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Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Addiction, and Trauma: A Survivor’s Story

There is a strong correlation between abuse and addiction. Statistics run rampant on this subject, but most people are not looking for numbers. People want hope more than they want facts, and they want a way to create a life that isn’t laden with struggle. Am I right?

I believe that stories are powerful messengers of hope and a way to help bridge the gap between isolation and connection. So I set out to interview a woman whose story I head recently heard at a writing group. The topic of the evening was shame, and Amy shared bravely her personal struggles with low self-esteem, alcohol, drugs, and being raped.

She gave me permission to share her story, in hopes that it would offer value to others who may be trying to navigate the challenges of healing from such tragedies.

A Familiar Beginning

Her story starts where a lot of addict’s stories begin, in a home with little to no guidance. She shared of having to grow herself up, and how this left her feeling unsure and overwhelmed on a regular basis. She discovered alcohol at a very young age and loved the way it made her feel, stating, “It took me out of my body and my pain. I loved that I didn’t have to wake up and be with me if I didn’t want to. And with all the people I was around as a young actress, it helped me relax into my atmosphere.”

As Amy continued to drink and use drugs, she frequented parties where this was readily available. The situations at these parties were at times sketchy, and Amy was a victim of a crime that would forever change her.

Amy was standing in a room at the party and she was hit. She says that, immediately after she was hit, three or four men came out of a closet. She blacked out, and it wasn’t until she came through that Amy realized she had been raped. She said, “I couldn’t tell anyone. One of them was a Navy Seal that threatened me. I was scared. If I didn’t know who I was before, I certainly did not know who I was after that… that is for sure.”

Who’s That Stranger in the Mirror?

Amy’s life continued to be a string of challenging experiences with substances and men. “I associated myself through the men I dated. I never really found myself. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I don’t know who you are,” Amy told me. She he felt like she couldn’t connect to anything in the world at this point in her life.

Amy tried to get sober. She went into the rooms of AA, but was in and out for years before she was ready to commit. “I just wasn’t ready yet. What changed my readiness level was that I realized I couldn’t drink normally and that, even when I would say I wasn’t going to drink, it would happen anyway. One day in particular stands out. I went to a party, another party where I wasn’t going to drink, and of course I ended up having several glasses of wine. I was distraught that I just couldn’t be normal with alcohol. I started driving home and when approached a red light, I chose to close my eyes and drive through it. I didn’t care what happened to me,” Amy admits.

After this incident, Amy called someone she knew in the program and began to work the 12 steps with determination and commitment. She said deep down she did care what happened to her, but she was having a hard time accessing that part of herself. But Amy is a woman of fierce determination. She has just over seven years of sobriety today.

Outside the Rooms

While dropping the substance is one of the most challenging and rewarding things a person can do in life, there is so much more to recovery.

I asked Amy about her process outside the rooms and she was really honest about her experience, stating, “It has been a tough road. I have had to learn how to live an emotionally sober life. Meaning, I had to learn how to live with what I drank over. Alcohol was not my problem; it was my solution to my problems. I needed to find other solutions to my problems.”

Amy shared that she has been working with the Recovery 2.0 team and that having this in her life has been incredibly helpful.  You can learn more about Recovery 2.0 here. She became certified in yoga and is now a certified yoga therapist. She also became certified as a Y12SR yoga teacher. Y12SR stands for Yoga of the 12 Steps of Recovery. Learn more about the Yoga of the 12 Steps of Recovery here.

Paying it Forward

Amy expressed that she has known for a while that she wanted to help other women, and through what she has learned through her own journey and her training, she is able to do that. She says, “I help women release what is stored in their body, in their tissues. Through yoga we give our past a vehicle to be released through our body and then the healing takes place on a deeper level. I help women find their calm in the storm.”

Amy also shared that she feels that her personal story really helps in the work she does with her clients.  It’s a normal human desire to be understood, and no one wants to be judged for their struggles. Because Amy is so open and honest about her own healing journey, this helps her clients feel safer in her presence.

As someone interviewing Amy, I can only imagine how powerful it is for the women coming to her to see someone who gets it and has made it through. Hope is the most powerful state of being when it comes to recovery. Those who have traveled the road before and have been able to emerge, are the examples of what can be done.

I want to thank Amy for being so real and so open. It takes courage to walk the road of recovery and it takes bravery to be willing to be seen in one’s entirety. I believe that this is what is needed to recover. We all need to be seen and loved unconditionally. Recovery may start as steps you take outside of yourself, but healing always begins within.



Images Courtesy of iStock


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