THE FIX CHALLENGE: Join These Former Addicts in Seeking A Natural State
My so-called friend offered me a sensible Plan “B”: I could be thin, beautiful and popular, and still eat anything, anytime. I only had to fall on my knees in front of the toilet, stick my finger down my throat and throw up.
So I went for it. Every day. For several years. The whole thin-beautiful-popular thing went swirling down the drain with each flush. I’d see myself in the mirror, sweating, red-faced, eyes bloodshot, snot and vomit dripping from my nose and mouth, and I would think about ending my life. With my innumerable mortal sins and transgressions, how much worse could a suicide be on my karmic scorecard?
My parents finally blew the whistle the summer I was seventeen. At a time when the other girls were shopping for prom dresses and driving their new cars to the beach with their new boyfriends, I was locked away in a rehab facility for eating disorders. Something in me saw this as a chance to set things right with God. I stopped the bullshit, did the work, got myself back together. In a very short time, I was feeling and looking better than I had in years. My private conversations with God resumed. The message was simple and clear: I was forgiven, blessed, returned from exile. I felt empowered, courageous, divine.
I stayed there for three and a half months. The therapists kept insisting that I had been sexually abused at home, that this was the explanation for my behavior. I tried to tell them that this just wasn’t true. No one had ever hurt me or touched me in that way. They didn’t believe me, and pointed to my denials as evidence that I was lying. Until I admitted it, I would never be free of my addiction. Two weeks before my discharge date, I got called into the office. The program director, counselors, and my parents were all there. Someone, it seems, had been throwing up in the girls’ room. They had an “eyewitness” who said it was me. I swore, truthfully, that it wasn’t. The more I tried to convince them, the more they accused me of lying. I was, in their view, a sick, disturbed, deceitful girl who still needed a lot more of their help. They were planning to keep me another four months. My dad already had his checkbook out.
I blew out of there like a bat out of hell, made it about a mile down the road before my parents pulled up. I was fuming, ready to throw down. I told them if they tried to take me back I would jump out of the fucking car. My dad could hardly even look at me. My mom opened the car door, smiling sadly. Her voice quivered. “I believe you,” she said. “Let’s go home.”
The next few years were a time of profound awakening and spiritual revelation. My journey of love, self-acceptance and personal freedom continued to evolve, though not without a few bumps in the road. My habitual trips to the women’s room declined dramatically, though I would still occasionally overeat. When I felt stuffed or uncomfortable, I would sometimes resort to the tactics and techniques that once led me into rehab, but these episodes became fewer and farther between. I discovered cannabis, which proved to be a great benefit to me. For some people, marijuana stimulates the appetite. For me, the effect was paradoxical. It seemed to help relax me, to quiet my urges and eliminate my cravings for food. I occasionally still experienced fear and anxiousness that my condition might flare up again and I would find myself back down the black hole. My recovery, it seemed, required an almost constant vigilance, an intense, daily exercise of will power.
A decade later, I was introduced to Ayahuasca. Grandmother had other plans for me besides relentless self-control and white knuckles. In her endlessly loving way, she asked to me to simply surrender, and didn’t really ask for anything else. I did what she asked. Almost immediately, my obsession with food and the fear that went with it were lifted. I am aware of the strange irony of using Ayahuasca as a treatment for an eating disorder – something like purging the urge to purge. But the benefits are crystal clear to me: It has now been more than 15 years since my last bulimic episode. I eat only what I want, when I want it. I do not restrict myself, and I have none of the craving, anxiety, or struggle that used to dominate my relationship with food. I am living a life I love. My body, mind, heart and soul are in integrated alignment (most of the time!). And yes, I am beautiful…
DOUG: My own dance with drugs and alcohol began, predictably, in my early teens. It was the late sixties, a time when sex was safe and drugs weren’t addictive. Jim, Jimi and Janis were still alive. I vaguely remember a decade called the seventies, by the end of which I was well married, carelessly shootin’ Cuervo Gold and smokin’ the fine Colombian.
I got real successful in the early eighties, writing and producing for television. 90-hour weeks were the norm. We were gods, masters of the universe, and we found ways to keep our torches aflame. As low man on the creative totem, it was my job to score the blow for our story conferences. Five guys jacked up on Peruvian flake cut with mannitol and phenylpropanolamine blasting stories till dawn. We thought we were geniuses.