May 28, 2013

Beyond the Masks: Losing the Game of Keeping Up Appearances

This week, I bring you part two from Kylie Devi in which she shares her journey from addiction of one kind and into a new type of addiction -- shopping and looking good!


Finally, I had enough.

Enough of the struggle, enough of the drugs, enough of the self-destructive daily routines. I was 25 and I was sick of hiding out, playing small, and keeping my inner light, truth and love to myself.

I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be known. I wanted to come out from the margins and shine my light into the world.

I decided to make some dramatic life changes. I chose to become sober, socially acceptable, and to “do something” with my life. Really “be someone.” To put the trauma and drama behind me, and leave my mark upon the world.

These are delusional thoughts, considering that all of us are already doing something with our lives, and we ARE someone regardless of what we do. At any rate, I spent an enormous amount of energy trying to accumulate what I thought I needed to have in order to be someone. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on making sure I “looked” like somebody. This included many trips to the shopping mall, an activity I previously despised, to buy designer clothes, makeup, shoes, and accessories. New fashionable haircuts, hair dye, and the tanning bed were my new forms of entertainment. I was winning friends fast and everyone who saw me said “Wow, I can’t believe how amazing you look!” Anything was better than the drugged out junkie look I suppose. But it wasn’t me, not at all.

I joined a recovery group for my addiction and I found many of the women there doing the same thing. We felt, and put pressure on ourselves and each other to become immediately socially acceptable after being an outcast for so long. We clung to the images sold by our culture about what and who women are and should be. We became models for each other – showing each other the way to the lie of the promised land delivered by magazines, television shows, and Hollywood. 

It was so far away from everything I had ever believed in previously, but I was addicted to the increasing self-esteem and sense of belonging. I experienced a new sense of purpose in being and staying clean, and finding a completely new life, which had many healthy components to it, especially in comparison to what I had become used to before getting clean. And for this reason, I accepted all aspects of this new life, even the ones that were not genuine or authentic, because I was absolutely terrified to lose what I had gained. I knew that without it, I would go back to where I had come from. And that thought was more terrifying than death.

After a while, I faced the truth that I simply could not afford my new image. I was spending money trying to keep up WAY faster than I was making it. I thought nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on one single outfit that it took me an entire week’s paycheck at my restaurant job to earn. I had five credit cards and they were all maxed out. And I was struggling just to pay my bills.

A few years later, I was still sober, I was in several thousands of dollars of credit card debt, I was beginning to realize how shallow many of my new friends were, and I still hadn’t resolved any of the core inner issues that caused me to use drugs and engage in destructive behaviors in the first place.

In short, I was drowning in the same level of unmanageability as when I had been using, only nobody really noticed, because “I looked good.” Looking good was a slow form of spiritual death that was actually killing my recovery.

It was time to get to the root of my trauma, heal and release it, and find my true self. I did not find my true self in the margins of society doing drugs, and I did not find my true self in looking good, winning friends, and becoming materially and socially satisfied.

I found my true self in looking deep into my past, realizing how my rape and abuse had impacted my belief system and emotional development, committing to heal that, and doing the work.

This did not happen overnight.

Check back next week when Kylie brings us the conclusion of her story!

Kylie Devi is the author of Recovering the Spirit from Sexual Trauma: From the Traumatic to the Ecstatic, a 21st Century guide to healing the body, mind and spirit in the aftermath of rape. Her healing process took her through an incredible journey of intensive study with teachers and guides in the Tibetan Buddhist, Maori, Cherokee, Hindu, Yogic, Sufi and Christian traditions. She has created over 100 healing based live events, retreats and workshops. You can check out her work and availability at

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