Everyday I come to work and I think of how lucky I am to be employed at the university that has provided insurance for the past couple of years for my family. It came at a very good time and in particular when my husband was in the midst of being in nursing school. It was the first job that I actually worked the standard full-time 40 hours per week that came with health benefits. I felt very grown up…mostly because for the past decade I was in school and working various part-time jobs, and delving further into the world of river guiding. And then I began work on the Native American River Guide Training Program, which I toiled on night and day (most of the time) and worked more hours than I was paid for. I worked very hard on making the program a big success especially in recruiting and raising funds for the participant fees. It was a program I was and still am very passionate about, but back then I was very deeply involved in all aspects. I was doing most of the planning and managing of the program, instructors and participants but I had amazing folks to work with, and most of whom I still work with today. Back then I don’t think I “played” very much because I felt my work was my play, too. Little did I know that outlook was taking a toll on me. You know what? My version of all work and some play was to work 60+ hours per week and play at the local bars or wherever there was a together involving the presence of a keg or six pack of beer. You see, I was an alcoholic without realizing I was or else I was in serious denial.
Plain and simple, I was drinking too much and I didn’t know it. I loved the feeling of drinking good beer (and bad beer as the evening went on) but then I got carried away. I thought this was how it was done. I didn’t know that some people stopped drinking at a certain point and I kept going. Then an event happened that changed my life. I almost had my life taken away. I was traumatized. To stuff that pain elsewhere I drank but even that wasn’t working anymore. I began attending counseling sessions and this woman helped me very much through this negative time in my life. At her insistence I began attending AA sessions which were also very helpful. Four years ago in November, I have been sober and so glad I am. Life is much easier. No more awful hangovers. No more purchases of unnecessary 30 packs of beer or pints at the bar. Waking up was more enjoyable.
So now I try to have a healthy balance of work and play time. If there is an unbalance, I am cranky and spacey. I cannot afford to be unreliable because of my daughter and husband who need me. These days I much prefer to be sober and happy. I pity all the college students I see staggering in and out of the bars and onto the city sidewalks every week and weekend beginning on Thursdays and especially on our city’s terrible allowance of Tequilla Sunrise. Alcohol in moderation and safe places is much better then in places where someone may get hurt or left behind.
Now when I “play”, I spend time with my family, read a book, care for my chickens and garden, and began DIY projects. I love my life!
My relationship with my husband, through dating and now marriage, I have really changed as a person…for the better of course. I did not realize it but I was a very tense person and I didn’t know when to stop…working, partying, playing or socializing. In looking back, I realize that I was a very tired person who was also physically and mentally unhealthy. I was young. Plain and simple. Young and stupid and careless. Of course, I am not saying that everything I did was unhealthy because I made some really great friends and went on some amazing adventures. I learned so much back then that it has made me a better person. That leads to present day where I have been happily married for five years but together for seven years. In the early years, I worked hard at my jobs and often brought work home to the chagrin of my husband. He was very helpful, accommodating and understanding but after a few years he saw the damage I was doing to myself and to our relationship. The damage to myself was more disconcerting than the relationship because it was obvious we were very much in love (and still are) and that we’d work through those issues. I was stressed quite a bit and overwhelmed so often that I would cry or vent so often that I was it pained my husband. That is not fair nor is it respectful.
In the years that followed, I became painfully aware of certain things, people and organizations I had to detach myself from because the effort became one-sided. I felt unappreciated and I was treated very unfairly and disrespectfully be several people I thought were my friends and comrades. My husband helped me tread these dark waters and dark times because I was reluctant to give them up because I felt obligated. I was shamed by these people for doing things the way I did. The point of this story is that I was always on the go and I did not know how to say “no.” I was not very good at relaxing or letting things roll of my shoulders. I let things and people get to me.
It was a long and hard journey to get to where I am now. To relax, I read a book, watch a funny sitcom, feed and care for my daughter’s hens, have a conversation with my husband, clean and tidy up our house and tackle DIY projects. I love my life and I love the fact that I can consciously make myself relax because a stressed and overwhelmed me would not fair or respectful to the people around me especially my husband and daughter.
I like to think I work hard enough to accomplish the allotted tasks but I also feel I could always work harder. There are times where I feel like I worked too hard and can usually tell by the long hours I worked and the fact that I dream about my to-do list at work. Then again, I do not agree with the notion that the more hours you clock in, the more you are considered a hard worker. That is because I, personally, can get a large amount of tasks done in a short amount of time. Of course, there are days when I am sitting in front of my computer for hours on end and ready to pull my hair out trying to reach a deadline.
I know I work hard because I come into my office each morning and I have my to-do list I need to accomplish. I am physically and mentally conscious of what I need to get done for the day. It is not always easy because there are somedays I am just plain tired or overwhelmed. And that is the reality of being an adult, right?