In reality all addictions are the same. Same basis just a different vice.
My addiction was sugar. Sounds innocent doesn’t it.. some would argue whether it’s a true addiction. But for some sugar is poison and as addictive as any other drug. Sugar addiction is cruel and complex because you have to eat every day and food is everywhere. Sugar is not just the white stuff we put in coffee, it’s all simple carbohydrates, it’s everything processed. Overcoming sugar addiction means making choices on everything you eat to avoid high highs and low lows..
In my case I ate for a taste of happiness. I ate for joy. I ate to forget. I ate to numb. I ate to avoid. I ate so I didn’t really have to live my miserable existence.
My weight fluctuated like crazy and my esteem dropped. Stress and binge eating went hand in hand for at least 25 years. If I wasn’t overeating I was dieting and overspending.
It started as a psychological addiction and as I became more unwell developed into a physical addiction as well.
I was seriously depressed. I was lethargic. I slept a lot to avoid living. It was a torturous cycle and in the end I got very very sick.
It was hellish slow death, and the saddest thing was I didn’t even know I was addicted I just thought I was a failure. I never got seriously overweight, I yo-yoed dress sizes. My life was constant binge period/ diet period then as the physical addiction took hold became binge period / detox period
What It Taught Me
By the time you hit rock bottom the addiction has pushed you (whether by a health crisis or major loss) to make a simple choice..
Do you choose to live or do you choose to die?
It pushes you to start figuring out your life, to start healing the pain.
You ask questions.. Why do I behave like this? Why does this substance have control over me? Why am I not happy? What do I need? Who can I trust to help me?
This is the point where real change starts to happen. In choosing to heal you are choosing to live well.
Allowing yourself the time to make the changes you need for your well-being is essential. For me that meant big changes – initially safely separating myself from my psychologically abusive partner (we stayed together as a couple but lived separately for the first few years), not working for many years while I worked on my physical, emotional and spiritual health and recovery which involved long term talk therapy, childhood regression therapy and the eventual divorce from my husband and my birth family.
Although the big picture of these changes felt overwhelming and terrifying, I thank God the recovery was so slow .. purposefully slow in order for me to overcome my fears one at a time each step of the way.. sometimes with support, often alone but always in baby steps.
During those years I couldn’t believe how long it took but I had a lot of fears and a lot to recover from, there really was no other way.
Self compassion and patience are essential.
How recovery from addiction happens
For me initially it was less about will power and more about the slow development of self compassion and self love.
I needed support, someone who had experienced similar to what I had been through and had the courage to heal. I found that in a great therapist.
How I found her… I’ve never been religious but I’m pretty sure desperate and a sobbing mess I dropped to my knees, surrendered to God and prayed for him to send me someone who would understand me, what I was going through and be just what I needed.
Shortly after that I met Faith (a counsellor and yes her real name :o)
I thought it would take 6 months of seeing her… I saw her weekly for 5 years.
I was not in a good financial position at the time, but somehow I found the money. I never missed a session because I knew it would be an investment in the long run.
Being supported by those that listen to your story, have compassion and understand you, builds your self esteem.
Because of my personal story (there were things that happened to me in my very early childhood that I didn’t know/ remember) I went on after Faith and saw other therapists to heal those parts of my life and also a very good naturopath for my physical health (I had M.E) – not all the therapists were the best choices but even that teaches you something.
As you slowly heal the pain you have compassion for yourself and stop doing things that hurt you, it doesn’t happen suddenly, it happens gradually. The bingeing, drinking, food, smoking, self medicating etc.. becomes less and less frequent. You stop socializing with people that hurt you or hurt themselves repeatedly (you’d now prefer to be alone than with self destructive people). During this transition/ healing stage you spend a lot of time alone as you start to respect yourself, your body, your health, your emotions, your instincts and your needs.
You are starting to love yourself and you don’t want or deserve your mind, body and soul to hurt anymore. You’ve been hurt enough in life. You are now experiencing some good feelings and come across some good, brave and caring people (in the past you never believed these people existed only because you were surrounded by dysfunction). Getting healthy means meeting like-minded healthy people, it means having the courage to step out of that unhealthy old system you were trapped in.
You can’t change the system while you’re still in it.
When you’re in pain you can now recognize and process who or what triggered your distress. You are now kind and gentle on yourself when you are hurting, and you now know who/ what is good for you and who/ what is not.
You are learning how to care for yourself, emotionally, spiritually and physically. You are learning what feels good.
You find new, kind and healthy ways of coping with life stressors. Your past is now over, and you grow to fully love yourself.
There is hope for a better future.
I love this that Elizabeth Gilbert posted today,
“May every step of your journey be blessed, and may you be braver than you ever knew you could be. But most of all, may you offer limitless patience to yourself along the way.
Changing your life is hard, and — like all hard things — it requires love and endurance. But you are worthy, and you are strong, and you can do this”.
Courage, love & baby steps,