Monday, November 30, 2009

"Who Hates Their Job? I do, I do!!"

In my homegroup, one of our opening readings is a list of Common Dangers--situations which might lead someone in Recovery back to using. A lot of these are common sense, such as being around people who are using, or spending time at the places where you used to get loaded. Some are less intuitive, like suddenly having a large influx of money, or boredom. I like to joke that the former of those two is a problem I would love to have; the latter is one I struggle with a lot.

As a practicing addict, I was definitely one of those who lived the fantasy of functionality. I may not have had a career, but I usually had a job. I even managed to stay employed through my detox period, something I know is not exactly common and that I probably don't give myself enogh credit for. We addicts are notorious for being hard on ourselves, and it has always been my feeling that my working through detox isn't that big of a deal because the skill level required to do my job is so far beneath what I'm capable of. Maybe one day I'll be able to look at it differently.

I'm currently working the same job I had while going through detox. My situation there is the same one many other Americans are in right now: wages are stagnant, and opportunities for moving up are non-existent. I'm grateful to have a job--especially in today's economy. Still, it is nothing like what I was raised to believe would happen. Growing up, I was taught that if I went to college, then I would receive a good-paying job for my reward. That when I began working, I would start out at the bottom and could gradually work my way up. Both of those promises have been proved false, and sometimes I feel angry, that I was lied to, and frustrated that so many others of my generation are in the same boat. We did our part; we lived our lives as we were taught to. We sacrificed, we worked hard, and our reward has turned out to be not the so-called American Dream, but nothing more than to keep on being stuck in the situations we are stuck in.

Recovery has helped me to deal with some of these issues. I know now that nowhere is it written that life has to be the way I think it should. I know also that indulging in negativity--like complaing excessively about things I can't control--is not the way. It is not accepting life on life's terms. Negativity damages my spirit and it spreads like a virus, infecting the others around me. It's easy to be grateful for what I have when I look around and see so many others who are less fortunate, but at times it feels a bit like being grateful for having crumbs to eat instead of starving to death. I take some consolation also at the fact that not being negative does not necessarily mean being positive instead; I can be grateful I have a job and still hate the fact that it bores me to tears.

Moving beyond my period of detox, I began to see just how far beneath my skill level the job I was working really was. I felt very much like my brain came back online. For so long, I'd thought all I had for gray matter was a four-cylinder engine. As the haze cleared, I rediscovered the V8 I'd been given by my Higher Power, and I remembered also how one of the reasons I'd started using was to dumb myself down. Waking up from the slumber of active addiction, I found myself working a job that didn't challenge me, that didn't interest me, in a work environment full of people who were nothing like me. All these things are still true today.

Many people hate their jobs. I'm not sure how the Normies deal with this. Truth be told, I'm not really sure how other addicts deal with it. I know that some handle it by working harder and looking for new challenges where they are, while others do what they can to work towards something different such as going back to school. I am taking the baby steps towards that second option, but the first is actually a danger for me. Maintaining healthy boundaries is important. I am currently doing a job by myself that was previously done by three employees. For me to take on even more duties (without an increase in pay) would be letting my employer take advantage of me. The fact that I knew nothing about how to do my current job when first I started and now do it better than anyone ever has also helps me to stay strong on this issue.

I'm loathe to admit it, but a large part of my energy regarding my job is spent in my head. I have all kinds of imaginary conversations with my various bosses. Usually these are confrontational. I know that it's just me trying to find a way to express my anger at my situation, and I'm grateful for my Recovery and how it helps me to keep those thoughts to myself and not act out on them. I pray a lot. When I catch myself getting angry and caught up in those imaginary dialogues, I force myself to be honest and talk with my Higher Power about what is real--whether it's that I'm tired, or just the same old anger and frustration. Almost always, the root of it all is that I am simply bored.

If I turn the wheel and change my perspective, I can see how my frustrations with work lead to positive things. Because my job is what it is, I am taking action to improve myself by going back to school and pursuing a career in something that does interest me. If things weren't as bad, I'd have no incentive to do that. The negativity that my job brings out in me gives me lots of opportunities to practice working my program. And the program only works if you work it.

My Recovery teaches me that I am worthwhile, that I am more valuable than the slave I sometimes feel like. I am a person, not the cog in a machine I am regarded as. This is validation that I give myself, that all us addicts need to give ourselves. We do what we have to to get through. The Program teaches us strength and courage. We can make the change for something better if we choose to. The grace of a loving Higher Power will always give us what we need.

1 comment:

  1. I believe that it is because of these unfulfilled expectations in regards to career and money (and other stuff, too) that I struggle with The Promises of The Program. We are promised peace if we work for it. It feels like being set up all over again to me. Yes, I am jaded. I want to believe and my faith continues to grow. Time will tell and negativity is probably not something easily, quickly, or wholly shaken.