More Than My Fair Share
When I first found sobriety, I was told I had the disease of addiction and was therefore an “addict.” This made sense to me, and it helped to alleviate a lot of the guilt and shame I felt over my behaviors that were counterproductive to my survival and happiness. I have since come to understand that childhood traumas exacerbated my addiction and eating disorder.
During my childhood, I experienced more than my fair share of trauma. Growing up outside of my native country of Canada, I felt like an outsider. The sexual abuse I experienced on numerous occasions from people whom I was meant to trust made this feeling even worse.
These and other traumas seeped into my psyche, leaving wounds I was too young to understand or handle; I attempted to deal with them as well as I could. My wounds were the driving force for many years of self-destructive behavior. I was completely unaware that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
My first attempt at coping was bulimia. I began making myself vomit when I was 13 years old, just as my family and I moved back to Canada from overseas. The burden of my life felt too heavy. In my daily binges and purges, I found a measure of control that gave me solace in what I felt was an uncontrollable world.
The bulimia progressed rather quickly. I began by throwing up once a day; by the end of my first year, I was vomiting more than 13 times a day. I became obsessed with my weight. The importance of being thin took precedence over everything in my life. I escaped into my daily caloric counting, late night binges and search for money that I could spend on forbidden delicacies. With each bite I took, I pushed my traumas further and further down, hoping they’d never resurface.
I entered treatment for my eating disorder at the age of 17. To a certain extent, I felt relieved because I believed I was finally going to face my problem and overcome it. I spent the next five weeks in treatment. When I was discharged, I began attending National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) meetings and tried my best to put my demons to rest.
My relief proved to be temporary, though. Within a year, I was back to bingeing and purging. By this time, I had also added drugs and alcohol to my repertoire of trauma therapy.
Looking back, I suppose a part of me knew that drinking and using drugs was not the best idea given my other issues, but I was young, scared and lost. I wanted to fit in, and drinking and using drugs offered this opportunity, all with the added benefit of making my pain go away.
Throughout these years, my goal was to deaden the pain that was enveloping me, a pervasive pain that touched every aspect of my being. I spent many years avoiding my thoughts and secretly hating myself because of what had been done to me. I had to throw everything I had at the pain to avoid feeling it. Many alcoholics and addicts try to avoid the pain to their death. This is something I find tremendously sad, yet it is something I clearly understand.
At the time when my addiction and eating disorder were out of control, I did not yet have the option of facing my trauma. My solutions for dealing with these traumas still seemed to be working. When an unwanted emotion would emerge, I’d pop a pill. Poof! It would be gone. If the emotion came back stronger, I’d drink, binge and purge until it would disappear into the dark recesses of my mind.
This worked for years until the day came when drinking, using and controlling my food did nothing to alleviate my pain. The burden of my life was too much, and I felt I was left with just two options: I could kill myself or I could enter treatment again. Fortunately, I chose the latter.
This time, things were different. When I went through treatment at age 17, I was just a potential addict, not yet having reached the depths I found in later years. I had not yet amassed the arsenal of traumas now weighing me down, and I had not been open to the idea of true healing. That first stay in treatment was about overcoming my eating disorder. This stay was about healing and coming to terms with my past.
I embarked on this uncomfortable journey of healing and self-discovery a little over two years ago. I listened to the suggestions that were given to me. I worked the Twelve Steps, and I began to take a look at my past from a different perspective.
I confronted the events that had plagued me for so many years, and I began to process them and grieve. I entered intensive therapy for my PTSD and I began to heal. I realized that the drinking, using and controlling my eating were merely temporary bandages over deep wounds. I had to properly deal with my traumas before I could hope to experience the peace and healing I so desperately desired.
I did find peace through this process. It took time, but it did come. I finally stopped running from my past. I now see how my childhood traumas kept me sick and fed my addiction and eating disorder. By facing them, I hope never to return to those dark days of suffering.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about the disease of addiction. She has traveled extensively throughout North and South America. A single mom to two beautiful children, she has found parenting to be the most rewarding job in the world. Rose lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and is the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing in Boca Raton, Florida.