sober lifestyle

Confidence

Covering one of my first stories as a one-woman videography band: the opening of Cole & Heidi Hamels’ charity headquarters on Philly’s Main Line. I ended up doing that video reporting job for six years (2012-2018)…and eventually learned to actually look at the camera. 🙈

There are dense clumps of cobwebs stretched across my memory banks, particularly in the pre-2019 era, so I can’t recall the exact details of the day when I officially became a video reporter.

In my head, it went something like this:

“We’re shutting down phillyBurbs.com [where you’ve worked as an online content writer for the past four years]; either take this camcorder and go shoot high school sports stories [which you’ve never, ever, ever done before] for the newspaper’s revamped website, or…seeya!”

I took the camcorder. That was 2012, and, by my calculations, it marked Major Life Change #4 for a young print journalism major from suburban Chicago.

Today, I’m on the threshold of #8.

Does that mean I have only one life left? 🙀

If everything goes according to plan (🤞🏻🤞🏻) that’s all I will need to reach my ultimate goal.

Continue reading “Confidence”
sober lifestyle

Worthiness

Someone from another life sent me this picture several years ago, and in case you need help understanding why, I’ve drawn you a big red blob.

It’s very possible I’m the one who needs help.

I mean, I was the one who took the very flattering label of “Most Athletic” female — in a senior class of about 500 total kids — and internalized it to the point where it completely defined my identity. This process started long before the (Niles, IL) West Word staff assigned their 1996 Senior Superlatives; I was probably 8 years old (and going by Jenny Wielgus) when I smacked my first home run in coach-pitch softball, and, based on the reaction of the parents in the crowd, instantly decided that sports were MY THING. From that point on, I was convinced my purpose in life was to be a top athlete, and that my worth as a person was inextricably tied to my performance on the field/court.

To be “good” at all, I had to be better than everyone else. Not that those were my explicit thoughts…but sadly, looking back after a lifetime trapped in a “fixed mindset,” that’s really what my belief system came down to.

And then, I walked on to a Big Ten softball team, and WHAMMO!

Literally. 🥎💥🤯

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sober lifestyle

Recollection

So many of my bad memories started just like this…

Sitting in one of my very first recovery meetings last summer, I heard people talk about all the mysterious injuries they would wake up with after a night of heavy drinking — unexplained bumps and bruises, dried blood caked here or there, broken digits and the like — and I thought to myself, “Not me! I never hurt myself while drunk!”

Many months later, WHAM! The memory burst into my brain, like a 160-pound human body from a higher row, suddenly toppling on the backs of unsuspecting concertgoers, then slamming into the hard stone amphitheater stairs at their feet.

In case you hadn’t guessed, the uninvited crowd surfer in that scenario was me, six summers ago, “celebrating” my wedding anniversary at the Interpol show at Penn’s Landing after pounding sakis at my hubby’s and my favorite sushi restaurant, then guzzling who-knows-how-many $12 hard ciders from vendors at the venue.

I’ve attached a “BEFORE” photo from that night. Didn’t think you’d keep reading if I chose the “AFTER.”

My shins ended up looking like ground meat after my unfortunate booze-fueled tumbling act, and the (untreated) trauma to my lower extremities was so severe I basically crawled through our subsequent Hawaiian vacation — where, as I’ve recounted in previous posts, I went on to take several more spills while soused. I couldn’t walk normally for like a month. I nearly had to pull out of a half marathon that November.

But no, I never got injured in the throes of alcoholism! 🙄

Tequila Sunrise-to-Sunset…would be an apt tagline for our entire 2015 trip to Hawaii. 🥴

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sober lifestyle

Recommendation

The biggest news in my life right now, other than the tatt and what’s going on every week in Season 4 of “Fargo” (Timothy Olyphant 😍…that’s pretty much it), is my quest to study psychology in grad school.

We’re officially in Phase 2 of that quest; I just received an email from the admissions office saying they reviewed my application and they’d like to invite me to a formal interview with the program director and other high-ranking school officials.

