I have been in a heightened state recently.
After 2 years on the books of a casting agency for film extras – or assistant artistes, as we apparently prefer to be known – I finally received an email asking if I was available for some filming work.
I’m on day 2 of a “shoot” and wandering around in a bit of a daze, trying to look perturbed by the biting March wind and sheet rain, but secretly I want to run around with my pants on my head, skipping.
So many things are falling into place in sobriety. I quit alcohol 3 years+ ago and have been gradually adjusting to everything, including the relaxation on my wallet. I was never a big wig in the workplace but I did have a corporate sales job which I quit 6 months after I quit the booze. I did so when I twigged that I no longer wanted to endure the pressure and I didn’t need the money.
It’s taken a while to find a work/life balance that suits me. The low-level freelance tele-sales work that I have been doing to pay the bills has succeeded in that function, but has nonetheless been unfulfilling. Now, suddenly, out of nowhere, I find that I’m a “special artiste” for two days and I feel punch drunk whenever I talk to anyone here “on set” – by which I mean, in the waiting areas. It’s that gin & tonic feeling – giggly and slightly reckless. I’m holding back from being a little too excitable in my responses, a touch too flippant and skittish when told my costume looks lovely on me. The temptation to let out a random guffaw is almost too much though. I’m so ridiculously happy.
I don’t quite know why it’s so exciting. I think it’s mainly that I have realised for the first time in sobriety that the gin and tonic high that I sought (and always drowned instantly) was quite attainable by natural means, and for hours at a stretch. No hangovers either; no remorse; no self-loathing.
But that’s not the whole picture. I think it’s cos I already have the other bit of the work jigsaw in place – I have a couple of freelance projects that are coming along and will soon earn a little money. I may never have to go back to either low-level telesales or the stressful world of corporate bullshit.
It’s mind-blowing how my new world is evolving, free from alcohol.
I’ve had to be patient though. For two years, while living off my dwindling savings and overdraft, I had no idea where financial security might come from – without going back into a proper paye job – the very thing I wanted to avoid. I was writing my book, “Not Alcoholic, But…” during this period – a wonderful experience in the main – but never care-free, due to dodgy finances. Towards the end of this period I was doing some freelance low-level tele-sales work, to pay the bills and keep my overdraft in check, but it was horribly menial and heavily scrutinized by management, leaving me frustrated and dispirited.
I was able to keep going because being alcohol-free kept me on an emotional even-keel and empowered me with the inner belief that I could achieve complete self-determination though sobriety.
In the past, alcohol was the boss. I had to have a certain kind of job, and a certain kind of salary that would satisfy the demands that alcohol put on me – which very much included financial demands – as well as time and life-style.
But being alcohol-free, no obstacle is going to push me off course. I have continued to plough on with what I know to be right for me. My book and my simple new way of life were from day 1 the most important things for me, and I knew that in time new opportunities would arise from these. Just because I couldn’t see yet what these opportunities were, wasn’t going to put me off. I was content. Sobriety saw to that. And sobriety gave me the patience to wait and see what might emerge.
Then a few weeks ago, I added another freelance scheme to my wish list. If only I could just start to make a little money doing something I enjoyed doing, without having to rely on the unrewarding, low level tele-sales work!
And then, the bolt from the blue came along. The supporting artiste agency finally contacted me after 2 years of waiting (I had forgotten all about them). It’s changed my outlook beyond recognition. It feels like a reward for all my patience.
Sitting around “on set” talking to fellow artistes and to all the amazing production team is just so thrilling and fun, and there is no obligation to “be” anyone but myself. The “work” is hardly difficult and is entirely in the background. But it manages to seem very important and special at the same time. And in-between it doesn’t require me to put on any persona – other than my own natural one.
I have even been able to write this piece while sitting around waiting to be called.
It’s also great not to feel the need to celebrate my good fortune with a drink. In fact I don’t ever think like that now anyway. In the old days I would have sought out a pub on the way home from the first day of filming, and basked in the glory, spending big chunks of the money I had just earned, and not yet even been paid. I’m completely free of all that now. I feel re-born and ready for a whole new life!