Trying to explain food addiction to someone who can stop at one cookie is an exercise in futility. They don’t understand the compulsion that drives my disease, chalking it up to lack of discipline or willpower. For the longest time, I even believed that of myself, but it wasn’t until I committed to this twelve-step program that I learned that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Addicts of any kind turn to their drug of choice to fill a void, or suppress an unpleasant feeling or memory from welling up. In my case, I used Nutella to spackle the fractures caused by fear, doubt, and insecurity to keep me together and make me appear whole.
I thank God every day for leading me to this support group – everyone in the room speaks my language. I don’t have to explain my proclivity to excess when it comes to food, the bizarre concoctions I’ve ingested, or the shameful secret practices (like fishing a bag of chips out of the garbage) that got me to my highest recorded weight of 259 lbs.
This program acts like a dike holding back the raging waters of addiction, but sometimes the pressure behind the structure is so great that it causes fissures and leaks elsewhere. In my case, while managing to arrest my food addiction for the past five-and-a-half months, two others have sprung up – shopping and busyness (i.e. working two jobs, wedding planning, over extending myself, etc.).
Apparently, it’s not uncommon to swap one addiction for another if you haven’t dealt with what’s driving the compulsion in the first place. Fortunately, I’ll be doing just that in September when I begin an intense program of working the twelve-steps methodically and thoroughly. What I have been able to ascertain so far is that I’ve been using shopping to fill a void, and busyness to avoid the feelings the void brings up.
But what do I do to keep myself from burning out, or my credit card from exploding until then? Thankfully, I can call my sponsor, a fellow in the program, or a friend before I take the bite, whip out my credit card, or take on another activity. Unfortunately, I don’t always practice what I preach : (
Last week, I found myself in a situation that threatened my abstinence. It was a rare evening at home – I wasn’t scheduled to work at my part-time job, and all the tasks on my To-Do list were checked off. Most people would welcome a night off to chillax, but not me. I like to keep über busy in order to distract myself from facing whatever I don’t want to deal with. Sure enough, in the quietness of the evening, the familiar ache of loneliness began stirring deep in my gut.
It percolated as the evening went on until it came up my throat like a bad case of acid reflux. I needed to suppress it and found myself pacing back-and-forth to the fridge. Sirens sounded off in my head… Danger Will Robinson! Danger!!
“Get out of the house!”
But go where?
“Shopping!” suggested my inner demon.
“Fu*k, no! That just adds calories to my bank account!”
Who said that?!
I immediately changed the direction of my pacing from the fridge, to up and down the hall. I should have called somebody, or dropped to my knees and prayed to my Higher Power to help me, but someone intervened. Someone unexpected. Someone I don’t usually listen to. That somebody was me.
You know what that wise chick said? “Get a grip! It’s just a feeling.”
Feelings aren’t tangible, so why am I trying to suppress, or combat them, with something that is, like food or stuff? I guess it’s the high (also a FEELING) that eating and shopping produce. The insanity of this practice is that you’re still left with the shitty feeling you were trying to suppress in the first place, but now you’ve got more junk in the trunk, and debt riding up your butt like an irritating wedgie.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this post… maybe because this is new territory for me (who’da thunk I would be my own guru – even if it was for 5 minutes). I guess, I’m glad I’m making progress, not only on the outside, but on the inside – you know, where all those crazy feelings live.
The Results Are In
To find out how much I lost last month, click here.
For my food journals, click here.