One Day At A Time

| by R.S. |

I guess I always felt like I never really fit in with other kids my age. I grew up a military brat, and we moved every two years of my childhood until I was about thirteen. Right around that time my parents got divorced because of my mom’s prescription drug problem. My father retained custody of me and my sister. He did the best he could under the circumstances, but life was chaotic and depressing. Later, I was told I suffered emotional incest by being made to take on the motherly duties of the household.

Around age sixteen I began to party and do drugs because my father was always away on business. My partying progressed to addiction as I made my way through college until my senior year. I struggled to finish my degree.

I dropped out of college and lived with my boyfriend. I let this man define my identity. I had a hard time attracting boys in school. I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind, and I was intelligent. I also felt ashamed of my body since I was usually a size eight and not a size two. So, when this attractive man, eight years my senior, showed interested I was elated. He was everything I fantasized about minus the job, the house, and the car. Oh, but he was beautiful which made me feel beautiful and loved.

He introduced me to heroin and prostitution years later. Our tumultuous relationship landed us in and out of jails and institutions. Eventually, when I turned twenty-five, I had had enough of this lifestyle. I checked myself into rehab and moved into a halfway house after I detoxed. I lived there for six months, but struggled to follow the rules.

Just before I was kicked out of the halfway house, I met a man in a twelve-step program. I moved in with him because I couldn’t afford my own place. I took the bus to my telemarketing job until I could put together enough money to buy a car. Slowly I worked on getting back into school to complete my business degree. Over the next five years I clawed my way through various internships and school. I finally landed a job as an accountant. I was elated. I never thought I would be able to work in accounting because of my theft felony.

However, once I checked all the goals off my list, I felt lost, like I didn’t deserve it. I had married the man from the 12 step program, and we were talking about having a child. I thought that I would need to stop taking my psych meds before I got pregnant, and I did so without the direction of a doctor. I also told myself to lose thirty pounds before I got pregnant so that I wouldn’t get too fat.

Although I had not used drugs in several years, I still used my eating disorder to manipulate my body. It was my last vice, I told myself. I decided to go to the weight loss clinic and get some pills to help me take off the thirty pounds. Before I knew it, I was relapsing on all kinds of prescription medications. I was thirty pounds lighter, but also using drugs again.

I got pregnant much faster than I thought I would. I kept telling myself that I would stop taking the pills next week. This went on until my son was born. He ended up in the NICU and had to be detoxed from the prescription pain meds. The Department of Child Services was called, and I had to fess up to my husband. I hated myself for ruining what should have been the happiest moment of my life. I still look back on it with guilt, shame, and remorse. I remember judging girls in the program so harshly before I did the exact same thing.

I was able to get myself clean again for about six months until the voices in my head kept telling me I was too fat again. I told myself it would be different this time. I would lose weight correctly in a healthy way, but within six months I was right back to where I started. I was living in hell, and did not know where to turn. I kept telling myself I was just like my mother, a failure.

After wrecking my car, I checked myself back into hospital. I was able to pull it together, but this time I decided I needed to do something different. I got honest for the first time about my eating disorder with my husband, doctor, sponsor, and recovery friends. I reached out and asked for help. All of this just happened about fifteen days ago.

I wish I could say this was ten years later, and that I am all better. I currently see a psychotherapist, a dietitian, and internist. I am attending my meetings and therapy groups. I go back to work in a week, and I am scared. Scared that I am not strong enough to beat this alone, but I know that if I reach out to other women and use the tools I have been given I can do this thing – one day at a time.

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