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I’m a recovering workaholic


Addiction runs in many families. Many of you will have parents who were or are alcoholic. Others may have parents whose drug of choice was perception drugs - numbing the pain of their lives and, in doing so, numbing their mind to a way out.

I don’t drink to excess and I don’t medicate myself with drugs. I would never allow addiction into my life. I would never be so weak! ..or at least that’s what I told myself.

I would work all day starting early in the morning til late at night. Weekends didn’t exist. It was just one long week that went on for months! And, when I finally got to rest - to do what I wanted - what do you think I wanted to do? Work some more! It became my drug of choice - easier to work than to accept that I had defaulted in my obligation to myself: that I would never put an addiction over my family or my health.

So here I find myself in recovery. Unlike most addictions, it is generally thought of as an admirable trait: “he is a good provider”, “a hard working man”, “he does it all for his kids/ his wife/ his team members”. Not many addictions are quite so encouraged and it’s not as if you can just stop working, go cold turkey, and take it easy for the rest of your life! Bills need paid, food has to be put on the table and what the hell would you do anyway if you didn’t work all hours?

This is mostly a man thing - but I know many women with the same affliction. They too can build their self worth in what they can do for others and neglect to take care of themselves.

And at the root of it all, self worth must definitely be an aspect. Your self worth is built in the sand, and is validated by what you can do for others.

I am writing this for you but more importantly for me. I want to say “I’m a recovering workaholic”. Saying it makes me accept it was once the case, and putting it out there – holds me to do something about it. I am not alone in my addiction. There are so many people out there in denial and so many who will shorten their lives and waste the little time they have in climbing the ladder of success, only to find it’s against the wrong wall.

This is a cautionary tale: you need to stop and take a long hard look at what you are doing and, if you don’t know if you are a workaholic - ask those around you. They will know. They will know by your absence, not only your physical absence but the times when you’re with them, but your mind is not.

The road to recover is long and takes courage to accept you are only human and that, if you died tomorrow, you would be replaced in your workplace. You can tell yourself that they would not do half the job you did - but that’s the workaholic in you speaking. 😉

Take it one day at a time, ask those around you to support the change. Change is never easy but, who knows? - you just may find you enjoy life a little more. And those around you - those you care about and love - will have you back fully in their life.

David Toney

Teacher/Author

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