Trying To Take Two Steps Forward Without Taking Three Steps Back

This week, my husband changed companies. The new company is giving him a raise, paid holidays, and a work truck. The work truck is the best part of the deal for us. See, we share a car at the moment. If he has a work truck, then when my youngest starts kindergardten and is in school all day, I will be able to go back to work part time.

The last time I had a job, it was in 2011. I worked as a waitress at a little tavern, near my house. I left the job because we were going to be moving to Tenneessee. We did move, for a month. We hated it. It was in the middle of nowhere, total bum-fuck America. I’m talking an hour from the nearest Target, Best Buy, mall, doctors, zoo, civilization. On top of it, my oldest was starting kindergarten that fall (my youngest was 2 1/2 at the time). The schools were we live now are ten out of ten. The school around there were a four out of ten. So we moved back home, ill as shit. We drove 110 mph the entire way, switching drivers every hour, making an eight and a half hour drive in six.

My husband and I were both in the depths of active addiction. My husband caught a couple of charges and ended up doing some time in Virginia while he was waiting for them to give him a bail. The charge was total bullshit and he didn’t do any time other than the time that he did until we could convince the magistrate to give him a bail. He also got eighteen months with thirteen suspended in Maryalnd.

This is when I got clean once and for all. I did not want to be the reason that he relapsed. The jail that he was in while he did his time in Maryland was a pre-release center. They allowed him to get a job. Once he cam home, he was able to get back into the D.C. union and get a good job with benefits and what not. I have been a stay at home mom this whole time. My son doesn’t go to school until one in the afternoon. The both get home from school right aroung four. So add that to the fact that we only have one vehicle, working has been out of the question. But now we are going to have two cars.

The issue is what job to get. I never finished college, so I have no degree. My work history is all over the map. Oh yeah, it doesn’t help that I have a rather extensive criminal record. The only plus on that aspect is that I have no felony convictions. Unfortunately, you can not take an IQ test to apply for a job. See, I don’t have a whole lot of skills, per se. I am just really fucking smart, but that is not something that you can put on a resume.

I have taught pre-school, I have worked as a receptionist at a car dealership, I have done renovations at Jo-Ann Fabrics, I have been a cashier, I have been a sales girl at Coach. What I have the most experience at, what I did from 2006 untill 2011 is bartending and waitressing. I was lead server at a chain restaurant, I trained other servers there and was the daytime bartender. I was in charge of inventory, ordering liquor, beer, wine, kegs, etc. I helped decide what beers and alcohol we were going to feature during different promotions, etc.

Bartending is an addicts dream job. You work – you get paid. You don’t have to wait untill the end of the week to get paid and try to make the money last, knowing that it will be gone by the end of the weekend (if it lasts that long). Actually, I was really lucky. Since I was a lead server/bartender, I made slightly above minimum wage, plus my tips. Not the $3.07 serve minimum wage, the real minimum wage. That went on my pay check, I got my tips daily. I got the best of both worlds.

I am not trying to go back the restaurant world. It is a feeding ground for drug addicts and alcoholics. There is not a bar, restaurant, tavern, club, pub, whatever that does not staff a plethora of addicts. I am worried that this sort of job will trigger a relapse or at least the overwhelming desire to use. I have distanced myself from all of my friends that are addicts, whether they are in active addiction or in recovery, I am not sure if I want to work at the sort of job that attracts addicts to it. As I stated in the title I don’t want to take two steps forward simply to take three steps back.

Another issue with a serving job is that aside from management, there is very little room for career advances. There is no raises. You can not budget the way you do a normal job. There is no, “If I work 40 hours, then I will make this much.” It varies too much. You could make thirty dollars on day and three hundred the next, it is hard to tell. Obviously a Saturday night will tend to yield more money than a Monday lunch shift.

As a mother, being a manager at a restaurant interests me very little. You work very, very long hours for very, very little pay. I am not interested in working sixty hours a week or more for thirty thousand dollars or less.

So then, the question is, how do I move forward? I am keen on becoming a makeup artist. Makeup is something that I love and am very much obsessed with. This is a hard field to get your foot in the door. Clients tend to want to hire people based on word of mouth, and if you have no experience it is hard to get the clients to yield that experience.

Since I have started writing this blog, and getting letters from people thanking them for what I have written, I am thinking that social work is my calling. I have laws had an internet in helping others, but going through the trials and tribulations of addiction, I really want to help fellow addicts. A friend of mine that I used to work with, is heading up a homeless shelter in Baltimore over the summer. I told her that I would love to help her in any way possible. I sincerely hope that she takes me up on this request.

When I was getting high in the streets of Baltimore, I saw, met, got high with a number of homeless people. As a society, we need to help them, I want to help them personally. It is a matter close to my heart. Homelessness is the core problem, but substance abuse or mental health issues or physical and/or sexual abuse is almost there as well. These are issues that need to be addressed with these people.

Of course,this would be great experience as well. I know that I am more than likely have to get a degree in order to be a substance abuse counselor, but at least this is one profession where my past struggles and history with addiction and my criminal record will not hurt me. Actually, it will probably help (not the criminal record). It would be great to use my addiction for good.

I have gone through hell and back to get sober. I might as well try to do some good with the knowledge that I have accrued along my journey. If I can help someone from making the same mistakes that I have, then perhaps all of this pain was not in vain.

As a recovering addict, it is important to not get too complacent or cocky. It is important to keep those memories of the depths of our disparity at the forefront of our minds. I am not talking about dwelling on the past with a stubborn refusal to move forward, I am simply talking about not forgetting how hard it was to acheive sobriety. When we get too comfortable with being clean, when we forget how far gone we let ourselves get, it is too easy to slip back into addiction. I want to move forward, but I do not want to slip back into old habits by feeling like I am invincible.


2 thoughts on “Trying To Take Two Steps Forward Without Taking Three Steps Back

  1. Of all the social workers I’ve known, the very best ones have been ex-addicts. It seems that a lot of ex-addicts tend to take that route, but to really relate to the people you are working with it’s imperative that you really CAN relate to them. Text book knowledge won’t help anyone really understand what an addict is going through. While every addict is different and none of us use or continue to use for the same reasons, at least part of our journey is the same. I applaud people who are able to do this type of work. Our society needs compassionate people who aren’t judgmental and who can help bring about positive change in our society regarding addiction and treatment and mental illness. And because so many great social workers have been ex-addicts, there isn’t the same stigma about having a record. That’s always a good thing!


    1. I totally agree. You can read about what it is like to go through heroin withdraw a thousand times in a thousand text books, but you have no idea unless you have been through it. I just need to motivate my ass to go back to school. Last time I was in college I had no kids. I have to learn how to shut them out and study (not easy as I hVe severe ADD). A good counselor can make all the difference. I would like to help, maybe save someone from the path I went down. The issue that I think that people are ignorant of, is that once you become an addict, you will never be “cured”. Your brain is altered for life.


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