m not going to drink anymore. And by not drinking anymore, I’m not going to use. And, uh, And I, I had to look at myself in the mirror, [00:24:00] but that, that’s my pivotal moment was I was, I mean, I, I remember my water getting shut off and I had the kids with me and, uh, I, I had to, I, I know how to shut, turn the water back on.

So I said, okay, well go ahead and shut my water off. I went back outside and I turned it back on, but, uh, but, but I was at that point, man. I, I was at a point where I actually went in to my local VA assistance and I said, I have my kids and I don’t have any money and they gave me a 25 gift card to, uh, to go get some food.

And, and, uh, since that point, man, uh, that was just like a realization. Like I never want to be here again.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah.

Kelly Killingsworth: And I know how to fight. I know how to be resilient. The military taught me that. And so I used a lot of that experience to say like, I’m done. I’m done with [00:25:00] this. I’m, I’m done with the people that I’ve been hanging around with.

Uh, that was the biggest thing is I had to change my circle and, uh, and start, and believe me, it gets lonely. Like, super, super lonely. You’re not with your, your regular buddies or your family or whoever it may be. But at the same time, that’s what always brought me down. They would always start drinking and then I would quit and they didn’t really support me.

So I had to, I had to cut them out. It was a hard, it was a hard choice.

Scott DeLuzio: and did you physically move away from them too, or was it just not hang out with them?

Kelly Killingsworth: I’m still here. I’m still in the same house. And, um, I’m at the point now, it was lonely and I cut him out. I looked at myself in the mirror, um, realized like, Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay. Uh, your faults are okay. That’s in your past, but that made me who I am [00:26:00] today. And I’m like, I’m going to change it. Cause I, I can’t really move.

Cause I have my kids. I do have my two older kids every other week, Thursday to Thursday. So, I’m not going to move and I got to make it work here. So

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, you know I the reason why I asked is because I had another guest on the show Years ago when I first started the podcast probably in the first 25 episodes or so. Um, and his story was, was sort of similar where there was, um, the, the folks that he hung out with at home, uh, whether it was family or friends that he had, um, they were all using drugs and drinking and everything like that.

And so when he was around them, he would do that too. Um, and eventually he, he said, all right, enough’s enough. He came to this, this moment where he said enough’s enough. And he, he packed up, Everything that he had and he moved to another state like [00:27:00] he like he just said to hell with all this and I’m gone And he got off the drugs.

I mean, I’m not saying this was an easy road. I’m

Kelly Killingsworth: for sure.

Scott DeLuzio: quick summary here, but he got off the drugs. He got off the drinking. He’s a successful business owner. He has a family, a house, all this thing. Like things are going good for him now. And. All because he made that decision to move away from that. Um, and one of the things that he said is anytime he was around that environment, even though he knew he didn’t want to do the drugs or, or drink or anything like that, he just kept getting pulled into it.

Right. And so it’s like, sometimes you just need to either move physically, move your environment, or just remove that from your life. And so in your case, you did, you did, uh, similar, but you, you removed those people in those situations from your life so that they weren’t a temptation. They weren’t something, you know, even though, you know, I don’t want [00:28:00] to drink.

Okay, well, don’t be around people who are drinking, because that’s what they’re gonna do, and they’re gonna encourage you to do it, too, right? So, so it makes sense. Yeah, so, you, you mentioned your military experience kind of helped your, your view on resilience and mental toughness and that type of stuff.

Um, I, I gotta imagine going through The, um, uh, you know, kind of the transition period where you’re like, okay, I’m, I’m just, I’m done with the drugs. I’m done with the drinking. I, and I, I need to get a better, uh, outlook here on life. Um, how did that mindset, the military mindset kind of help you through all of that?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah. So when I started making this transition, I really had to look in the mirror. Um, and, and at the time I wasn’t able to look at myself in the [00:29:00] mirror for years. So, so coming from the military, knowing that I mean, some missions are very difficult, but no matter what, you have to do it to save somebody’s life, right?

