A Little Bit of Grace

What an anticlimax. It would appear that at this point, at least, I have not been fired. Just a smile this morning and then my bosses left. I had my neck nicely and conveniently stretched out and ready to have the guillotine drop, but it’d seem having my last meal and final rites was a waste of time. Unless they were planning to come back and fire me. Point is I had no way of knowing and no matter how much I am to blame for not doing my job well (entirely) and how they’ve got every right and reason to be mightily pissed off with me (totally), that’s just odd so I put on my big girl pants and did what I think is right: I fired me.

alan sugar

Whilst this is pretty scary and I’m so in knots I haven’t eaten, I’ve dealt with worse situations – much worse. I’ve dealt with much worse when I was drinking, for God’s sake, and found a way. Gosh, I look back now and sometimes feel quite proud of myself for managing to steer the ship through some pretty harsh storms. At one point I barely stopped to breathe – I had my main full time job, translation work in the evenings and then babysitting too during the weeks Bambino was at his dad’s. On top of that, I was also already down by some way on the slippery slope of accelerating alcoholism and still I came through and made a difficult situation work. I can deal with this, even if I have to stack shelves or serve coffee for a while – to be honest, when you make a career change you can’t always stroll straight into that shiny new job and that’s that, so even despite this unfortunate and unpleasant situation in my current role I would have been faced with some tricky decisions and unknowns. That’s life for you.

Frustrating, yes. I went in today with my heart in my throat not knowing what I was walking into. I felt weak with worry and like I was going to throw up or faint. Would I be yelled at? By Boss Lady alone or both? Or even more people around? A calm chat? Even a friendly chat? Being told off for the last thing I fucked up and just told to shape up? Or told to leave? Or even a cheerful “all sorted now, worse things happen at sea, let’s move on“? Any and every eventuality I was prepared for and I spent yesterday clearing my mind so that I’d be able to calmly apologise, take all shit thrown at me because I deserved it and gracefully accept my fate. I was steeling myself in order not to cry – I’m soft as shite and fall apart very easily, so I was going to save everyone the embarrassment of that too.

As horrible as it was to arrive, I’d made my peace with it all and felt quite calm about it. I “knew” I’d be fired and I also knew this was a good thing, however unpleasant. Still, it’s always shitty to have people be angry with you and so I did feel fucking awful. The feeling reminded me of when I for a very brief period of time was frozen out by my classmates at the age of 10. Funny – I think that was my fault too. Last night I was lying awake with palpitations and whatever sleep I did get was fitful and consisted of nightmares – a strange echo of what most of my nights were like when I was drinking. Perhaps the unknown is just really stressful no matter what your situation is. I didn’t know what to expect, but I guess I didn’t expect for nothing to happen. Oh, I wish I could accurately describe how awkward it was. My colleagues weren’t speaking to me at all, as opposed to how they usually stick their heads in the door to say hello and often have a little chat. Hey, it’s probably awkward for them too and I think they must know Boss Lady was furious with me yesterday, so I don’t blame them but the sooner we’re all put out of our misery the better. And so I made the executive decision to fire me.

It all reminds me a little of drinking. The easy way out would have been to just sit tight. They didn’t fire me so I could have just hung on a bit longer and waited for the axe to drop sometime in the future instead. Aka “I’ll deal with it tomorrow” – exactly how I used to defer dealing with my drinking problem, I knew it was there and it filled me with dread and I just pushed it further and further away into an endless string of tomorrows. Or do what I consider to be the right and honourable thing and deal with the issue without delay. Aka accepting the problem and facing it head on which is basically the attitude that got me sober. If you avoid dealing with things, you get the snowball effect. Ever made a snowman or a snow fortress? Well, you build those out of snow boulders. A snow boulder starts its life as a snowball. Just a standard, harmless little snowball. You then pack more snow on by rolling it in more snow, and it grows and grows as you push it in front of you. Well, I don’t need to clarify the analogy, do I? Ignore a problem or defer it for another time and all you end up with is a much bigger problem. That’s what I did with my drinking and how I’ve dealt with lots of problems. Firing me was throwing a nice little snowball for my bosses to catch. It was the right thing to do.

