Tag Archives: coming out sober to coworkers

To be (sober) or not to be (sober), is that the question?

11 Aug

9:26 pm

Since I’ve been working this new job–my first big-girl job, in a certain sense, since getting sober–I’ve been wondering how my coworkers would (secretly) perceive me if they knew I was once a raging drunk?

I say “first” big-girl job because this is my first full-time, non-contract job since getting sober–I worked as a freelancer for many years, and while I had a long-term gig (because it was freelance, so to speak), I never had to truly commit.  Sure, I gave my all, and my time, and my talents–but I knew that I wasn’t being counted on to deliver; I knew my job didn’t necessarily depend on both my performance and my commitment, however perceived, to that performance.  With this job, it’s full-time and it’s a lot of both professional and emotional commitment.  Shit, I really care what my coworkers think of me, and if not of me, then definitely my performance.  I wish I didn’t care, frankly; but, my obsessive preparation for the presentation I had to give at a team meeting a few weeks ago says that I really, truly DO CARE.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for someone whose entire alcoholic history is intertwined with people-pleasing, perfectionism–a severe self-imposed pressure that came from God knows where, really–well, it’s disappointing that I haven’t sort of grown out of that after seven years sober.

Then again, seven years sober is not that long of a time (and, as you all know, I had slips here and there; my last official drink was January, 2016).

Coming back to what I’ve been wondering:  how does one come out to coworkers when it’s been a long time since you’ve been there, in that raging drunk place?  I understand the desire to come out, and the immediacy of it, when you’re in that place; I came out to a lot of people when I was a few years sober–I was so proud and so free.

Now, though, it’s been a while, and I have had years to sink into this maybe-false sense of self–am I still an alcoholic?  I am no longer a high-functioning hot mess; I no longer consider myself a hot mess.  I have transitioned–at least to a certain extent in my mind–into a new person, someone between “used to be a drunk” to “used to be a drunk but not really sure if it even matters anymore to me, let alone you, if I used to be a drunk.”  With that transition, which has been gradual and ongoing, into this weird place of “long-term sobriety,” I can’t help but wonder, does it matter anymore that I am sober?  Do I still define myself as sober–and, therefore, attach myself to all that that entails, including my long recovery–and if so, how?

One of the things I’ve found hard this year, since I’ve been at this job, is that I know that I don’t have to identify anymore with being Drunky Drunk Girl; I could totally forget that she existed, if I choose.  I am so far removed from jobs who knew me as DDG; I am far removed from my first foray into the working world post-recovery, which was that long many years ago as a freelancer–now, post-post-recovery, I could really just disappear into the world of normal people who work and don’t drink…

That’s where the rub is; that’s where I feel the most disconnect with myself this past year:  I am anything but normal, and my history, my story of recovery is anything but over.  I know this, I do, but I guess I’ve been hiding from it.  Most days, I have this niggling feeling that I’m hiding out in the normal world, pretending I belong there–and, there’s that imposter syndrome again, right?

I would LOVE to reconnect with DDG, with that person who was “on fire” during my immediate recovery, but I don’t know how to do that besides continuing to blog here, to think about my process of recovery, and to continue reaching within and without for direction and support when I bump up into the HUGE unresolved issues that were essential to my alcoholic drinking.

What I don’t really have a sense for is, is it worth revealing your history to coworkers for whom it might be shocking to the point of them wondering if it’s possible that you could be that old hot mess of a drunk AND this person, who is doing a good job?  Like, if I once was that hot mess of a drunk, would they now judge my performance as “someone who is sober, but seems to be doing great work” instead of “someone who is doing great work?”

Sometimes I feel like jumping from the roof, screaming the benefits and life-changing lessons sobriety has offered me for seven years!  Other times, I feel like quietly gliding down the sidewalk, enjoying my anonymity.  I’m not trying to hide it; maybe if I came out, I’d get more of that old fire around recovery back?  Or, maybe it’d just fall flat, no one would care or remember, and we’d all just get on with our work day?  Maybe, it just doesn’t matter right now anyway. 🙂

It’s strange, long-term sobriety, but the lessons NEVER stop coming.  And for that, and for each day still that I am not drunk or hungover, I am ever-grateful.  For those still struggling, you got this; it does get better, it really effing does.

 

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