I go to this event every year and it's very much like an alumni reunion; many people like myself walk through their revolving doors, do their time, and leave with experience you can't get anywhere else. I took a buyout from this company in 2011 and was able to take a year off. While I found it a stressful place to work, I'm very grateful for the experience, professional and personal. It's been incredibly helpful in the current iteration of my career.
I went to the restroom after lunch. When I looked in the mirror I had a jarring moment in which I didn't recognize myself. Not sure how many people have read here long enough to remember that one time I lived in a fully-furnished bungalow in Folsom (the cutest house) and walked by a mirror and thought there was someone in my house. But it was me. I didn't recognize my own reflection. The year after I got sick it was so creepy. Imagine waking up one day and looking nothing like you used to. I could walk by people and they didn't recognize me. My own ex-husband didn't recognize me once at the post office. It was so. fucking. strange. It was liberating and alienating all at once. I drank because feeling like a ghost in my own life made me crazy anxious, and the only way I knew that worked in getting rid of that anxiety was drinking. It worked until it didn't, anyway.
Today, in the large bathroom on the 3rd floor at Sacramento Convention Center all by myself, I had that same moment, and this time with 5 years, 6 months, and 11 days of sobriety under my belt. Looking at myself in the mirror, my eyes glowed as blue as my shirt, my hair looked like an actual haircut, and I thought of the tidbit I heard earlier in the week, "you're 40% more attractive than you think you are." I saw myself how others must see me. It had that same feeling of not recognizing myself, but without the anxiety. The anxiety was replaced with the pride of how hard I have worked and hustled* and scrapped and ground myself down to get to today. I love the woman I have and continue to become.
And right after this, I ran into my old boss from that job. He and I used to butt heads a lot, but in the end I think there was a mutual respect for one another. It was great to catch up with him and it felt very full circle. He said the same thing everyone else I ran into today said,
"Wow, you look fantastic! And happy!"
* I've changed my mind on hustling (#17). You gotta hustle, always.