Being in recovery is tough. Working in recovery is difficult, too.
Recovery has been an interesting journey. A few months ago, I stumbled across a job as a House Manager at a sober house. This seemed to be the next logical step for me. I had an OK amount of time under my belt, I was ready to work more, I wanted to leave my current job at the grocery store for a job in the mental health field, and I was looking to change my geographical location. It all seemed to line up for me. But nothing could have prepared me for the new struggles I was about to face.
For example, right now I am sitting in the library with a woman who lives in the recovery house I manage. She has been unsuccessful at getting a job in the two months she has been staying at the house. I have made several offers to help her prior to today. Now she is taking my help and I still have to ask her to leave. I just want to see her put in some effort; however, it’s not up to me to decide that she can continue to stay rent-free at the house.
I am now helping her apply to jobs on the computer. I don’t want to stop her from applying but I am going to have to sooner or later so I can ride on the bus back to the house with her and give her the news that she must move out of the house tonight. I am distraught because I am missing my favorite women’s meeting tonight. I also know there is going to be a storm of emotions that come out of this. There might be nasty words said and tears; hopefully no one gets any ideas to throw things around. I am always expecting the worst-case scenario.
Not only do I have to explain to her what has been decided, I also have to explain it to the other women in the house and to some in the recovery community. I feel a little defensive because it appears that it was my choice. I wish I could wave a magic wand and grant this woman a job, but also the desire to get a job and keep it. I can point her in the direction of getting a job but she has to be the one who wants it. This is the acceptance piece for me. I have to learn to let go and accept that it’s out of my control.
I reflect back to my own life and think– was I ever like that? The painful truth is that I was. When the alcohol and drugs where the only things I could focus on, the rest was unimportant to me.
My boyfriend at the time urged me to stop drinking. He said he loved me, but more so when I wasn’t drinking. Maybe I was stubborn? Did I not believe him? My mind couldn’t stop thinking about alcohol. I didn’t believe he would still love me or that I could still love him or myself without alcohol. At that time, I had a house to live in. His Aunt was going to bring me to get a job application and help me to practically get the job that day. Instead, we planned to begin our day with the usual three beers and a shot for breakfast then drive to my parent’s house to get the remainder of my belongings. At that stage in my life I had no urgency to get a job. To me, that was perfectly acceptable behavior.
I have to realize that I only have power over what I choose to do. In recovery, I have come to accept that I am powerless over others’ recovery. I can show by example and I can point them in the right direction; however, that is all.
At one time I was not ready to take the help offered to me. Today is another story. I accept help from others. I try not to be discouraged today that I was unable to help this woman maintain her housing. I am hopeful that someday she will be able to do that for herself. I am hopeful that she will remember my suggestions on how to show others you want employment. This should be helpful for the next time she goes into a diner and asks for a job. I’m going to stay positive and believe that I was there to help her, even if only a little.