You might not be able to tell from my quitting-time selfie, but I felt really good on Friday. And considering how big a beating my body has taken over the last three weeks in the process of adjusting to a new job, that was a huge freaking deal.
Three weeks! Can you believe it? I’ve already been at this 8-to-5, in-person office gig for three weeks!
That’s long enough not to need Google maps to chart my commute, or my lunchtime walk, which I now know is exactly two laps around the industrial park before the 30-minute timer goes off on my phone. I’ve actually been making it out and back in 25…which is perfect, because you know how I feel about being late! 🤣
On Friday, I wanted to stay out there all afternoon, strolling around past the warehouses and production plants in sunny 70-degree weather, stylishly AND comfortably dressed in my sleek black AG jeans and cute sleeveless Stitch Fix top — a far cry from the roomy Under Armour leggings and Chicago sports hoodies I lived in for the past year. I wanted to make the absolute most of this uncharacteristically upbeat attitude, which seemed to hit me at random out of the clear blue sky.
Sadly, “downbeat” is my lifelong default. I’m naturally negative. I have Eeyore-esque tendencies. I never met a situation I couldn’t overcomplicate with fear, worry, and expecting the worst. Give me a particularly difficult situation, and I’ll get so overcome by concern that I’m physically sick to my stomach. For three full weeks…
…minus one day.
Thank goodness for days like Friday, when, for whatever reason, I suddenly remember how great it is to be alive.
I always think of the line in “The Sopranos” when Dr. Melfi tells Tony that “depression is rage turned inward” because I’m convinced my wiring is the reason I suffer from chronic intestinal discomfort. Living in my body has gotten more difficult as I’ve aged, which happens to all of us, but I can’t help but think my mental makeup has made my physical issues worse.
I have always felt the undertow of depression pulling on me, even as a little kid, and in early to mid-adulthood, I walked a daily tightrope over a pit of despair — one false move, and I could plummet into the abyss, and there was no telling how long it would take to climb back out.
Luckily, and dare I say, “by the grace of God,” I always felt compelled to bother climbing.
My most common “false move” for 20 years was picking up a 12-pack of hard cider or handle of tequila. Drinking both started and accelerated the fall. And actually, since I quit, the tightrope has widened into more of a bridge. My feet are on sturdier, more substantial ground, and my steps are more steady and sure as I keep moving along a pretty stable (at least by my wacky standards) path.
Amazing how removing gluttonous quantities of a toxic, depressive substance will balance out your brain…miraculous! 😳
I shudder to think how I might handle this latest career transition — to social media marketing for a company that sells shutters 😉 — if I wasn’t 22 1/2 months sober.
Wait…am I not the same girl who started this week crying at my desk over a perceived failure, in full view of my new boss? Maybe I haven’t come as far as I think when it comes to controlling my negative emotions, although thinking back, my first two marketing jobs had me in tears during Week One.
It takes me longer now to break down. Look at me go, guys! Making progress! 🤣
I wish all the stuff I’ve learned from recovery — you know, the “accepting things you can’t change” and “changing the things you can” and “being wise enough to know the difference” — just, like, applied itself. I wish knowing that I am in control of nothing but my attitude, and that changing my attitude can change so much about my entire situation, made it easier to actually make that shift every day.
I wish I didn’t still feel the occasional tug of depression, letting me know: “Hey, I’m still down here, ready to drag you under if you let me!” But I guess it’s that knowledge — it’s all the knowledge I’ve gained since I stopped escaping into a bottle and started paying attention to everything, both in and around me — that makes it possible to do better. To avoid the old pitfalls. To keep growing out of the Negative Nellie, alcoholic mindset, and achieve that all-powerful attitude shift whenever it’s necessary.
Right now, though, for whatever reason, it’s not necessary. It’s Saturday morning, and I still feel great. I don’t know if I can credit sobriety, or the weekend, or the end of “Aunt Flow” 🙃, or the beautiful spring weather, or the pride that comes from being able to climb out of low places again and again…but I am glad to be alive today. And I want to savor it.
What the hell? I might as well close with another selfie in which I actually SMILE.