sober lifestyle

Profession

I didn’t tweet it. That’s the old me, rushing to share publicly every thought and event that moves me personally. (I do that here now! Much more mature! 😂) I don’t want to sound tone deaf. Or materialistic. Or like someone who thinks she’s immune to the universe’s twisted, jinx-y sense of humor.

“Watch me get fired tomorrow,” I texted my parents, along with a screenshot of my bank statement, showing what I believe to be the largest direct deposit of my post-college life. 🤑

Recovery from alcoholism doesn’t cure fatalism. I’m still a girl who’s prone to go to extremes.

This girl 💁🏼‍♀️👈🏻 just made it through her first payroll cycle as a full-time content marketing manager for a multi-brand, multinational company (I was part-time in July)…and she did not celebrate with a drink. 🚫🍻

Celebration does seem in order, though. Yes, my salary is relatively modest, and pretty much all earmarked for paying off credit card debt, but given my uphill professional journey over the past two years (411 days of it stone cold sober), I can’t help but be proud of this paycheck.

It’s nice to be able to help my husband with the burden of the bills, after saddling him with the lion’s share of responsibility in our relationship for so many years.

It’s nice to feel like my skills and contributions to a company are valued. It’s nice to feel like I’m moving onward and upward, rather than hopelessly stuck or desperately sinking.

As an active addict, I was basically living in quicksand. No wonder my professional life seemed, for such a long time, to be headed for a dead end.

Climbing out of this mess has been — and will continue to be — rough sledding. Slow going. I have to let myself celebrate the little rewards along the way.

So…I just splurged on a bunch of 90’s songs for my new running playlist (total: $9.03) and renewed my WordPress account for another year. I feel like Jesse Pinkman at the strip club with Walt’s RV money! Fat stacks, b*tch!

Of course, like all highs, the payday buzz is fleeting. The mountain of debt I amassed in my younger years still looms over everything I do at age 42. Our economy is in turmoil, and no job is safe or certain. My former industry (journalism) is basically in the 🚽, and people in many fields, but particularly those with my skill set (spelling, grammar, robust vocabulary, creative use of emojis 😉) worry every day how they’ll make a living as they get older.

I worry about that every day. Like right now, I’m sitting here doing what I love the most in the world — and getting paid bupkus for it. I never actually wanted to be a journalist, or a marketer, or anything conventional; my childhood dream was to write books.

But no one just swoops in and hands you checks for your introspective ramblings, even if they are impeccably spelled and punctuated, with lots of sophisticated words and 💩-tons of 🤬, 😭 and 🤣. “Becoming an author” is like anything else worthwhile. It takes (I’m guessing) years of hustle, guts, sacrifice and (gulp) networking to “make it.”

The market is already pretty saturated with recovery memoirs — I’m pretty sure I’ve purchased/read/loved 80 percent of them — and honestly, what do I have to say that’s not being said in hundreds of more well-established blogs and podcasts?

Nothing is impossible, and it’s not that I’m unwilling to try; I’m just realistic. I know from experience that it’s flat-out hard to get paid to write, period. It’s harder to get paid a living (not with your parents) wage. Imagine being in a position to do both, while calling your own shots and making your own schedule! 🤯

My goal has nothing to do with getting rich; I just want to use my gifts to get by. That’s all. Writing is my passion, and in trying to pursue it as a profession, I’ve had to punt repeatedly. I’m sure all writers have.

My once-solid career in local sports journalism evaporated at age 40, and the search for something new was both humbling and depressing. I interviewed for two PR jobs, got rejected from both. Sent 20 applications to colleges and pro sports teams, got back 10 form emails saying “nope.” Four months yielded exactly one job offer: an entry-level content writer position designed for someone half my age. When I took it, I was working as a cashier, scanning bags of bird seed, sweeping floors and cleaning toilets at a farm market. 🤢

Dig hard enough and you’ll find a few posts about those days in the archives of this blog. “Employment Chronicles.” It was a series. Painful memories, now, because the girl chronicling them was…let’s just say, for brevity’s sake, not well. The reason I took the cashier job in the first place was to keep myself from drinking all day, every day…and I just ended up embarrassing myself after nearly every shift at the market’s built-in bar.

You can’t escape yourself. Good grief; I sure tried! We all have to face a reckoning at some point. Who are you, where are you going, what do you want your life to amount to before your time is up…sometimes, it all hits in one big shitstorm. It did for me.

Somehow, though, I weathered that storm. I found and maintained “white collar” employment and started fresh in a new field, even as I was battling my darkest demons. It wasn’t just dumb luck or good fortune; I had to summon strength I didn’t know I had and persevere when I wanted to disappear — into a bottle, or literally just leave the office and never return, throwing a few🖕🏻🖕🏻 on my way out the door (no one would have cared.)

My dad once got fired from a job for calling his boss an asshole. I take after him in so many ways…but shockingly, our paths diverge in the “verbal assault of authority” department.

He’s a talented artist who paid our family’s bills with a career in advertising, while designing and drawing comic strips on the side. Similarly, I pushed aside wanting to telling my own stories to tell athletes’ stories for a newspaper — and now brand stories for a business — so I could make a buck. I am now writing to sell stuff, hoping one day I’ll learn how/have the courage to sell myself.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, so I think the best might be yet to come…

The job I have — stressful and chaotic as it might be — has offered some really exciting creative writing opportunities. Who knew the little kid who loved conjuring up character sketches would one day enjoy working on buyer personas for a product launch? How weird that a reporter whose wheelhouse was nicey-nice athlete profiles for a local newspaper would end up producing nicey-nice dancer profiles for a brand ambassador program?

I’m so fortunate that this job opportunity fell in my lap when it did. I have a ways to go in becoming a good leader, and yeah, in dealing with people (my old nemesis!) But I’ve already learned so much, and I think I might even be making a positive impact on the company, using nothing but my sober brain and that undervalued skill set the universe granted me. In fact, not to brag, but my boss read over my latest assignment and called me a “wicked awesome writer,” which, on top of the increase in take-home pay, made today the highlight of my tenure so far.

Everyone should have a boss from New England, BTW; their compliments just hit different. 💥

Fatalism tends to tug at me every time I start to feel that pleasure spike of, “I think I might have done good!” Alcoholism told me to chase the clouds and prolong the pleasure with a drink. The old me would have dumped $75 at the liquor store on State Street and drunk-tweeted payday away, so relieved that I “made it,” not realizing how stuck I was in a cycle of short-sighted self-sabotage that was keeping me from something even better.

I know the difference now, between pleasure and happiness. No matter what happens in my professional life tonight, or tomorrow, or in the next 411 days, I know I’ll never live my childhood writing dreams — and the salary I earn won’t mean a thing — if I pick up a drink and start that slow slide backward into spiritual bankruptcy.

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