The slippery slope of sobriety.


Me, demonstrating the fine art of busting one's ass.

First things first: I haven’t slipped.

(I know; I haven’t been posting, either.)

I have been busy, though.

I planned and enjoyed a fabulous Colorado holiday (*snow!*snow!*snow!*), started the New Year off with a bang (fireworks at B’s house!), created publicity materials for our elementary school’s big PTA concert/auction fundraiser, wrote and flew 1,000 miles to present a series of new tv commercials to a client, and kicked off my youngest daughter’s month-long debut as a Girl Scout cookie dealer pusher seller.

I know that I thrive on busy-ness. It brings out the creativity in me. It makes me feel productive. It makes me feel needed. But it can also make me incredibly stressed.

Especially when it comes to work matters. The business trip mentioned above wasn’t supposed to happen. I wasn’t supposed to be the one to go present our work to the clients. It required me to travel during a week that I had custody of my daughters, which meant not only that I had to give up time with them, but that I had to ask their dad for a favor and to take them for a night. It meant I had to put in nearly double the hours I’m paid for. And it meant I had to give up my Friday – the day off I had negotiated more than a year ago when I scaled back my highly paid position for a lower-profile title that afforded me more time with my girls, more time to pursue personal writing projects, and a whole lot less income — and stress.

Because of a number of factors, including politics, I ended up being the one agency representative to go present the work to an audience of ten decisionmakers at two companies.

No pressure.

I could feel the stress taking over as I talked with the agency travel planner about flights and hotel reservations. I woke up the day of my flight with a sore jaw, no doubt from grinding my teeth in the night. My neck and shoulders ached on the plane, and not just from lugging both a carry-on that held my clothes and laptop, along with a portfolio case that held our storyboards and scripts.

I had been lucky enough to have more than two weeks off during the holidays, and now I was back in the rat race, but at an accelerated pace. And I didn’t like it.

I had gotten lazy over the break. I had sort of been following my AA program. I had more or less made it to one meeting a week. I had picked up The Big Book…every now and then. I had talked to AA friends…once in a while.

I could handle this flurry of activity, right?


Well, kind of.

The good news is, I had a perfectly uneventful travel experience (thank you, o mighty travel gods!), kicked butt at the presentation and sold a tv spot, and made it home in time to pick up my girls and treat them to take-out pizza.

In spite of all that, though, I realized that I had been doing something quite risky. I’d been involved in all these projects and activities that fed my mind and creative appetite and ego, but I hadn’t been helping my sobriety one bit. I wasn’t using the resources available to me in recovery – resources like fellow alcoholics, AA meetings, recovery literature, fellow recovery bloggers. And the thing is, I knew better. I felt what I can best describe as “jangly” – off-kilter, irritable, tense – and still I chose to concentrate on the whirl of busyness at hand, rather than seek out some serenity-inducing help.

I’m happy that I have no bad news to report. Yet I know I was treading along a very dangerous path for a while there. I could have easily slipped and careened down into a not-so-good place. I’m thankful that I didn’t. I’ve since stepped up my program and make time for it every day.

Because I know it works. If you work it.

2 Responses to “The slippery slope of sobriety.”

  1. “Jangly” is a perfect word to describe what you were feeling. I might borrow that one from you.

    The way I see it, your experience over the last few weeks has instilled a deeper appreciation for what the program can offer. And that’s definitely a good thing.

    I’m glad you are back.

  2. 2 Sharon

    Hey, *thanks* for staying here 🙂 I experience the same thing… “Jangly”… I am still trying to figure out how to go with the flow of life when it is simply too much. It’s a balancing act and sometimes I get off-center… that is when I know that I need to *pause* to get recentered… it’s an interior thing.

    I have recently been consistent with a Centering Prayer practice (Step 11). For me, it has taught me how to *pause*… no matter what is going on… in the moment.

    Here is a recently published book on the 12 Steps and centering prayer…

    Yup… it works, if you work it 🙂

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