From Jail to Self-Acceptance: A Perspective on Recovery
Part 2: Making Changes (Read Part 1 – “Before the Change“)
The haze from shooting up had worn off, and she had been unsuccessful at reaching a rehabilitation center that would accept her. Finally, despite not meeting all the requirements, one center agreed to take her in. She was out of drugs, had pending court dates, and she knew a change was necessary if she was going to have a chance.
Erin Bahadur recalls,
“I finally checked in on May 20, 2010…my sober date. But…the court date was still looming. I thought to myself, ‘As long as I can prove I’ve been taking the right steps they’ll be lenient with me…’ …I was sentenced to 12 months in jail, restitution, community service, and five years probation. I couldn’t believe it…but at the same time, I was in a weird way, relieved.”
While in jail, Erin discovered she had bouts of depression…the environment obviously played a role in that, but when she wasn’t sleeping or reading, she just had her thoughts of guilt and tended to beat herself up a lot for her choices. Erin was offered an opportunity to speak at a forum on prescription drug abuse, and jumped at the opportunity, because it meant she could get out, even if momentarily. Erin says she was fortunate in that her family visited her often. Although it seemed like an eternity, she was finally released after nine months, for good behavior. She then moved in with her sister.
She applied for a job and was turned down because of her record. Applied for another job. Turned down. Yet another. Turned down. After some time had passed, she moved to Virginia and applied for a receptionist position, and was finally hired, then later promoted to office manager.
Defining the essence of addiction
Over time, Erin said she learned to rely on fitness as the great stress reliever. But something odd happened. Even though she had always been physically active in sports–and enjoyed being active–things were different now.
“…she discovered later that the patterns of addiction manifested themselves in many ways.”
Though she didn’t realize it at the time, Erin had a great deal of things she had not yet confronted. While she thought fitness was aiding her in her recovery, and to a point, it was, she discovered later that the patterns of addiction manifested themselves in many ways. At that point in her life, she became fixated on her physical appearance, and so exercise and eating habits became her new obsessions.
“I thought I had to look a certain way on the outside to feel happy on the inside, and I found myself overdoing it with my training.” said Erin. Eventually, she suffered a stress fracture from running. As with the trials of addiction with substances, Erin had to experience pain to identify patterns of addiction in other areas, so that change could take place.
More time passed, and she embraced her love of writing and continued with her fitness journey–this time, more deliberately, and with a healthier mindset; this led her to pursue and acquire certifications in personal training. For Erin, blog writing was therapeutic, not only for purposes of purging what resided in her mind for so long, but also because it allowed for adopting honesty more readily. Erin admitted a great deal of the writing was for her and what she needed at the time, but she also knew it could help others in need of hearing her story. It’s often difficult to put into words the transformation one experiences from having lived from one drink or one hit away to the next, to a life of openness, honesty, sharing, leading, and teaching. One might say it’s simply a matter of what habits you develop. For Erin, she’s motivated by the responses she receives from blog readers – either those seeking recovery or in recovery. Erin also speaks at national police training conventions, interviews, podcasts, and other forums where she can share her story and perspective on addiction.
Six years later, Erin is married, her blog readership is at an all-time high, she writes for the Huffington Post, has appeared on numerous press outlets, maintains an active schedule training clients, has run a few half-marathons, and continues to motivate others by sharing and working to improve herself.
A note from the author
Being about change seems to be a common theme in recovery, and generally, in a progressive life. As you have read in Erin Bahadur’s story, adversity is present all throughout life. Becoming and being conscious of our motivations and predispositions allows for conscious, intentional action. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects about recovery is the requirement for disciplined, daily work on the self. Some days, we are more disciplined than others. Some days, we are energetic, other days, we are harder on ourselves. When Erin first told me her story, I was inspired by her confrontation of fears, from taking the initial step to get help, to facing the consequences of her decisions, to recognizing patterns in her decisions and embracing and adopting change in her life. Finally, I am encouraged by her openness and willingness to share as a means to help others (helping others is crucial, not only for continued recovery, but for making our world a better place). Look for a contributing piece by Erin Bahadur, wherein she will discuss more about her perspective on addiction and how we might learn more about ourselves or those closest to us who may still be quietly suffering.
To the alcoholic or addict that still suffers:
I wish I could tell you there is a magic solution. I haven’t found one. However, I have found hope, in a world where I was sure it did not exist. If you feel you need help, I encourage you to tell someone. Anyone. You may reach out to me at anytime, and I will listen and/or share my own experiences with you. Please also check out the first link at the bottom under “Spirit.” You are not alone.
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