Wouldn’t it be absolutely infuriating if I’ve misread the whole thing? No, trust me – I haven’t. There is no way that this awkwardness and how people are avoiding me is all in my head. Because alcohol like many other drugs increases and creates paranoia (given it makes you anxious – paranoia often springs from anxiety), I have actually been in situations that I’ve completely misunderstood. There was one job I quit because it was a foray into search marketing and I just quickly discovered it wasn’t my thing, it just didn’t particularly interest me. But I had also convinced myself that I was terrible at it and expected my then bosses to be really pleased to receive my resignation. They weren’t. In fact, they took me to lunch and asked me to stay. I was so taken aback I think I spent most of the meal staring at them and not knowing what to say. One of them pulled up a campaign I’d created on his screen back in the office and said to me as the threw his hands up in a resigned and tired I-can’t-believe-this sort of gesture – “for God’s sake, Anna, just look how good you are at this!“. Again, I stood there and wondered what was going on because how come they didn’t hate me? I know what paranoia can do, but in my current situation there’s none of that. Just sayin’.

It is what it is and I’m very glad to close this chapter. Was I immediately filled with joy and blissful relief? No. It’s still a horrible situation and that sick feeling is still hanging in my chest like a thundercloud but it has now stopped growing. This isn’t some woohoo grab life by the horns diatribe either, I’m just basically outlining for you how I’ve made a dog’s dinner of the day job and how I’m now trying to at least have some grace and honour by doing what’s right. By quitting I’ve of course created other challenges but I can deal with them. I just need to remember who I am underneath – not the Anna who drank, but the Anna who knows how to work and how to work hard. The Anna who can turn things around. The Anna who can take responsibility and be accountable. The Anna I am recovering. I am, after all, in recovery and I’m going to be obnoxious and give myself a pat on the back here because as much as I’m the absolute dickhead in this situation, I’m actually quite proud of myself too. I didn’t race home and drink. Tomorrow morning and every morning thereafter I’m going to wake up clear and lucid and I’m going to find my way again.

It’s time for a new chapter now – it’s about time I get my arse in gear. I’m within touching distance of my one year sober and that’s awesome, but I need to turn my attention to the rest now. I had a bit of breathing space in order to focus on getting sober and I feel steadier on my feet now so it’s time to take on new challenges. Hah! Being out of a job is definitely a challenge. Do I even need to point out that this situation is something that I would have dealt with really badly if I were still Drunk Me? Gosh, cue wailing and sobs of despair! Instead here I am sober, mostly relieved and hopeful for the future. Yes, I still feel yucky too – I feel plenty yucky! – but the problem has stopped getting bigger and I’ve forced myself to deal with it. Now I need to put my money where my mouth is. Time to show my mettle.

I’ve done it before.

Today I’m not going to drink.

17 thoughts on “A Little Bit of Grace

  1. Wonderful introspection. I had a similar experience a few years ago, where I was focusing on myself (and making great gains) but I was ignoring everything else in my life. I’d been in my job for 9 years, so I was on autopilot there, but at home, I definitely wasn’t carrying my share. When I finally woke up to the problem, my wife was like “Well, yeah!” I wasn’t about to get “fired” but I think some deep resentment was brewing. Self improvement (especially in extreme cases like this) is important, but at some point we need to pick up our heads and see what else we’re ignoring. It took me much longer than it did for you.

    It sounds like this is a chance to remake yourself. You’ve clearly got different interests now than you did a year ago, hopefully you can parlay these into your day job and get the same satisfaction from your work that you’re getting from your personal endeavors. Keep your head up. Unemployment can be a scary place.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well. Thank God for all you lovely, lovely people who offer me your sound advice and insights here in the blogosphere both in what you write but also in comments.

      You’ve summed it up so well here – THIS is what I wanted to say in my post. Next time can I just rant to you and you write it for me? 🙂 I’m sure the resentment has been brewing here for a while, that’s exactly what this feels like if I try to interpret the signals, and it just came to a head. Nothing massively catastrophic but rather a series of small to medium cock-ups that eventually built up to boiling point. It is definitely time now to, as you say, pick my head up and deal with the things around me and not just focus all my energy on being sober. Sobriety isn’t “done” or something I’ve finished and can now ignore, but it doesn’t need all of me like before perhaps.

