Finding Joy – Addiction Recovery

Over the last few years, I have taken a lot of the things I have relied on to give me “happiness” and removed them from my l life.

My addictions.

My vices.

My crutches.

My coping mechanisms.

My dirty little secrets.

Gluten – pizza, bread, pasta, cupcakes mmmm and croissants, oh and bagels! Oh how I miss bagels!

Alcohol – red wine, I loved me some red wine, craft beer and gin.

Men – preferably tattooed, tall, bearded and covered in red flags. My fave.

Well, I didn’t really remove ALL the joy, but some days it feels like I have. Those are usually only on the days when I am sad and lonely or neglected to go grocery shopping. The bad feelings pass relatively quickly, usually after I eat, but it happens. I am only human after all.

Once you get passed the feelings of loneliness, being alone is actually quite enjoyable; preferable, even.

I still struggle. Some days I take it day by day, some days I take it hour by hour. There are days when the loneliness and hunger get the best of me and I feel overwhelmed and defeated. There are days when I just want to drown my sorrows and numb out my pain with a bottle of red and a juicy burger. These thoughts happen. I won’t lie. They used to break me down and consume me. The feelings becoming almost unbearable to manage on my own. I would cave, and that’s ok! That’s more than ok . I’ve learned that you can’t beat yourself up over each relapse and mistake. Relapses and mistakes happen, these are experiences and they are a necessity of life. Each relapse brings you closer to clarity… but only when you are ready and willing to open your eyes and face the reasons around why it is you need to COPE in the first place. #TruthBomb

I may have removed a few things that brought me “happiness” at one point in my life, but each of these things also had a lot of pain, guilt, and shame associated with them.

So, I’ve replaced them with more positive and uplifting things. More productive and life-affirming things. I’ve cut the toxins and instead chosen to replace them with things infused with LOVE and genuine joy. I’ve taken on vulnerability and I’ve chosen ME over numbness, obsession and pain.

In my opinion, addictions are used to either make you FEEL something or NUMB something out. What happens when you are in limbo of feeling too much, but also nothing at all? My alcohol addiction made it so I could numb the pain, the heartache and all the thoughts and feelings I could never make sense of in my head. I used alcohol in an attempt to stop the constant plague of thoughts and emotions that flowed through my mind on a daily basis. I thought I was using it to help manage my anxiety, but in reality it was only making it worse.

The men and food brought me pleasure… albeit temporary and fleeting and riddled with guilt and shame. Undoubtedly, the reason for the encounter was almost always an attempt to fill a void that is unfillable using these things.

I know this now.

I know this now ONLY because I have put the work in to heal those parts of me that I thought needed them.

I have taken those shame demons out of my closet and I forced myself to face them, look at them right in the eye, and braced myself for battle.

The only reason I am where I am right now is because I’ve allowed myself to get vulnerable, to get messy and only because I’ve been willing to flip over my current state of mind and thought patterns, have I been able to let go, release, heal and start to move forward.

One. Baby. Step. At. A. Time.

Gluten.

I am a stress and emotional eater. I will inevitably eat my feelings in an attempt to cure my stress…. with cupcakes. There are many days when I wish I could stuff my face with pizza, pasta, cake, bread and gravy all day, carelessly and without worry of pain, bloating… or getting fat.

In my eyes… Good food = pure joy <3

Roughly three years ago, I cut gluten out of my diet due to a hypothyroid diagnosis. I had been feeling like an 80-year-old woman and after test after test came back negative and with a healthy diagnosis, I finally went to a naturopath to take a holistic approach. She made some minor tweaks and suggestions. I added extra supplements to my diet and removed gluten. Within a couple weeks, my conditions started to improve. My memory function came back, the brain fog cleared, my joints stopped aching. I started to feel my age again – and it wasn’t 80! I also started to lose weight. The weight I had gained over the last few years finally started to melt away.

Cutting gluten from your diet means that you suddenly become the high maintenance friend that annoys other people with your constant questions about ingredients and need to call ahead to confirm the menu options. It’s harder to eat out. You have to plan more. I’ve learned to read labels more thoroughly. It’s tough in the beginning, but gets easier as you start to know the ropes.

