Stepping Up

Some boxes are meant to be left behind.

They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Yes, the company I have been temping for since last April has extended a salary contract to me.  I start full-time next week.

Too exhausted to properly express my gratitude right now.  The atmosphere of feelings in the air is analogous to a jam band building a song structure through playing multi-instrumental layers for twenty minutes, tighter & tighter and higher & higher in crescendos and fortes…then hitting a crashing climax and falling back down to level while the crowd simultaneously roars in approval.  That palpable feeling of release; that sigh of satisfaction.

As with almost everything in life, rather than the sleek transition I had pictured in my head, the process unfolded as more of a drawn-out, awkward fumble.  I had actually been informed just before the Christmas holiday that this was coming; meetings for the annual budget had wrapped the week prior, and included was a lil’ somethin’ for dear old me!

So of course varying staff are in and out of the office over the following weeks for holidays, right after I receive my news.  HR paperwork needs to be signed.  Reference phone calls need to be made.  Background checks need to be conducted.  Is the compliance officer able to do any of this over his vacation? We’re not sure.  They’ll let me know.  So on, so forth.

Finally, at the end of the day today, I was approached by one of the legal team in the office.  “Hey Tom, so congratulations on the offer…as you know, I’ve been conducting your background check…I just wanted to chat about something that came up.”

For context: I was sitting alone, in the basement (where the printer is located, which I manage), at the end of an extremely long week during which I had heard naught regarding my hiring.

His approach/framing surprised me not in the slightest; I know what’s back there.  It’s my past.  I lived it.

I just wasn’t really prepared to address it at that exact moment.

So he, gingerly and considerately, asked me to explain the situation surrounding my DUI.  And I, a bit blindsided but undeterred, awkwardly fumbled my way through an at first vague, but then candidly frank, iteration of the truth.

The exchange was painfully uncomfortable.  He was very kind and very sensitive and totally non-judgmental…still, did not expect to be ending my Friday by stammering my way, flush-faced, through a brief redefinition of myself as a recovering alcoholic to my new colleague.

Whatever.  I live for weird.  The funny thing is it’s not shame or judgment that I fear…it’s face-to-face praise and empathy that really trips me up.  Likely stems from an uncertainty as an even-more awkward adolescent of how to respond to the “I’m so sorry…”‘s and “You’re so strong…”‘s that inevitably followed the disclosure of my young father’s passing, when that topic would be breached during the formation of interpersonal relationships with new acquaintances.  So naturally I internalized the confusion where it festered as teenage angst, wrote shitty poetry because words are weapons when you string them together in such as fashion as so they BITE at the end, and self-medicated through an obsession with cheap liquor.

My wild expansion into a liberated & autonomous coed lifestyle got considerably darker & heavier, as time progressed.  Do you even understand how lucky I am to have clipped this problem at such a relatively young age, given the statistics of those who suffer through it?  If I really opened myself up every morning when I awoke, I could jump out of bed weeping with tears of joy that I’m defining & living my own success.

If what you read in this blog sounds intense…that’s because it is.  It fucking is.  Everything is raw.  Sometimes writing these reminders is my therapy; my coping mechanism.  I’m not currently taking any kind of prescribed medications nor seeing any kind of counselor; no chemical alterations for mood or mindset to this body.  Just dealing.  One day at a time.  Wait!  Coffee — thank you based beans.  But that’s really all.

And I’m getting by.  There are still a great many changes I want to make in my life.  Some are major; some are minor.  But they all start here & now. Today, I’m grateful just to be present.  And employed.

“I could do this all day / I could do this all night / All month all year / For my whole entire life /
Keep it on the level.”



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