Name: Liz Foster
Location: Dallas, TX
Recovery Date: June, 2016 (codependence), June 19, 2017 (alcohol), June, 2019 (compulsive eating. Have done the head work and am asking the universe for help with the heart work)
Recovering From: Codependence, compulsive eating, and alcohol
About Liz: A single woman who looked for love in all the wrong places, yet found it in the strangest place … herself. Bookworm. Aficionado of outdoor living and the creative side of life.
Q. Before you entered recovery, what did you think the “thing” you were addicted to gave you, did for you, etc.?
A. Food loved me and gave me comfort when I felt sad, unworthy, and unlovable. It was also easier and more appropriate to reach for when you’re 5 years old (and don’t know what scotch can do for you yet). Alcohol provided the same with the added benefit of making me lively while giving me the courage to hide my imperfections, remain invulnerable, and justify my immaturity. Cigarettes were also on the self-destruction mix tape, but I quit smoking 22 years ago.
Q. Now that you are in recovery, what have you learned about that “thing?”
A. Codependence was/is a bottomless pit of dissatisfaction, shame, fear, anger, guilt, and resentment that requires exhausting amounts of energy to maintain. For me, compulsive eating and alcohol abuse were passengers on the bus that codependence was driving, and keeping them on board was prolonging an already miserable trip.
Q. How are you recovering (e.g., 12-step program, rehab, counseling, on your own, etc.)?
A. All of the above. In the beginning, I read volumes of material about codependence and alcoholism that helped me define the problem and set a clear path for recovery. I have used a 12-step program, counseling, group meetings, online recovery tools, and self-help.
Q. In recovery, how do you give yourself what you thought that “thing” provided?
A. Although I was drinking at the time, I first gave myself boundaries which allowed me to put the brakes on being mistreated and taken advantage of. They worked. Seeing and feeling that little bit of confidence in standing up for myself propelled into full-blown recovery from codependence, alcohol, and lastly, compulsive eating.
A. I was totally depleted in my head, heart, body, and soul. Intolerant of everything and everyone. I was walking chronic inflammation: dermatitis, cystitis, gastritis, colitis, tendonitis, myositis…everything hurt. Even my hair hurt. My last hangover lasted 2 1/2 days with headache, nausea, restlessness, and irritability. Numb and indifferent, I pleaded with the universe for a rescue, a break, a job, Mr. Right, Mr. Right Now, anything to get me out of this hell-hole. A day later, I resented the universe for not providing all that. Realized I could dock 1000 ships in my harbor of resentment and none of them was taking me anywhere. A drunk, fat, miserable, resentful martyr I’d become and had finally had enough. Nothing about being sober could be worse than where I was, so I decided to quit drinking.
Q. What has been the hardest part of recovery so far?
A. Self-forgiveness and self-care. Kindness, gentleness, and tenderness are not thoughts/behaviors I’ve directed toward myself my entire life, so learning to do so has been very difficult. Coming to terms with and amending the wide swath of bully behaviors I inflicted on others was easier (although not easy!) than making amends to myself.
Q. What about recovery has been easier than you had anticipated?
A. Not drinking. Mental clarity and awareness are worth way more than any sip of alcohol now. My first chemical romance was with food, and I have/have had more of a psychic draw to food than alcohol. Compulsive eating is currently losing its grip as I continue in recovery. I may not have all my ducks in a row, but they’re at least in the same pond now.
Q. What has helped you the most in recovery?
A. The 12-step process in and of itself. Three years ago, the notion of rattling a thought out of my head onto a sheet of paper was terrifying, and I was consumed with shame about everything related to recovery. But, taking things from thought to word to diction to behavior is a powerful process. Repetition of that process makes it amazing. I also love the serendipity of how each recovery book or tool has made its way to me right when I needed it. The best part has been having the quiet time to pursue recovery. At first, I felt guilty and self-indulgent for having and using the time, but soon saw it as a break from all the over-functioning and busy-ness I was doing and truly learned to appreciate it.
Q. Who has helped you the most in recovery?
A. None of my recovery would have started without these authors: Susan Forward, Pia Mellody, Melody Beattie, Geneen Roth, and Caroline Knapp. I’ve done Pia Mellody’s 12-step program workbook for codependence. Holly Whitaker and Hip Sobriety, She Recovers, and Quit Wining are my favorite online supports. An abundance of Alanis Morissette’s music helped too! Authors of recovery memoirs and friends who have been sober for years also help a lot.
Q. What has been the biggest surprise about recovery?
A. My Higher Power has a great sense of humor and these little nuggets of funny stuff help me keep the faith to keep going. The turnarounds and little miracles happen when you’re aware and ready to receive. They do not happen when you’re impatient and try to push or force the outcome. It took me a while to learn that. When I allow the process to work, the answers and behaviors seem effortless and real.
Q. What role has family played in your recovery?
A. I’ve gotten background support from my brother and aunt; otherwise, none.
Q. Knowing what you do now, what would you tell your pre-recovery self about recovery?
A. “Just do the damn work.”
Q. What would you say to someone who is thinking about recovery?
A. Do it. Absolutely do it. Keep doing it.