Every time I am asked to share my personal story/experience, I feel it changes a bit. Although I am
sure I only have one life, the reason for this is that thanks to this process called ‘being in
recovery,’ we keep evolving on a personal development level, every day a bit more.
“Recovery is not a destination, it’s a journey”, they said.
I fell on my knees in June 2016 to ask for help; the reason being that I thought for the first
time that I lost control over my ‘best friend’; a bottle of Vodka. The Friday morning, I had to
choose between going through the withdrawals of stop drinking after a 5-month binge to be
clean for my brother’s wedding or to keep drinking and not ‘feel’ any physical or mental pain.
“H.O.P.E, Hold On Pain Ends”, they said.
At that stage, my life was a complete mess but even worse, a complete lie. I thought I was a
performer; I thought I was a perfectionist, I thought I was all these fantastic things that
slowly but surely pushed me in a negative spiral when reality proved me wrong. “I didn’t
fail, I paid for a lesson”, they said.
It started at the age of 16 when I sought attention through food control; they call it an eating
disorder. Losing 20kg in 60 days was my next-planned goal, and unfortunately, I reached this
goal. My behavior changed; from an extrovert, joyful young lady, I became withdrawn,
isolated, self-absorbed, self-willed, and irrational. Anorexia Nervosa became Bulimia as my
body was craving food more and more. Hanging over a toilet seat while planning your next
trip to the grocery store became the source of my unmanageability. “If you listen to your
body when it whispers, you will never have to listen to it when it screams”, they said.
And then I discovered alcohol and this voice in my head went quiet for a few moments, and
I could ‘enjoy.’ My motives for drinking alcohol were still ‘on point’ at that stage; why should
I worry if I woke up in the hospital because of alcohol poisoning if the reason I drank was
‘having fun’? The more I drank, the more remorse/guilt I felt the next morning because I
could not remember what happened the night before. “Shame dies in exposure”, they said.
Being raised in a healthy and loving household, suddenly some ‘incidents’ came my way; a
very hectic break up with the first love of my love, a divorce, death from closed ones, body
changes due to over-eating and liters of alcohol; the perfect excuses to now release all
performing skills/ all overcompensating skills and go and drink ‘alcoholically.’ My university
degree wasn’t necessary any longer. The primary focus became ‘my next drink.’ “What
consumes your mind, controls your life”, they said.
Fortunately, once again, my family had not given up on me [yet]. They pulled me out of my’
6 months drinking and drugging escapade’ and finished my degree under my family’s strong
watch. Drinking at this point was not an option, so I picked up my relationship with food
again or man [men]… All this to run away from Morgane, as at that stage, looking at myself
in the mirror was so painful. “If the alcohol doesn’t kill you, the lifestyle will”, they said.
Hiding this disease became a more difficult task; I used to ‘cover’ my addiction to
food/booze/men with overcompensating in other ways, such as achieving good school marks,
succeeding in sport, engaging in intellectual challenges, etc. ‘You can only wear a mask for a
certain amount of time”, they said.
Addiction is a progressive disease; it does not get better if you do not ask for help. My rapid
downhill spiral proved this. Physical dependency on alcohol was inevitable, and indeed at the
age of 23 in 4 months’ time, I became dependent on my best friend, the bottle of Vodka. I lost
control; my focus was the next bottle and how I would get the next bottle, pay for it and hide
it. This consumed my mind for 99% of the day. “A physical dependency and a mental
obsession,” they said.
Why did an in-patient program in South Africa work for me and not the numerous
psychologists, psychiatrists, alcohol coaches I ‘had’ to try in Belgium? The only difference is
that for my intake in South Africa, ‘I’ was the one asking for help as I truly ‘wanted’ help
and not everyone else telling me I ‘needed’ help. “Recovery is for those who want it, not those
who need it”, they said.
Through this process, I realized that this disease has little to do with the substance [alcohol,
food, narcotics, and people in my case] but more around the behaviors and why I grabbed
those substances. Sobriety from these substances was only the beginning, then the real work
began. And that, unfortunately, is the hard part. “Everything you want is on the other side of
fear”, they said.
Do I feel grateful for being an alcoholic? No. As a young woman, it is challenging and rigid
sometimes, and one needs a lot of perseverance not to get drawn back to that first drink.
However, today I feel I am equipped with tools to deal with life-on-life terms, and for that, I
am grateful. “You are always one decision away from a total different life’, they said.
I have the opportunity to give back to the still suffering addict by my passion and profession;
by providing a helping hand to someone else, I remind myself of where I come from and how
I do not want to go back there. “You only keep what you have by giving it away”, they said.
www.libertyhome.co.za – Reach out.