From Coping to Clarity.

I removed some of my favourite coping mechanisms and I regained my mental clarity, true happiness, and freedom from pain.

KIND Bars, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, Gluten Free, 1.4 Ounce Bars, 12 Count

Booze.

On July 20, 2018 – 4 days before my 35th … errr, I mean 29th birthday, I made the life changing decision to stop drinking…. Again. 3rd time is a charm, right!? While I never considered myself an alcoholic (I know now that I am), I had started accepting the fact that I was using my daily glass/bottle of wine to numb out my pain and hide from my demons and avoid vulnerability. I started using every excuse possible to justify my need for a drink.

  • Traffic was bad on the way home – I needed a drink
  • Kids acting like kids, being loud and making a mess – I needed a drink
  • Cat looked at me a little funny – I needed a drink! Jerk.
  • Going out for dinner with friends – We all needed a drink, make that a bottle of wine… or 2
  • Outdoor festival – where’s the beer tent? No qualms waiting in line for 45 minutes
  • Concert – Where’s the bar? $15/beer? No problem. Stand in line for an hour, better get 2 each!

I don’t think we realize how much of our life actually revolves around our next drink. Once we take a step back and observe our habits, we start to understand how much of our lives are dedicated to the drink. We literally plan parties, gathering, get together, dinners, vacations, road trips, etc. around what, where, when and how we can drink. We also spend SHIT LOADS of cash on this stuff.

My reality.

Cutting out the booze meant that I had to face my fears head on. I hadn’t been ready to do that up until this point. My anxiety was spiralling out of control (hospitalized 3x for panic attacks that felt like a full blown heart attack) and I needed to regain control of my life and emotions. I needed to heal. I needed to grow.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Men.

A number of months ago, after yet another shitty experience with yet another poor excuse for a man (I really need to change my taste in men… jesus), I decided that I was done with dating for a while, or at least the seeking part of dating (see my last post on why I Gave Dating a Big F-You). I’ve decided that if it’s meant to be, the perfect man will find me in my natural habitat, where I am safe and protected – in my home.

I decided that I was done putting effort and energy into anyone else that was unworthy of the love I was willing to give.

This decision was three-fold.

  1. I needed to stop using men and relationships as an attempt to FEEL something and fill the void left in my heart. As someone who feels the weight of the world, as well as the emotions and feelings of everyone around her, literally feels EVERYTHING, I’m sure it’s an odd thing to hear that I needed to feel SOMETHING, I know. A select few people will understand how this works.
  2. I was done being a rehabilitation centre for damaged men. I was tired of being abused and taken advantage of. I was tired of the lies, the shitty behaviour, the façade, and the show. I was tired of mending these broken souls and repairing their broken hearts, only to have them to stomp all over me when they were done and move on to be a better man for the next woman.
  3. I needed to get my shit together and really learn to love myself, so I COULD change my taste in men and stop drawing in these “lessons.” I needed to take some time and effort and put in large amounts of work, healing and super extravagant amounts of SELF LOVE. To me, getting my shit together looked a lot like being alone and focusing on loving myself first, taking all that love and energy that I would have been giving to someone else and re-directing it to myself.

In Closing.

Standing up to your demons is some heavy shit and not for the faint of heart. Hey, if it were easy everyone would be doing it, right?! When you remove the buffer, all your trauma, anxiety, broken pieces, pain and suffering are left stark naked, staring you right in the face. It’s enough to push just about anyone back into the sauce, anyone that isn’t armoured up and suited for battle. It WILL kick your ass, trust me. This is why support is so damn important.

Final thought…

I’ll tell you this though, if you are not walking into this battle on your own terms, chances are it’s not going to work long term. This decision comes from deep within your own heart – it’s yours and yours alone. That’s not to say that the support system isn’t needed, because it most certainly is. I’ve quit drinking before. Twice. Neither one of those times was directly for me. Both times I quit to help support my partner at the time. This last time was for me and my own personal journey through healing, it’s been just over 8 months and I still have no desire to change my path.

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