sober lifestyle

Reaction

My job title right now is “Content Marketing Manager,” and although it seems like I’m barely scraping by just trying to manage myself, working for five different brands under one company umbrella, with a skeleton staff — and did I mention I’m the only copywriter? — I’ve been tasked with running a weekly Google Meet with the entire marketing team. On this call, we discuss the myriad visual and written content needed for various projects and campaigns.

Every project and campaign needs content — what is marketing without content? — so there’s a lot to talk about.

Being prone to nervous chatter and anxiety-fueled tangents, not to mention corny jokes, I don’t usually help keep it short and/or sweet.

The other day, I went a little further off the rails than usual.

We were discussing one particularly daunting challenge, and someone suggested we’d all get through it just fine, “but we’re going to need a lot of wine!”

Laughter ensued.

Some of us don’t drink, so that’s probably not going to help,” I fired back.

Laughter stopped.

All sound stopped.

“OK, moving on…” I scrolled my shared screen to the next item on the agenda, thinking, “Great job, Jen; you did it again.” 🤦🏼‍♀️


There’s a reason the facepalm shows up among my “Frequently Used” emojis. Almost 19 months without alcohol, and my emotional sobriety is still a bit shaky. Self-restraint is still not a strong suit.

I still have trouble resisting the urge to mindlessly speak my mind, to knee-jerk react, even when situations call for quiet reflection or further deliberation.

All situations probably call for that, actually. 🤔

I mean, to specifically address the above outburst, I do believe it’s true that if folks can talk freely about drinking, other folks should be able to talk freely about not drinking. And clearly (see: every post on this site, dating back to July of 2019), I am not ashamed of my status as a recovering alcoholic, nor am I afraid to discuss the issues that led to my addiction and the struggles I’ve experienced in beating it.

I think it’s really important that we talk about that stuff; it helps foster hope.

Work meetings might not be the proper place to broach the subject, though. 🤔🤔

What’s really hard about recovery is that sobriety — physically quitting drinking — is only one relatively small part of the process. I’m also trying to overcome my lifelong social struggles. I’m trying to get better at dealing with people. You could say I’m trying to act like a mature adult, but it’s more like I’m trying not to act like a petulant child. And whether you’re in a professional Google Meet or a Zoom recovery meeting, chatting with a family member or a stranger on the street, just shooting from the lip whenever you’re triggered is…well, 👶🏼.

The world doesn’t always have to know exactly how I feel. I am not that important.

Of course, “fixing” my tendency to react without thinking doesn’t mean I have to shrink into the background or abdicate my power or silence my voice. It (unfortunately) doesn’t mean, no more tangents or corny jokes. It means learning how to be a more balanced version of me. A version that’s more useful to the world and the people in it.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m so much happier when I’m not constantly caught up in emotional turmoil, blurting out whatever comes to mind just to release some of the tension. I’m sure I’m much more fun to be around.

Believe it or not, thanks to all this time in recovery, there are times when that is the case. My husband can attest…too bad it’s 3:40AM and he’s fast asleep. 😴


Do you have people in your life who always seem to keep you on edge with their nervous energy, their innate state of agitation? It’s annoying, but you know they can’t help themselves?

Maybe they won’t help themselves?

Yeah. Sad to say, I think I’ve always been one of those people. Left unchecked, anxiety and hypersensitivity can be a miserable mix, and for much of my life, they’ve had quite a hold on me. They’re the reason why I drank to excess for so many years. Self-medication was easier than actually digging in and rooting out the problem. And drinking seemed to work, so…

[Insert all the instances where alcohol was like gasoline on the flame, making me a worse, not a better citizen/friend/relative/spouse…]

Recovery, if you really work at it, is a way to change your ingrained habits. It’s a way to reroute your hard wiring. And if that sounds exhaustingly difficult…

Well, I’m nearly 19 months in, and I go to bed at 7PM every night, and here I still am, needlessly snapping at my coworkers when I know how effective a simple pause, one quick breath, can be in diffusing an emotional reaction.

I know because I actually summoned the strength to try it once or twice. (Those days, I went to bed even earlier. 🤣)


We discussed Step 10 in my recovery meeting this week — it’s the one where you really address those negative reactive habits, in real time throughout each day — and (see above) the literature stressed the importance of self-restraint in fostering personal growth.

That really resonated with me, and after reading this post, I’m sure you can understand why. In every situation I encounter, day to day, the only thing I can really control is my reaction — to people, events, circumstances. I can control whether I pause, breathe, and very likely realize in that brief moment how unimportant [insert annoying thing] really is, or whether I lazily lash out in frustration, cast a negative pall over the entire situation and spend the rest of the day stewing with regret…

Easier said than done, and yet, I’ve heard it said that God keeps sending you the same lessons over and over until you learn them.

Woo-wee! You have no idea how true that’s been for me!

I’ve learned a lot of lessons in recovery but I am far from “there yet.” So, here’s another work day ahead of me, and a morning that’s filled with meetings. And after that, a weekend trip to visit the in-laws. 😳

Hmmm. Well. It’s only 4:58AM as I write this. I think maybe I’ll go back to bed for a few more hours and rest up…

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