Even with over two years of recovery under my belt, there are still some areas of my life that I constantly have to work on. Although most urges are nowhere near as strong as they were in the beginning of my recovery, they still exist. They serve as a reminder that I have to take my recovery journey one day at a time. I also have to come to terms with the fact that I am choosing a life most may never understand. While this can sometimes be difficult, it also means that I have chosen a life where I am willing and able to share my experiences in recovery: both the good and the bad.
Taking Fitness too Far
The first time I learned that I was the perfect candidate for addiction was when my healthy habit of weight training turned into an obsession of burning as many calories as possible. My weight turned into the only thing I cared about, and it even prevented me from having a normal social life. I couldn’t function without calculating every calorie I put in my body.
It wasn’t long before my overtraining and restricted eating caused me to hit my lowest weight. This sparked concerns from the athletic training staff of the university where I was playing college soccer at the time. After being reprimanded for my low weight and banned from using the weight room, I resorted to a new means of keeping my figure as thin as I could: speed, Adderall, and any other stimulant I could get my hands on.
My relationship with food and exercise is still something I must actively work on because I still notice times when I think about these things in an unhealthy way. Learning to love my body and the skin I am in has been one of the hardest parts of recovery. Now, I make sure that I exercise with good, healthy intentions, instead of exercising to abuse myself or run from my feelings.
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Addiction in Everyday Life
Just because I stopped using drugs and drinking myself into multiple blackouts a week, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t going to find something else to abuse and distract myself with. My first vice after recovery was caffeine. I drank it constantly, and needed it every single day. There came a point where I had to honestly evaluation how much caffeine I was consuming and why I was drinking so much of it. Eventually, I recognized that it was less about the coffee, and more about the surge of energy I experienced if I drank enough of it.
Since I began my recovery, there have been a handful of “normal” routines, like drinking caffeine, that I have had to let go of. It’s easy to use a seemingly safe, legal substance inappropriately and tell yourself that it’s okay. When you’re an addict, you can take almost anything and turn it into a harmful habit. Now, whenever I use something to feel good or find relief, I try to take a deeper look at my motivations and the potential consequences of my behavior. Gradually, I’ve developed better coping mechanisms for myself. Abuse of anything is still abuse, even if it’s considered normal to the average person.
Addiction Remains After Substances
If you understand what it means to live with addiction, you know that just because you removed the drugs or alcohol from your life doesn’t mean that you no longer suffer from addiction. I no longer give into my addiction because I know that I can only live my best life by choosing recovery each day moving forward. Once you are able to recognize when your actions may lead you back down the wrong path, you can see just how far you have come in your life of recovery. Be okay with the fact that recovery is not always going to be perfect, but also, be at peace with knowing that nobody ever said it was going to be. I promise it will be worth it, though.