sober lifestyle

Growth

Driving home from class in Doylestown three nights a week is a litmus test for my emotional regulatory skills — still a bit of a shortcoming at 3+ years sober. More often than not, I end up at max acidity, raging behind the bumper of a car doing 25 mph in a 45 zone and braking to 20 at every bend, all the way down 413 to Newtown.


And other times, hallelujah, it’s smooth sailing. This past Tuesday, there was not a car nor a deer in sight, and the U2 station on the free-trial Sirius radio service in my new (Cubbie-blue) Jeep was playing “Angel of Harlem,” after which the Lithium station was playing STP’s “Big Empty,” and “Low” by Cracker, and I felt a glorious sense of freedom as I cruised along the open road, singing my heart out to the same 90s hits that used to pump from the tape deck in my teenage bedroom.


Those two contrasting scenarios are a pretty good illustration of how much my life changed between October 2021 and today. I went from a tired, bitter commuter sitting in rush-hour traffic twice a day, working and going to school full-time, to about as free-spirited as a Type-A gal can be, enjoying plenty of the open space and self-care time that has been such a huge key to my mental health and recovery.

This charmed life is, of course, about to end. I’m in a surreal calm-before-the-storm period with no idea what the future will bring. All the growth I’ve undergone in the past four years is about to be put to the test.

Sounds familiar…

Continue reading “Growth”
sober lifestyle

Reinvention

I was scrolling through social media last weekend, trying to self-soothe my anxiety as we drove three hours north for a visit with the in-laws, when I happened upon a news report about the latest round of layoffs at the media conglomerate where I used to work.

Well, I mean, I worked at a well-staffed, family-owned local newspaper that, like publications of its ilk all across the country, went straight to the chop shop when purchased by a soulless corporate behemoth (controlled by the same greed monsters who funded WeWork!) I came to Pennsylvania specifically for that job — and met my husband in the newsroom — but saw the writing on the wall, in blood, back in the fall of 2018. Thinking it was better to start from scratch at 40 than at 44, 45…I grabbed a buyout package and got the 🤬 outta there.

Yada yada…they nuked my entire department within six months of my departure. While I’d found another job by that point, I was basically just wandering lost in the wilderness until I decided to quit drinking in mid-2019. Luckily, as far gone as I got, I didn’t completely lose myself.

Continue reading “Reinvention”
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

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.

Continue reading “Recommendation”
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.

Continue reading “Profession”
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”

sober lifestyle, Uncategorized

Anniversary

jenandalex
A highlight from my final year in a multifaceted 20-year journalism career, feat. the great (former) CB South SS Alex DeLeon. I was a sports video reporter for six years and never figured out how to control that damn microphone cord.

Say what you want about social media as a sociopathic cesspool, but without it, I would have forgotten most of my life after the year 2009.  I’d also be missing a huge part of the support system that has helped me cope with significant loss over the past year: the loss of my journalism career and the loss of my lifestyle as a habitual drinker.

(Yes, the latter is a good loss, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Ask any new recovering alcoholic OR displaced journalist, and they’ll tell you they feel like a close friend/part of them has died.)

Social media, to me, has become a kind of scrapbook, helping chart the ups and downs of this journey. I bring this up because on Friday (Aug. 30), Facebook took a break from showing me creepy ads that mirror what I was just talking about in real life to send me an emotional reminder. Continue reading “Anniversary”