An Addict’s Story on What Changed for Them
In parts one and two of my story, I shared my journey towards rock bottom and my passage into recovery. Living in recovery has been a voyage of discovery. Joe McQ describes it as a process of discarding, uncovering, and letting go. He couldn’t be more right. My experience has been that I’ve been faced with one issue after another. And they keep coming.
I discovered a plethora of addictions.
First, it was alcohol that needed discarding. I did so with the help of AA. After a thorough uncovering in step 5, my sponsor took me to an NA meeting, revealing to me that I was in fact an addict.
Next I experienced great pain with smoking. I was using cigarettes in the same way as I had used drugs—smoking one while thinking of the next one. Going through 20-30 cigarettes a day, I smoked constantly. I was sick with it. When I’d had enough pain, I got help and I discarded smoking.
Last was food. My nemesis. Food was my first drug of choice. I recall using food to change how I felt when I was less than ten years old. My whole life followed a cycle of starvation, binging, purging, and desperately low self-esteem. I had always attached my self-worth to a number on the scale. I was never thin enough. This meant I was unattractive. I told myself that I would never have a relationship until I was slim.
At three years clean, I was faced with a 150 pounds of excess weight. I was using food in the same hurtful way I’d used drugs, nicotine and alcohol. The addictive pattern remained the same. I fantasized about escaping with food, planned what I would buy, and went through the ritual of purchasing it and rushing home to binge and isolate. This was swiftly followed by acute self-loathing and promises of never doing it again. Yet it happened again, and again.
There was help available to me.
Having reached a place of awareness and pain, I did what I know best: I reached out and asked for help. I found a health coach and I began to learn about my disordered relationship with food. This was costly. But I invested in coaching for a year, and then I became a health coach myself. Because I am passionate about health and wellness in recovery being accessible to all, I will share with you what I learned over the coming weeks and months.
Having reached a place of awareness, and pain, I did what I know best: I reached out and asked for help.
In short, this is what changed:
Awareness. I uncovered a complete awareness of my physical situation. I weighed myself, spoke honestly about my eating, lifestyle and exercise habits, and I faced those facts.
Education. I learned about what good nutrition and a healthy relationship with food looks like.
Mindfulness. With awareness and knowledge, I could eat more mindfully. This helped me decipher when I was eating for hunger, and when I was eating for emotional hunger. I was then able to soothe myself with other mindful activities, such as yoga, meditation, walking or talking.
Exercise. My health coach encouraged me to start walking 10,000 steps immediately. I was challenged to take up a 5k race challenge. I felt inspired to buy a bike and use it as a mode of transport. Then I discovered that I was physically built for strength, and found a love for lifting weights. Before I knew it, I had incorporated activity into my everyday life.
Fun. What I uncovered was a distinct lack of fun in my life. My life consisted of work and recovery. There were no fun activities. I had yet to discover my interests. So I ventured out into the world and discovered a love of blogging, writing, creative expression with food, photography, art, and hikes in the countryside.
In working through these areas, I let go of my unhealthy relationship with food. By developing a sense of self through my interests and taking charge of my health, I rebuilt my self-confidence and esteem. Food became less important. The scales tipped from seeking escapism with food toward choosing a life worth living. It isn’t perfect, but it is a journey that I take every day. I am still aiming to discard another 50 pounds, uncover new passions, and let go of old habits.
The scales tipped from seeking escapism with food, toward choosing a life worth living. It isn’t perfect, but it is a journey that I take every day.