By Richard Bleil
Hello. My name is Richard Bleil, and I’m a workaholic.
Not, that’s not meant to be some form of tasteless humor poking fun of alcoholics, but rather, I want to make the point that being a “workaholic” is unhealthy, just as alcoholism is. I’m not going to try to compare, saying this is worse than that, but rather just want to say that it is a condition, perhaps even to the level of being a disease.
I landed a freelance writing “gig”, writing a type of lesson plan. I would say it’s my first freelance writing job, but I’ve actually been hired to write for a few “prep” books several years ago. None the less, the people who hired me wants an outline tomorrow.
Just an outline.
Currently, my outline is 13 pages long, contains outlines for four different potential lessons, and could be comfortably sent now. However, there is still work I want to do on three of them. I want to send it out tonight, before 6 AM so it will be in their inbox before 8 (they are two time zones ahead of me). I figure an hour or two and I’ll be good to go. Maybe three. But here I am, writing a blog because I promised myself to write at least one 750+ word blog every day.
I…am a workahlolic.
I’m not sure why. As I pointed out in an earlier post, I am technically in the “Baby Boomer” generation, although on the cusp of Gen-X. I was raised to believe that a successful man works hard to provide for his entire life until he dies of a heart attack in his forties. Well, I almost did with a heart attack at 47.
Sheesh, even when it comes to death I can’t get it right. Go figure. At this rate, I may end up living forever.
Generational differences do count. My father lived in an age where you chose a company and worked for them for your entire life. In exchange, they took care of you. They would give you all of the training you need to do your job, insurance and even a retirement plan. If you put in your time and worked hard, you would be set for life.
Unfortunately, industry changed. In an effort to cut expenses, young business majors started cutting perks, and those corporations that promised to take care their people for the rest of their lives began taking their pensions away. Newer generations saw their parents being cheated by corporations, and began thinking that it might be better to live a quality of life, spending time WITH their families instead of FOR them.
And how can this be wrong?
So, yes, our generation is probably a part of the reason for people like me. But, that’s not the entire story. I was devastated when my wife left me. We were only married for two years, and it was a miserable marriage in a life that, before her, was miserable and lonely anyway. The beauty of work is it is also an escape; a way to hide away from the concerns of life.
My mind is filled with baggage; past regrets that I know I should let go but, frankly, have never been able to. I call these regrets my “demons”. They tell me how worthless I am, and keep me awake at night with their taunts. When I do sleep, they invade my dreams in horrible nightmares that make me relive those regrets again and again, like a hellish re-wind, retelling and reliving of every damned moment of my life.
Why can’t I have repeat dreams of the good moments?
A psychiatrist tells me that I have a problem with serotonin, the chemical in the brain that makes you happy. Apparently, my levels are low.
I know, you’re shocked.
But work is good. I like work. See, if I work, I can avoid. I don’t have to sleep, because I have to get this document that’s done done. Uh, doner, I guess. And while I work on it, I don’t have to think about how lonely I am. I don’t have to think about past regrets. I don’t have to have nightmares, because I have an excuse to stay awake. When I worked at my last few jobs, I put in ten to fourteen hour days. It was great. I didn’t have to go out and socialize, where the stress to not mess up and add to my demons is overwhelming.
Yes, I’m a workaholic. It’s too late to hope somebody will save me, though, so I’ll just work myself to death. And if it comes early, well, that’s okay too.