My stomach has been flipping and flopping nonstop all week, so when I say I “gutted out” my first five days commuting to and from a brand new job and adjusting to a completely different schedule/routine, I mean it literally. 🤢
There’s still rumbling going on in there now, as I write this. It’s 5 AM on Saturday, and while I don’t feel close to tip-top physical or mental shape — you folks with IBS will understand how this brutal condition can consume a person in a vicious cycle, being both the cause and result of stress — I wanted to check in here and reflect on a few significant milestones.
I had an opportunity to do that publicly — as in, face to face with other humans in the same room — on Friday morning at my first big marketing meeting at the new company. Apparently, the custom for my coworkers is to go around the table every week and announce everyone’s personal and professional “bests.”
I had a doozy of a personal highlight to share, considering I’d cleared the 22-month sober milestone on the same day I started this job, and job transitions are pretty much the most stressful non-life-and-death situations I can imagine.
But of course, I sat on that, because what kind of weirdo tells a group of complete strangers they’re a recovering alcoholic?
Such an egregious example of oversharing is completely beyond my comprehension. I would never get so anxious that I spilled my guts just to fill awkward silence!! 😐
(This from the girl who, in the very first phone conversation with her supervisor at her last job, was like, “Guess what? I’m one year sober today!” 🤦🏼♀️)
So, having learned from past faux pas, I played it safe in Friday’s introductory marketing meeting. I prattled on about how just being in that room was a personal and professional highlight, given the chaotic environment and dysfunctional work culture I’d come from. …And then I told them how eager I was to get the hell out of that room and go home and take off the excruciatingly uncomfortable jeans I was wearing, because apparently I stress-gained at least 10 pounds in the course of one week! 😫
Just kidding about that last part. It was true, but I didn’t talk about it.
Cortisol overdose aside, I am extremely proud to be weathering this big transition without the help of intoxicating substances, and I’m grateful I have this space — and a family, and a sponsor, and you, dear readers — as an outlet for self-expression and source of support. 🙏🏻
I figured I would need extra support on Friday afternoon, on account the weekly office “Happy Hour” I learned about during my interview process. There’s a beer cart sitting outside the break room underneath a huge sign that says “FRIDAYS 3-5 PM: PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY.” Sure enough, on my first day, several people were eager to tell me (again) all about this tradition, as if to say, “See? This is a fun place to work!”
I just nodded, my COVID mask hiding my forced smile.
Thinking about that beer cart on Friday’s drive to work, feeling exhausted from my first week back to “real life” after working from home for nearly a year, and contemplating all the new challenges this job had placed before me, while my stomach continued to gurgle away nervously under my lap belt…I had a mini breakdown.
It was the first time I’d cried in quite a while.
Sobriety means feeling unpleasant feelings and powering through difficult circumstances with no crutch to lean on, no “pill” to dull the pain, no trap door that opens to an easy escape hatch.
No beer cart to help comfort you at the end of a long, taxing week, or to ease your interactions with coworkers whom you’re trying to impress.
Of course, I must mention, sobriety also means no head-pounding hangovers or soul-wrenching regrets upon awakening the next day. This is the tradeoff I agreed to make almost two years ago. Give up overindulgent self-medication, gain a greater sense of peace and balance and eventually grow into a well-adjusted adult.
I wish sobriety was the cure for stress-induced stomach issues, but alas…
I made it through a tumultuous week without slipping, either in terms of my sobriety or my overall outward attitude, and that’s all that matters. I was so worked up about the idea of alcohol in the office, but in the end, everything worked out just fine. I stayed sequestered in my office until quitting time, and if others partook in “Happy Hour,” I neither saw nor heard any evidence of it. I didn’t have to give anyone the awkward “I don’t drink” spiel. I didn’t have to confront any demons out in the open.
No, I kept them locked up inside, along with all my fear and uncertainty, and that’s probably why my system is so f*cked up. 🤷🏼♀️
Thank goodness today is Saturday and I can get out for some fresh air and move around a little bit in my comfy Under Armour pants. The tradeoff I made in the last week, giving up a loosey-goosey remote schedule that allowed for morning runs and long lunchtime walks, in exchange for a raise and a stable, supportive workplace where I feel respected and valued…I know in my (ahem) gut that it was the right move, but it’s definitely going to take some getting used to.