On December 28th of 2012, I was laid off from my job as a medical writer at a biotechnology company. I was with that company much longer than anticipated since the job, at the time I got it, was an escape hatch from the disastrous job I started right after I quit drinking. I planned to be at the biotech company only a year at most while I collected myself and began to understand what life was like sober. One year became four years and, during that time, I had what looked like a promising career with a handful of successes and a solid salary. But I knew there was something else waiting for me.
As the 28th of December approached, I was facing a world of uncertainty when “the perfect job” landed in my inbox. But after a whirlwind interview process, I didn’t get it. I remember getting the call. It was nighttime in Sicily. I walked out of my boyfriend’s parents’ house into the backyard to find a little bit more cellular reception and looked out across the Mediterranean as I heard the words “we decided to go with the other finalist.” But as I walked back into the house and told everyone my news with just a shake of my head, I knew that this was the right thing.
Working one job or another since I was 12 years old, I now had an opportunity to explore my own wants and needs without an obligation to an employer. Between the safety net of severance and savings and, more importantly, a supportive family and partner, I decided not to do what I thought I “should.” Instead I left myself open to the possibilities. And in the last year, those possibilities have included:
- Traveling back to Sicily and Paris and exotic Upstate New York
- Taking continuing education classes, attending conferences, and completing a free “How to start a small business” course in New York City
- Networking, opening up to people, making new friends, and reinvigorating old friendships
- Visiting friends and family near and far
- Formalizing my commitment to Buddhism
- Translating/interpreting a children’s book from Italian to English
- Taking care of myself physically and mentally, attending ballet barre and yoga classes, going for acupuncture and therapy
- Volunteering with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger
- Cooking, sleeping, watching trashy TV, and cuddling with my boyfriend and our fur children, Rufus and Darwin
- Writing a book based on the Drinking to Distraction blog [Stay Tuned!]
And deciding to start my own nutrition counseling business. Some of you already know that my education and early job experience was in nutrition and that I have long wanted to get back to that field. Given the time and space I was fortunate enough to have during the last year, I came to see starting my own business as a risk worth taking. And about two weeks ago, I launched my mindful nutrition business, Eat to Love, which integrates meditation, therapeutic approaches to addiction, and Intuitive Eating.
Besides taking an inventory of what the hell I’ve been doing for the last 11 months, I’m writing this post to acknowledge that none of the things I have done in the last year would have been possible if I had not quit drinking nearly six years ago. That was the first step out of my own cocoon, my coming out of hiding. A process that was furthered by beginning to meditate, by beginning to write about my experience here, by not trying to keep making all the “right” moves in my life or to please everyone else. Starting this business is taking the next step.
Gradually I will begin to spend more time on this new venture, which opens up new possibilities for the Drinking to Distraction blog. I always viewed the blog as a shared space where readers could post their own stories about drinking, mindfulness, meditation, and coming out of the cocoon. Now, more directly I invite you to submit your story, to experience the therapeutic release of writing your own narrative, and to help others by letting them know they are not alone.
I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. With the passing of my wife a few years back, I had to re-examine my own life and try to decide what was important, and exactly what I wanted to do for my career and my family. And I agree, a blog can be a great way to share, and also explore your own possibilities that life has awaiting you.
Thank you for writing. I’m sorry about your loss. I can’t imagine the impact that has on the re-evaluation of things. But, yes, writing is immensely therapeutic. If you care to share a piece of your story here, please let me know.
