Definitely, congrats on being sober.
Like you, I don't have a great academic history. Yours is better than mine, though...it's better to have a post graduate degree than not, no matter how long it took you to get it. That's a credential not many people have at all and you should be proud to have it. Anyway I sort of did the same thing. Several cities, several schools, many years. Lots of student loan debt. I'm 33 now and I don't look back on all of that in a negative way, however, and I wonder why you're putting yourself through this pain?
My work history wouldn't be a good one for trying to get a job at a corporation or even in the public sector, though I have had some luck with that from time to time. Maybe it's different in Canada but here it doesn't seem that the degrees matter as much, depending on the field you work in of course. The main thing you have to have is good communication skills, a strong work ethic, the ability to write well (I guess this is a communication skill), and perseverance. I've gotten jobs I wasn't "qualified" for on paper but went onto excel at them.
Anyway, on resumes people are expected to fudge a little. This is normal. Avoid outright lies, obviously, but if you were interested in music say that you were pursuing a music career. And highlight your strengths like crazy. Omit weaknesses if possible. And to me it sounds like you need to re-evaluate what your strengths and weaknesses are. If I were hiring, the perseverance you showed in getting your education would be extremely impressive to me. Extremely impressive. Most people give up by then. It wouldn't bother me if you were unable to settle on a major fifteen years ago or whatever. Who cares about
that? Long time ago. What would concern me is what I perceive to be low self confidence. I think you have good reason to be confident -- you have overcome so much -- and you need to work on that.
The way the economy is right now and the layoffs in the public and private sectors I wouldn't beat yourself up over not being able to find a job right now. It's hard for everyone. My business is struggling to survive and there are probably a hundred thousand small businesses all over North America in the same position. Municipalities, States, School Districts...all under heavy budget pressure right now because of lost tax revenue. But it will get better. In the meantime it's hard for a lot of people but you know the saying "this, too, shall pass".
Kitt's advice to live in the present is very good. Use this time -- this moment -- to realize that not everyone takes the same path through life. You and your experiences are valuable for sure. Of all the faults I have, one thing I'm proud of myself for is that I don't dwell on the past nearly as much as I used to. It's crippling and frankly a very hard habit to break but you can do it. You should have seen me a few years ago. Kitt knows. I was paralyzed by fear and sadness beyond my comprehension but if I beat it, so can you.