And, or save other lives. And, and I was doing this to save my life and to save my kid’s life. And, and, uh, so to become resilient, you know, and, and, uh, try to overcome my emotions and to think clearly, um, and to take extreme ownership. And I’ve really been working on that. And. And a lot of this does come from the military.

Um, I mean, we’re, we’re bred different, you know, so, so, uh, so it’s really, it gives me a lot of, I think, a lot of honor to look back and be like, man, the military, it was really good for me. And it’s just all about how you look at it and what you take from it. And, uh, and just be positive about it. Cause there was a, there was a while [00:30:00] when I was, I was kind of disgruntled about it.

Being out for this long now, it’s, it’s like, man, I’ll never have anything like that again, it seems like.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, I think. Uh, back a little bit earlier, you were saying how some of the missions that you did while you’re in the military, um, you got that gratifying feeling when they, uh, they came back and, and they, they found the, you know, the, the weapons or whatever, you knew that you were saving lives in doing that.

And so that gave a big sense of purpose to the work that you’re doing. It’s like, okay, well now there’s one less. IED that’s going to go off and, you know, one more soldier is going to be able to come home to his family because I helped find that, you know, weapons, uh, uh, cache or whatever. Um, you know, so that was your mission back then was saving other, other folks lives, other soldiers or Marines or whoever [00:31:00] was out there.

Right. Um, but this path to sobriety, You know, you had your kids there and like, that was, to me, that’s what it seems like you were fighting for. Um, your, your, your new mission was if I want to keep my kids and I want to be a good dad and I want to be here for them, I got to cut this shit out. Right. Is that kind of, kind of the mindset?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, 100%. Um, I, I was told by My father, when I was going through this to, uh, to be the clock in the windstorm. And, uh, it was chaos. It was chaos going around me, um, was fighting for my kids. Um, you know, I actually had to go through it three separate times just to get 50, 50. Uh, custody of my kids, and I prevailed every time, but, and I did that by being the clock in the windstorm, steady ticking, you know, always forward, all the chaos around us, and that comes from the military too, [00:32:00] you know, there’s chaos, there could be complete chaos, but you have to stay steady.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s right. Yeah, and so that’s a good way to think of it. Um, you know, always moving forward. But steady, you know, like, like a clock. It’s every second is ticking. Um, and, and that’s going to be reliable too. Um, you know, it’s not a, not a piece of shit clock, you know, that it’s like broken, it’s right twice a day, but, um, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, uh, dialed in and you know, you know, that every second there’s going to be another tick going, um, you, you know, so you gotta be, uh. You gotta be tough to do that, though, too. Like, that’s not an easy thing to be that consistent 100 percent of the time, but when you’re fighting for something like your kids, in this case, um, it makes it a little bit easier, I think, because now you have a purpose, right?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, yeah, it took me deep, you know, you got to [00:33:00] find a deep why, why you’re doing it, you know, uh, and, and yeah, like you’re saying, it’s not easy. So there’s a lot of times when I’m like, man, a drink would be good right now or, you know, but, but I just look back and I’m like, man, I’m so grateful for what I’ve done and what I’ve changed and the people around me and, uh, how my kids, my kids are happy now.

Scott DeLuzio: Right, right.

Kelly Killingsworth: yeah. And it always, every time I get in those thoughts, it’s, I got to remember my why. And that really helps me like, you know, like I’m doing better for the right reasons and this is why, and, and you always got to have that with you.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah,

Kelly Killingsworth: that, that for me, you know, that for me stopped me a lot of the time from, from going and having that drink or going down that wrong path.

Scott DeLuzio: I think that why is the thing that a lot of people need to figure out. Um And for [00:34:00] folks out there, like, uh, who might be listening, maybe it’s your kids, right? Maybe you have kids, you’re, you’re fortunate enough to have kids. And that’s, that’s your why. And that’s, um, you know, something that you can focus on and say, okay, well, I want to, I want to do good for my kids.

