This story is part two of my most recent post about what recovery in action looks like for me right now. Read it here.
Less than a month ago at lunchtime, while at work, I went up to the skyline - the one open-aired place in the building I used to call home. I sat on a chair under the sun, sweating under my business clothes, my toes still frozen from the 65-degree environment of neon lights and AC tundra — and I burst into tears. I’d just completed a back-to-back morning of meetings that sucked the life out of my soul. Be creative. Be a good leader. Be a problem solver. Get us a schedule. Figure it out, now. I sat over my microwaved meal, tears streaming down my face, and called my friend, Dani. “I think I'm depressed. I think I need medication,” I hiccuped into the phone, in a rare moment of truth.
I realize, in hindsight, I didn't need medication. It’s just that my cycle — bound by a calendar of never-ending meetings and invisible shackles under my chair - had run its course. I loved my work-family, but I hated the corporate world and the routine of my job. Radical honesty is freeing as fuck. While I did not say that on my phone call to Dani (it was easier to pretend that a pill could fix my life), I knew it, deep down.
Losing my executive job shortly after that (a casualty of Coronavirus cutbacks) was nothing more than the direct response to my cry for freedom.
Radical honesty is the lift-ticket to my 10,000 feet view to the script of my life. Sobriety — the kind grounded in a badass recovery lifestyle — is where I purchase lift-tickets for that ride. This recovery framework is capable of carrying me through the shittiest of moments. Am I scared? Yes. Do I get overwhelmed? Yes. Do I feel terror at the words fired off by my head? Yes. (I have a particularly asshole-ish “judge” in my head that I really have to keep in check.) But my gratitude and self-trust propel me in a way that is hard to explain with words. My recovery gifted me back my trust in self, and the ability to say I've got this. No matter what, I’ve got this.
That’s what sobriety is all about. My sobriety is recovery in action.
Today, I am aware that my inner-words matter. My attitude matters. My mind frame matters. The place where my soul sits – calm and collected when the shit’s hitting the fan - matters. Recovery gives me the choice between having fins or growing wings.
I smile as I write these words and look out at the rainy morning. I make a couple of notes, a couple of to-do’s for my day (like file for unemployment). I look at the sky and take the deepest of breaths. The silence is soft, not threatening. The space is a white canvas, ripe with possibility. Yes, some plotlines in my script are difficult right now – even sad and scary. But I get to pick up what action plan I’ll follow. What items to put on my calendar. What pen to use for the next script scene. I let these concepts wash over me. The beauty of this “fearful” moment makes me want to fall on my knees with gratitude - an exquisite example this crazy journey of recovery. A lifetime from the way I used to navigate life when fueled by gallons of wine.
Today, I get to be the author of my story — no matter how crazy the plotlines of my life.
I get to pick my next adventure — which tone and scope and words. I get to look up at the surface, where the sun-rays hit the water. I know I will be pulled in, but I know how to rise up again and again. What a freaking amazing way to do life. So, yes. Sobriety is about not drinking. But mostly, it’s about the miracle of watching my silver-fins become things that fly.
A follow-up note to my story: Everyone experiences periods of anxiety and extreme sadness throughout their lives, but depression is a serious medical condition caused by a chemical imbalance. I take my responsibility as a voice in the recovery space seriously, so I am compelled to mention that if you think you might have depression, I'd urge you to find a doctor or someone you trust to speak with.