Last week on both Facebook and Instagram, I opened up the forum for people to ask me anything they wanted. I figured most of the questions would be about sobriety and recovery, but surprisingly only a few were. People also asked me about eating disorders, relationships, and egg yolk. Yes, egg yolk. Continue reading “You Asked, I Answered”
Back in my fitness instructor days, my Instagram account proudly endorsed the #eatclean movement to the point of annoyance. I, like many other fitness professionals, thought that this hashtag would inspire people to make nutritious food choices. While it may have inspired some, I’m finally realizing that using phrases like “eat clean” could be down right insensitive and borderline damaging.
In case you missed my last post, I recently participated in Scare Your Soul, a challenge that encourages you to live outside of your comfort zone for 3 days. On day 1 & 2, I tackled my body image issues. I wanted day 3 to remain on the same body positivity path, but I was stumped as to how to go about it. My roomie / editor, Alisson, suggested that my third and final challenge should be eating processed foods for a day, every meal. I cringed and said “Nope. No way. There’s no way I can do that”. Then I realized that’s exactly what I needed to do. She encouraged me to do this because she thinks I’ve become a pretentious food snob (this is how we talk to each other, we’re very close) who only eats artisanal, organic, hipster foods. She suggested that maybe eating like I used to will remind me where I came from, and get me back in touch with my roots.
Challenge accepted. Let’s eat dirty.
I’ve always enjoyed testing boundaries, especially when drinking: Drunk driving. Unprotected sex. Sleeping with my friends’ ex boyfriends and my ex boyfriends’ friends. Any drug that crossed my path, I tried it. Anyone who said they could drink me under the table often ended up underneath said table. Since I’ve given up that destructive lifestyle, I’ve found new ways to be adventurous. While I’ve recently done activities like naked yoga and orgasmic meditation, there are still many things that intimidate me and make me feel uncomfortable. Maybe I should say that there are a few things that, um, scare my soul.
Two weeks ago, I completed the Scare Your Soul challenge. Each day, I did one thing that got me out of my comfort zone…for three days. On day 1 & 2, I tackled my body image issues. Here’s how it went:
It was the summer of 2009. I was 24, living with my at-the-time boyfriend and bartending full time at a fine dining restaurant in Waco, Texas. I was in my own delusional drunken world, unaware of anything that was going on around me – unless it directly affected me.
That July, a group of seven sort-of friends met in Houston, Texas to celebrate their mutual friend’s Bachelorette party. Each of us rocked heels, dresses, and clutches as we frantically texted from our Blackberries. After a sushi dinner with lychee martinis, we got into a limo and sipped champagne. The maid of honor gave each of us a pink, zebra-print mask with a sassy adjective. I screamed and begged for the one that said “Wild”. I got it.
There’s so much more to recover from than just substance abuse. Previously, Rose Lockinger has contributed personal essays about bulimia. Now, Becca Jade shares her story on recovering from trichotillomania:
Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the compulsive urge to pull out one’s hair. This leads to hair loss, balding, distress, and social or functional impairment. People with this disorder know that they can do damage by acting on the impulses, but they cannot stop themselves. I strongly believe that in life, we are often faced with challenges that we can handle. At times, we might bend, but we will not break.
Last week, on my daily stroll through Washington Square Park, I had an honest conversation via text with one of my clients. The sun was shining as we discussed dark times. Eager for help, she asked me several questions about sobriety. Her questions turned into an accidental interview and she helped me come to terms with some things I didn’t even know about myself. She agreed to let me share our convo as long as she remains anonymous. Let’s call her….Amanda…
Amanda: How did you just quit drinking? I always get to this point, where I feel so bad and so guilty. I’ll swear I want to make a change and give up alcohol, then never actually follow through. I’m so sick of my behavior, but I don’t know how to change it and actually stick to it.
Me: After years of “trying on sobriety“, making mistakes, hurting myself and others, I realized that living a party girl lifestyle wasn’t cute anymore. I woke up on Monday, November 30th, 2015 with a terrible headache. I was hungover. Again. I told myself that I’m going to go one week without booze to see how I feel. Then I told my roommate. Then I told my coworkers. Then I told the people I was drinking with the night before. I asked all of these people to help keep me accountable and to please refrain from inviting me out for drinks. That week turned into two weeks. Those two weeks turned into a month. As of today, I’m happy to say that I’m 7 months sober.
I don’t remember my last drink, but I think it was bourbon.
I was proud of the alcohol tolerance I’d built up through the beer soaked college years and continued to build through my mid to late twenties. I eventually graduated to manhattans and martinis. Or maybe I should say, “Graduated to manhattans and martinis when I was out on the town and also accompanied by cheap vodka hid in water bottles to assist with sleep, stage fright, social anxiety and increasing general drunkenness while on a budget”. I bragged about my high tolerance in the company of friends and they enjoyed trying to keep up with me.
The final night I drank, I was in mixed company and I was hyper-aware of how I did not want to be perceived. Ya know…like an alcoholic. I always counted the number of drinks everyone else had and was careful to have them think I drank the same amount. This often lead to me pre-gaming at my apartment before going out, sneaking to the bar and ordering quick shots for myself while out, and night caps once returning home.
I never knew that my road towards bulimia would end in a treatment center for substance use. Addiction in any form is a dangerous beast that will consume every aspect of your mind, body, and soul. If you’re lucky, you’ll survive. The first time I threw up, I was 14. I had no idea how to cope with the emotional pain of trauma; I was simply trying to survive. Bulimia was my coping tool.
When I started purging, I was doing it once a day. I became obsessed with my weight, with calories, with my body. Purging drowned out all the emotional pain I was feeling. Within a year, my disease took over my whole world. I was throwing up 15 times a day and my body was starting to feel the effects. My throat burned, my stomach hurt all the time, and my heart would race uncontrollably. I was exhausted. My muscles ached when I had to climb stairs, yet I made myself run 3 miles everyday. I was completely consumed in my disease. Every waking hour was wrapped up in planning my next binge and purge. Where was I getting the money? Which drive thru was I going to hit? What was I going to order? Where was I going to throw up?
I had no idea what I was getting into. OK that’s a lie…I had an idea. I knew that we —myself and the guy I was dating at the time — were going to something called a “Turn On” event led by One Taste. I also knew this event was an intro to an Orgasmic Meditation (OM) practice. The event was held inside a sketchy building in China Town and, in classic New York City fashion, the building also housed a Chipotle and a Pilates studio. I was expecting a room of weirdos and fetishists. I was surprised to see “normal” people as young 20 and as seasoned as mid-50s. There were a few couples, a few people of color, but mostly single, white, men and women….
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This morning, while chatting with one of my clients, she asked, “How do I cope with the guilt of setting myself up for failure by not following through with a set goal?”. I believe she was actually experiencing shame, not guilt. (My homegirl, Brene Brown has made a career out of identifying the difference between the two feelings). The goal my client was referring to was her participation in an online accountability group I started this month called #soberinjune. A few days into June, my client realized she was not in a place where she can take on this challenge.
I answered her question by asking a few of my own: “What’s your Why? Why did you initially decide to be sober for a month, and why did you change your mind?” This “ask why” advice can actually be applied to most aspects of goal setting.