And so that’s why I’m going to cut this crap out of my life, but maybe you don’t have kids maybe, but so maybe there’s something else. Out there. Maybe you want to have kids in the future, um, but you can’t have a steady relationship because you keep screwing it up because you’re, you know, the, the drugs or the alcohol or whatever is, it keeps messing things up for you.

Well, okay. Well, if you want to have kids, here’s your why, you know, like. Now, now go down that road or your job or something bigger than you, something outside of you. Um, job may not even be big enough. I don’t know. Um, you know, kids certainly are. Right. But, um, you know, maybe, yeah. And [00:35:00] there’s a whole, whole bunch of things that you can, you can think about and everyone’s why is going to be different, but finding that I think is the most important part.


Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, yeah, it’s a, it’s a very important part. Um, I, I would say too, is to, uh, you know, I, I wrote a lot of goals down and, and who I want to be, who I want to be in five years, ten years. Um, so looking at my why, Also, you know, I’m, I’m saying man, if I, if I go have a drink right now, is, is that gonna help me become who I want to be in 10 years?

Scott DeLuzio: Right.

Kelly Killingsworth: So you, so at the same time, you know, I’m doing it for everybody else, but I’m doing it for me too.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And

Kelly Killingsworth: and by doing that, you know, by doing that, I’m, I’m helping everybody else around me.

Scott DeLuzio: that’s, you know, that’s That’s a good way to put it, too. Um, and I was going to say something similar to that, but I like the way you put it, but it’s, it’s the whole, uh, [00:36:00] mindset of, you know, when you get on an airplane, they tell you to put your, uh, your oxygen mask on first if, if you lose the cabin pressure, and then help somebody else.

Like, as a parent, your first instinct is, I want to help my kid, If you pass out because you’re, you’re, you don’t have your mask on, you’re not going to be any help to your kid. And it’s same idea with, you know, most anything else in life. If, if you’re not taking care of yourself, um, let’s say even just physically taking care of yourself, you know, making sure you’re in, you’re in good shape.

If, if there’s something wrong, you go to the doctor and you get it fixed or, you know, whatever. If you’re not taking care of that stuff, you know, how are you going to be able to help your kids? If Uh, they need someone there as, you know, as the protector, you know, you’re not going to be able to, because you haven’t taken care of yourself.

You’ve been focused on everybody else too long. So yeah, there has to be that, that inner, uh, uh, drive as well. And you’re going to want to, I don’t want to say be selfish, but you’re going to want to take care of yourself, uh, you know, to, to make sure that you can take [00:37:00] care of those other people. And, and part of that, uh, you know, especially in an.

Addiction kind of situation or, you know, where there’s drugs or alcohol or, you know, whatever the case may be. Um, it’s cutting that crap out because none of that stuff is helping you. Um, you said, you know, we’ll having that drink helped me get to that five, 10, whatever your goals. Um, it’s just like someone who’s trying to lose weight and they go to the gym every day and they’re, they’re exercising and they’re, they’re doing all the right things, but then they come home and they’re, uh, on their way home.

They’re. They stop at Dunkin Donuts and they get, you know, uh, half dozen donuts and they down those. It’s like. Like, what the hell are you doing? Like, that’s not helping you achieve your goal. Right? So, so you gotta, you gotta have everything kind of in balance. Right?

Kelly Killingsworth: yeah. Oh, definitely. Um, and it, it takes work. It’s not, it’s not a quick fix. You know, I’ve been sober, I’ve [00:38:00] been down this road before, and It’s when I was doing good that I’d, I’d be like, man, okay, I can go have a drink. So I went and had a drink and then I’d go back. I mean, the rabbit hole is quick to go back down, you know, and I’d end up back in jail or I’d end up, uh, doing something to make somebody upset and I didn’t even realize it.

And, um, so it takes constant work. And so it’s a decision that I made that. Um, I’m going to have to work on it the rest of my life to keep improving. Um, and that’s just what you got to do. You can’t, you can’t say, Oh, well I can change my mind and fix everything in a month. Well, yeah, you, you know, you can probably think different in a month, but if you make that wrong decision again, you’re going to go back down the same rabbit hole.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that’s right. Cause like even that, that one time, then it just becomes easier to justify it again the next time, you know, and then, then again and again and again, and then it snowballs and it gets a little bit, gets out of control, you know, [00:39:00] um, yeah, for, for, for anybody, you know, having one drink. Okay.

