|My Musical Journey Mandala|
As you may have noticed, I've been away for a while. A lot has happened since I last wrote, and I'm writing to you today compelled by gratitude, on the other side of a profound and transformational experience that came to be through synchronicity, as these things tend to unfold. I've chosen today to come back here to honor the creative drive within myself to do, make, say, think. And because I've missed you.
As those of you who have read this blog regularly over the last five years know, I've had some pretty intense emotional experiences since I began sharing here about my life. There have been times where writing in this blog was the only thing I knew how to do to process what was happening with me. It was here that I gave back parts of myself so that I might help someone else. I thought that if someone who was struggling with addiction or motivation or who was just looking for a way through an impossible situation found this blog, they might read some of my writing, and listen to some of my musical selections, and find inspiration, hope, compassion, and understanding. It was my way of giving back, because I have so much to be thankful for in my life.
I got sober, and a greater task and journey appeared before me. I have conquered the mountain. I thought that was the point. I made it. But still, I struggled. I was very unhappy working in a job that drained my emotional, physical and mental energy. Every day. I woke up and felt lost. I felt like I was drifting through my life with no purpose, and I tried everything to get out and find out what I was supposed to be doing. But mostly I was hypnotized to sleepwalk through the mundane tasks that made up my days for the last two years. I had brief glimpses of my true self when I would travel or take time away from work to attend SXSW. Through shared musical experiences, I would connect with my people, and with myself. I learned that I had the ability to go on these journeys alone, and began going to many shows by myself, which five years ago would have been unheard of for me. It's now the rule rather than the exception. Seeking out music, art, and theater experiences has come to dominate my free time, and I only feel that this will continue. It's part of who I am.
But back to the whole "being in the wrong job" thing.
This summer, I met my bestie EO in New York City for a few days. She moved out of Austin in April and that event had me even more unsure of where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing. When the people closest to you do big things in life like get married or have babies or move to the east coast, it kind of makes you question everything. For months, years even, I've considered that maybe I shouldn't be here. And when I was on that trip, I decided then that I wanted to leave Austin and go live in the big city. I started planning, researching, and investigating how to make this a reality. It gave me a new motivation to get up every day. It got me through the summer, and I started looking into going back to school. I made long term and short term plans, prioritizing getting my proverbial ducks in a row so that I could afford to leave. I also realized that those immediate goals would actually enable me the freedom to do a lot more than move to a new city. Getting out of debt and making good financial decisions would enable me to buy a house, travel, and afford to do all the things I want to do in the future. It was an end in itself, and once I figured this out, I felt really good about sticking to the plan.
In the meantime, I had also identified that getting out of my previous work situation was a top priority. Even if it meant I couldn't move to New York for another year or two. I spent the summer applying for any job in my field I thought I could tolerate. I went on interviews. I went on more interviews. I took time off work and wore pencils skirts and smart blazers and met important business people and board members and CEOs and Directors. And every time I got a call from another employer telling me I was their second choice or just not the right fit, I felt helpless and hopeless. It was just like the rejection I had experienced with dating, but almost worse, because this was my career. I knew that I had a wealth of experience and varied skill set that was atrophying due to being in the wrong place and not engaging my strengths in the job I was in. I had compassion fatigue. I was close to giving up. I thought about getting certified in TESL and moving to Brazil. I was done.
And then, at the last possible moment, something magical happened. I applied for a job at a nonprofit drug and alcohol recovery treatment center. I said, "This is the last job I'm applying for in Austin." I meant it. And they called me and I had an interview scheduled for two days after I returned from Philly in September, which is where we pick up on the blog. I had just celebrated my two year sobriety birthday. I went into the interview thinking I wouldn't get the job, and maybe not worrying about it so much, which allowed me to be completely honest and genuine in a way I think is really hard to do when there's a lot at stake and you need a job.
I got an offer that same day.
I was so surprised and scared of what was happening, I actually turned them down a couple of times before agreeing to negotiate and actually being pursued in a way that has never happened to me professionally before. These lovely people had met me for two hours and decided that they would do whatever it took to get me to say yes. They saw something in me, a potential, but also they believed in me in a way that I didn't believe in myself. They recognized me as one of their own.
And so, I said yes. I said yes and I was terrified.
I quit the job I hated and left the organization I had worked at for more than 7 and a half years. I took a role in an area that is fairly new to me, and I started learning. Every day, I spent my time going to meetings and talking to counselors, support staff, administrators, and alumni about how this place works and what my role is supposed to be. And because my position is new, I get to build it from the ground up, and make it what I think it needs to be. They are trusting me to do this work, and have invested time and effort into giving me the tools and training to make it happen. The last month has been the most professionally fulfilling of my life. It's amazing how finding a job you love can change absolutely everything.
Let me explain. Today, myself and two colleagues got paid to spend the day with an amazing experiential therapist embarking on a Musical Journey. Musical Journey is a therapy that our clients go through, and staff is encouraged to participate in as many different kinds of programs and therapy sessions as we can, so that we understand what it's like to be a client in treatment, and we experience what their treatment plans include.
From our website description:
"It's an hour of evocative music without words facilitated by cyclic breathing designed to put the participant in a meditative state of consciousness. The breathing combines with the musical pattern is designed to invoke emotions often blocked by more cognitive or protective processes of the brain. Musical Journey allows repressed emotions and memories to surface and be felt, rather than simply being discussed. This expression is most often described as cathartic and speeds the healing process, often dramatically. Oftentimes, addicts and alcoholics have spent much of their lives using to keep a particular memory or set of events out of their consciousness. By being able to bring these memories up, experience them and release them, many of our clients find a clearer path to recovery."And let me tell you, it was intense. It was actually the single most transformative therapeutic experience I have ever had in such a short amount of time. The photo at the top is of the mandala art I made right after the experience. I knew taking this job would force me to think about addiction and my own personal experience more than I might be comfortable with. It was one of the reasons I initially was afraid to take the job. But today, I really began to understand that kicking drugs and alcohol to the curb was not the end of my journey. Getting and staying sober is not the point of recovery. It's only the beginning. I am only now free to connect to my higher self and pursue those greater ideals and aspirations of self that are blocked when you are addicted. It's so exciting and the opportunities I feel presenting themselves to me are boundless. I feel a renewed sense of belonging and purpose that I have never experienced. If I sound stoked, it's because I am. I love the work I'm doing. I no longer feel that urge to pack up and leave. In fact, I want to build a nest. Everything is the best!
I did most of my hard work on my own. I thought I was alone. I didn't know how badly I craved the companionship of others who understand addiction. I didn't know that working in this field would give me such a sense of purpose, belonging, and gratitude for every single day.
I finally found my tribe.