It Had To Happen This Way: A Memoir by Kay Kopit

Small orange flowers and a Daisy

A survivor writing from personal experience, Kay Kopit brings an authentic voice to co-dependency and addictions, healing from sexual assault, denial and guilt. What she develops in the pages of It Had To Happen This Way is how she talks honestly about the internal pain of sexual violence and the chaotic life of alcoholism. After reading this authentic narrative you will find the strength and courage needed to overcome those fears that are holding you back from having a healthy life.

It Had To Happen This Way is more than a book about surviving emotional and spiritual devastation. It is about championing, defeating and reclaiming a life. This is an intimate, true story of courage, hope and healing. It Had To Happen This Way is a message of hope and inspires us to follow our own paths. Buy the e-book for yourself and loved ones at,, and

It Had To Happen This Way: A Memoir by Kay Kopit
Read an Excerpt
The Grueling Recovery

It Had To Happen This Way: A Memoir by Kay Kopit It Had To Happen This Way: A Memoir by Kay KopitIt Had To Happen This Way: A Memoir by Kay Kopit It Had To Happen This Way: A Memoir by Kay Kopit

Living alone was a mixed bag for me. It was a tremendous relief to have Joey out of my sight but at the same time I was terribly distorted. It seemed like I was swimming in a swamp filled with algae. I wasn’t afraid to be in the house by myself; I rather enjoyed the peace and quiet. What I was aware of, was an overwhelming sense of insecurity about spiritual and moral behavior. I didn’t have any values.

For my entire life I worshiped good looking men and talented women. I put these individuals on a pedestal and would do anything to please them, putting their needs before my own. It was obvious to me that I had difficulty with relationships; even the most superficial, as with acquaintances at acting school, my neighbors, shop owners, just about anyone whose path I crossed. I doted on their accomplishments, giving them undue praise and adoration. I avoided any discussion about me because I wasn’t clear about who I was and what my desires were. It seemed as though there was a huge gap in my development.

All the psychotherapy I had been doing with Christina and the work with Al-Anon, the 12-step program, wasn’t sufficient. There was a large black hole in my soul. I knew I needed something more profound. I saw an ad in the newspaper for a group that was forming: acoa, adult children of alcoholics. I made an appointment to see the psychologists who were leading the therapy sessions. On my way to Richmond on Bart for the interview, I prayed that I could be helped. I wasn’t sure this is what I needed but I was willing to try anything to assist me in getting well. I knew after 40 years of confusion and pain it wasn’t going to be easy to find my way. I was accepted into the group and agreed to participate twice a week, in a series of therapy for 26 weeks, with the possibility of a renewal for an additional six months. The ride from San Francisco to Richmond on Bart seemed like an effort but something was pushing me to do it.

I’ll never forget the first night. Ugh! There were eight people sitting in a healing circle; six clients and two psychologists, a woman Doreen, and a man Michael, leading the group. I knew intuitively that having two therapists, a man and a woman, represented the mother and the father. I had never sat in the round where you looked people in the eye. The sight of all these strangers staring at each other scared me to death. I wanted to get up and run!

I assumed we would be sharing our stories and our problems with each other. Wrong! We were going to TALK about feelings! Michael or Doreen would give the group a circumstance and then each of us was expected to express the feelings that we had about the incident. After years of denying feelings, it was extremely difficult to put them into words. As they went around the circle each person’s reaction was different. One woman was speechless. She sat there for an eternity while the group waited for her to speak. She never did. On to the next a guy; he jabbered about everything except how he felt. The woman who sat next to him in the circle could only cry. She didn’t utter a word but tears flowed down her face. When it was my turn, I experienced the burn of 14 eyes piercing my skin.

What did they want from me? I was too numb to feel anything concerning a situation I knew nothing about. I sensed my insides were on display. I was vulnerable! I was NAKED in front of all these people. I said, “I don’t . . . I don’t know. I don’t know.”

Maureen then said, “Well, then we are just going to WAIT.”

I was in agony. The waiting was excruciating. I began to twist my hair and fidget in my chair and I kept thinking just say something, anything, whatever comes out. Finally I was able to utter some gibber-jabber but I knew in my heart it was meaningless. I wasn’t able to recognize or verbalize feelings. I had pushed down the feelings over the years in order to avoid pain. IT HURT TOO MUCH. Oh God, they wanted me to let it out!

