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Grapevine : February 2011
sic horror of my alcoholic existence, I managed to hold on to my career. My profession defined my iden- tity and sense of self. I had a "work- hard, play-hard" life, which in reality meant a "work-obsessively, drink- alcoholically" lifestyle. Work fed my ego and justified my excessive daily drinking (if you worked as hard asIdid...). Over the years a variety of family members and friends had unsuccess- fully challenged my drinking. The be- ginning of the end did not come until I was approached about my drinking by the vice president of my company. In response to the allegations, I said that I medicated for anxiety and ex- plained their misunderstanding of my condition. I also did my best to not drink around work. A year later I was fired for being under the influence at work. It was a mortifying downfall. My bosses easily concluded that I had become a liability. "Get help" was not pre- sented as an option; "get out" was the definitive decision. I was deemed unprofessional, beyond repair or re- demption by the world that mattered most to me. The booze kept flowing. Within months both my bank account and home were flattened. My anxiety and hopelessness grew. My attempts to stop drinking included a detox and a psych ward. Increasingly, I had violent shakes and difficulty with sentence formation. Without a doubt, my nervous system was haywire. From a few hundred miles away, a family member scooped me up and allowed me to stay with her family. In effect, I became her un- documented ward. My trip from mid-management to minimum wage was realized when I picked up a job pushing a broom in a sty- rofoam factory. It was the very best I could do. I can still envision the styrofoam particles, tiny and near weightless prior to being pressed together, and the unreasonable dif- ficulty I had sweeping them. I was in shock at my condition. Things had gradually gotten worse over a period of years, not days. Nonetheless, the loss seemed sudden and unexpected. What the hell had happened to my life? There was near- My trip from mid-management to minimum wage was realized when I picked up a job pushing a broom in a styrofoam factory. It was the very best I could do. I can still envision the styrofoam particles. 44 February 2011