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Navigating Fear.

16 August 2012

The last several days at work have been very stressful. I’m in a peculiar situation. I am simultaneously running out of funding, and being presented with opportunities too numerous to engage with all of them. I have excellent prospects for additional funding right now, even though it isn’t much in terms of a dollar amount. I have a conference call in about 90 minutes with a health care institution which is, I think, very likely to offer support somewhere between $50K-$100K to do a project for them over the next year. Which is fantastic. That will support my salary enough to justify my existence, and get me started on an engineering project which will have very cool research implications.

Then, 90 minutes after that, I’m sitting down with a couple of professors at Local Research University (which is still trying to put together the funding for a position for me) to discuss how I might aid them in emergency department analyses and modeling, at which I’m something of a specialist. I’m excited to meet these guys (I have already met one, and guest lectured in his class). Then, right after that, I’m meeting with a couple of local collaborators about a nicotine dependence NIH R01 submission that they want a systems/simulation aim for.

That’s today. Then there’s the R01eq  being scored at the end of August, the Big Idea R01eq I wrote about yesterday, a potential opportunity to serve my institution directly through QI, the potential job in Singapore, the potential job at LRU, and the five tenure track professorships I’ve applied to. Something is going to end up working out. I think. I hope.

So it was a good time, yesterday, to be reminded of what actually matters in my life. I showed up to my men’s meeting to discover that it was my turn to talk. I’d signed up to speak four or five months ago, I think, and forgotten all about it. so I had to sit down and make up about a twelve minute talk on the fly. Which is pretty easy for me. I can talk about myself for a long time if no one tells me to shut the hell up. I told my story, from my first drinks when I was five, to present day. Many of them had heard it before, and most people in the room have known me for almost three years anyhow, since I began going to that meeting.

There were a couple of new guys there though, including a guy who was only about 36 hours of his last meth high. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I never got into drugs. Sure, I smoked pot a few dozen times, and I did some Xanax that was prescribed for anxiety in ways that were not strictly written on the bottle. But I was a nearly unadulterated  booze-hound and little more. I loved to get drunk.

I talked about what I need in life, and how to apply the principles of AA to my life as a researcher, my fears about my job. I talked about how I need to keep the program first. Because if I stop talking about alcohol, I’ll start to disrespect its power. Then I ‘ll start to miss it. Then I’ll start to want it. Then I’ll start to drink it. And then I’m fucked. I’ll be dead, literally. I do not expect to survive a relapse.

So despite having professional challenges right now, I also have reams of opportunity and potential. I’m going to be fine. I’m just going to be scared first. Well, I can cope with fear. Fear is how I react to uncertainty. But I react to fear with prospective action. I’m making moves. I’m reaching out. More importantly, I’m reaching in. The strength and courage to do all of this is within me, and in the systems that support me. I am not alone. I am a raft on an ocean of fortitude.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mona permalink
    16 August 2012 10:27

    I really like your second to last paragraph. Nice summary of how one might slip. Sounds like you gave a great talk!

  2. 16 August 2012 11:39

    Glad that those opportunities are there. That is really encouraging. I am also sure that you helped those newcomers who heard your story.

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