If you crash hard, launch harder

In the past year, I quit drinking, turned 40, got fired and started my own business.

My unhealthy relationship with wine started in my mid-20s and escalated when my mom got sick with Alzheimer’s in 2013.

I. Loved. Drinking.

Whether it was good news, bad news or no news, I found an excuse for happy hours nearly every night of the week. It became a ritual to meet friends after five for a few glasses of pinot and an appetizer. It also helped me cope with my mother’s disease (or so I thought) because it erased the worry and grief, if only temporarily.

I became dependent on wine to have a good time, unwind, delete the day — only to wake up the next day hungover and drenched in panic. Then I’d do it all over again because somehow not drinking felt like a foreign concept.

Eventually, I started to really dislike myself. I wasn’t being a good enough caregiver, girlfriend, employee or friend. Most importantly, I wasn’t being good enough to myself.

On August 13, 2018, I quit. Full of self-hatred and shame at the time, I stopped and haven’t turned back. Although I really, really miss “rose all day,” ending the one habit I thought was helping me cope ended up fueling 11 months of incredible growth both personally and professionally.

Fully unpickled by my 40th birthday, I’d experienced many revelations:

  • I was a much better caregiver, girlfriend and friend alcohol-free.
  • Forty wasn’t the terrifying milestone I thought it was going to be. In fact, I’d lost 20 pounds, my blood pressure and cholesterol went down, and I was starting to like myself again.
  • I didn’t actually need wine to unwind, and really, the only thing I couldn’t handle at this point was my job.

Although I was improving my personal life, my glitchy job at the time crashed slowly over a series of months.

I was miserable at work. My boss was certainly less than impressed.

I wasn’t gaining traction with certain colleagues or leadership, which meant I wasn’t gaining traction with the work I was hired to do. I was permanently blocked, and for a writer, that can have not-so-great results. Plus, writing was (and is) the one talent trait I’d always approached with an extremely high level of confidence and skill.

Eventually, everything started to fall apart. Some coworkers stopped trusting me. Then the work stopped coming. Then I stopped trusting some of my coworkers, too.

If there’s no trust, you might as well start boxing up your belongings, which is exactly what I did moments after I’d been told my position had been terminated.

I’m certain all parties involved felt incredibly relieved. I know I did.

The day I got fired, I didn’t cry or cause a scene. I didn’t feel the need to. My coworkers watched me pack my things, I hugged a few and promised to stay in touch (not everyone disliked me).

When I was escorted to the door, someone even stopped me to ask if I had time for lunch the following week.

Instead of going home to wallow and whine, I drove myself to a store and bought a gently used Mac. I took my new computer home and started building a plan for something I’d never been brave enough to do before, which was to finally launch my own gig, lonna.co.

Although you might think getting fired was the moment I crashed, in reality, I crashed years ago. For a long time, I wasn’t honoring my values, nor was I following the vision I had that would help define the best version of me both personally and professionally.

So, here I am writing an important part of the lonna.co story about where I came from, how I messed up and why I decided to show up rather than give up. What I’ve learned:

  • Let go of self-sabotaging behaviors and thoughts.
  • Turning 40 is nothing to freak about.
  • Getting fired doesn’t mean you’re a bad employee or person.
  • There are always bigger, better opportunities just ahead, but you do have to work for them.
  • You will find your fit by following your talent traits, personal ethics and professional vision, not by trying to force your fit in a job that just isn’t for you.

Personal growth is difficult, but stagnating is worse. If you ever find yourself wondering, “Maybe I do have a problem or a recurring thought pattern that isn’t serving my best me,” reach out and let’s talk.

If you ever find yourself secretly hoping you’ll get fired because you’re too afraid to just quit, been there done that, and I’m happy to chat with you about it.

Finally, know there will always be people out there who support you, admire you and are cheering you on. In my own instance, I can’t count how many times people messaged me to say, “About time,” when I launched lonna.co.

In other words, move away from toxicity and start living your values and aligning yourself with those who have similar ones.

Lonna Whiting is the owner of lonna.co, a content experience, writing and editing shop located in Fargo, ND. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Lonna Whiting is a freelance writer and editor. She is currently working on a book about Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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