My realness is deep. It’s vulnerable and often emotional. It’s big and messy and even, during a crisis, enormously raw. In the spirit of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
, I’m going to go there — to my full, all-in realness.
This is my story. Recovery begs me to revisit it, and being a recovery advocate demands I respect it.
In 2012, my husband found me in the fetal position on our bedroom floor. It was the morning after a night out.
I had gone out to a local tapas joint for a meal and one drink with a friend who was visiting me from Australia. Well that one drink turned into an entire bottle. That bottle turned into “just one more for the road.” The night ended with me returning home where I spent the rest of the night (and well into the morning) being violently ill with what I can only guess was alcohol poisoning.
As I lay on the floor, unable to move, my husband begged me to go to treatment.
50 percent of people who struggle with an eating disorder are susceptible to substance use disorders.
I had known that I needed help for a long time. I wanted it, even. Inside my mind, I was begging to be saved from the clutches of addiction. I had been in recovery from an eating disorder for six years and had picked up alcohol in attempt to numb the unwanted real
feelings of grief from the loss of my mother.
For two solid years before that day, I had been walking around depressed and isolated in my thoughts.
But, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t go to treatment!
I had many reasons for why treatment was not an option for me. Many of the reasons were legit and many of them were created from fear:
- I have two daughters who I can’t/don’t want to leave
- My family would miss me
- I would miss my family
- How would my husband cope with two toddlers?
- What if my husband forgot to pick my daughters up from daycare?
- How could I be so far away from my daughters?
- What would I tell my boss?
- What if the girls get sick and I’m not there to take care of them?
- What if the girls forget me?
- What if other people find out?
- What would people say about me?
- Where would I say that I have been?
- Treatment might put me in debt
- I need the money for something else
- It will be hard
- I should be able to overcome this myself
- I will look like a failure
- People will judge me
All these thoughts were ruminating in my mind, preventing me from asking for help. I’d already found recovery from an eating disorder
. I knew my drinking was a problem but I didn’t want to go through treatment again.
I didn’t think I was an “alcoholic.” In fact, I could justify the alcohol use; it helped take the edge off of my life as a tired mom of two young girls. Plus, my drinking wasn’t my “primary” illness.
But, my depression and grief were getting worse. And as they got worse, I began using alcohol the same way I’d once used food. I used it to medicate all the those real emotions I didn’t want the world to see — the ones that embarrassed me — the ones that were “too much.”
I used to think my eating disorder would kill me; now I hoped that alcohol would save me. Only it wasn’t saving me.
Alcohol was dragging me down into the rabbit hole where the eating disorder once lived. This is where my husband found me. I was in the dark rabbit hole curled up in a fetal position. And I couldn’t get up. Something had to be done.
“I don’t think you can do it yourself, Rob,” my husband said, standing over me as I lay on the bedroom floor.
“I know,” I finally said. I spoke the words I didn’t want to hear or have anyone else witness.
As I lay on the bedroom floor, I had to come to terms with the real issue about not asking for help. I had to ask myself, was the real problem that I had mental illnesses or was the real problem that I didn’t want people to know I had it?
If we want recovery, there comes a time when we need to get real with ourselves. I knew at that point that I couldn’t continue living the way I was living. As I began to quietly cry, I understood that for every excuse I had for not going to treatment, I could find another reason for why I should. Some of those reasons were:
- My girls needed a mom who was there for them
- To be present for my children, I must first be present for myself
- My husband needed a wife who was a true partner
- I wanted to live — not just survive.
- I wanted to learn how to go through my emotions without numbing them
- I wanted to live my purpose and couldn’t do that while living with this illness
Despite all the reasons I thought I couldn’t go, I went to treatment anyway. There, I discovered that my realness was the very thing that saved my life.
Claiming that I had an illness and being a part of the solution could only be achieved when I accepted myself and everything I was struggling with — including substance abuse. When I claimed my realness — all of it — I claimed myself.
I learned that keeping it real is the very thing that makes recovery possible. Keeping it real saves lives.
Are you being real with yourself? What do you need to get real about to help you on your recovery journey?
Robyn Cruze is author of Making Peace with Your Plate, a popular speaker, and a National Recovery Advocate and online community manager for Eating Recovery Center.
Check out more of Robyn's story of recovery here.