What is process addiction ?
A process addiction is an addiction that does not include drugs. Intervention works for all addictions.
In order to talk to you about recovery, first I have to talk to you about addiction. I have never been a heroin addict, I’ve never been a meth addict, in fact I’ve never done anything along those lines. When I tell people that I was in rehab the first thing they assume was that I abused drugs or alcohol, it seems impossible for some people to grasp that I wasn’t a substance abuser, I was a “self-abuser”. Commonly referred to as a process addiction.
My Testimony about process addiction.
I grew up with a father who was abusive in every way you could imagine, and a mother who was emotionally indifferent. The first time I ever took a knife to my skin, I was only 8 years old. Initially I did it simply because I thought it might provoke a loving response from my parents, and when it didn’t it quit being about them and started being about me. I kept cutting, kept going deeper, I kept pushing my body to its limit. The high I seemed to receive from it didn’t compare to anything else in my life. When I cut myself it was like I was somewhere else, it made me feel as though no one else could ever hurt me. When I was bleeding I was invincible.
At age 15, I stepped on a scale and it read 205 lbs. I had been overweight since I was 13, and had been tortured for it by everyone in my family. I wanted to be skinny like they were, I wanted to be what they would consider beautiful so that I could be loved. I starved myself for 3 months and lost 60 pounds. After my starvation was over, I began purging every time I ate. I felt like I was in control of myself. The high I got from cutting mixed with the control I felt from losing weight put me on my own miserable Cloud 9.
I hid my scars quite well, and when I started to run out of room on my body I would simply cut over the old scars, over and over. When cutting didn’t hurt me enough, I began burning myself. I would hold a pair of sewing scissors up to a lighter for a minute or so until it was glowing red, and then I would press it into my skin. I put out cigars and cigarettes all over my body, I would take glass bottles and beat my knees and shins with them, I would cut deep gashes into the inside of my mouth to keep myself from being able to eat. At the time I thought that I was protecting myself, I thought that if I put myself through as much pain as I could physically handle, I would make myself stronger. Looking back now I realize that the person I was lying to the most was me. I hated myself, I was disgusted every time I looked in the mirror. I had made five serious suicide attempts since I was ten years old, I wasn’t doing that because I wanted to be stronger, I was doing those things because I was miserable.
When I was 16 years old, I finally told my mom what I was doing. It had taken me 8 years, but I had finally hit rock bottom, and I needed her help. At first she met me with resentment, and then finally some sort of motherly instinct kicked in. I wanted so badly to change, I was desperate, and because of that, so was my mom. She reached out to an old high school friend of hers that did drug and alcohol interventions, and my mom’s friend agreed to meet me at a Starbucks in Tulsa. That was the day that I met Holly Conklin.
I poured my soul out to her, for the first time I actually let someone see what was left of my soul. I didn’t lie, I didn’t try to undersell what I was doing, I gave her the honest truth, and that was the first time I had ever even been that honest with myself. She allowed me to do that.
Soon after I found myself on a plane headed to rehab. Holly Conklin was by my side, and I was terrified. I had never been on my own before, and I was going to be there for 3 long months. It was a hard decision to make, to leave everything I knew on the off chance that it might save my life, but it was certainly the right one.
When I reached rehab I was met with warmth, acceptance, and understanding, all things that I had been unfamiliar with. I was the youngest patient they had ever seen walk through their doors, and I was definitely not one of their typical cases, but all the same they received me with open arms.
The people I met in rehab varied greatly, the other patients all had a wild assortment of vices, and for once I didn’t feel like I was alone. We were all in the same place for the same reason, in one way or another. The other patients became like my family, as did the counselors, but there was one woman who stood out to me in particular. She had practically the same back story as me. We had both been sexually, physically, and mentally abused by our fathers, and she had the same history of cutting and eating disorders. For the first time in my life I was able to connect with someone who completely understood what I was going through. After talking, crying, and laughing with her, I was no longer ashamed or embarrassed by my story. In our group therapy sessions I was able to bare my soul. I was able to let out everything that had ever hurt me, everything that was weighing me down, and I was freed from it.
Through the help of all natural supplements that got my body completely healthy, and the support of everyone around me to get my mind completely healthy, I saw so many changes in myself that I was practically a different person entirely.
Those three months that I had dreaded went by too fast. When I returned home all I wanted to do was run back to where I felt wanted. Coming home seemed scarier than leaving had, but with the support of everyone I had met in rehab and my friends and family at home, I took everything in stride.
Rehab is not a miracle cure. You can’t go sit in therapy and listen to everyone else’s stories and get better. You have to be ready to let go of your pain, let go of everything you know, and let in everything that’s good. You have to be willing to be honest to the people trying to help you, and you have to be completely honest with yourself. It was the hardest, most rewarding, and most moving thing I have ever done. It changed me inside and out, it made me feel beautiful, it made me want to hold on to the goodness in me and let go of the bad.
Three years after going to rehab, I am 19 years old and writing down my story. I have a job, an apartment, I’m genuinely happy, and for the first time since I was 8 years old I have gone over a year without hurting myself. So many things in my life have changed and all of them for the better. No, rehab was not an instant fix, but it was the catalyst to a chain reaction of good things. If I hadn’t gone I never would have learned how to love myself, I never would have learned that I wasn’t alone, I never would have faced my fears, or the things that were dragging me so far down that I could barely breathe. The person I have to thank for this is Holly Conklin and Angel Intervention. She continues to counsel with me to this day. If you’re reading this, she’s involved in your life somehow, and she’s watching over you too. Whether my story sways you at all, or you just shrug it off, take my advice: Do what she says, you won’t regret it.
May this be the beginning of the best you can be,