Addiction Hope: I’m an Addict – Who Cares About my Attitude?

It may be easy to think that our attitude doesn’t matter when we are recovering, but I beg to differ. I have found that having the right attitude has been just as important as forgiveness and perseverance. In my new memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, I share why attitude is critical for those recovering from addictions.

When I made the decision to leave the modeling industry, I was forced to confront all of my destructive behaviors and truths head on. Life was not fun anymore; it was painful because I had to face my real self. On top of it all, I had to recover, and there were many times where my family and I thought that I was going to die; living became a moment-by-moment process, not day-by-day.

But pushing through, and working with my mentor helped me to understand that having the right attitude was essential to my recovery because life is life and it is not going to change according to my feelings. If it did, then I’d float around on a pink, fluffy cloud all day and avoid pain and growth! That’s not realistic, though; to rise higher, we have to feel pain. Keeping the right attitude makes the growth process tolerable, and it helps to develop our character, which is necessary for every stage of life.

Read the full blog post at Addiction Hope.

Reader’s Favorite Review for Washed Away

“Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, a memoir written by Nikki Dubose with James Johanson, is a series of dark memories of her dysfunctional family life, and the misery caused by addictions and abuse. Nikki Dubose recounts the tragic story of her life, dealing with severe eating disorders and mental challenges. Her sad story reveals a less-than-glamorous look at the world of modelling. While she is not casting aspersions on the high class world of models, she does reveal how physical and mental issues can greatly affect the choices one makes. As family and friendships come and go, and people accept then reject her, she finally grasps an opportunity to turn from her ugly duckling persona in order to become a beautiful cleansed swan – metaphorically speaking.”

Read more on Reader’s Favorite.

Identity – Eating Disorder Hope

“Disordered behaviors and addictions might start out as seemingly insignificant attempts to reach out for comfort, but they eventually can take over our lives. When I was eight years old I began to binge eat as a way to cope with being physically, sexually and emotionally abused — that led to a more than seventeen-year battle with all sorts of addictions.

I didn’t know how to deal with my feelings and I also didn’t know who I was – I grabbed onto to destructive behaviors during the most influential period of my development.”

Read more on Eating Disorder Hope.

 

Party Friend

I believe that anything can be exchanged for another addiction; food, sex, alcohol, drugs, nothing is off limits if we are careless. This series is in memory of my late mother, who died in 2012 of alcoholism. She also struggled with an eating disorder many years ago, and in some ways I write of certain instances in my life not to criticize her or anyone else, but to try to show why in general we might develop addictions and disorders. Thank you for reading.

I remember the night my mother and I were driving in the grey minivan in the pouring rain. I was thirteen years old, and Mom had already downed a few too many beers before we left the house to hit the bars in downtown Charleston. She was pretty tipsy at this point, I felt somewhat embarrassed for being in the car with her, and scared out of my mind that she was going to get into an accident. Although at this point in my life I was used to her drunken antics, I still could not wrap my mind around being my mother’s party friend instead of her daughter.

Mom whizzed steadily down the freeway, going above the speed limit but was careful not to catch the attention of any police. With her belly button newly pierced and her recent significant weight loss, I felt tremendously confused about my relationship with my mother. I desperately wanted to help her, however every time I tried to approach and talk to her about what she might have been feeling, she shut me out of her world. As we continued to speed down US 17 towards downtown Charleston, my mind recalled the months earlier when I went into her bedroom to ask her a question about my homework and I found her in her bathroom, door open, sitting on the toilet, lid closed, with a beer in her hand. Our eyes met before I could open my mouth to speak and she must have noticed the shocked look on my face because she just slammed the door on me right then and there. All of the emotions I had felt then came flooding back as I sat with her in the speeding van; what was happening to my mom? Was I to blame?

