I turned thirty-six today. I’ve made more changes in my thirty-fifth year than ever before. I know I’ll look back on last year as the point when I set out on a new path that brought more joy and less heartache than the years before.
I Stopped Drinking
In January I quit drinking. One evening in January instead of leaving work and picking up Sadie from her job and going home, I decided I would stop by a bar for a quick drink. This had become a common theme in my life by then. In the months prior I found myself seated at a bar more and more often. I drank at lunch. I left work early to squeeze in a drink or two. I wasn’t drinking daily, and I wasn’t always drinking a lot, but even then I knew something was wrong. I had the gall to say to myself, and even out loud to others, “Maybe I am an alcoholic, so what?”
That night one drink became three, possibly four, and I ended up driving drunk; so drunk I don’t even remember doing it. I had also been texting Sadie from the bar, letting her know that I would be working late. All of that bothers me: the drinking, the drunk-driving, but what bothers me most is the casual way I lied about where I was and what I was doing. I was carving out space and time to drink and lying about it.
The next morning was our 15th wedding anniversary (yeah), and the first day of my sobriety. I haven’t had a drink since.
I Went Back to School
In June I enrolled in the Network Administration program at a local community college. Over the last few years the jobs I’ve had rekindled my love of technology. Specifically, helping people find the right technology for their needs. It dawned on me that I could make a career out of this. I’ve been using computers since I was 14, and I’ve learned a lot on my own during that time. There are gaps in that knowledge though, so I went back to school to fill in those gaps.
I earned most of the required credits for a degree when I got my bachelor’s years ago, so in about a year and a half I should have all the credits needed for an Associate’s Degree in Network Administration, as well as a degree in Database Administration. Not exciting topics, but useful ones that will prepare me for one part of the next phase of my life.
I Quit My Job
I say one part of the next phase because at the end of June I quit my job to become an independent technology consultant as well as a student (And a few other things. More on that later). This was a job I’d had for a year after quitting another job that was making me unhappy. The short version is most of what I had thought I’d left at the old job was also present at the new one and in many ways worse. I had to quit or the stress and unhappiness was going to kill me. I wasn’t drinking only because my jobs were unsatisfying, but I was definitely drinking more as a result. So I quit.
The main goal of my consulting business is assisting nonprofits and other mission-based organizations with finding and using the right technology. Fortunately for me I’ve been able to partner with a local organization that shares that goal. Within a few weeks of quitting my job I had a contract for a consulting project.
I’m Writing Again
I’ve started writing more. Stuff like this post, for example, but I’m writing fiction again too, and plan to pitch more stories to magazines and web sites, as well as commercial copywriting. I’ve started a daily pages practice, three pages of free-writing every morning that help me sort and organize my thoughts while at the same time rehabbing the part of my brain that writes. If you ask me what I am or what I do I’ll answer that I’m a writer. I haven’t been much of one these past few years, but I’m changing that.
This is how I imagine my working life going forward. Small, project-based work that keeps me interested and doesn’t go stale. The truth about me is I’m a dabbler. I gain and lose interest in things as quick as a Minnesota fall. While I don’t see that as a problem, it does make it hard for me to want to stay at a job for more than a few years. This way, as my interests change, the scope of my consulting and writing work can change.
I Started Seeing a Therapist
These days I feel really good. Happier than I’ve felt in awhile (I keep saying that, but it’s true) and in order to keep feeling this way I’ve started seeing a therapist. We meet once a week and just talk through things. If you’re familiar with therapy you know that’s how it works, but if you’re not familiar you may not understand how powerful that is.
I’ve got substance-abuse issues. I’ve got anger issues. I’ve got loneliness issues. We talk about all of those things, and, as awful as that sounds, it’s great.
Things are great.