I have what some would call an addictive personality. I approach life with an all-or-nothing mentality, which means that instead of having a few cookies, I eat the whole bag in one sitting and then avoid them completely for months. I don't stop at one or two glasses of wine, and I will stay up all night to finish a book or watch an entire television series. When it comes to relationships, I am either so passionate about someone that I need to see them every day, or not at all. I know that I can be intense. Sometimes this quality can be charming, sometimes not. After my divorce, I found myself going overboard with everything.
Even if you don't have a tendency toward addiction or over-indulgence, divorce and its aftermath puts everyone who has experienced it in a vulnerable position. When your heart is broken, or you're just simply stressed out, you seek out comfort. There's nothing wrong with letting yourself go just a little from time to time. But being vulnerable, it's very easy to let things get out of hand. After my own divorce, I began drinking more than I ever had before. I stopped cooking for myself, and I became reckless with sexual partners. For someone who loves control, I had completely lost it. I had no control over anything in my life anymore, and I felt like I had no will power. Everything became an opportunity to self-destruct. And I was allowing it to happen, not realizing that I needed to take steps to put my life back on track before it was too late.
Taking Action, Not Willpower
When I realized I was drinking excessively, eating poorly, and putting myself at risk in general, I knew that something needed to change. I just didn't know how to change it. It was almost as if life was happening to me, instead of me interacting and being a part of life. I thought that my situation was beyond repair, because I didn't have the willpower it would take to stop my bad behavior. I figured I would just let myself hit “rock bottom” as they say, and that perhaps then I would start to recover. What I learned, thanks to a few friends and my own instinct to learn how to fix what is broken, is that I didn't have to let it go that far. I had the means to save myself, to regain balance, and to finally feel some sense of stability again. And it didn't come from my own will, or at least not completely. Willpower is definitely an advantage if you have it, but it really is only a small part of the equation. If you feel like your divorce has sent you spinning out of control, forget about trying to harness your sheer will of strength. Instead, make a plan of action.
Need to Get Back on Track? There's an App For That!
For me, the road to recovery meant that I had to set up my life in ways where I wouldn't have to exercise my willpower, or lack thereof, in the first place. To control how much I was drinking, I made sure the alcohol I had on hand was in limited quantities. I didn't buy junk food or things I would be tempted to munch on late at night, and I checked in with a friend every evening to talk about what we were both making for dinner. I embraced the power of modern technology to help me with the rest. To train myself to go to bed at a decent hour so that I wouldn't feel horrible the next day, I set an alarm on my computer. I found an app online that helped me keep track of my goals, and I checked it once in the morning and once at night. I also found that dieting apps helped me, even though I didn't necessarily need to lose weight. They were helpful in providing simple healthy recipes, and helped me plan my meals better so that I didn't end up eating cold macaroni out of the pan at night. I made use of my computer's calendar, and if it said I had to go on a walk at that time, I did. I slowly started to feel like a normal person again.
Being single means there is no one living with you anymore to keep you accountable for your actions. You can stay up until 3 am, numb your mind with all the senseless t.v. you want, and eat frozen dinners in bed. You can do anything, really. Sometimes, it's fun and liberating. No one is going to see you drink two bottles of wine, but you know what? You will see you. And if you don't like what you see, do something to change it.
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