Friday, November 4, 2016

A Few Steps In The New Direction

I wrote sometime last week that there were a number of developments taking place more or less simultaneously that were adding up to a serious change in direction in life as I have been living it. I had made some decisions, and it was time to implement them. Decisions work best when you commit yourself to making them work, and part of that process is to review how the decisions are working as time passes. Yeah, it's only been a week, but I've learned as part of the recovery process to continue to take inventory on a regular, even daily, basis, and in practice, this sort of review/analyzing is part of doing that.
In our actual home, the dog has been there for a week now, and after a hairy couple of days recognizing and taking steps to deal with his separation anxiety, I can say without reservation that this is one of the best decisions I've made in a long time. Wimmer is an absolute gem of a dog. He minds himself, he behaves himself on walks, does what he is supposed to do, has adjusted to being in the home and to our occasional absences, is totally friendly, and doesn't hog the bed either in my room or in Sabrina's room. Puppies are great in a lot of ways, but for a family like ours--busy, working irregular hours, active outside the home--we really didn't have the time to properly raise a puppy. This adult dog is perfect for us, and for an added bonus, he's short-haired and very sparing with his barking.
And he has had a salutary effect in two areas that wasn't really anticipated. One is that as big as he is--nearly 80 pounds--he requires more exercise than a little dog would, and as a result, he is getting me to take longer and more frequent walks, too. I am 53 years old, with a body that's older than that in many ways. Even when I was young and in great shape, I liked to play the sports I liked, but I never enjoyed working out and/or mere exercise for its own sake. At this age, I am not going to be playing hockey or football or running competitively, and walking is really the only kind of exercise that my body as it now stands can handle without major issues. Wimmer and I have already canvassed the neighborhood regularly, and I am trying to go a bit further every day, circumstances permitting. Today, I intended to go a block further than yesterday, but when we got 3/4 of a mile from the house, the heavens opened, and we had to turn back. But this is something that is going to help in the long run. So far, it hasn't translated into weight loss--but what it has done is given me a free pass on eating like I was preparing for hibernation. As my appetite adjusts downward, I will lose weight, as long as I have the primary dog-walking responsibility. And that will help with my blood pressure and all that other stuff, too.
The second good effect he has had is on Sabrina. Sabrina's been home more in the last week than she has been in the previous two months. Not only that, but we are getting along a lot better than we were, and I feel like an important part of her life again. She is talking to me about politics, about college applications, about working, about her phone, about her friends, even about He Whom I Have Grown To Dislike Intensely. And this increased and better communication is going to serve us well in the months to come, as she enters the most important period of her life to date and other changes and adjustments take root.
Including the person she already intensely dislikes. I am, on paper, still open-minded about whether or not there will be another encore with my ex. In reality, the heart wants what it wants, and I'm not really going to force myself to deny that. It won't be the worst thing in the world for me to sit still for three-plus months, either, while she completes her obligations, with only occasional contact with her. There are reasons to feel encouraged; there is also the undeniable fact that there have been unkept promises in the past. But with everything else in flux around me, a de facto commitment isn't going to hurt me any, and I have already seen the beneficial effect it has had on her. Hope is oxygen to someone struggling with addiction issues, and it's not costing me anything to provide some.
We talked some today about what's going to be different when she comes back. She has indicated an interest in working a program that she has never had before, but talked of going, at least in the beginning, to the other fellowship, and gave logical and cogent reasons why. I'm not going to get into all of what was said, but my view is that it will be my job to be supportive of whatever path she takes, and I do have some friends, and are aware of some women making great strides, in the other fellowship.  And discussing the matter is helpful, because it helps me to prepare for the inevitable changes that that choice will bring to my life, too.
And the fact that I am writing this at one in the morning at work is something that I am starting to think more about, too. I really thought I would have moved on to the other position by now, but finding a reliable, full-time third shift person is proving very difficult, apparently. And I have been in recovery long enough to know that when something like this happens, it's not a coincidence. I have been thinking, for a couple of weeks now, about what God's will really might be in this situation. I noticed in an email today that the new substance abuse dorm is starting interviews, and I certainly could fit in well there. I also am becoming increasingly aware that  I am unlikely to find a staff environment as awesome as this one is; I can say that I like everyone that works here without exception, and a couple of people I am really going to miss when I do leave, including my supervisor, who I am finding is right up there with my last Berkshire supervisor as the best person I have reported to professionally. I have also been here long enough to see that while problems arising from lousy behavior with the residents may not be immediately resolved, they do get resolved. There are some kids here I really like, and a couple of the more difficult ones for other staff seem to have some respect for me. I haven't had a major problem with any kid here in three months.
And while I still would like to move on to the other position, I have to say that I am starting to find the emphasis on "billable hours" a bit unsettling. I understand that's what keeps the program running. But one of the beautiful things about the program I ran at my old agency for a decade was that we didn't bill for services, and it's not an issue in my current position, either. And my recovery experience has taught me that when services that "help" people are billed for, there is always, at best, a faint whiff of urine in the punchbowl, and oftentimes the money becomes more important than the "good" or defines the "service." Am I anticipating issues? No. But I know me, and I'd be lying if I said I was totally comfortable with it... And with that in mind, and the difficulty filling this spot that the agency is apparently having, I'm starting to think things like "if they bumped my pay up a couple bucks an hour, could I live better with third shift?" I'm not quite at the point where I am going to make the suggestion myself--but I have to say that if my supervisor came to me with that offer, I'd be inclined to take it. As much as a pain in the butt as this schedule can be, I am used to it by now.
As we often say in the rooms, more will be revealed. But I do feel like I have made a number of good decisions recently, and that my life is better now than it was a few months ago. And that it will continue to get better as time passes.

No comments: