Addiction – compulsive substance use or consumption despite harmful consequences
So one day, puttering through life, a family member (or some other caring, influential person in your life) comes up and says “Hey, you’ve got a problem. You’re addicted.”
Then all the family members corners you and says things like:
– “You need help.”
– “You’re a [insert substance here] addict, and we want to help you get better.”
– “We love you, won’t you accept our help?”
And there I am, on the other side of the tv screen, munching late night snacks and shaking my head.
“Mmm, gurl, you really got a problem!” I pronounce around my second bowl of cereal that is rounding out my late night binge. “Wow, what a mess you are!”
I should have remembered the whole **”casting stones” concept [you know, don’t judge when you are guilty of similar “sins” or shortcomings. Tossing stones in a glass house, etc.].
The next day, it’s my family member coming up to me, saying, “Hey, you’ve got a problem. You’re addicted… to food!”
“What? No! I can stop at any time!” I say, clutching my half-gallon tub of ice-cream, which I was Not sharing by the way. “I’m just really hungry. I could stick to 3 healthy meals, no snacks, easy.”
And then, there are secret trips to the fridge at odd hours of the night. One sandwich, two sandwiches: three sandwiches, and a bowl of cereal. Five slices of cake. Half a pan of brownies.
ALL the ice cream.
Then come the hints.
“How much do you weigh?”
“Have you gained weight (again)?” -the again is implied.
“Stop judging me!” I retort. “Get off my case!”
One day, the light dawns.
“Oh sh*t! I am fat!”
When I open the fridge, my mind whispers, “you’re fat”. Walk down the street, “you whale”. Sit at the table, “another serving for the fat one”.
My alter ego, the “fat one”, sputters, “well, at least I don’t do drugs!! It’s just food, I can quit at any time. I’m just hungry.”
But the thought weighs down like a burden. Fat, the concept/reality, holds me back.
“Wanna go for a walk?”
“No.” Because I’m fat and don’t want other people to see me.
“Wanna go swimming?”
“No.” Because my swimsuits don’t fit anymore, and the “fat-suits” are embarrassing.
“Wanna go to the gym?”
“No.” Because I’m embarrassed to be the only “whale” when everyone looks so fit. Because I don’t know how to use the machinery.
Because there is always an excuse.
“I hate you, you fat tub of lard!!” I yell at the mirror. I feel sick, I revolt myself.
And I’m hungry.
“I just wanna die,” I moan around another mouthful of food. “So disgusting!”
The weight becomes suffocating. I avoid the mirror and the scale like the plague. I avoid the truth and hide behind my misery and self-loathing.
When I feel unhappy, food makes me feel better. I feel better.
Then later, I realise what I’ve done and I feel worse.
Then I eat again.
The cycle continues.
The shades are drawn. I lie in bed and watch television. Food containers are scattered around like confetti after a wedding. Windows haven’t been opened in months (possibly years) and I don’t move unless necessary.
Clothes… fat clothes. The mandatory attire.
The voices of critique contain growing concern. “You need to lose weight! Are you exercising?”
“F**k off!” I reply, stomping from the kitchen, clutching my containers of food. My single comfort. I eat in bed and wrap the blankets around myself, hiding my rolls, and jiggle, and extraneous flesh.
I just can’t.
I can’t seem to stop.
In secret moments, of increasing frequency, I ponder why I’m alive, and why I’m still existing. Because I. Hate. Myself.
Turtles have shells. I am exposed in the light, so I shrink to the darkness. Counting down to an imminent end.
Food is my companion. Food is my tempter. Food is my cage.
Sink or swim
In moments of clarity, I ask for help. I want help.
Get these fleshy chains OFF OF ME!!
Start this diet, that diet, another diet. Starving so much I forget why I’m dieting to begin with. My desire to thin, transforms into a desire to consume plates of food and buffets of desserts.
I care. Then I don’t care.
Off the diet, the binge begins. Mindless, emotional consumption. And then I “awake” and I’m right back where I started.
“Why can’t I stop?” I cry, gasping over a distended belly filled with something, anything, everything in the fridge.
Hope and despair, a roller-coaster that doesn’t seem to end. It leaves me exhausted -and hungry.
“I’m thirsty,” I announce, around my third plate of food during my fifth meal of the day.
I’m thirsty, not hungry.
“Then why am I eating?”
When was the last time I ate because I was hungry? Did I even need to eat all? Was it simply out of habit?
Why didn’t I think of this before? Why didn’t I question…any of it?
Like, why am I always eating? What is real hunger, not habitual binging? How/why/when did this happen?
I felt sad. So I ate. Eating made me sad, so I ate some more. Transitioning into mindless consumption.
I’m an idiot.
I’m an addict.
Mind over matter
Rome isn’t built in a day, same goes with changing a habit developed and nurtured over a lifetime. It starts with a resolution, and support. It starts with looking in the mirror and saying “I love you” instead of the opposite.
It starts with planning and thoughtfulness.
Because when you love someone, you plan for their happiness. So I plan for mine.
I focus on breaking the habits. I might go to the fridge, but the fridge has fruits and veggies. I might make brownies, but they are made with whole wheat flour, and bran, and xylitol, and pure cacao powder. I might eat three pieces of brownies, but I also eat fruit, and smoothies, and home-made vegetable juices. I focus on drinking more water, taking vitamins, and feeding myself the nutrients and minerals I need to be healthy.
I workout with friends. I go walking, bike riding, and try to find activities where I can move around. I walk to the store sometimes, instead of taking the bus.
I try. I’m not perfect. But I’m not giving up.
I feel good. The mirror reflects the same figure, but I have a different attitude. The soreness in my muscles from working out are badges of success.
I can’t wait to see how it goes, how I look after working out for a month. A year.
I’m looking to join a gym. I’m focusing on me, taking care of me, without distractions or disillusion.
I’m learning to love myself.
I have my support. I have someone to talk to about tips to improve my self, and improve my habits. Form new, better habits. I have a plan, which I follow and have accountability. I have found something that works for me.
Failing and Rising
I am human. Imperfect.
I accept that I may not be faithful.
But success is getting up one more time than the number of times I have fallen.
~ let x = # times fallen
~ let y = # times getting up
My formula for success: y = x + 1
[Yes, I am a nerd. And proud of it.]
Because that line still swims through my head: “Why do we fall down? So we can get back up.”
But, as my sibling reminds me, failure isn’t “falling off the wagon”.
Failure is giving up, no longer trying.
So I’m not failing, I may stumble, but I’m still walking, going strong.
And I’m alive.
~ Life ~ hope ~