I loved my mom deeply yet I never felt connected to her because she did not let me in; private and isolated from everyone, she chose food, abusive relationships, and alcohol to be her best friends. I never got to bond with my mother; I only found myself in situations where I came to her rescue. My emotions with her were always on a panic basis, and I lived in a constant state of fear and apprehension. Even as I am writing this my nerve level is high; I am sweating a bit and and I feel tense. I know that writing is critical for recovery and so that is why I chose to take up this form of expressing my thoughts.

Going back to that fateful day in the minivan, as she exited off US 17 and drove into smaller, darker roads, I felt uneasy at the speed in which she maneuvered freely. I shouldn’t have been too surprised however; for about four years at that point she had already been drinking a bit and driving me and my younger brother to and from school, and sometimes drunk. This gloomy, rainy night with her, however, felt long and drawn out, as if I knew beforehand that something terrible was going to happen.

Not long after I sensed the impending doom, our van drifted over into a one-way road where several cars were flying at us, no stopping in sight. All at once I saw my short life flash before my eyes, and I didn’t know what to do. In that moment all I could do was scream at the top of my lungs, “MOMMMMM!” I grabbed the wheel, and looked at her as she attempted to be a drunken superhero by sipping yet another swig of her beer before managing at the last second to take control of the car and pull us over onto the tiniest sliver of the concrete embankment. A hair-split of a second later, the cars whizzed by, angrily honking at us. We were safe, but only by a miracle.

I couldn’t fathom in that moment what had just happened; or rather, what hadn’t just happened. “Mom, we almost got into a head-on collision! Because you are drunk, and you don’t even care!” I shouted at her from across the van. She paused for a few seconds and then covered her face with her hands, trembling slightly all over. All I could do was study her every movement; the pace at which she breathed, and if she made any kind of noises. I was infatuated with my mother’s lack of response and concern in that moment; in fact it was a trend as always in my life that I was dying for any kind of love and affection from her. A couple of minutes passed by before she slowly raised her beautiful black hair and looked at me with quiet, tear-stained eyes. “I’m so sorry, please forgive me,” she whispered as she attempted to start the van and roll it out of the embankment. “Jesus, mom, we could have been killed!” I cried, “What were you thinking?” Silence. Nothing. No response. Just the usual kind of deep pondering that often took place after a crisis. I plopped my head back against the car seat and zoned out, and Mom cranked up the radio to a moderately high level again. “Just do me one favor, ok? Don’t tell your dad, whatever you do,” she said barely above the music. I reluctantly nodded my head in agreement, but only because I was afraid of everyone in my family at this point in my life.

Why did I have to be ruled by fear?

To be continued…

The Hope Diary: Step Five, Trusting Another

After going through my Step Four Inventory the first time in 2010, I was scared to death to actually share it with another person. I had read in my recovery book early in my program that I had to confess my deepest, darkest secrets to God and to a trusted sponsor, pastor or unbiased friend.

At that time I remember thinking: “HUH? How humiliating! Wasn’t it good enough to give it to God in prayer and trust that He was Healing me? Why would I tell my shameful past to another person? Besides, they would just hurt me like everyone else…right? How in the WORLD could I truly trust blindly someone else. I knew it, here was the catch. I knew this recovery program was too good to be true, everything always is. No one and nothing is ever to be trusted. There is always fine print.” And I thought like this for about, oh, a good six months or so the first time I went through Steps 4 and attempted to go through Step 5. And I backtracked in my recovery and slipped into old habits because of FEAR. Do you know what fear really stands for? F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real.

I was so afraid of the false scenarios I spent more time making up in my mind about sharing my mess with my sponsor than actually DOING it for the healing that I needed to get, that I ended up having a relapse. Now, relapse can be a part of recovery, but do you see what I am saying that if we just learn to take hold of the fearful thoughts and know that God is with us and for us, and just DO the things that are being asked of us, surrender and get the help we need, we would see so much victory in our recovery and lives.

Fast forward, three years later, strong in recovery, Praise the Lord I did regain victory over the relapse and did end up completing Steps 4 and 5 (a few times). I had gotten a wonderful sponsor and life coach who really worked and worked with me and never gave up. I would never be where I am without my sponsor and without working with her and continually taking inventory and telling her about my messes. I believe that we generally give up too easily in life and we can give up on others too soon also. You never know what you can do for another person’s life if you just keep praying for them, working with them, and helping them in any way you can.

In the Catholic religion, confession is very similar to step five, you know, going and releasing your sins to the priest and being relieved of your burdens. Well in recovery, your past and the things underlying your addiction truly have to be inventoried and shared with God and another person because if not, they continued to get buried. Our secrets, pains, traumas, defects and past fuel our addiction if we do not get healing for them. This is what I consider to be the most critical step of any 12 step program.

So as I continue in sharing from the Life Recovery Workbook, here are the questions from Step Five.

“Overcoming Denial
Genesis 38:1-30

1. What am I avoiding in Step Four by delaying Step Five?

2. What is the exact nature of my wrongs as listed in Step Four?

3. What interferes with my being honest about myself?

Unending Love
Hosea 11:8-11

1. How do I react/respond to the truth that God does not give up on me?

2. What keeps me from being truthful with God?

3. What makes me think that I can hide anything from God?

The Plumb Line
Amos 7:7-8

1. Have my morals and values been in line with God’s? Explain.

2. Have I had morals and values without being able to apply them to my life? Explain:

3. What has kept me from staying in line with God’s and my own morals and values?

4. Am I ready to surrender to God’s moral “plumb line” and share my Step Four Inventory? If not, why am I hesitating?

Feelings of Shame
John 8:3-11

1. What scares me about sharing “the exact nature of (my) wrongs” with another human being?

2. Who is my fear related to in my past? How did this fear develop?

3. Has there ever been a time in my life when I felt the fear and took action anyway?

4. Have I set the appointment for completing Step Five by sharing my Step Four Inventory? My commitment to myself:

Date: Time:

Receiving Forgiveness
Matthew 5:23-24

1. Why would God want reconciliation before praise when we bring gifts to him?

2. Does anyone have anything against you that needs to be reconciled? Who and why?

3. What would be the impact on your life if you opened yourself up to forgiveness of others and from others?

Freedom through Confession
James 5:16

1. Lack of confession and openness with others results in a self-constructed prison. Do you know what that is like? Describe it here.

2. How can confession result in such profound healing?

3. Reflect it here on God’s command to be open not just to Him but also with each other.

Escaping Self-Deception
Lamentations 3:40

1. As you examine yourself, can you admit to some self-deception in the past?

2. Does anyone have the freedom to speak truth into your life on a regular basis? Who?

3. Ask three or four trusted friends to write five words describing your strengths and five words describing your weaknesses. Record them here and examine them to discover areas you can work on within your small group of trusted fellow strugglers.”

Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for letting me reprint the above questions to help further the recovery process for those still suffering.

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

The Hope Diary: Recovery in the Midst of Mortality

Alright, so, yes, I have come out to say that I have suffered for the majority of my life with an eating disorder. But, let me clarify, this is NOT in any way, shape, or form to promote or encourage anyone out there to have or to “wonder” what it is like to have an eating disorder because simply, they WILL. KILL. YOU. They ARE, Point, Blank and simple, an ADDICTION, like every other addictive substance, i.e., alcohol, drugs, etc. They fill the void of deeper emotional and mental issues that need to be taken care of by doctors and therapists, and GOD!! If I had only known then what I know now that I needed Jesus, to fill the hurts that I was using food and later other drugs and alcohol to fill, what a LOT of hurt and pain I would have saved my mind and body from going through. But you know what? I am so THANKFUL that I went through it all, and so GRATEFUL to God that I got help for it at such a young age so that I can hopefully be a voice to help people all over the world.

