Two decades of missed birthday parties, weddings, vacations, graduations, and special occasions. In times past, I have worked so hard that time and life literally escaped me. I blinked and I was planning my daughter’s 13th birthday party wondering where did all the time go. I barely remembered to teach her how to ride a bike. That’s when I knew I had a problem or a subset of problems that triggered a monster that was getting out of control.
Hi, my name is Toy and I’m a recovering workaholic. I’m really passionate about any and everything I do. I am no longer a victim of circumstance but instead empowered by my experiences to make my life and the lives of those around me better and more enjoyable. My life’s purpose is to use my lessons learned to propel everyone into their success-filled destiny one spark at a time. #IGNITEyourLife
I’m here in this moment in your life today to share my journey as a recovering workaholic with the hopes that this will help you or someone you love cope and overcome this prison of torture even if they actually enjoy what they do for a living. The dichotomy is complex, yet so simple because it all comes down to loving yourself enough to allow yourself to enjoy life and the ones you love and all that life has to offer.
For me, becoming a workaholic happened in various phases and some were to no fault of my own, while others were self-inflicted. Here’s my journey:
Survival – I was abandoned financially twice in my lifetime – once by my father in college when I testified against him at my parents’ divorce proceedings and again by my ex-husband when he abandoned me when I was three months pregnant with our child and about to move into a new home. In college I worked several jobs and side jobs to make ends meet and started my journalism career early in the midst of all that. Survival was my first workaholism trigger.
I had a fear of being broke. I had not tapped into my awareness of abundance. While pregnant, I worked hard but was put on bedrest as a result because the stress of moving from two incomes to one with a child on the way was counterproductive to the pregnancy to say the least. When my daughter was born I didn’t get to enjoy being just a mom long as I was thrust back into the workforce to make sure all the bills were paid as sole head of household. Fortunately my relationship with my father had mended and he helped me with her daycare during that difficult time. God’s timing is always perfect.
Achievement— Over the years, there are countless times where I was relentless in achieving my professional goals that I sacrificed relationships, friendships, and even my own happiness all in the name of goals, promotion and over achievement. I was really overcompensating for the lack of love that I was experiencing in my love life which was a reflection of love I wasn’t giving myself. It was easier to achieve “success” in other areas in my life than to take the time to own up to the fact that having and maintaining a healthy relationship and building a future with someone I love was truly my deepest desire.
Problem Avoidance/Social Avoidance— Instead of facing my social anxiety which stemmed from being a introvert most of my life, I found it easier to bury myself in the comfort of work where there was no rejection and I felt I was my best and most confident self. Through my career and life work achievements came my confidence to face the world in the past. Now I realize that I also used working late a way to focus on the illusion of success. Work was my security blanket, my comfort zone, my utopia where I could feel a sense of fulfillment – only without truly being fulfilled. It was a temporary fix for the inward journey to healing that was well overdue.
Relationship Avoidance due to fear of intimacy–In the past, I had been so afraid to love again. Because of unresolved issues like fear of abandonment, trust issues due to multiple moments of betrayal and general fear of the illusions of doubt and failure, I practically threw myself into my work as an impenetrable shield of protection from it all. Then one day a guy came along who didn’t care about any of that and showed me why it didn’t work with anyone else. He loved me enough to ask me questions and take time to understand my fears and insecurities and chose to protect me from them all with his actions of love. This in turn, opened the door for me to step away from my world of work and finally live and do what I do best — love. A true miracle. It didn’t happen until I loved myself enough to remember that I deserve to be loved and to experience love in its fullest capacity with someone who loves me back. In my vulnerability he has helped me and continues to help me become stronger than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I became love and in the process attracted it to me as my greatest reward for living love daily. #LiveLOVEdaily
Obligation— In the past, I would feel this overwhelming sense of responsibility in the name of teamwork to take on more than my share of the workload. I felt that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. The truth is the reason why we have teams is because each has a share in the responsibility to drive the desired results. The greater truth is that in order to be an effective manager, you must manage those who work for you not overcompensate for the work they are not doing by completing it yourself. I no longer feel that since of obligation and have created more effective ways to manage and in turn I have more time for things that matter to me most: my family, my relationship. and my life’s purpose that is growing through the fostering of my relationships with my daughter, my significant other, family and friends.
Today, I’m thanking God for a greater sense of purpose and a new lease on life: LOVE. I love myself enough to face my fears head on and truly experience life in all of its beautiful imperfections. I’m grateful for choosing continuous growth and self-improvement over multiple layers of well established and perpetual self-sabotage. God blessed me with someone willing to be patient with me and show me the love I’ve always deserved but never knew if I would be able to experience because of my fear of loving again. It has taken a lot of courage one day at a time to be in a place of healthy work sobriety. The key word is BALANCE. You can have it all but it’s important to acquire it in the healthiest possible way. If I can do it after twenty years, anyone can. Nothing is impossible for God. Indeed, with Him, all things are possible.
If you or anyone you know has been impacted by this article and would love to see more on this and other related topics, please comment below to share feedback or your testimony that can help others to know that they are not alone along their journey.