By: Michael Kellermann, Transformations Alumni Coordinator
When I first made the decision to give up alcohol and other substances, I was not aware at the time that I am a creature of habit, someone with an extremely addictive personality. Having thought of myself as a “normal” person apart from the excessive drinking and drug use, I truly believed my alcoholism was simply that – an addiction to alcohol and drugs.
In treatment, I changed my diet, spending my allotted $75 a week on solely nutritious foods. I committed to a daily exercise regimen on top of that, running around the parking lot and tagging along for the free trips to the gym whenever I could. The way I felt not only physically but mentally began to change quickly and drastically… I had more energy during the day, and I was following a bedtime routine and getting much better sleep. Unbeknownst to me, I was becoming addicted to the effects produced by my lifestyle changes. I continued eating healthy when I moved into my sober living, and I was still engaging in vigorous exercise daily.
Nothing is wrong with eating healthy and staying active, of course. These are both actually very important for one’s quality of life. However, my obsession with my health started to interfere with other aspects of my life that I should have been prioritizing. Sometimes I would get out of IOP and I would have a couple of hours to either go to the gym or to attend a meeting. I could have gotten four days in a row at the gym out of the way and missed three days of meetings, but I would focus on that euphoric feeling I would get when I finished a workout… and low and behold I would choose exercise over recovery. Friends would go out to dinner for fellowship, and I would decline the invite either because I didn’t see anything up to my health standards on the menu, or because I had not been to the gym yet that day, and I wanted to get my workout in instead.
Once I started working thoroughly with my sponsor and analyzing the patterns of my behavior that have kept me sick in the past, I realized that although I had given up the drink and the drug, I had replaced that addiction with new ones. My sponsor reminded me not to be so hard on myself, that at least my motives were truly to improve my wellbeing; he did urge me to try and find balance, though. My new addiction was ultimately doing for me what alcohol and drugs would do for me, giving me a sense of control and instant gratification. I was forced to question my new behaviors, and as I continued to work my steps and try and do the next right thing at all times, I noticed that the obsession with my health began to diminish.
There have been numerous other addictions I have taken up along my journey including late-night sweet binges, coffee, validation from social media, and so on. The moral of the story is that because I do my best to stay connected to my higher power, and I accept that I am human and therefore imperfect, the best I can do is do my best. My name is Michael, and I am an alcoholic, but my real problem is me. One of the greatest gifts I have received in my recovery is awareness. My flaws still appear on a day to day basis, but I can at least be aware of them and try to improve in the areas that need improvement.
To learn more about Michael and our alumni team, click HERE.