I’m taking a brief break from the WFS series to write a happy yet slightly uncomfortable post. I think I’m adjusting to my life in my new “Normal”
Now generally I’ll tell you that normal is a setting on a washing machine but in my head my life has phases – pre-2006, 2007-Now, and lets call it Jan. 2015 to now.
Pre-2006 was my old normal. It involved being a sad, lonely, alcoholic, workaholic, who was materially and outwardly successful but self-destructing inside. I don’t want to go there.
Then came the great 2006 implosion where I went to rehab, relapsed, lost my job, went on a very dangerous drinking binge, and landed in the hospital on Christmas day for a really bad detox, where I thought I was going to die.
They hooked me up with my current rehab in early 2007 and since then my life has been an adventure in recovery, relapse, and some decidedly mental weirdness.
Since 2007, I’ve been in a psych hospital 3 times, gone through rehab 8 times, relapsed more times than I can count, learned about mindfulness, declared bankruptcy, lost my apartment and moved into a long term shelter. On the plus side, I’ve had more great therapy than most people have in a life time, I’ve continued my harp lessons, I went back to school to retrain, and I finally graduated this spring. I moved out of the shelter, and into a 2 bedroom that I’m sharing with a friend. And looking at it objectively, I’ve been sober much more often than I’ve been drunk which is progress.
So I finished my retraining this spring and graduated with a 3.5 gpa which I’m pretty happy with. I’m now job hunting. I’m sober and happy with it. I haven’t self harmed in over 4 years. I like my apartment and my roommate. I have friends. And my life is strangely drama free. I’m stable on my meds, although I harbor a wish to get off them someday.
But the real measurement of how much my life has changed for the better, is this past week I started my training to become a volunteer at the distress centre. Why is this a big deal? Because I first applied to volunteer with them in 2013, and was turned down because I was just out of the psych hospital, and they have a policy that you can’t volunteer if you’ve been in the psych hospital within the preceding 2 years. So I’ve been patiently waiting out the 2 years while I sorted out the rest of my life. I reapplied this spring, was interviewed and accepted and started my training.
It was so great to be at the training. All the other trainees seem nice, and the woman running the training oozes empathy and competence. And I was just there with everyone else – a normal person who wanted to volunteer, with previous experience on another distress line. I wasn’t an alcoholic. I wasn’t an accountant. I wasn’t homeless. I wasn’t a psych patient. I was just me, a person who wants to help. Oh and I did disclose that I’m a harpist, because that’s cool.
I’m still broke and stressed about money. I still have to job hunt, and that’s stressful, but as I sat in that training session I reflected on how far my life has come, and I felt happy.
I think I’m growing into my new normal, and I like it.