a job well done

7aff051c4a9c5bee29bc1e15fe949dc5.jpg

Blink and you probably missed International Firefighter’s Day on May 4th. Likewise, you might have missed Secretary’s Day on April 26 or Teacher’s Day this past Tuesday, May 9. But don’t worry. There’s always Labor Day which sort of celebrates all kinds of workers in a big lump. Being a festive alcoholic by nature, I like this idea of celebrating people who just show up and work. Like yay. You contributed something and hopefully it didn’t corrode your soul in the process. Have a cupcake! For those of us who do the work taking care of our various mental illnesses, the work of staying sober and the work of generally fighting against of the demons inside our brains, I think we could use a holiday too.

“International Day of People Working Hard Not to Kill Themselves” doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue but it could all be shortened and worked out through a series of focus groups, I’m sure. Also, I don’t know what kinds of cards are out there in the gift universe applicable to such a holiday but I’m positive the fine folks at Hallmark could come up with something. And we probably wouldn’t get a day off since stopping taking our meds or going to meetings or therapy even for one day is a terrible idea. Okay, so there’s a lot of logistics to work out for such a holiday. But staying healthy, sober and sane is a ton of work and it should be recognized as such. After all, every meeting ends with “Works if you work it” and the general scope of things to do to stay sane and sober is always referred to as “doing the work.” Conversely, we hear when people have come back from a relapse. they usually admit they “stopped doing the work” before they went out. We call it work because that’s what it is. Changing our thoughts, getting better and making an effort all require work and lots of it. It’s the kind of work, unlike the aforementioned highly esteemed professions, that has no time clock and that we need to do forever.

Personally, there are times when it really feels like work. Like a slog. Like another, “Fuck. not again” task. Not to whine like the worst sober person ever but I have to constantly talk myself into doing these things, this work that I know will make me feel better. The fact I need to talk myself out of feeling uncomfortable is sign enough that I really, really need to continue doing this work. Intellectually I know all of this but y’all. I’m an entitled alcoholic. Don’t think I’d continue “doing the work” if there was a magical pill I could take once a day which would have the exact same effects. But even then I’d probably complain about taking the pill too, as my routine with my other medications has proven. I am, at the very core of my being, resistant to anything that makes me less miserable. Hence why the word work feels appropriate.

One day in early recovery after I had gotten my HIV diagnosis, I was complaining to a beloved sober friend who said to me very nonchalantly, “Meh. You take your pills, you got to meetings. What’s the big fucking deal?” He was right. It isn’t a big fucking deal but certainly becomes one if I don’t do all of the things that make this mental health miracle sparkle. This morning as I forced myself out the door to a meeting wherein I again forced myself to share all the crazy bullshit on my mind, it felt like work and work I did not want to do. But I did it anyway and one hour later I felt lighter, happier and okay with hanging out with me for the rest of the day. The people in the halls of recovery pounded into my brain this idea of contrary action, of doing stuff that I really didn’t want to do but just doing them anyway. Therefore, I do the work I need to stay sober not because I’m some sobriety olympian but because I’m a still sort of a hot mess that needs all the help he can get.

The more I think about it, we don’t need no stinking holiday to celebrate our work. Let those other hard-working folks have their days. We get to have complicated, beautiful, big, amazing, pain in the ass lives instead. And as Miss America as that sounds, that’s the real reward for doing the work. Plus, when you’re the boss of your recovery and doing the work all the time, you can have a damn cupcake whenever you want.

 

 

 

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. Mark David Goodson · May 11

    Sean. This is my favorite piece of yours I’ve read. It balances out the insanity that exists in the word–the same suffocating insanity that makes you not want to take basic survival for granted.

    Liked by 3 people

    • seanpaulmahoney · May 11

      Aww. Thanks, Mark. It came from the heart this morning and so it’s always nice when somebody else gets it too.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Change is Real · May 11

        All this insanity! Thank goodness we can’t keep each other sane. Love you guys. – D

        Liked by 1 person

      • seanpaulmahoney · May 11

        Love you too, D. And you’re right. Glad none of us has to do it alone!

        Like

  2. Hearon (HD) · May 12

    Echoes to the above and: you and I have been together in our “blahness” this week. Today I hit a meeting for the first time in 2 weeks. As I shared there, “no valid excuse.” But man, I heard what I needed to hear 10 days ago. Around and around we go! Have a good weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paul S · May 13

    “I am, at the very core of my being, resistant to anything that makes me less miserable” —> this is me!
    I can write a book about how I resist the things which would make my life easier. And why do I resist? Because I wouldn’t have anything to complain about then. I am best when whinging. At least I think I am, but eventually, when I do come around to doing the things which help me, I turn around and say “see? I should be doing this more often.” and then immediately resist the next thing. It’s astounding how we do this dance.

    Anyways, Sean – fantastic piece as always. Love the work you do.

    Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    • seanpaulmahoney · May 14

      Thanks, Paul. I know you get it. It’s amazing that even with 8+ years in recovery how I fight tooth and nail to do the work that always makes me feel better. Crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s