What has happened to me?  When did this happen?  How did I get so fragile? These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself (and others in my support network) lately.  I have been in recovery now most of my life…since I was 24.  Who was I before recovery?  I know I was a scared child.  Out of concern for keeping us safe, my mother instilled huge amounts of fear into my sister and me.  We were taught not to trust anyone…that the world was inherently a bad place where everyone was lying, cheating, stealing and out to get us.  I know I was terrified to go to school and leave my mom.  I cried and screamed.  I was a gentle soul, I know that.  I was soft inside…”a cream puff” so to speak.  I was very smart, did well in school, had a few friends and LOVED animals.  I would sit outside with the neighborhood cat asleep on my lap for long periods of time, when my friends were playing.  I was afraid of everything.  I got bullied for a short while in school.  The boys picked on me at my new school in 5th grade.  I cried a lot.  Then there was a turning point.   There was a time in about 7th or 8th grade when I decided it was too painful to go on like that.  I decided to change.  I somehow learned to shut that sensitive side of me down…turn it off.  I became the bully…the wise guy, the class clown, the instigator, the sneak & liar.  It was easier that way.  IT HURT LESS.  


I spent my high school years living a dual life-excelling at school, sports & clubs, while having an alter ego-the wise guy, the class clown, the instigator, the sneak & liar.  And now, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes & boys entered the mix.  I started skipping school & getting black out drunk on weekends with friends, running around with boys & men. Screw you, world!  You’re not going to hurt me!  I’ll hurt you first!  I don’t care about anyone!  I don’t need anyone!  And so it continued.  From that day forward, my outer persona changed.  Those of you who know me likely see the strong side of me-the clown, the brave one, the one who cusses & speaks her mind, the one who adventures out in the world and does things others fear. That is not the real me.


I am soft.  I am gentle.  I love & care deeply.  I hurt deeply.  I care what others think.  I want to help.  I am afraid…so very afraid…of everything…all the time.  And the way I manage is by functioning at a very high level…staying very busy.  I can do anything!  Watch me run with my hair on fire!  My family wonders at all I can accomplish in a day.  It is who I have been, at least on the outside, for decades.  I have a career of service to others.  I get paid to take care of others & help fix their problems.  I am uber competent.  I am smart, strong, determined, organized, motivated, energetic, resourceful, FIERCE…a force to be reckoned with!  I will mow down any obstacles in my way.  I will “get ‘er done” as they say here in the South.  Nothing seems to get in my way…at least not for too long.  Unstoppable.  And I have come to know & see myself in this way.


But things have changed in the last few years.  I am now 53.  I am a food addict.  My other addictions have been in remission for decades…but not this one.  I have had brief reprieves followed by years of relapse, of despair, of gaining 50 lbs, of self-hatred & remorse, of fear, self-doubt, anger at God & the world…all while remaining highly functioning where no one knew there was anything wrong!  I found Shift last year, in 2021.  I went to a week-long intensive in May.  And my life changed.  I was supported to take some time off of work after the intensive.  I filed for FMLA & took an entire month off, followed by working part-time for a while. Unheard of!   It was SO hard for me to let go of the fast pace…to take care of myself & let myself relax…slow down…gear down a few notches.  I started back to full-time work in January of this year.  I was rear-ended in early January but not seriously injured.  A sign?  A message?  Well, I don’t hear messages unless they’re blaring!  And my God knows how to turn up the volume!  I decided to start following my dream of getting an RV, obtaining a travel or telehealth job & going traveling.  I gave notice at my job at the end of February & 3 days later, got into a horrendous head-on collision & narrowly escaped alive.  I was hospitalized for almost a week with a mild head/brain injury from concussion that resulted in a very scary electrolyte imbalance.  I never went back to that job & have not worked full-time since.  I have a part-time telehealth job now.  I sold my condo, moved in with my mom who has terminal cancer, my RV travels are on hold & I got COVID pretty badly in July.


So here is the crux of my message.  Finally, Mary!  Get to the point!  LOL.  I am fragile.  I cannot run with my hair on fire anymore.  I get tired.  My body has been through a lot.  I am only 6 months out from a mild brain injury from the concussion.  My body was injured in the accident.  I am in menopause.  I have problems regulating my body temperature.  I am 53. I need naps, breaks, rest.  I am not working full-time right now.  I am very easily overstimulated, especially by noise.  I can’t multitask as well.  I can no longer carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I am a food addict.  My absolute priority is abstinence.  “Abstinence first…always.”  My food plan takes thought, time, consideration, planning, implementation, energy. My recovery behaviors take time, commitment, and determination.  Recovery IS a full-time job.  I have come full circle.  I am fragile once again.  I am as if a child. I have to take care of myself, set limits, set boundaries, sleep, rest, stay abstinent, prepare my food, attend meetings, exercise, work, be a good friend, daughter, sister, niece, sponsor, sponsee, member of several recovery programs, neighbor, citizen.  I am fierce in different ways!  I am strong in different ways!  I am aging.  Can I accept all of this?  What choice do I have?  I pray to my higher power to help me with accepting these things.  Let my life of service continue, but with self-care and recovery as my ultimate priorities.  I AM FRAGILE BUT STILL FIERCE!  Peace, my friends.  Here is a poem I wrote yesterday:




Fragile as a flower

Morning dew heavy on my petals

I’m frightened, Lord.


Fragile as a flower

Trying to stand strong in the wind

What happens if I fail?


Fragile as a flower

Needing roots and support

I can’t do this alone.


Fragile as a flower

No longer so strong

Can I ask for help?


Fragile as a flower

Afraid of my wilting

I turn my face to the sun.


Fragile as a flower

Strong in different ways now

Can I accept this change?


Fragile as a flower

I trust in my God.

I am perfect as I am.



Mary Anast, APRN

Certified Geriatric Nurse Practitioner