Movies from the 1980s profiled the prototypical “It Girl” – pretty, blond, wealthy, who drove luxury sports cars to high school, was liked by other girls and chased by all the boys.
Jane Zarse was that girl, and the persona continued into the ’90s, when she eventually graduated Boston University on the dean’s list and began acting in New York City and in Hollywood films.
That’s what nearly every young woman wants, from Harlem to Hollywood, right? Unfortunately for Zarse, it was a parallel image of her true self, she says. All the while, she’d been devolving into alcoholism and other self-abuses.
“My folks did very well and thought they were doing all the right things for their kids, but we never – never – spoke about our problems,” says Zarse, author of “Love and Compassion Is My Religion,”.
“It was more important to keep up appearances, especially how we appeared to ourselves. After punishing myself with substance abuse, doomed relationships and more, I’d finally hit rock bottom.”
It’s the life story for countless Americans. For Zarse, a non-romantic relationship opened her eyes, aiding her to a robust recovery and a new way of experiencing spirituality. She offers insights for those who need help recovering after hitting rock bottom.
- You can’t change or improve what you don’t acknowledge. Spirituality includes more than mental abstractions; it’s about applying transcendent insights into everyday life. Admitting problems, for instance, means transcending the powerful forces of pride, habit, complacency, etc. Hitting rock bottom forces you to see what you’ve been hiding for so long – that ugly, desperately addicted side of your self.
- Don’t fall for a false sense of control. When alcohol, serial dating and unsuccessful job prospects gave Zarse the sense that her life was spinning out of control, she developed an eating disorder. It gave her a false sense of security via an unhealthy expression of discipline. While recovering from rock bottom, such temptations may occur. If so, be honest that you may be grasping, once again, at something unsustainable.
- Successful relationships require kindness and respect. As the “It Girl,” Zarse received plenty of attention from men. If she wanted a relationship, she was able to find herself in one quickly. But an entitled mentality, coupled with substance abuse, fostered toxicity in her first marriage. You get back what you put into relationships.
“I remember thinking: What’s the point of quitting drinking? – I’ll still be thinking about it constantly,” Zarse says. “If you find yourself with similar thoughts, it may be time seek help. Remember, that help may come in unexpected people.”
Jane Zarse grew up in the private school world of privilege and excess as she spiraled into alcoholism before joining Alcoholics Anonymous and finding her way back. In “Love and Compassion Is My Religion,” http://tinyurl.com/z5u236t she writes about learning to love herself again and how finding spirituality helped her do so.