sober lifestyle


On Thursday afternoon, I got dressed up — it might be more accurate to just say “got dressed” — and drove up to Quakertown for my first counseling job interview.

It’s actually an unpaid, 100-hour “practicum,” and it doesn’t start until next spring, during my second year of grad school. But, you know what I always say: “You’re never too early!”

I usually say this while sitting in my running car, parked outside the place I’m supposed to be going, with at least a half hour to kill because I gave myself 90 minutes for a 45-minute trip. 🙄 I say it right before I anxiously start snapping selfies (see above) because I don’t know what else to do with my idle hands. 🤣

My new mantra should really be “You’re never too late.” I mean, I turned 44 a week ago, and here I am, back in school and interviewing for internships in a brand new field. I’m in the midst of my third career transition in the past four years.

You might think this is a sign that something in my life has gone terribly wrong, but quite honestly, I feel like pinching myself. I can’t believe how very right everything feels with the world at this moment.

Our kitchen calendar, circa April 2021

Flash back to one year ago: I was wrapping up a five-week interview process for a marketing job at a small shutter company here in the Philadelphia suburbs. You might have heard me talk about that job once or twice on this blog — initially, because I was “so excited” to get it, and get out of what I was doing, even though what I was doing allowed me to work from home. Somewhere deep inside, I knew I would hate having to commute 1 1/2 hours round trip to and from an office five days a week.

Well, I did hate it…but as it turns out, I only had to do it for five months. My first day at that office was April 26, 2021. On October 4, I was marching out of there with a huge Chik-fil-A catering bag packed with all the shit from my desk and an envelope stuffed with unemployment info., having just been laid off for the first time in my life. So, doing the math, that means I spent exactly 1/5 of my actual time working at the job interviewing for the job. 🤔

Thinking back now, that whole thing kinda seems like a colossal waste of time and money. I invested in an entirely new business casual wardrobe, including high-heeled shoes that mush my toes and give me blisters, and I’m a few slices of Jules Thin Crust pizza from not fitting in any of it anymore. 😬 I pumped a whole bunch of gas and subjected my car to a great deal of wear and tear riding behind dump trucks on those monotonous trips to Montgomeryville. And I didn’t even do it for a bump in salary. That job was a lateral move, and I am now back working for the same company I was so desperate to leave a year ago.

WTF, Jen?!?

Same shi(r)t, different day. A selfie from my brief stint at an in-office marketing job that I now (have no choice but to) see as yet another life lesson.

Then again, sometimes, you have to make mistakes to learn lessons. Or, to re-learn lessons in a different way. Jumping into that job, I let unchecked anxiety and impulsivity cloud my judgment. When I give in to my emotions without really processing them or “playing the tape forward,” as they say in AA, it can cause me to ignore gut feelings and red flags, which can then get me into some less-than-ideal situations. It can make life more difficult than it needs to be.

Gee, that sounds like the kind of trap an alcoholic might have fallen into once or twice, or nearly every day of her drinking career. 🤔

Like my addiction, my employment history has armed me with life experience that might actually be more valuable than what’s written on my resume. There’s no point in having regrets about any of it now. I mean, if I hadn’t been addicted to alcohol, I never would’ve been introduced to the wonderful world of recovery, or to 12-step service work, and I wouldn’t have been inspired to pursue my masters degree so that I could do such work for a living.

If I hadn’t enrolled at DelVal U. and immersed myself in the GCP curriculum, I wouldn’t have discovered what I think is my true calling — working in prevention/early intervention, helping young people develop coping skills so they don’t feel the need to abuse substances — which ultimately led me to Thursday’s internship interview. I literally just started my search, and I was already lucky enough to find a program geared toward counseling, educating and supporting adolescents and their parents, right here in Bucks County.

Talk about serendipity! I usually roll my eyes when people say “everything happens for a reason,” but how else can I interpret these events?

The more I think about it, if I hadn’t bolted my current company a year ago, citing burnout in my exit interview, they might not have realized how much they liked my writing and level of professionalism — the old, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gonephenomenon. They were the ones who reached back out to me when they found out I’d been laid off. And if they hadn’t given me that vote of confidence, I might not have felt empowered enough to negotiate a part-time remote position — for more money than I was making at the full-time, in-office job, BTW! — that allows me the freedom to go to school and get an internship while still contributing to the household bills.

And if I hadn’t been laid off from the shutter company…I think you get the point.

I don’t know what I did to “deserve” all these puzzle pieces falling into place the way they have…except walk my path, fall down repeatedly — sometimes, very painfully — and get up and keep walking, again and again, each time a little bit stronger and wiser for the wear. Each time seeing a little clearer: This is the way.

Of course, let’s not forget all the outstretched hands and unseen forces that assisted me in the getting up. Let’s not forget my family, my hubby, my professors, my cohort, the people in AA, or the higher power that somehow keeps popping up and poking at me, no matter how much I try to ignore or deny its presence.

I’m no big hero, but my hands still are pretty strong (even if I have gone a little soft in my comfy work-from-home cocoon). With 33 months of sobriety and nearly two semesters of school under my belt, I feel like I’m finally in a position to start assisting others who’ve taken a spill or suffered a setback.

Soon, I might have a chance to help young people avoid the painful pitfalls (and pratfalls) that chewed up years of my life — and nearly ate me alive.

There’s also a chance I bombed this interview and won’t end up getting hired for the internship. Honestly, I’m not worried. I mean, for one, I started my practicum search a whole flippin’ year early; there’s plenty of time to pivot and pursue something else. And two, given the trajectory of my recovery thus far — oh boy; get ready for another eye-roller! — I have every reason to believe that whatever is meant to be, God will provide.

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