That that’s going to be fine. Like what, if it is literally just one drink, um, probably not going to be a problem, but if you’re in that situation where it’s like, okay, well, now I’ll have two and I’ll have three and then I’m, now I’m getting out of control. That then it is a problem. And so if you’re in that situation, you know, that’s how it goes, you know, just.

Think back to prior history, like when’s the last time that you said I’m going to just have one drink and you end up having, you know, eight or more, you know, who knows? Um, you know, then obviously it’s a problem. So like cut the shit out and, and be done with it. Um, like, and that does take some work. And like you said, it’s probably going to be a lifelong, uh, journey, but when. It becomes like who you are is a person who just doesn’t [00:40:00] drink, then it starts becoming a little bit easier. I think, right?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah. It definitely becomes easier. And, uh, the people around you start noticing a little bit more and then, you know, the people around you are like. Man, how did you do that? Or like, wow, like I’m proud there. You’ll go into. A store in your local town. They’re like, Hey, I love watching your stuff. I love what you do.

I love, uh, you know, you’re motivating me. So you, you don’t realize how many people you’re motivating by, by changing yourself and becoming better. And, and when it does come around and people do mention something that gratification, you know, comes back that it’s, it’s, you’re not serving just you. You’re serving a lot more people that may need it.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And, and it’s almost like that, that peer pressure that we were talking about before, where, where there was a situation where maybe you’re, [00:41:00] you’re around a group of people who are drinking or, you know, maybe doing drugs or whatever. And, and it’s kind of like, oh, okay, well peer pressure. So I’m going to go and do that stuff.

But now the other people. You know, other people who may be around you, like you said, in a, in a store or just around town or, or whatever, they’re starting to see you make changes in your life and make improvements. And it’s like, Hey, I want to be like that guy. Now I’m going to go out and do those things too.

And so there’s a, it’s not like you’re, you’re going out explicitly saying, Hey, come on, everyone’s doing it. You know, like the way they told you in school. And you know,

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: it’s not, it’s not like that, but, but they’re, they’re seeing it and they’re wanting that for themselves. So like, okay, well. Maybe what is he doing?

Let’s figure that out. Right.

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I’m seeing that quite a bit. And, uh, that’s, you know,

Scott DeLuzio: awesome. Yeah.

Kelly Killingsworth: yeah.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, and I, I’ve heard from, from a lot of people too who have overcome some sort of adversity. Uh, and many of them say that the, [00:42:00] the struggle that they went through, the, uh, the adversity was a greatest thing that could have happened to them. And not to say that they’re glad that they got cancer.

Struggle with addiction or, you know, any of that kind of stuff. But, um, but the experience of going through that and overcoming that changed their outlook on life. And, and like with you, it changed your perspective where now you’re, uh, you’re like, okay, I got to do this for somebody. I, I’m not, I’m going to weigh the pros and cons of this drink.

Uh, you know, have this one drink and potentially lose my kids. Okay. Well, obviously you’re not going to have the drink. Right. Um, You know, and so that I would imagine, uh, overcoming, and I can’t say overcoming like it’s done, conquered in the past, because obviously it’s an ongoing thing, but, um, getting to the point where you are now, uh, had to have changed your outlook, uh, kind of similar to those other situations I described, right?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah. I mean, definitely when I was in that spot, uh, [00:43:00] man, I was in like the deep, dark trenches, man, crying and because the shit wasn’t going right. And, uh, realizing that, You at that time when I was in the trenches looking out, I thought, man, this is where I’m at. I, the light at, at the end of the tunnel wasn’t there.