Because if I am just another face on a magazine cover, pretending that I look this way naturally, or that “I do not have do anything to look like this, or that my life is perfect, then that would be a TOTAL SHAM, not doing YOU ANY service, and my life would be unfulfilled for God. I am a lover and a helper, not a faker and a user. I know that with eating disorders the biggest cause of keeping them is to not speak about them…they are the great big elephants in the room, that people will go to bed with and die with. They are the “magic slimming pills” that I am so sure many people who are reading this want to chop my head off for sharing because their disease HATES the fact that I am trying to shed some much-needed light into the wounded souls of sufferers. But if you keep silent about them, you will keep silent all the way to the grave.

When I first thought about sharing this with the world, of course I was more scared than I have ever been in my life, but then I remembered that God says in Romans 8:31,

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

So, I know I have nothing to fear knowing that God is with me and my sole purpose is to offer my experience, strength, and hope (my ESH) to countless others who suffer all over the world.

Today I would like to share on Food, Addictions, and Mortality

My mom passed away on August 25, 2012 in an automobile accident and she struggled most of her life with many addictions. In the final few months of her life, the whole family had gotten together to help her get cleaned up in a recovery home and while there, I genuinely saw her as I had never seen her before. She was happy, stable, clear-minded, hopeful and radiant. She and I spent what would be, unbeknownst to both of us, the happiest and final two weeks of her life together. I felt hopeful and serene that everything was going to be alright. I had placed the situation in God’s Hands, and I trusted Him, no matter what the outcome.

Three weeks after I left her, she died. What I have experienced is something like I could never write down in a billion books. I don’t even know the depth of my own sorrow for her.


Photo is of me and my brother spreading some of my mom’s ashes in the Mount Pleasant River.

Addictions kill if left untreated. If you think that a food addiction will not kill you, please think again. I remember growing up that before my mom developed her other addictions she had had a terrible time with bulimia. She openly shared about her bulimia with me and some of the family before she passed away while she was staying in the recovery home. I know that my mom was trying to connect and help me in any way she could with my disease. You see, at the root of any addiction, is an addictive behavior, which tries to cover deeper emotional issues. It is the emotional and mental issues that need to be dealt with properly, but you cannot do that until you stop the addictive behaviors. If you stop one addictive behavior it is likely that you can pick up another easily, just like I have and just like my mom did.

I have had my fair share of addictions in my past. If it wasn’t for the food, it was smoking or the other. Until I sought help two and a half years ago I was a total mess! The food has far and between been my biggest problem, and when my mom passed away it made me face my own mortality. It was tough enough to go to her funeral and know that she died way too young at 45 years old, but myself, at 27, well, I wasn’t too far behind! If we have suffered with the same problems then it made life and dying all too real and that reality stung colder than the iciest, black winter night on my naked soul.

How do we cope with an eating disorder especially when faced with our own mortality? How do we deal with our addictions when going through life and the loss of a loved one? One Day at a Time. By accepting every day that we have a life-threatening illness that, if left untreated, will lead to our untimely death, and that we are powerless over our disease. We must turn it over to the care of God as we understand Him, and seek to do His Will in our life, not our own. The 12 Step Program has been my one of my lifelines as well as journaling my thoughts, reaching out for support, and being that support system for others. One of the greatest enemies addictions have is a life lived for helping others. Getting out of self and living for a life of selflessness is Step 12 of the 12 Step Program. Once I adopted these behaviors and ways of life, I saw my Spirit rise to a whole new level. I no longer lived to eat, I ate to live. I lived to serve God and found myself asking God, “What can I do for You today? Who can I help and encourage today through You?”

With these new-founded ways of life, I have learned that even in the midst of my mom’s death and facing the reality of my own, I have a guide on how to get through it calmly and with a stable Spirit. I do not have to go through life another day depressed and defeated. However long God has me here on this Earth, I will live it with confidence, Faith and to the fullest, knowing that He has an incredible journey left for me to fulfill and help others through the lessons I have learned.

One Day at a Time, you can defeat your disease with God.
God Bless,
<3 Nikki DuBose