In a phone call on Friday I was asked to, “Please provide an example of a time in your life when things did not go as planned and how you handled it.” I laughed and said, “Well that’s my entire life. Nothing in my life has ever gone as planned.” And it’s true. My life has always been that way. It has been incredibly hard not to think of the way my life has gone as a series of bad luck. I can’t tell you how many situations I’ve been in, things I’ve been through, or setbacks I’ve experienced that have led me to think, am I even on the right path?
Exactly 5.5 years ago I made a decision that at the time felt impulsive, but that I now feel deep down in my soul was what I was supposed to do all along. I had finally opened up my eyes to the fact that drugs and alcohol were the guiding force in my life and that my deep unhappiness was intrinsically tied to that fact. I didn’t want to and I didn’t know how to, but I knew I had to quit drinking and using drugs. I always say this and it remains one of my truest statements - I am the last person on this Earth you would have imagined getting sober. I was the life of the party. Drinking and partying were the lifeblood of my existence and I truly never thought there was anything wrong with that. I couldn’t imagine my life without those things and why would I? Everyone drank. Everyone partied. And I thought those who didn’t were the weird ones.
I pictured my life one of two ways. One, a suburban housewife with an office job who hosted parties on the weekends, went to happy hours, and celebrated turning 40 with dirty martinis, or two, a vagabond who traveled the world, working odd jobs and getting fucked up in new nightclubs every day. These didn’t seem like bad plans, but when I got sober my plans changed. My life changed.
Suddenly I was living life as a sober person with a new career path, a newfound love for writing, and a blog that people liked reading. I emerged as someone new. Just like my entire life, nothing had gone as planned. I embraced my new path. Sobriety has made my life infinitely better. This year was the year I achieved a childhood dream of mine, earning a book deal, a progression in my writing career and something my followers have been asking me about for years. Once again the universe had other plans for me.
This year I had a plan for my life, not a concrete plan, but an outline and a vision of how I thought it would go. My husband and I decided to sacrifice some financial stability when he went into the fire academy in 2017 and entered the grueling process of applying for firefighter jobs here in Southwest Florida. And I made the choice to work several part time jobs this year to make writing my book my top priority. My publisher wanted to see my book published by January 2019 and finished by September/October of this year. It was a hard deadline to make, but I wanted to make it happen. I wanted this for myself and my writing and my story. I cut a lot of things out of my life to execute this dream. I said no to many financial and career opportunities thinking it was the best choice because my book was number one.
On Sunday I learned that just like during my addiction, in sobriety nothing goes as planned either. I learned that just as quickly as you achieve one of your lifelong goals, it can also be taken from you in an instant. Late Sunday night I received an email from my publisher Passageway Press saying that they will soon be closing their doors and they can no longer release my book as planned. They can’t sustain staying open as a small business, so my book deal is no more. Poof. Gone. Obviously, I am completely heartbroken, disappointed, and angry. I’ve spent a lot of time crying and asking why.
I feel like I’ve lost a lot of time and opportunities to make money and do other things this year. I also feel like a dream and vision of mine has been crushed. On the flip side I know my time spent hasn’t been in vain. I’ve written 10 of 14 chapters of my memoir and now I have the ability to sell my book to a different publisher for a higher amount of money and a better deal. I also have the opportunity to find a publisher that has the financial stability and resources to spend time on making my book the best book it can be.
I know I have been largely absent from my writing this year, due in large part to my book. I feel sad that won’t pay off in the next few months like I thought it would, but I don’t plan on giving up. I know this book will be published, but how that will happen remains to be seen. I’ve been trying to take care of myself during this awful blow and I appreciate the continued support from my community.
What do you do when nothing goes as planned? You keep showing up, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when you’re 33 and you feel like your life and career path just came crashing down overnight and you’re not sure where it’s going to go. You embrace uncertainty because you have to.