I have been following your blog since Sept 3, 2012 when I finally made the decision to leave alcohol behind. You struck a cord with me when you spoke of how you drank wine, good wine…. So did I. We’re not alcoholics, we are cultured folk. How I look back on my years drinking with embarassment, oh the things I did and the people I hurt, despite being a highly successful pillar of my community. How could everyone around me have been so blind? I wanted you to know that you have been helpful to me. I am learning though that it doesn’t get easy. With a clear mind I recognize things in my life that need to be changed that I don’t think I have the strength to change. I feel like I have dug such a hole that the climb out is a thought to monumental to even contemplate. But I know I will. Sitting with all this in meditation practice has been humbling. Twenty years of meditation practice and I suddenly feel like a novice. Anyway, thanks for everything, keep up the good work
Thank you so much for this message. You are so right: It doesn’t get easy. But maybe it does get better. We become more resilient when we make the choice to deal with difficulty, to feel discomfort. Have you seen this quote from Susan Piver:
“Confidence actually begins with lack of confidence. Without the latter, we would have no idea what the former meant. In some way, when we lose our confidence we could imagine it not as the first step into the pit, but the first step out of it. Just as light would not exist without dark, confidence would not be possible without lack of confidence. So, to begin recovering self-confidence, a great first step is allowing yourself to lean into your doubt.”
I thought of it when you wrote that climbing out of the hold you have dug seems a monumental task.
And, yes, I also feel like a novice. I think that’s a good thing though. Whenever I think “I got this,” something always reminds me I’m just beginning.
Thank you for writing. You have helped me!
I’ve been reading your blog for the last year or so – and I have really felt this entry. I am 61 – just retired from my private practice as a therapist – and moved to North Carolina a week ago with my husband. I’ve struggled with drinking (although I didn’t know I was struggling) my whole life. My family drank – my friends drank – I drank every day for years and years – often too much. Over the last few years I’ve intentionally changed my drinking. It was scary, and I told myself I could drink occasionally. I’m not an alcoholic – certainly I can have a bourbon with my husband on a special occasion. I have finally accepted and faced that I can’t drink. My last drink was July 15th with my husband to celebrate his retirement. I was sick for a few days, depressed – and that was the final turning point for me. Finally I had the strength and clarity to know that I don’t want to drink. Period. Your blog is one of the things that has strengthened me to find my way. What impacted me in this recent entry was finally having the time to explore other parts of myself and being so grateful that I am not drinking. Thank you for sharing your journey. I believe you are a light for many.
Thank you for this message. I feel like our experiences are very similar. I think the ah-ha moment for me was that being an alcoholic was not the only reason to stop drinking. For years, I felt stuck because I thought I should only quit if I decided to identify as an alcoholic. But life is more complicated than that, and there are rarely black and white situations. I really do admire you for feeling your way through each step and deciding that to take better care of yourself, you needed to remove something that you probably loved. A lot of my recovery has been about allowing myself to acknowledge the loss I experienced when I stopped drinking. You will never hear me trumpeting how it’s been a 100% positive experience. Without that flexibility, I probably would have relapsed, or at least not fully experienced what I was going through. Anyway, all of this is to say thank you for sharing your experience with me. We couldn’t do it without each other.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve quit drinking.
I can’t count the mornings I’ve stood in the shower with a sore head, queasy stomach, and plenty of regret, feeling the water pouring over me and praying.
The shower is my confession booth and my baptismal. Breathing in orange ginger coconut gardenia aromatherapy shampoo, i pray for help, courage, forgiveness, strength, patience, faith, hope and emerge wrapped in grace and a towel with a clean slate. Thanking God.
I’ve privately journaled about my relationship with alcohol. Each time starting fresh and optimistic only to go silent after 2 days…a week.
I make the same mistake over and over. But God knows I am trying. And i believe that counts for a lot. I’ve never quit trying to quit and wondering if the 3rd time or the 333rd time is a charm.
I discovered your blog a couple months ago and it has given me a different view on quitting. Your voice regarding addiction is not judgmental, oversimplified or out-dated. I appreciate your honesty and camaraderie in this challenge.
So today, once again, I write in my journal, but this time, something is different.
Thank you for this beautiful comment. The only thing we can keep doing is trying…and praying. And being almost insanely gentle with ourselves because that is what we need to both accept ourselves and try to change what isn’t working for us anymore. I am sending you all my love and care and kindness and hope you continue to do the same for yourself.