FitFatFood‘s (“Blogging to Stay Sober”) recent post “Time for Me” perfectly expresses the internal struggle between needing self-care and the concern about how to find the time for it. If you haven’t already, please take the time to visit her blog.
Around the 7 month sober mark, I began to build a resentment around my sober process. I have been working full-time throughout this incredible journey that is changing every piece of myself. I was raised to put work first, to make my job my identity. When your value is based on your success at work, it is impossible to consider scaling back for self-care. That is simply a selfish, lazy thought. Or so I thought until recently.
This sober journey is changing how I define myself. I had a very frank conversation with my boss yesterday and asked to reduce my hours to part-time for a 10 week period. I had my script in my head, but when I saw that she was not understanding my intentions, I threw out the script and went rogue.
She knows that I have issues with alcohol; I had to expose that truth to her 15 months ago (although I still didn’t get sober for another 5 months after that humiliating conversation). SInce then, we haven’t talked about my “issues” (that was as far as I was willing to admit 15 months ago). I gave her one hell of a big update yesterday.
– I’m in AA and I’m coming up on 1 year sober.
– I put an unbelievable amount of time into changing my life during 2013 and I need to take a little time to continue that work without being overwhelmed.
– Part of the work I’m doing is to take control of my mental health as well. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and am on medication to increase focus. I’m also in therapy and developing tools to further take control.
– In sum, I’m in a very positive place today and everything I worked so hard on in 2013 is to benefit me personally and professionally. I see the improvements in my work routine that are a direct result of this journey.
The meeting ended on a positive note, with my boss agreeing to all of my requests. I think that once I spilled the truth about alcoholism and mental illness, she probably couldn’t say no. It certainly wasn’t my intention to manipulate her into agreeing to the reduction in hours, but I now see that may be what happened. My intent was to help her understand why I am asking to scale back temporarily. It is not that I’m looking for another job, it is purely that I need to take charge of my health (physical, mental and spiritual).
It’s been another life-changing 24 hours. I’ve peacefully come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m not supposed to be a workaholic who can do everything that is asked of me. It’s time to be honest with myself and the people around me. I’m taking control of my life, but it takes a little more effort for me to maintain control than it does for others. I have some elements within me that require extra attention: bipolar II, ADHD, alcoholism, and a lifetime of self-hate because these elements have run rampant within me for 37 years.
So maybe I’m not someone who can work 40 hours a week. Maybe I’m someone who achieves greater success working 4 days a week and having the extra time to be active in AA, attend therapy, get more physical activity, and generally be selfish. I no longer see the word “selfish” as negative in this context. I cannot be a productive, happy person without control over the elements within me.
When I got back to my desk after my meeting yesterday, I had a mild wave of panic. “What have I done? Why did I tell her all of that? I look so weak to her now. I need to fix this and take it all back.” It was a fleeting wave. I grabbed hold of the thoughts and talked myself through them: this is what I need. I have changed my life for the better today. I am confident in that truth.