Although men are more likely than women to become addicts, women develop physical and social consequences faster than men. It’s more difficult for women to quit and easier to relapse. Most treatment programs were developed based on research in men. We, women, need to walk with other women through recovery.
“Hi! My name is Kim and I am an alcoholic.” In retrospect, the addiction began with a glass of wine during a photo-shoot in Nashville at the age of 19. Before that time, I had not drunk alcohol of any kind, because I was a “good girl.” I knew my father to be an alcoholic as well. The first semester of college passed, and I still maintained firm convictions that good girls don’t drink. The voice in my head screamed, “Good girls don’t binge and throw-up either.” I could not bear this reality. So, with one glass of wine to numb the pain, I discovered a short-lived vacation from the guilt.
This, “good girl”, became the “crazy girl” that semester. Fraternity parties blurred by as I found “freedom” in the bottle. I managed to balance studies with modeling and partying, but it had its cost… And the guilt grew. I decided that, “doing”, might help. So I renewed my efforts to attend church, and decided that a Master’s degree might fix me. Upon completion at Vanderbilt, I took a job in Orlando.
I was exhausted by the compulsion to exercise, work, binge, and study over and over again. Alcohol came to be the relief I longed for to cover over my guilt and hopelessness. One night, alone in my apartment, I was so rocked with cramps and chills. I couldn’t get off of the bathroom floor and it left me with a feeling that I would surely die. The horror of being found dead in my apartment like this was unbearable. My habit had been to tell God how sorry I was and that I really, really meant to quit this time. However, I knew this time that I couldn’t do, or even promise to do anything. In a simple way that I can only see on the voice of the Savior, I whispered through tears, “Save me!” I believe a shift had taken place that night.
Months later, I married my husband. Not long afterward, he showed me unconditional love mixed with astonishment as he came home to find me drunk. The active bulimic behaviors subsided and my husband helped me see that my value is not in my appearance.
Three years later, I joined AA and met women just like me. I learned that we need to identify and admit the bad news about ourselves and the powerlessness we have apart from God.
I still wrestle with my inner voices and what I see in the mirror. The desire to self-medicate with food or anything plagues me still.