Desirable Disadvantage.

we take mornings very seriously, 2016.

would you do your life over if you could? to take out all the hard parts? would i change the past four years? the past decade? not be born into a family of addiction? divorce? would i change waking up in pools of vomit? or throwing up vodka on my steering wheel, hoping i would make it to lunch time to get two more shots of vodka? would i chose to be in relationships that were doomed? what about being arrested? being in jail, the mental ward, and treatment? would i trade those moments of pure hopelessness? how about picking a different family? would i chose a really weathy spouse if i could? my birthday? the year i was born? the terrain of iowan soil?

no. i wouldn’t. this is an incredible, desirable disadvantage to my life.

did you know that the most successful hockey players, the greats, are all mostly born in january? not that i really care, i have a softball genius on my hands. let me straight up admit that is ALL from her father. i know nothing, just like jon snow. i am the jon snow, of kids and sporting events. now, you want a poster display for art, i can help in that arena. i still call practice, rehearsal and uniforms, costumes, i will get it, ten, i promise.

I learned this two years ago when I told a girlfriend I was pregnant, and she joked, “Well I guess he won’t be a professional hockey player, will he?” That was because my baby was due in August, which, according to Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers, might well ensure his NHL career was over before it had begun. In Outliers, Gladwell demonstrated that a high percentage of NHL players was born in January and February — growing up, that made those kids the oldest and the biggest on hockey teams aggregated by birth years, giving them a competitive physical and intellectual advantage. For this reason, some parents hold their kids back a year from school, fearing they won’t succeed. My kid, on the other hand, would enter school as one of the youngest in his class, which meant teachers would overlook him and bullies would lock him in the supply closet.

that your very birthday puts you at a disadvantage or advantage — and that is without including, time period, race, social status, economic structure, weather and environment.

“Desirable difficulties” is a notion taken straight from the psychological literature from the work of [Robert and Elizabeth Bjork at the University of California, Los Angeles]. They were interested in that [idea] in the context of learning theory. It is not always the case that if I make the task of learning something easier for you, your performance will improve. There are sometimes cases where your performance will improve if I make the task of learning more difficult for you. Not always, but what they do is draw a line between difficulties that are ultimately desirable and those that are not.

listen to malcolm gladwell, and this short podcast to understand this theory — it’s fascinating, and was really eye-opening, for me. now, more than ever.

Theoretically, yes. If you are going to do something truly innovative, you have to be someone who does not value social approval. You can’t need social approval to go forward. Otherwise, how would you ever do the thing that you are doing? I give an example in my book of Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, one of the great entrepreneurs of the 20th century. At a crucial point in building IKEA, in the middle of the Cold War, he starts outsourcing to Poland, which was an unthinkable act in 1961. It would be like outsourcing to North Korea today. You would have to have so much audacity to do that…. Imagine if the head of Walmart said, “We are going to start sourcing from North Korea.”
Kamprad, who by the way is dyslexic, is just one of those people for whom it just doesn’t bother him. He won’t lose sleep over it. Or if he lost sleep about it, he would be more concerned about the health of his company than he was about his public reputation. To be able to do that is not easy at all. I see that trait, though, time and time again in innovators.

what is so paradoxical is rooting for the underdog, is that it requires that we be indifferent to the emotional distress. if i lost my battle with alcoholism (let me also confirm that just because i am sober, that doesn’t magically transform me into a responsibly drinking adult, if i drank today or twenty years from today my outcome would still be the same, chemical reaction would still be the same, but if i lost — my life, or sobriety. it WOULDN’T BE SO UNREALISTIC, a very real moment for you, could have been. “oh, that megan, she was so caught up and couldn’t get better, i am not shocked she died.”

if i was still drinking — it wouldn’t be any different that any of your own personal stories, because unfortunately in this sceanario — i appear to be the underdog, you WANT me to succeed and from the responses, and incredible stories and personal accounts you message me, it resonates with you on a personal level.

why is that?

because i am you. i am your sister, your husband, your mom, your best friend, your wife, your cousin, your boss, your employee. it hurts, losing people we love and have a deep connection with.

my story is very much alive, in a lot of your lives, in some capacity — maybe indirectly. but this is where i challenge that notion, i do not think i am an underdog, regardless of the circumstances of my addiction.

here are some very intricate obvious connects to support this theory of mine.

born to addicts — total bummer, but it did allow me to develop a sense of indepence in certain areas — i was able to care for my young siblings, when i myself was still a child. i also was able to see first hand, the negative impact of alcohol and drugs, in a home.

evangelical christianity — when i say that i am talking, heavens gates and hells flames, kind of shit. raising our hands when the music swells, being slain in the spirit, (stomping the devil out, this is a true and very horrifying memory for my catholic raised cousin, she had to sleep with the lights on and with her younger sister after coming to bible camp with me). i was terrified of displeasing God and authority, i wrapped onto that and made it my identity. i signed a covenant prior to college, i remained faithful to no drinking, no smoking, no sex and no tank tops (i paid a lot of fines, in this area). (priorities people). THIS ALSO is one of my least favorite parts of my story. i was incredibly resentful, to being so tied to organized religion, because it wasn’t there for me when i got a divorce or went through addiction. this doesn’t mean i am not a christian, and i identify as one, truly. i believe in a higher power, God and that doesn’t mean i am here to shove that down your throat. i will highlight my personal beliefs another post. this is a very intricate part of my story, i loved evangel, i learned so much with my degree, in broadcasting and journalism and i would suggest it to anyone who wants a faith based college experience. my problem with this is organized forced belief. i do not plan on making tenley believe something because i do, i share with her WHY I DO, and let her chose — she can see the work God has done in my life, and know she has a choice, but i will help her know the realities of what i believe and why. it built a foundation, i came back to.

