by Rose Lockinger
Before I got sober I had no idea what it felt like to healthy or live a healthy lifestyle in recovery. I had not idea what it was like to naturally be energetic or be able to sleep through the night. In active addiction I had accepted so many lies as the reality in my day to day life.
The funny thing about living in active addiction is the extent that you believe your own “truths”. For so long I thought that my eating disorder, drugs and alcohol had no effect on my appearance or well-being and, to be honest for the first honeymoon period, they had limited short term effects that sleep or eating solved. There were times when especially in regards to my body I convinced myself that my eating disorder helped and enhance my appearance.
This, however, was not the case once my relationship got “serious”. I was not misinformed about the impact that long-term drug use and alcohol use has on the body or mind. I knew anyone growing up in this day and age is made aware of “what drugs and alcohol do to you”. It’s part of our education in school. You are shown graphic images of livers and lungs that are diseased by smoke and alcohol. The thing about this is most people live in the belief that it will never happen to them.
When I was actively using I lived in a delusional dream state unaware of just how much I was affecting myself. I couldn’t see what others saw; like the swollen cheeks or scraped knuckles when I was actively bulimic. Or how after a night of hard drinking I oozed alcohol out of my pores regardless of the shower and perfume I used to try to cover up the smell.
Towards the end I was literally a skeleton, my face was hollowed out and gaunt, my eyes dull and lifeless were sunken with huge dark circles, my hair brittle and breaking, my skin dry, pale and thin stretched tightly over knobby bones. Yet at the end, I was so blind thinking that I was at the height of my attractiveness because I had finally reached a certain weight.
It wasn’t just the outward appearance that was starting to show the strain of addiction. Physically my body was feeling the toll, I was exhausted most of the time a bone weary tired that made me just want to lay down and sleep yet I couldn’t sleep when I finally could lay down. My heart would race a lot and at times I worried about how fast it was beating. I had constant stomach pain and there were days when my liver just hurt. My bones ached and most of the time everything just ached. It did not go away and alcohol and drugs just numbed it for a time. At the end, even they did not take it away.
When I finally went to treatment. I hadn’t really slept in years; I just passed out for a couple of hours if I was lucky and an hour if it was a particularly bad night. The thing I remember the most were my eyes. They were dead when I looked in the mirror I saw this empty shell of a human looking back at me.
My eating disorder during my active addiction was completely out of control. I had completely lost the idea or concept of what it meant to eat in a healthy manner. My body was so malnourished and weak when I finally went to treatment. For me, this meant that once I got sober I had a longer journey in finally starting to feel better.
So to tell you how sleep deprived I was I slept for the first five days of detox, I barely woke up to take meds or have vitals taken. It was the biggest blessing I had gotten in years. I had not slept like that for sooooo long. When I finally woke up I spent the next two days walking around in a blanket going to therapy appointments or trying to eat. Eventually, I was able to start eating and started to feel a little better. But I was still very weak and shaky. I didn’t have the experience that a lot of people do where you take away the alcohol and drugs and they immediately start to feel better after they detox. The first month was rough my body had a lot of healing to do.
When I got down to Florida I started to notice a difference. I finally started to sleep a little better at night. If I could fall asleep I could usually sleep through the night. I was no longer plagued by restless legs no longer tossing and turning the night away. My mind was starting to quiet a little, the racing thoughts were lessening but honestly, it was months before I was able to easily fall asleep and stay asleep. This was a gift as I had been an insomniac from a very young age.
Over the last 2 years, the quality of sleep that I experience has continued to improve. Upon falling asleep I usually stay asleep only waking when my alarm goes off. I never really slept during my active addiction, just lay there agonizing over not being able to sleep and getting more and more frustrated with my inability to go to sleep.
Physically I feel so much better!!!! I had to emphasize that statement. I no longer have the aches and pain or the bone weary fatigue that used to plague me. I no longer start my morning leaning over a trash can or kitchen sink because I can’t make it to the toilet to throw up. I have a morning routine that I treasure, I don’t wake up rushed and worried about my day for the most part I get to enjoy and drink my coffee. Taking part in my morning meditation, as well as a reading and simple prayer to start the day.
My appearance has improved significantly, in particular, my skin is glowing today with no breakouts and really smooth. It’s no longer pale and dry. It wasn’t until returning to Virginia and hearing the many comments from different people that I looked so good. I had no idea that I really did look very sick towards the end. I had not been able to see how frail I looked. I am always kind of taken aback by the compliments as I want to tell them that I really don’t I gained 40 pounds or are they really sure about that, instead, I say thank you. I try to appreciate that maybe they have a point if so many people are saying the same thing.
Perhaps for me, the most important one has been my eyes. I was terrified to look into my eyes during active addiction and even once I got sober it took time for the life to come back. For that gleam and luster to appear, that is lost when you are actively using. It’s the first thing to go, and the first thing I notice about anyone who is actively using. Their eyes are and lifeless. The saying “eyes are the windows to the soul” comes to mind as in active addiction you do begin to lose your soul. It slips away with every act you commit that go against your core beliefs.
Today I am slowly but surely learning how to eat in a healthy nutritious manner. This has not been an easy process and at times is challenging as I learn balance.
For me, sobriety has not only healed my body but slowly has started to heal my mind. On a deeper level, it is healing my spirit this whole process is slowly picking up the broken pieces and putting them back together. I have been just one body with which to live this life I intend to keep this one healthy for as long as possible. Sobriety has given me a second lease on life and I will be forever grateful.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.