And uh, and I just, I want to say like, it can be there, you know, it, it can be, but it’s a hard choice that I had to make to be able to look myself in the mirror and re and realize like, man, I mean, I gotta at least try. And, uh, and, and now I just know since, since being here before, well, not at this spot, but being sober before, I just, I know my triggers, what’s going to take me back down the rabbit hole, and that’s just something I’m not going to, you know, I realize from trial and error, fire and adjust, uh, you know, like [00:44:00] not going to do that again because I know exactly what happens and, uh, and if I do do it again, that’s like the definition of insanity.

So I’m not, you know, You know, so I’m not putting my, me or my family, you know, in that type of situation again. And, uh, to be able to, you know, dig deep and really look at yourself and move forward. Um, I look back now and I’m like, man, uh, like we, people who have done this have really something special to share and to be able to, to help, you know, other people that are in the trenches.

And, and that don’t see a light and, and, you know, and don’t have a hope. And, and I feel like that’s what I needed at that time, but I also felt like, like nobody had me in a way, you know? So, uh, so, [00:45:00] so looking back now, yeah, it’s. It’s, it’s a something like I’m very proud of. I know my past isn’t very good by any means, but it’s something that built me who I am today.

So looking back, I just, I’m like, man, I made it through, through all this and, and I’m out now and I’m okay with it. And, and now I want to share it with as many people as I can and, and give them the hope, like they can change, they can transform their lives if they really want to, and if they want to put it to work, cause it takes work.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And. You know, looking at your previous experiences where you were, uh, trying to get sober, you got sober for a period of time and then kind of fell back into, uh, you know, using and everything like that, but, uh, those A lot of people look at that as like, Oh, I’m a failure, you know, like that, that’s, that’s a failure, but, [00:46:00] um, it’s not, to me, it’s not a failure.

You just figured out kind of testing the waters, like you said, fire and adjust. Um, you figured out that that doesn’t work for you, you know, whatever it was that you did, like, you know, having that one more drink. Okay, that doesn’t work because that’s going to lead you down that path again. So, okay. Don’t do that.

Right. Just like you said, like it would be insane to go and do the same thing and expect a different result. So, okay. Tried it. Didn’t work. Cool. Let’s go back to the drawing board and go back to where we were. Reset. And just don’t do that again. Now, maybe there’s something else down the line that, that you figure out is another trigger or something that, that causes you to, uh, you know, go into that path.

And I’m not saying you specifically, I’m just saying as far as the audience is concerned, um, you know, there. Okay, fine. You figured it out. That doesn’t work too. Go back. Reset. Don’t do that. Any of those, that [00:47:00] thing that, that doesn’t work for you, don’t do those things and, and just continue trying to do the right thing.

And, and, you know, we, we all make mistakes. We’re human, right? So, um, you know, do you have what you mentioned? Like you wanted to, you know, spread this message to, to people, um, in what ways are you out there doing that? And. Uh, you know, obviously you’re on the show and talking about it, but, you know, are you out there, um, you know, Speaking and doing anything like that or what in what ways are you sharing your message?

Kelly Killingsworth: So yeah, one of my goals is, uh, is to become. It’s to be able to stand in front of people and speak, and I haven’t had that opportunity yet, but again, I’m just starting, um, my, this journey, you know, and so, I, I’m waiting on my domain, strengththroughstruggle. com, and I should have that in a couple weeks, um, so, that and my social media platforms, you know, I made [00:48:00] new social medias, uh, And recording myself and getting more comfortable with it.

So when I do get that opportunity to be able to be a keynote speaker or spread my word on podcasts like this, you know, uh, I’m more comfortable with it and, um, be able to articulate my words to be able to resonate with, with people and, and give them the hope that they need. To move forward.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, and that’s great. So, for the listeners who are out there who maybe are hearing your story, a lot of times people’s stories of Uh, you know, overcoming things like this, it becomes a survival guide for somebody else. Right? And so, uh, somebody out there who might be listening is, is maybe hoping for a little bit of, a little bit extra.

What advice do you have for those folks who are struggling with, um, their own situations? Uh, you know, maybe, maybe it’s [00:49:00] addiction. You know, just a bad relationship or anything like that. What, what kind of advice do you have for, for those kind of folks who, um, just need to get back on the right track?

