While reflecting on the fact that I’ve been “home” for nearly four years, lived in the same home for nearly three years and been in recovery for over two years, I thought about where this all started. It didn’t start when I began drinking and using, it was game on way before then. The truth of the matter is that I was born an addict. There are many reasons I believe this to be true, and while I’ll touch on some of that, it really is neither here nor there.
This photo, taken the summer before I came home, was in the prime of my addiction. There are not many photos of me during that time. It wasn’t a priority and I’m not sure anyone wants their picture taken while they engage in addictive activity all day, every day. Looking back, I had no idea just how sick I was. In fact, I thought I looked pretty good. I remember complaining to my boyfriend at the time that none of my clothes would fit, so I hopped on the scale to assess the situation. At 5’9″ I weighed in at a whopping 121 pounds. That’s about 20 pounds under weight for someone my height with my build. I remember thinking, “Hmm… well, that’s kind of great”. The reality was that I was so malnourished that I was barely surviving.
The toll that drugs took on my body is overwhelmingly apparent now, although I was completely blind to it at the time. I would eat a couple of times a day, sometimes less, sometimes more. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love food. I also loved heroin and cocaine. Each and every time I got high, I became physically ill. I almost welcomed the idea; rating how high I would get based on how long I was sick. There was a time that I realized it was pointless to eat as nothing ever stayed down long enough to provide nourishment. Furthermore, when cocaine is involved, ones appetite vanishes rapidly.
As hard as it is to admit, that is sometimes what trips me up in recovery. I think about the fact that I went from 121 pounds to 175 pounds in just over two years. That’s a lot to deal with, especially for someone who has had body image issues nearly all of their life… at least the last twenty years or so. In the beginning of this journey, before my last relapse, I lived in a sober house with a bunch of other girls. We cooked bad food, ate junk food and rarely worked out. I would get up and go to the gym periodically, but more so because I was paying for something I rarely used so I needed to justify the $40 coming out of my paycheck each month… Now that I have found myself closer to the center of those two numbers, and closer to my ideal weight (at least the one I am more comfortable with) it is easier to look back and identify just what all of this means.
I understand that 175 pounds isn’t exactly concerning… but as I continued to emotionally eat, I began to desire the drugs that “made me thin”. Somehow, it was easy to push the other consequences out of my mind; like my hair falling out, missing my period for several months at a time and being so tired and full of anxiety that I was constantly on edge. That edginess proves that drugs and alcohol aren’t the only things we can be addicted to. Whether it be work, food, exercise, gossip, shopping… There is always something out there that we have to be careful of. Occasionally still, I think, “Man, If I could just get a little bit of something, I would have a lot more energy and would lose this weight so much more quickly…” and then I laugh at myself, talk about it and pray my ass off.
That’s really the best I can do today. I can pray for the willingness to remain healthy, work hard and no longer let my weight, drugs or alcohol consume my life. After seeing someone yesterday that I had not seen in years and really thinking about how influential she was to me, I realized later (while on the elliptical) that I have let the same difficulties control my life for twenty years without even knowing it. I may be in recovery, but my faults are evident and apparent, especially when they smack me right in the face. All this hubbub about “‘I need to lose weight. I need to fit into those jeans. I need to eat less.” is pointless. How about I just eat healthy, work out and enjoy life without being dictated by engaging in my own unrealistic thoughts. It sounds like a glamorous plan for today.
The picture below is this summer. A little heavier than I’d like to be, but still beautiful. Walking with a friend, pointing out a boundary sign (cause I SUCK SUCK SUCK at those) and enjoying this recovery life.