For weeks I traveled back and forth from the city to Richmond to endure this group. We all were encouraged to open up and let go. I hated exposing my secret self, which was far from the ‘perfect person’ I pretended to be. Even though I knew the garbage had to come up eventually, if I ever hoped of being healthy, I continued to resist.

One night on the subway, on my way back to San Francisco , it was time for the boil to burst. What a shock, it came out of nowhere and whacked me upside the head. I was panicky and the pounding in my forehead changed to sweat pouring down my face. There was a slow burn that started in my extremities which then moved through my body to my stomach. I had violent pains in my abdomen to the point I needed to lie down on a bench. I was having a seizure of some kind. lying in the fetal position I wondered if I could make it home. Then, just as I was getting up trying to walk, I started having Coping With Flashbacks from my infancy, memories I hadn’t had in thirty years. Images of injustices in my childhood were juxtaposed with visions of my father’s wrath. These pictures were flying by dramatically in Technicolor. It was as though I was watching a film of all that I had suffered in my youth, things I had never been able to remember. The speed of the movie accelerated and repeated itself over and over. I felt like I was going mad. I barely made it home.

I didn’t know it at the time, but what started for me that night was the beginning of an 18 month ordeal that was imperative for my growth. One week I would have diarrhea. Another week I would vomit. The week after that I would have night sweats. I had nightmares all the time. All the lamps in the house were turned off because light hurt my eyes. My skin burned and I ached all over. I was so tender that I could only lie in the fetal position and nothing could touch my body. I propped pillows all around my torso to alleviate the pain. The blocked memories of my past, the toxins stored in my heart and soul, were now erupting. I couldn’t hold them back even if I had wanted to. My whole life flashed before my eyes.

THE TRUTH HAD TO COME OUT. IT WAS COMING OUT. I could no longer say, “No, this didn’t happen or no, that didn’t happen!” I COULDN’T DENY IT ANY MORE. I had to face all the hurt and tragedy head on.

At times it was the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life. The only thing that saved me was deep, deep, down in my heart, very, very, deep was the knowledge, the hope, and the understanding, that once I got through this, once I remembered all these things, once I went through the pain, once I didn’t avoid it, and once I didn’t try and control it; I’d be free of it. I knew this was true and as difficult as it was; I held on to this belief and worked with it.

It wasn’t clear to anyone what was wrong with me. I didn’t have a physical illness that required medicine. I was fortunate my two friends, Rosemary and Al, the owner of the corner store, stood by my side and helped me get through this difficult time. Al would bring me food or he would have someone deliver supplies. Rosemary came by often and sat in the chair at the end of my bed and patiently listened to my stories. One by one I began sharing events of my life and in doing so released the stored venom that had been poisoning me. Her friendship and support aided in my healing. Slowly, very slowly, I began to recover from this serious mental illness of being psychologically unbalanced.

Kay Kopit is living an amazing life with her husband of 24 years (who happens to be 19 years her junior) and daughter in Northern California. Besides being a mother and wife, she continues with her love of painting, writing, teaching and speaking on the subject of codependency and children of alcoholics. Her passion is not only the arts but to help others through her inspirational story. Her courage, stamina, and faith have given her direction and the gift of helping give others hope. Kay has several published articles and recently launched her collection of inspirational cards, Art & Soul, Collection One: Transformation. For more information on Kay Kopit please visit


  1. Jhun

    September 26, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    iv had pains in my head every singe day for nearly 2 year from when i wake up to when i go to sleep i feel i can never relax and be myslef it feels like im constently kidding on to myslef because im not dealing with my emotions im fighting my emations i no im doing this but i always end up back into the same way of thinking (by the way never mind this obtuse youtube name iv been off drugs 2 year) i feel alot of things this guy feels awell man im fucking sick of it

  2. Kay Kopit

    October 4, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Dear Jhun,
    I am really sorry you are hurting so badly. Have you gotten
    help at AA or NA or Alon? For me those free meetings listening
    to so many people who have had similar (but different) experiences
    helped me to heal. I will be visualizing you are healthier and happier each day. If you can possibly get individual therapy that
    helps too!
    Peace be with you!
    Kay Kopit

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