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah. Um, one of the biggest things I would say that has helped me is by getting, getting a mentor or a coach and, and that could be, it doesn’t, they don’t have to have that label as coach. It could be somebody close to you that is living a life that you would like to live and just, you know, That’s who you kind of hang around with.

You want to have a seat at that table and listen to how they talk and, and, you know, like I said, changing your circle. You got to change your inner circle and you got to start hanging around the people who have the same beliefs as you. And by doing so, it’s going to help you level up.

Scott DeLuzio: Right.

Kelly Killingsworth: At least that’s, you know, I’m coming from my experience, you know.

And it’s hard. From a small town, everybody knows [00:50:00] everybody. It’s hard in that aspect, but really, if you start thinking bigger, it’s really not. Because I mean, there’s so many resources out there that you can use. So,

Scott DeLuzio: You know, and I think if you could do that in what you just said and what you described, if you could do that in a small town where Everybody knows everybody and there’s not a whole lot of places to go or thing, you know, uh, things to do where you’re outside of that environment, um, but you’re still able to do it, um, like if you could do it there to, uh, I forget what the song was now, but if you could do it there, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, you know, um, you know, but, but to your point, you know, changing the, the social circle, um, changing the, the group of people that you’re with, um, you know, if, Excuse me.

If you’re the smartest person in the room, you gotta find another room to get in and keep trying to level up. Right. Um, [00:51:00] and so if you’re, if you’re in a room with the wrong people, um, that are not helping you achieve your goals or pushing you to get better, um, find another room. Right. Uh,

Kelly Killingsworth: gotta, you gotta,

Scott DeLuzio: but

Kelly Killingsworth: yeah. No, you gotta find another room. Otherwise, you’re gonna stay in the same spot. How is that room helping you elevate, you know, to the next level? So, you just, you gotta find that. And then stay with it and then keep leveling up. And, and it takes time and it takes a lot of work, but if, I mean, a lot of people say it, if I could do it, you could do it, but believe me, I was, I was in a deep, dark place and if I could do it, I believe anybody could do it.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I think, I think anybody could do it with the right motivation. You know, in your case, you had your kids, right? Somebody else’s motivation is going to be something else. Um, you know I’m not saying that without that kind of motivation, you couldn’t do it. [00:52:00] You certainly could. Um, but it becomes easier with that motivation.

Cause now you have something that you’re fighting for and, and you’re, you’re, you’re like, you know, damn the consequences. I’m, uh, you know, yeah, maybe I’ll lose friendships or, you know, relationships or whatever with those wrong people. Uh, but, but screw it. I’m going to do this because I want to do better for my kids.

And that to me is just a wonderful way to, to look at it. And, and I think what you’re doing now is, um, uh, definitely an inspiration to, uh, to a lot of people. Uh, like you said, people see you. Making this transformation and they’re, they’re impressed there and they’re proud of you for what you’re doing and you should be proud for, for what you’re doing because it, um, you know, it’s no small feat and you’re doing it for the right reasons too.

So, um, you know, definitely, definitely keep at it. You know, we’re, we’re in your corner.

Kelly Killingsworth: Yeah, for sure.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:53:00] So, um, uh, anything else you want to add? But, uh, before we, we wrap up.

Kelly Killingsworth: Uh, no, you know, uh, I just, uh, I want to thank the audience and, uh, and I hope that you find something that resonates, you know, with, with you in here and, uh, to keep moving forward.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, and I think that’s, uh, that’s a good message, uh, to kind of end on there. Um, before we do wrap up this, uh, episode though, I want to do a segment, uh, that I call, is it service connected? And it’s, uh, to me, I’ve just had a lot of fun doing this segment over the last few months that I’ve been doing it.

Anytime I have a, uh, veteran on the show, I, I do this segment. And, uh, basically for anyone who’s unfamiliar with it, it’s like, uh, uh, America’s Funniest Home Videos, uh, Military Edition, where we take a look at a video of a service member doing something stupid, and we try to, uh, predict whether or not.

