Big changes stem from small decisions, which in turn derive from a multitude of thought processes, some monumental and others seemingly insignificant. I see the world differently today than how I did a couple of years ago; my eyes take in an alternative universe, a place which is poles apart from the world I once thought I lived in.
Being addicted to something that ruins you is a pretty difficult way to live. When I was a teenager I was hooked on starving myself, obsessed by skipping meals and weighing myself, throwing up on purpose and counting the days that had passed since I last ate.
I once got dragged along to the doctors by a well-meaning friend who thought I really should get help, but I suffered a panic attack in the waiting room which in turn brought on a gushing nose bleed, and so I ran outside to the car and never went back.
I resolved that first instance of self-harm when I found myself pregnant with my eldest daughter. It suddenly dawned on me that the human body is quite remarkable and I loved mine for being able to nourish and grow this tiny life inside it. The urge to starve myself disappeared.
New motherhood meant that cigarettes and alcohol fell by the wayside too, until the onslaught of my divorce a few years later hit me like a train, tugging at the destructive seeds of self-abuse that had been lying dormant all those years, poking and teasing them out until they emerged slowly, but full of vigour, from where they’d been hiding.
Then came the booze addiction, which was far more tenacious than the eating disorder. It became entrenched in my conscience and mindset, it defined who I thought I was, becoming the reason why I did anything and everything, the motivation for the choices I made; it was behind the selection of my friends and boyfriends and the path I followed in life.
I didn’t know I was addicted to alcohol, and so its insidious and altogether socially acceptable qualities enabled it to creep up on me unawares, pulling me down a dark and dangerous road, all the while soothing and comforting me, and making all the pain seem like it was normal. A persistent voice in my head told me that I was not a good person and that all the bad stuff that happened was down to some inherent characteristic of mine. The doomed relationships, financial struggles, unsatisfying jobs, failure to make something out of myself – I reasoned them all away by telling myself that I was not worthy of the good stuff.
It’s easy to keep on hurting yourself if you believe you are no good. And, I have to be honest, there is something oddly comforting in being a misery in that way – you know where you are, right at the bottom, and so you figure you can’t go any lower. You fight the fight each day with a willing acceptance that things can’t get any worse, and anyway, there’s always the alcohol to numb feelings when things really hit the fan. You can derive comfort from knowing that you don’t belong in that cosy, false reality that is so ubiquitously present in Hollywood films, and top up your diminishing pride by relishing in being The Outsider. It bolsters the belief that you deserve to get drunk, because nobody understands you anyway and nobody truly cares.
You’re trapped, in one of those steel-jaw leghold varieties used by hunters; when the jaws slam shut around the flesh, the struggle to escape results in endless tearing of the flesh, ripped tendons and unintentional amputations – a one-man bloodbath created by the trapped animal itself, fighting to the end to get free, ultimately shredding itself to ragged streamers of flesh.
It takes years to find one’s self ensnared in that way, and then all of a sudden, there you are – stuck in that awful place, knowing neither how you arrived, nor how to escape.
Big changes stem from small decisions, which in turn derive from a multitude of thought processes, some monumental and others seemingly insignificant.
Little thoughts begin to niggle at the back of your mind, a notion here, and an idea there. Over time you begin to act on them and the way that life changes around you as a result, how you find yourself featuring in different scenarios and discovering that you actually enjoy them, these things make a dent in the way you act; they begin to shape your new design.
And just as it takes an eternity for life to unravel in such a way that you finish off caught in the vice-like jaws of a steel trap, so it takes time to wind itself in and unfurl all over again, in a completely new and ameliorated form.
Reactions need to occur, and behaviours given the chance to draw a response from people around you. It’s self esteem that’s required; that’s the key to breaking out of the addiction cycle and starting afresh. Self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence; the three amigos that shape the souls of happy people.