skill set — i have worked in advertising, digital marketing, PR, radio, TV, film, journalism, photography and print media, yet i couldn’t ever feel whole — how is it that all of those skills, now somehow perfectly assist in writing and conveying my life to you?

relationships — my divorce was incredible traumatic, maybe it didn’t seem like it on the surface, but you really don’t understand the psychological effects, until the dust and debris has landed, and you pick up the pieces and move on. my marriage to j, resulted in our beautiful daughter, who is destined to be a world changer. that girl has maturity of a grown adult, heart of compassion and care and a witty mind. if i hadn’t been a mother, i wouldn’t have fought, i would have killed myself — or kept drinking until that caused my death. i believe that with everything in me.

jobs — my last job prior to treatment, i befriended a fellow 12 step program attender, through him, i was able to get to what would be my history and program of sobriety. i also was put on set, my first day back to work — after rehab with open bottles and glasses of wine, that made me resign the following day, after that day i couldn’t handle being around even the scent of alcohol.

dating — a very drawn out serious relationship, was ending around the time i started my daily drinking. a series of unfortunate events, lack of honesty and space and time, were all working against us. i will never forget what it feels like to be called the incorrect name, and that hurt more than a lot of physical pain. however, there were a lot of wonderful times, beautiful memories of travel (particularly west coast)and passion. that was a really interesting and odd time in my life, but i wouldn’t trade it, and i am not angry or resentful or hurt it ended (now of course, being sad is normal). Without that relationship, i wouldn’t have met my most current relationship, who is from SF, the only reason i reached out was to talk to him about — why the heck he would make a move to DSM.

i went on a few dates with someone who introduced me to my sponsor in my 12 step program.

i dated someone who helped me learn to fight hard through sobriety, from their own experience, allowing me to learn the beauty of being someone who could still have a great time, and be sober. i was sad to see that relationship end, but truly wouldn’t have made it through my first year, without that support and unconditional love.

i dated someone who got me back into a church — and relit my heart for a connection with God. we didn’t end up together, and that was a huge blow to my heart — and that led me to treatment for a third time, to really understand my co dependency issues.

health issues — bulimia for ten years, assisted in the fast digression of my pancreas failing (which almost killed me multiple times), but this ignitied my fear of death — which didn’t work at first. but i got sick, a LOT faster than most people do, and in a very serious way.

home and work life — hated my job, i couldn’t understand it, hated living with my parents, i couldn’t stand it. i became desperate to drink, so i did.

arrest — had i not been arrested, i would be dead or in jail, without a doubt. it was a huge catalyst in my fight, mainly for tenley. i needed that to happen. side note — the cop who arrested me stopped by my house, months after, and i was working, but to see how i was doing. that is important, because, i started to believe, that i could get better, and certain people were in my corner.

jail — had i not stayed in jail wouldn’t be as passionate i am about getting mental health care a priority in the state of iowa, we have people lining up for care, that are turned away — and choosing jail, as a viable option to live, because they are forced to be clean, and they have shelter and food.

the listed are just a handful — there are so many more reasons, a shitty situation actually turned out to be incrediblyy necesary.

i can be angry and resentful for all that i had to give up, or can you somehow look at the favor that is there?

all i see is favor — and this is my favorite lesson for tenley. there is favor in everything, if you are a non-linear thinker. choose to see the good.

addiction and alcoholism, as horrible and destroying as it is, made a lot of things in my life right, when i chose to recover. i have a ton of favor. addiction took a lot of away from me, but sobriety and recovery has made me so much more than my mind could have even encompassed.

so, i am not underdog, and that is so clear to me, now. i have a very intricate path, that led me to this, writing, and now speaking. these circumstances. i have very desirable disadvantages. i can tell you, if you are an addict or alcoholic, there is a chance that you are destined for some pretty amazing things. the greatest people, and humans i have ever met — have been those who i have met along this journey.

today: i have a job that is fulfilling, and low stress, and decent pay, hours that allow me to be available to my daughter when school is out. a firm base for a potentially fufilled partnership. restored relationships with my family and friends. a condo, with payments on time, no excessive debt, and my favorite, pure, unbrideled contentment. my life isn’t chaotic, i can walk into a school, work and grocery store without peering through cloudly-blood shot eyes.

the data is there, i am here, we are all doing this together. consider if we foster and cultivate a society of healing and treating addicts, how many more moms, dads, sisters, lawyers, doctors, servers, CEO’s, stay at home parents, we would have.

please — feel free to text, call — email -if you have any thoughts, questions or need to get professional help.

xx