Whatever happened in the video [00:54:00] would qualify for a service connected disability down the line. A lot of times the episodes kind of heavy subject matter, uh, that we, we might be talking about. So I like to end on a light, light note, a little bit of humor, uh, just to put a smile on people’s faces. Sometimes that might be the only smile that they have all day.

And so, uh, you know, what the hell. But let’s do this and, and have a little bit of fun while we’re at it. So, um, cause I’m going to pull this video up here and, uh, right now for the audio, uh, only podcast listeners, you obviously can’t view this video. Um, I’m going to try to describe it as best I can, but your best bet is to go onto YouTube, onto, uh, uh, Twitter or wherever else we, we post this video.

Um, and, and take a look. Uh, but right now. What we’re looking at, it says, uh, there’s a caption on the screen, a bunch of soldiers and some sort of, I don’t know, it’s like a baby crocodile or something like that on the, [00:55:00] on the ground. Uh, but the caption says, uh, First Sergeant says, Don’t mess with the wildlife.

And then it just says “me”, like, uh, I guess we’re gonna find out what “me” is about to do, uh, so let’s, let’s take a look at this video and see what happens. So, they’re following this thing, this, and he picks up, yeah, looks like a baby crocodile, or alligator, or something. And he’s just swinging it around, not, not swinging it around like he’s, uh, like he’s trying to kill the thing, but, um, but he’s just like Twirling it around like he’s ballroom dancing with it or something.

Kelly Killingsworth: That’s what I thought. I thought it was going to, you know, come down and snap his arm or something, but I

Scott DeLuzio: I, at first I, that’s what I thought was going to happen too. The video kind of stopped short. So I got to imagine that that thing wasn’t too pleased with how it was being handled. Um, so maybe.

Kelly Killingsworth: at the same time, it kind of looked like [00:56:00] it was like, oh man, this feels good. Like it’s like a little cutty bear.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, I’m getting a little breeze and, you know, you know, it’s a wind blowing through my scales, I guess. So that one I didn’t see any potential injury. I mean, there’s a definitely a potential injury going on there, but

Kelly Killingsworth: definitely.

Scott DeLuzio: whether or not it’s gonna be service connected, I’m gonna go with a big no on that one.

That was your own dumb ass fault for messing with the wildlife.

Kelly Killingsworth: Pretty much.

Scott DeLuzio: Um, so anyways, uh, thank you for partaking in the, uh, the humor segment of this. But, um, uh, but also thank you for sharing your story. Um, I, uh, again, I think, uh, like I said, your story and a lot of people’s stories out there, um, becomes the survival guide for other people who are struggling.

They. Can’t see their way out, but they’re like, Oh yeah. You know, that’s, that’s how this guy did it. And I’m, I want to be [00:57:00] like this guy. And so they follow that path, you know? And, and again, just like we were saying before, sometimes you try something and it works and everything’s great. Life’s great. And sometimes it doesn’t, but it doesn’t mean that.

It’s a total failure and you’re a failure and all that. It just means you found one way that doesn’t work. Try again and just don’t do that thing again. You know, you don’t do the thing that didn’t work. Right. But, but it’s okay. It’s okay to have a setback every once in a while. So long as you get your, your focus is to get back on path and do the right thing.

You know, um, and, and having that coach, that mentor, um, like you said, doesn’t have to be, uh, um, you know, official label of a coach. Uh, but it’s, it’s a, it’s a smart thing to do for nothing more than, uh, accountability just to, to make sure that you, you’re staying on, on track. Right.

Kelly Killingsworth: Absolutely.

Scott DeLuzio: So, [00:58:00] okay. Well, thank you again, uh, Kelly and, and thank you for sharing your story.

Kelly Killingsworth: Thanks, man. It was a pleasure. I’m really grateful, uh, to be here and thanks for having me on.

Scott DeLuzio: You bet.

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Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son on Amazon. All of the sales from that book go directly back into this podcast and work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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