It might be considered a cliché, but the advertising agency where I work is actually on Madison Avenue. I still don’t know if that agency is a big small one, or a small big one. Either way I had started in the Client Services Department in my early twenties. It wasn’t my intention to have an advertising career; my degree was in electrical engineering. I can’t recall when things developed the way they did. My analytical mind and pragmatic outlook had become an important counterbalance to the abstract way of running a busy ad agency and it got noticed.
While moving up in that department, I put systems and procedures in place and negotiated contracts that not only made the agency more efficient and more competitive; but also increased the bottom line. My work became my life and the reward of the work was a partnership and a promotion to Chief Operating Officer in one of the most profitable, creative, and efficient advertising agencies in America. And I wasn’t yet forty.
With my partnership came money, lots of it; more money then I’d ever dreamed I’d be able to make in my life. If only I knew how to enjoy it. I didn’t. My life had become one thing—work. As soon as I woke, I’d find myself rushing to get to the agency and I’d be there long after I didn’t have to be. I’d find excuses to go there on the weekends. When I wasn’t at work, I felt empty. I had married my job and had nothing else, except my secret mistress: cocaine. Under its influence, I had energy, I was happy, and I could conquer the world.
Cocaine was an indiscreet mistress and as my pupils dilated and my exuberance became a distracting irritant at the agency, my partners became concerned. Other than my clothes, gym membership, my addiction, and my other needs, I lived sparsely. My tiny condo in a converted brownstone was barely six hundred square feet. Living on the Upper Westside, I had no need for a car, and being a workaholic. I never took vacations.
After my partners, to whom I owe a great deal, conducted my intervention, it was agreed I’d go to an executive drug rehab facility. I decided it was time to spend some of the money I earned. Maybe that would help me realize some of my self-worth. For as hard as I worked and as brilliant as others may have perceived me, I’d always felt inferior. As anyone else put in this position would, I had a head full of preconceived notions about drug rehab and places such as this.
My rehab program looked nothing like I’d expected. Yes, I’d seen the brochure but in my mind, I still anticipated something clinical. Instead, it reminded me of an exclusive resort, which in most ways it was. After my evaluation, I noticed how much this place treated me as an individual and helped me focus on my mind, body, and spirit. With the individualized treatment I received, I could finally concentrate on alleviating my pain and getting clean.