Friday, August 1, 2014

Rolling with it

I've not been super bloggy lately (yes, I know that's not a word), but those who know me know that this is because of my job. I work as part of the central, non-partisan staff at the NC Legislature, and this is a particularly busy time because the Legislature is in session. The last several weeks have been challenging to say the least, and this week has been the final push that's maybe pushing us all a little over the edge. The last days are a weird time – after weeks of long, intense days and late nights, there are periods of frantic activity punctuated by sometimes endlessly long periods of waiting. It's nearly impossible for me to actually be productive in those periods of down time because my brain is only semi-functional, and I feel the need to save its remaining functionality for whatever may be coming. Obviously, I thought this is the perfect time to write a blog post. What could possibly go wrong?  

My job involves a certain level of personal sacrifice. Frankly, it's pretty hard on my whole family. For at least part of the year, my hours here are wildly unpredictable. We fill whatever need, at whatever time, in whatever capacity, that we're called to fill. It's been almost fourteen years, and my husband still asks me in the morning what my day looks like and when I'll be home. Invariably the answer is, "I don't know." I truly don't know. Ever. For a control freak, that is a tough pill to swallow. And I spent a lot of years swallowing a lot of drinks at the end of every day in a failed attempt to manage my feelings about my inability to control things in my professional life. Ultimately though, I've found that dealing with it is like dealing with anything else. You kind of just have to roll with it.

This week has been frustrating, exhausting, and at times upsetting – like when my kids called me at bedtime (more than once), crying and begging me to come home - ouch. The last week is always the worst, but it's like this to varying degrees all session, which means Ray family life is divided into two categories – session life and interim life. Session life kind of sucks, you guys. Don't get me wrong. It's not nearly as bad as active alcoholic trying to manage session life, but still . . . The bottom line is, I can't commit to anything 100% during session, which would be one thing if that was a defined period of time, but it's not. In North Carolina, we have no session limits. They get done when they get done, which invariably ends up being the worst possible timing. Case in point – last year they adjourned on the Friday in July that my daughter was having her 7th birthday party, which was a sleepover. We also took the kids out to a movie that night. Try doing that on little to no sleep for days in advance. On second thought, don't. Just trust me that it's way less than ideal.

This year, this weekend marks the end of session and my 25th high school reunion. I planned to go. I was going to drive to West Virginia with one of my best friends today and come home on Sunday. I was excited to see old friends. We both were. That's why we planned it – months ago – when I felt certain that session would be over and I would be well-rested by now. At the beginning of the week, I held out hope that at least the things I was working on would wrap up in time for me to go. As the week dragged on, I realized there was no way that was going to happen, and I had to cancel the trip. Even if I wasn't going to actually be working today, the amount of rest I've gotten in the last week, plus a 6-hour drive to get there, would have left me worse off than I was 5 years ago at the 20th reunion when I was incoherent and/or unconscious for entirely different reasons . . .

I won't say I wasn't disappointed. I agonized over the decision for a while. I didn't want to let my friends down because I'd committed to going, but I didn't want to let my colleagues down because we're all fairly beaten down at this point. Ultimately, I felt the only option was to cancel. Years ago, I would have been angry. And hostile. And bitter. And completely unable to put the situation into any sort of perspective. My game plan would have been to take the next opportunity to get drunk and rage about it. I absolutely could not roll with it. These are the times I am so appreciative of my recovery and the ability it's given me to see things in a different light – to see other possibilities besides the Costanza-esque view that maybe the WHOLE UNIVERSE IS AGAINST ME.

This weekend was going to be the first time I would have hung out in a bar since I've been in recovery. I've been around people who were drinking, and it's not really something that bothers me, but I haven't been in that type of setting or around anyone who was actually drunk. I've spent some time thinking about that and talking about it – with friends in recovery and out. I've thought about my safety net and my "escape plan" if I were to feel uncomfortable. I tried to check and double-check my motives and intentions. In the end, I felt I would have been safe. But maybe - just maybe - the universe was trying to tell me something. I'm still bummed I'm missing out on the opportunity to connect with old friends, but maybe things happened the way they were supposed to. Maybe I'm exactly where I need to be right now. Maybe I just got screwed. Either way, I'm rolling with it.     

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