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Archive for the ‘step 1’ Category

What is honesty?

the whole concept of being ‘honest’ seems so simple. And it is… as long as we know what living honestly is all about.

When I was first getting into recovery I was stunned when I realized the extent of my dishonesty. I couldn’t belive how dishonest I’d been. Not only to myself. Not only to my family. Not only to friends. Every facet of my being was based on lies and my life heavily revolved around the job of juggling the layers and layers of lies I had constructed and protecting the sanctity of the image I’d cultivated from those lies.

So my natural reaction (given my ‘extremophile’ nature) was to swing to the opposite end when I decided to “get honest.” Looking back my naivete was just oozing out of me as I let my “honesty” turn into a sort of pride over my bad-assness because I’d done x, y, and z. They call it junkie pride in the rooms of AA. And early recovery – whether your drug is alcohol, coke, or food – is saturated with it. But I never would have seen it back then; I thought I was just “being honest.” Telling you everything, down to the dirty details, meant that I was living honestly and admitting what drugs/food had reduced me to.

But the lurking ego that fueled my tirades was drunk of itself. And I didn’t get that honesty needs to be coupled with humility to truly be “honest.” I don’t have to aire my dirty laundry to be honest. All I have to do is own who I am, understand how my body responds to chemicals and ed behaviors, and drop all the lies.

When I don’t spend time juggling the lies it doesn’t mean that I new get to pick up the sordid details and juggle those for everyone to gawk at. I am who I am, my past has influenced who I am, but I am no better or worse than anyone else. I don’t deny what I’ve done and in the right moments divulge information that may help another, but I don’t push it on everyone I meet.

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It was never hard for me to know that I had an eating disorder… multiple treatments, severe malnutrition, mounting credit card debt from shopping trips, etc. etc. etc.. It was pretty hard to deny that I had an eating disorder, even I couldn’t keep myself in denial about it.

But accepting my addiction to chemicals was different. As a teenager my drug use was at the forefront; everyone knew I used a lot of drugs. But when the eating disorder became more serious my drug use fell into the shadows. I effectively hid my addiction to drugs/alcohol behind the eating disorder whether that was because I wasn’t using/drinking (often because of calories, gasp!) at that current moment or because my physical deterioration was more commonly attributed to eating problems than drug problems (people usually suspect an eating disorder before cocaine addiction in a late teens/early twenties white middle class girl). So it was much easier for me to pretend that I didn’t have a drug problem. It went as far as convincing myself that the *only* reason I did drugs (specifically stimulants) was so that I wouldn’t eat. Yes, I had myself 100% convinced that the reason I snorted coke and stole ADHD meds from my dad and sister was so that I wouldn’t eat  (btw, my head didn’t even address the other chemicals or alcohol – apparently they were a non-issue).

Even after I admitted that I was an addict and had a couple years of sobriety under my belt I still had this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I was “overreacting” and that I only said I was an addict because I “wanted to fit in.” My addiction constantly threw in my face that I’d never gone to treatment, never got in trouble with the law, was never promiscuous or did anything sexual for drugs… basically, I wasn’t as “bad” as the other alcoholics and drug addicts and I was just pretending.

(Side note: the addiction did conveniently ignore the consequences I did have such as nearly not graduating from high school, being raped twice, falling through a window while drinking alone, losing all my friends and family, and the knowledge that – while using – I couldn’t think of anything else except about how to get more drugs or alcohol. But I digress…)

A few months ago I was re-doing step 1. I’ve been working on a step workbook with my sponsor and she’d instructed me to do the steps considering both my eating disorder and chemical dependency. Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was considering things I’d done in my addiction and I came up with an act that I had *never* told anyone (despite having done a 4th and 5th step previously). I was highly ashamed of it and had always pushed it to the background because I just thought it was one more nasty thing I did whilst in the midst of bulimia.

The exact event is unimportant (i.e. I’m still working through the shame of it and am not quite yet comfortable sharing in a public forum. Maybe someday), but what it did was give me undeniable proof that I didn’t “only” use drugs to fuel the eating disorder, but rather I took drugs because I had an issue with chemicals… I was an addict. The moment I had the thought it was like the final thread tying me to my addiction was finally cut. I called my sponsor in a state of euphoria because I new the next thing I had to do was tell someone.

She reacted with much less fanfare than I’d hoped, but was happy for me because she knew I’d struggled with that. She told me that as people in recovery it is important we have these irrefutable events that we can fall back on when we begin to doubt if we’re addicts. She told me the event that she falls back on and while it was different it had the same element of shame, secrecy, and depravity… it was an event that depicts a full manifestation of the addiction in all its glory.

Like I mentioned above, I’d had other consequences from my using drugs – a lot of them more severe than the event that finally convinced me, but that didn’t matter for me. Despite the existence of those events I was still able to have small twinges of doubt; thankfully these never led me to relapse but they could have. Finding this event did shine a light on what exactly I’d been reduced to doing in my addiction. The event is going to be very different for everyone, and some people will probably have mounting evidence (similar to me with my eating disorder) in which they don’t need to isolate one thing they did. BUT without a specific example to use as my reality check when I begin to doubt I fully believe the addiction will weasel its way back into my headand bring me that much closer to relapse.

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