When I first got sober, it was imperative that recovery had to come first in all areas of my life. Going to meetings, spending time with other sober people, and focusing all my energies on Just. Not. Drinking. was the number one priority. That first year was full of trial and error, panic, and moments of peace which frankly - scared me. I didn't KNOW how to do peace. I didn't know how to handle calm or happiness or joy. Even though pain hurt, it was familiar and I knew what to do with it. I knew what to do with chaos. And every time my life started to settle, I found myself afraid and wondering when the Next Big Hurdle would come.
I'm not so afraid of the hurdles anymore. I figure I've got what I've got today and I keep doing the footwork that is life and the results are what they turn out to be. But that first year. Whoa baby. Tooth and nail, I hung on. But I knew my focus was right. I didn't care if I exercised, I didn't care if I smoked. I didn't care if I ate junk food in front of the television. Just as long as I stayed sober. And a big part of that was having a job that didn't ask anything of me but to show up. A job that didn't pay very well. A job that - when I looked up at my co-worker four months sober and said to her, "He's really gone." and proceeded to dissolve into the kind of crazy crying that scares people, I could make an emergency phone call to my therapist and leave. But did I mention it didn't pay much?
I racked up some debt. Not unattainable debt, but debt nonetheless. Add that to the the fact that toward the end of my drinking, there was a stack of unopened bills in a basket on the counter that I just couldn't face. Hospital bills, therapy bills, and credit card statements that had charges on them I didn't recognize. Turns out The Dead Guy had used my card for a variety of things whilst in a drunken stupor. But all I could do in the beginning was to throw every available penny I had at that balance. But it just didn't go down. Last fall - almost three years sober, I decided I had to do something about it. I was stable in sobriety (As stable as I'll ever be, I suppose.) and I didn't need to go to meetings every single night of the week. So I committed to finding a part time job. I'd looked for better paying full time jobs, but I wasn't quite ready to leave the security of my current job, even though my brain is melting from disuse.
So I put it out there. I emailed everyone I know - even some of you - and asked for suggestions, leads, thoughts, opportunities. And they came flooding in, but none of them panned out. I filled out some applications here and there, but I knew if I left it up to The Universe, the right one would come to me. And it did. Two months later, someone emailed me and said, "Hey! Are you still looking for a part time job? I've got one for you." It uses my skills, my brain, my compassion and my education - including the Master's Degree I quit with six credit hours to go. And it's perfect.
That announcement I was waiting for on Monday? The one where I thought I was going to lose my job? Well - it didn't pan out that way and I spent a weekend wasting precious sun and garden time worrying about it. But it also sparked some amazing conversations with friends. The kind where they say to me, "What is it that you REALLY want to do?" And for the first time in a long time, I had an answer. I want to work with the families of addicts and alcoholics. I work with addicts and alcoholics at my current part time job, but my fervor is for families. I worked with kids and families for 10+ years. I continue to work with families of people in recovery, but not in a professional manner. And well - saying that out loud to several people turned into phone numbers and contacts and might well turn into more hours for my part time job.
See? I told the person that hired me for said part time job, what had transpired over the weekend and she said, "Do you want to start a family program for us?" And I said, "Of course I do!" And well? I don't know any of the details and I know that sometime down the road, I want that to be a full time job, but I will take whatever experience I can get and I know I'll be good at it and I can't wait to start planning and brainstorming and well - my brain has been fired for the first time in a long, long time. And it feels so good. So. Very. Good. My head is swirling with ideas just waiting to happen. The Universe is watching out for me. I just have to be brave enough to tell it what I want.