My internal experience of change has been a continuous flow once I accepted that change was absolutely necessary. It has taken a massive exploration of my deepest inner workings and coming to the realization of how I have avoided remembering a traumatic childhood by running away all these years so memories couldn’t catch up.
There were several times when I was active in my illnesses that I decided I was going to change, but as we know…not until I was able to admit I was powerless and my life had become unmanageable, was any change I made going to have any foundation to take root in. I am still on this journey of change, and I find it humbling and empowering to be able to allow my emotions to flow freely as the past becomes connected with the present.
Recovery from an Eating Disorder and Alcohol
I am a blessed soul that identifies as an alcoholic and as a woman who is in recovery from a 15 year long battle with an eating disorder that has morphed my body into many different shapes and sizes over the years. Prior to finding true sobriety, I was still drinking but had been without eating disorder behaviors for a good length of time.
Then I started working as an alcohol and drug counselor, and found that my story was being told by many of the women I was treating. I realized that, while alcohol had not been wreaking havoc on my life for the last few years, it sure had made my life unmanageable in previous years. I also realized that my alcoholism was still very much active, but its job had become part time rather than full time due to my attempting to create positive change in my life.
You see, I didn’t even know I was using alcohol to numb and to forget some of the tragic events that had occurred earlier in my life. That glass of cabernet every night and the 2-3 on the weekends was like a thin layer of oil covering the door to my memories so they couldn’t come to the surface. How cunning. I didn’t even know it was happening until I became sober and memories started floating to the surface, creating ripples and white caps.
Finding a Lot More Time for Self-Care
My external experience of change has been pretty profound as well, but I didn’t notice it until others helped me to realize it. Once I stopped drinking, I found I had a lot more time to think clearly and a lot more time for self-care. I started meditating, taking care of my skin (it’s a hell of a lot easier to go to bed with your makeup on after a few glasses of wine) and started eating what my body craved which were surprisingly, healthy whole foods.
The result? I lost weight. My skin glows. My eyes are clear and bright. I am happy, sad, mad, afraid and every other emotion under the sun on any given day and I am sitting with whatever feeling I have. No more wine hangovers. No more craving crappy food the day after. No more horrible body image from feeling bloated and having indigestion. I started having people tell me how beautiful I was looking lately and asking me what I was doing different.
“Wow you look amazing! What are you eating? What do you do for cardio? Do you lift weights?” How do I respond? “I stopped drinking and started taking care of myself in all areas of my life.”
Since making these changes, several people have come to me and asked me the above questions and I have given them my response. A few weeks later, some of these people have said they are thinking about giving up drinking too. Whatever their reasons are, I am amazed at how becoming sober can be so contagious. It provokes a curiosity I remember very well. Next time we talk, if they are still curious, I think I will offer to take them to an AA meeting.
Contributor: Dani Volk MA, LPC, CADC-II
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 31st, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com