      Again, thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “ it doesn’t need all of me like before perhaps.” Clearly you’ve broken much of the habit of turning to alcohol when things are bad (or good). In your post you don’t get into the desire to start drinking again as a response to this stress. You’re winning.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna, good for you! Bravissima! I loathe jobs. Luckily, I’ve never really had to have one (if you read Nick Hornby’s *About a Boy* you can get an idea of why not). But the few times I’ve made a stab at trying employment (feeling, oh, gee, one must do SOMETHING! Look! Everyone else is running around busily!) it simply never ended well. As Sartre said, “l’enfer, c’est les autres,” and workplaces tend to be all a-buzz with those fucking “others,” in proximity far too close for comfort. I “fired myself” once, too, in fact; after three months as a nicely-paid copywriter for a small ad agency. As in your case, a pre-emptive strike, knowing I was almost surely about to be sacked (drinking-related, but that sad-funny tale can wait for another day). The only job I ever remotely enjoyed was my part-time minding of a very wealthy gay friend’s high-end antique store. Lovely cozy atmosphere, few customers and no co-workers, and our back storeroom had a fridge full of delicious wines that Charles insisted I was welcome to (he was a world-class lush himself, therefore delightfully non-judgey-pants like most bosses). Oh, you will feel like a new person, having shed the yoke of gruesome wage-earning. Volunteering to help other boozers will be so rewarding, and the nice thing about volunteering is, when a colleague gets annoying, you can say, “Fuck this,” and prance right out. (Another book you should read, if you want to more fully grasp my attitude about work, is *A Confederacy of Dunces* by John Kennedy Toole.) All this blither-blather to say, “We who are unemployed salute you!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, if you write a book I’d read it because you’re very funny! 👍 Thanks for the encouragement, much appreciated.

      I think in my case, I actually WANT to work and although my route in may have to be via volunteering and serving coffee on the side to bring in money, I 100% want to be buzzy and busy and part of a team etc. Hopefully it’ll be all of that and turn out well when I find the right thing..

      But yes, sometimes I think “oh screw it” and consider an existence of leisure and no responsibilities tempting but I also know it would be 1) VERY bad for me and bring out the worst in me, and 2) drive me insane! During my maternity leave I was climbing the walls and was SO missing my coworkers and the challenges and victories of work – of course that was back before my drinking kicked off for real and the job I was in actually interested me… that’s what I want to find again.

      🤗

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  3. Yes, I observe (though somewhat incredulously) that some folks really, honestly enjoy the camaraderie and bustle of the workplace. Thank goodness for that, or nothing would ever get done…factories would fold…schoolchildren would be loosed teacherless into the streets…grocery shelves would sit bare…everyone would have really ugly hair and nails, because the salons would be unable to find anyone willing to take care of the clients. And dead people lying about everywhere because, no staffed hospitals, or morgues…yes, work is an undeniable good.

    Even as a child, though, I was happiest playing alone, and found endless ways to entertain myself, just as I do as a (putative) grown-up. I find that daily life, done well and with attention to details, keeps one astoundingly busy, with hardly enough hours in the day. As for the danger of “isolation,” which people say as if it’s a bad thing, being fertile soil for solo day-long drinking, well, all I can say is, even during times when I had lots of interaction with others, I could find ways for my cup to runneth over. That’s why God made opaque, lidded styrofoam cups with straws!

    You will find your happy place, whether paid or not. Best of luck! I look forward to seeing what you turn up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We sound quite similar in that I’m not particularly a flock animal – I do crave solitude and time to myself and go a little crazy if I don’t get some of that. I also love the way you see it, which is how I aspire to be too: to each her own and we all have our own happy! Look forward to hearing more from you too! And I’m curious – what’s the song? (LOVE that film by the way!) xx

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  4. Oh—not a song, as in *AaB*. It was something my dad, an engineer, patented that kind of became a household word here in the States. I was his only heir, yay. Has to do, alas, with bathrooms. I’d prefer not to get more specific, for anonymity’s sake. No telling who is reading this! Everyone should be reading your stuff, because you are the best sobriety blogger out there. Seriously.

    You asked if I have a blog. i did, a few years ago, but let it fizzle. It was really kind of for friends only, a personal Facebook, if you will, but all about ME so I didn’t have to “Like” or comment on others’ boring stuff:):)!

    And thank you, I am working on a book! All plotted out, and some chapters complete, but laziness and alcoholism kind of kept it languishing there for a long time. Maybe I’ll take up the cudgels again now that I’m Miss Temperance.

    (I hope I used the word “cudgels” right. Not really sure what a cudgel is…)

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    • Fair enough, I didn’t expect you to slap a family name on here, can totally see the need for anonymity. Very cool though!

      That’s awesome that you’re writing a book and I will be buying it – there’s a real wit and spark about you, the way you write just here in comments remind me a little of Joan Rivers (and that’s a compliment because I loooooved her). Funny, smart, bit of chilli and a refusal to conform perhaps – love it. Keep writing, I’m really excited about it!

      And thank you again for your lovely comments and compliment about my writing – that made me so happy. Xx

      Like

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