🥳

I learned a few things during Phase 1:

  • Openly identifying as an addict isn’t a professional death sentence;
  • My GPA at Northwestern was lower than I thought;
  • Probably the best decision I made in my (pre-sobriety) life was to move to Bucks County, PA, to join the local newspaper community.

Like most things you’re immersed in day after day for years, I didn’t really appreciate what — and who — I had in that community until I left it. I had a surrogate home/family, both in the company buildings and out on the sports beat, even if my loner personality made me, like, the distant third cousin twice removed in that scenario.

(Here’s where I am obliged to mention that I met my husband at the paper back in 2002.)

Most of us who moved on from the Bucks County Courier Times/Doylestown Intelligencer in the Gatehouse era did not do so voluntarily, so we didn’t really get to stop on our way out the door, look around and get proper perspective on our careers there and all the relationships we built over the years.

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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.

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sober lifestyle

Transition

One day earlier this week, I was so wrapped up in trying to get a handle on my new job that I burned my dinner to a crisp.

Throwing chicken on the stove to cook, then getting distracted and completely forgetting about it is something I used to do all the time when I was drinking — no fires OR DUIs in 20 years…miraculous 🙏🏻 — and yet here I am, at 370-some days sober, up to the same dumb tricks.

I thought I’d hit a year and experience a mental metamorphosis. I’d even heard people talk about “the fog lifting” at their 1-year mark, and I’d come to expect the same. So how is it that I feel foggier now? How is it that I wake up with headaches, when I long ago traded in my tumblers of tequila for copious coffee, energy drinks and diet soda?

OK, so I know the answer to that. Hydrate properly or get hangovers; this is a fact of life for alcoholics, teetotalers and “normies” alike.

And while we’re on the subject of Wisdom We’re Currently Ignoring, they caution recovering addicts not to make any major life changes in the first year of sobriety. Well, duh! How did I not see it coming, that leaving a relatively stable, structured worker-bee role at a small agency for a leadership position at an international multi-brand company with more moving parts than I can calculate — much less comprehend — at this juncture, when skyrocketing anxiety issues have been my biggest struggle in recovery so far, by far…might be a potential trigger?

Just reading my own rambling words right now, I’m like, “Wow! This chick is NUTS!”

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sober lifestyle

Opportunity

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Today is special for so many reasons that my brain feels too full to focus. Which is kind of  frustrating, considering I spend so much time during the week thinking of topics I want to tackle in this space (see: 12 unfinished drafts saved in my WordPress account), and then when the time comes to sit down and write, it’s like the freaking county fair up in my head.

Maybe more like Lollapalooza, which was a crowded, distraction-filled event I actually enjoyed. Death Cab was one of the headliners. Grant Park was hot and muddy but still gorgeous. We flew out for the weekend. Had to miss Wilco on Sunday night for our flight back to Philly…

Geez. Point proven, I guess. I’ve got a lot going on, in addition to having adult-onset ADD. 🤯

Today is my nephew’s second birthday, and on his first — so, a year ago today — I finally made the decision to stop drinking. The above picture comes from the previous day, our family trip to Wrigley Field, and it kind of saddens me that the only pictures I have with Jackson make me instantly think, “You were drunk.” At the same time I think, “Jackson will never know me as a drunk,” and I instantly feel better.

We’re planning to drive out to Chicago and see the big boy, and all my other cherished loved ones, over the 4th of July weekend.

By that point, I will have moved on from my old job in order to take a new job, which is another thing I am celebrating today. This opportunity basically fell from the sky, which is both scary as shit and exciting beyond words, but at the same time, it figures. The universe has opened up in an amazing way since I got sober, and it’s been pouring so many blessings on my head that I’ve started to lose track of just how good my life, on Day 357, really is.

Maybe it’s all hitting me now, and that’s why I’m feeling overwhelmed. Continue reading “Opportunity”