In an article entitled “Twenty-Six Miles to Recovery,” Taylor Ellsworth of Portland, OR candidly details her battle with alcoholism and an eating disorder – and how training for a marathon, while it wasn’t enough to miraculously “fix” her addictions, helped open the door to a newfound sense of hope and peace.
Using her own words, I can’t help but relate her story to one of Believable Hope.
With two years of sobriety under her belt, Taylor took up running. Her friends in recovery were doing it (Essential Element #3: Surround yourself with winners) and she had a naturally competitive spirit.
“After beginning my quest to recover from both alcoholism and my eating disorder, my health began to be a priority. I’d spent so much time self-destructing that compensating for lost time seemed natural.”
Running became a challenging journey all in itself.
“Whatever it was, I made the dramatic decision that I would keep at it until I could run five continuous miles; if I still hated it at that point, I told myself, I could quit and never pick up another pair of running shoes again.”
Taylor surpassed her five-mile goal and decided to train for and complete a 10k race, though she continued to battle with self-and-body image.
“The life I had lived before sobriety was largely composed of poisoning my bloodstream with foreign chemicals and stuffing and subsequently emptying my stomach to exhaustion to avoid the fact that I felt obligated to apologize upon walking into a room because that’s how much I hated myself. Even after getting rid of the chemicals, there was still a severe degree of disconnection between mind, body and soul. Instead of filling the void that I’d formerly poured alcohol into, I’d been stuffing it with food…”
“With a nod to the sponsor-sponsee relationship,” as she says, Taylor began a tedious 4-month training schedule developed by a runner friend. She planned her days around her workouts. She felt freer and began to eat without guilt, “continually proving to myself that the body I used to abuse so regularly was capable of incredible feats.”
In the pages of Believable Hope, I describe the day my wife and I walked into our daughter’s room and saw she had decorated her mirror with positive affirmations such as, ‘I am smart,’ ‘I am amazing,’ and ‘I am strong!’
The day of the marathon came, and during those last difficult miles, Taylor saw a sign on the sidelines that read something like, ‘You’re Amazing.’ She said to herself, ‘I am amazing. I am strong.’
“In that moment, I believed that I was worthy human being, with no reservations about how my wide hips compromised my intelligence or how my thighs negated the attractiveness of my face.”
To this day, Taylor affirms that recovery is a process. It’s a way of life, forever.
“…I’m still a work in progress and recovery is a slow, tedious and emotional journey, no matter how much I wish it were a single, 26.2-mile sprint … I can’t control my thoughts of unworthiness but I can try to manage them and running has become a key component of doing this. Though I know without a doubt that I have more work to do, for now I’ve found a key to the proverbial castle in recovery land. I am, however, still looking for the one that belongs to the kingdom.”