Everyone is probably sick of listening to stories of Old Drunk Vanessa and her chaos and attempts at redemption. I get it.
I, too, am sick of telling these stories.
The need to share them happens every day, though.
For one, the damage I caused continues to ripple throughout my life and it’s been almost two years since my last drink. I share these moments of struggle and self-doubt bc recovery and sobriety are not overnight matters. It is unreasonable to expect life to be flawless after years of not. That expectation is dangerous for the alcoholic and for the people surrounding the alcoholic. This is a lifelong commitment to a new way of living.
Everything seems new to me and I am grateful for the people that are patient with me as I try on these new legs. It can be slow, unsteady, and painful when I fall. Truthfully, I pray blessings and blessings upon these people that stick beside me and encourage me most days. I know God loves them so much. If I seem obsessed with the people that care about me, it’s bc I am and I care about them so much, too. I am devoted to loyalty.
But also, I am understanding of the people that rush past me and knock me down bc I can’t catch up to their speed. It must be frustrating to have me around. At times I’m too clumsy at this sober life. But God loves these people, too. If I seem overly compassionate to the dismissive jerks and mean people, it’s bc I get it. In another life, I would be, too.
So here it goes: My boss recommended me for an opportunity at her business partner’s property. This is a big deal bc it comes with a free townhome. But an even bigger deal: I don’t like being terribly disappointing.
I love my boss. I want to make her proud. She’s challenged me when I didn’t want to be challenged. She saw potential in me when I wanted to give up. She’s been very, very hard on me and pushed me while I was already sprawled out waving a white flag. Literally, she has seen me at my very worst, personally and professionally. So her recommendation meant a lot to me.
Interesting though… we both knew the gal that had that job working for her partner before. She was amazing at it, everyone loved her, she did it for a long time. That was the standard upon which all future managers would be measured.
She had also worked with us. We will call her Janet.
Janet was a serious hard worker. We worked side by side under my boss and we got along well. However….This was at a time when I truly and very obviously was running on self-will and no one mattered but me.
Janet attempted to befriend me and I went along with it at first. Then, as most all of my relationships with anyone ever went, it went sour bc my self-interests were more important than a human I sat next to for eight hours a day, five days a week. Honestly, I don’t remember a ton about the last months of us working together because I was so self-absorbed and a tornado of chaos. But I knew I hadn’t been a good friend or co-worker to her.
She ended up leaving for another job.
I ended up going to jail a few months later as my drinking got out of control.
It’s difficult to be sober when you hate yourself.
When I got out of jail, determined to do the “right” thing, I began texting her and saying I was sorry and I sucked and she didn’t deserve that. She said something along the lines of, “Cool, thanks, good for you, appreciate it. Enjoy your life.”
I was sad. I wanted to be her friend. I wanted to be a good friend. That opportunity had passed.
After hearing about this job opportunity, I found Janet’s email address and sent her an email. How are your boys? They must be so big now. How was the hubby? And how are you? I’m up for your old job and… I don’t know, do you think I could do it as well as you?
I didn’t get a reply.
Fast forward, I dropped Janet’s name at the lunch interview for the position. Everyone’s faces lit up as they remembered what an amazing person she was for the job. Yes, everyone agreed, she was great. I agreed, damn it! Immediately, I regretted bringing up her name.
Checking my email almost hourly waiting for a reply from Janet, I never got one.
The interview process moved on and my references were checked. I happened to be with my boss when she got her reference call. Though… it’s hard to hear someone say nice things about me so I left in the middle of her call. She was out of the office when she called me to check in.
“So… they spoke to Janet.”
My head hit my desk.
“She spoke highly of you and said complimentary things,” my boss said.
“WAIT — what?”
“Yeah, I was a little surprised, too. I vaguely remember you two having a falling out because of the promotion you got over her, but she appears to be over it.”
That’s right. I got a promotion and she didn’t.
Suddenly a lot of vague memories came back to me. I hadn’t drunkenly dialed her and said awful things, or flat-out abused her in some way. In all my chaos-creating, I had been given a promotion and Janet had wanted that promotion and I felt bad I had gotten it.
I need to be clear I didn’t “gun” for the promotion. I didn’t “put down” Janet for the position. The promotion came out of nowhere.
In my alcoholism, in my depression, I worked extremely hard to distract myself from my life. My employer reaped the benefits bc all my energy was then focused on my job, which I did well. I work harder when I’m miserable. (This is unhealthy, btw, don’t do this.)
If Janet hadn’t been a healthy whole person, all of this could have turned out really badly.
But, I did end up getting offered the job. I know God has everything to do with it. I know my boss had a HUGE part in it. And also, Janet… she had something to do with it. For her, I am especially grateful.