Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

I’m Not Ashamed Anymore

I’ve always loved Vogue magazine.  I remember reading it when I was younger and feeling glamorous for simply turning the pages.  I envisioned myself all swanky and sophisticated.  I imagined how I’d look tall, thin and elegant.

So I spent a good deal of my life trying to be just that.  I had the tall part down.  God helped me there.  I did my very best to be elegant but after a few too many glasses of wine that image went down the tubes.  Clearly I achieved the physical shape I had idealized but we all know I went way too far and then way too deep.

It took me six years after getting sober to admit I needed help for an eating disorder.   There are more reasons for this than blog space to list them, but for now we’ll focus on shame.

I was ashamed for how I looked.  I was ashamed for how I was behaving.  I was ashamed each time I looked into my husband’s eyes and saw his fear.  I was ashamed each time my father hugged me and I felt that slight pull as he tried to keep his tears from falling.

I was never so ashamed than the day I walked into the eating disorder treatment center.  I felt like a failure and a woman in mid-life who had no idea how to live in a healthy manner.

Upon leaving there, I stepped out of the shadows as a repurposed woman.  I was no longer ashamed, but proud.  I was not longer in fear of what others would think but rather what I could do to help another woman in mid-life who struggles in secret.

This is why I blog.  This is why I’m writing my book.  This is why I welcome the opportunity to tell my story if only to say, “I know.  I’ve been there.  You aren’t alone.”

Over these last few years I’ve been interviewed for, and featured in, several articles.  Some include my last name, some don’t.  I don’t care.  I’m not ashamed.

Last September, Meghan Casserly, staff writer for used my story as the subject for her article, “Eating Disorders and The Executive Woman.”  Although my last name was not used, I heard from some friends who saw the article, knowing it was me. What most of them wanted to tell me was how proud they were of my willingness to take my private experiences public.   They’re right, I’m not ashamed anymore.

Today I’m reminded of this.  After sending my husband off to work with a kiss, I shifted focus to working on my book.  My usual routine is to grab a cup of coffee and pursue online articles about alcoholism, eating disorder recovery and if available, anything specifically related to women in mid-life.

A smile mile-wide spread across my face.  There is was, Vogue magazine taking a stance on eating disorders.  According to the article, “Vogue’s New Beauty Standard:   No Underage Models or Eating Disorders”, beginning with the June issue (on sale this month), Vogue will not work with models who appear to have an eating disorder.

My how things come full circle.  Once I turned to this magazine to look at those swanky woman and today I’m turning to it in support of their stance to bring light to the dangers of eating disorders.

As I scrolled down the page, my eye caught a link to that article from last September.  My heart opened knowing the editors of felt compelled to link these two stories together.

And then I clicked onto that September article and for a moment, time stopped.  My eyes locked onto the number of hits …14,575.

No, I’m not ashamed anymore, I’m hopeful because if only one of those 14,575 people reaches out for help, my shame turned into my gift.

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