Joy on the Job

5 min read

My family has a very strong work ethic that I inherited. However, I also had blind spots that affected my working life in ways I never grasped until I felt inspired to do a complete inventory of my job history. A new Fourth Step inventory is what it took to open my eyes to all the character defects and shortcomings I exhibited in my work life.

I’d had a job loss in 1990 that put me in a downward spiral, including eating compulsively, until 1993 when I found a job with some potential. I threw myself into it with both gratitude and gusto, but still kept eating compulsively and yo-yo dieting, never achieving a healthy weight. Finally in 2000, I returned to OA, which brought much physical and spiritual healing. My emotional healing, though, was taking longer and was definitely lagging at work. Although I was very successful at this job and working a pretty strong OA program, I would realize much later that many of my unhealthy work behaviors were slow to change.

When the company was sold in 2006, I was fortunate to be hired by a competitor at my then-current salary. But by 2008, I was earning considerably less and was totally miserable and frightened. I talked about it with my sponsor and at meetings, but I did not acknowledge my deepest fears, or perhaps did not even know them.

When I finally admitted it was time to hunt for a new job, I asked at meetings for help in writing a resume. A fellow offered, and it was then that I discovered I was afraid to write a resume. Why? That’s when HP inspired me to begin by writing a work history and doing an inventory on the problems or resentments it revealed. Now that I had a list of my on-the-job character defects and shortcomings, a glimmer of hope emerged that indeed I could change. In 2010, I had a new resume, I had a skills list, and I had a clear idea of what kind of job I’d like. Plus, I had the necessary willingness to try for it.

I began working at my current job in January 2011, and the last eight years of employment have been wonderfully joyful for me. Although there have been challenges and setbacks, the foundation laid by my work history inventory has never faltered. I’ve been able to truly “practice these principles in all our affairs” (Step Twelve), especially in jobs, whether paid or volunteer, including OA service jobs.

I feel grateful every day to my Higher Power, to OA, and to the inspiration given to those early AA members who wrote the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. This January will mark nineteen years of recovery for me, abstaining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while maintaining a 90-pound (41-kg) weight loss. I also celebrate the reduction of the “fat head” that had afflicted me for so long in my on-the-job performance. One day at a time.

— Gail, Herndon, Virginia USA

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