I didn’t understand a thing about addiction when I was a kid. I mean, I had a concept of my mother’s alcoholism, because it was pretty obvious, what with bottles being around, and mom often being incapacitated. I knew a couple of her brothers also had serious drug and alcohol problems, too. I knew, but I didn’t really understand. I saw the symptoms, but I didn’t get what they felt like.
There was this liquor store/market that was around the corner from our house, and it was closer than the 7/11 which was down on the corner of Mission Gorge Rd and Fanita Drive. The man that ran the store was also the slumlord that rented the crappy little duplexes behind the store (which are still there, and still crappy–the landlord is long dead, though), and he did something the 7/11 wouldn’t have even thought about doing–he allowed my mother to run a tab. This was especially convenient, because when my father was not working (masonry had its lulls), she could still get what she needed. Sometimes it was groceries, but more often than not, it was very cheap bottles of wine, and lots of them. There were several occasions when the bottles were chosen over food, and we ended up eating eggs for dinner a few times when my dad was out of town working.
I was generally a pretty good kid, and accepted these circumstances as the way things were. For all I knew, everyone had the same problems. Which wouldn’t have necessarily been bad, but it taught me that food was way more important than it actually was. When you had it, you really needed to pound it down, because you didn’t know if it was going to be there later. Additionally, for as long as I could remember, food was how comfort was given in my house, rather than affection. If I cried, or was hurt, or was rewarded for something I’d done, I would be given something to eat. Maybe a larger portion at the dinner table, or some candy, or a soda.
That stuck with me my entire life, and I still struggle with it to this day. Done something good? I deserve a treat. Feel crappy about something? A nice big portion of something will make me feel better. And it did. It does. It was a way to numb pain, much like alcohol would be for alcoholics. Although since I’ve been aware of my family’s tendency to addiction, I’ve tried to avoid regular consumption of alcohol. Doesn’t always work, because when I do indulge, I binge like a maniac.
I do the same with food. I don’t exhibit a lot of the behavior that food addicts do, so I convinced myself I wasn’t one for the longest time. I don’t eat in secret. I don’t often eat when I’m not hungry (but when I am hungry, I eat way, way more than I should). I don’t eat many dessert-type foods (or I try not to, but when they’re around, I binge!). So I don’t often make them.
My problem, I think, is that I struggle doing anything in moderation–whether it be drinking, or eating, or anything at all, really. My weight (and consequently, my health) has been a lifelong problem for me, and sometimes it seems like it always will be. I guess it’s the “once an addict, always an addict” philosophy. But an addict in recovery is of course preferable to one in full bloom.
I’ve made progress on and off over the years, mostly just from stubbornness and restricting the almighty heck out of my diet. Most recently, I lost nearly 50 pounds a few years ago, 20 of which I’ve put back on. Better than it was, of course, but not there. Not even almost there. I think my main problem is that I’ve tried to go it alone, even to the extent of not spending any real time in prayer over my diet, and weight, and and health. This is an area I’ve never truly given to God.
Recently, I was reading Mikey’s blog from the Rock 105.3 morning show, and he was talking about how he never really made any good progress with losing weight and getting healthy until he asked God for help. And that’s how he does it every day–he prays, and God answers. And helps.
He gives all the credit and glory for the physical changes in his life to God. I think what I’ve done is the opposite. In this regard, I think I’ve blamed God for my health and physical problems–in the sense that he made me this way. Never really thought that my problems, and weight, were because of bad dietary and health decisions I made. But the truth is, Jesus never forced an Ultimate Cheeseburger down my throat.
Today, this moment, I can see that my health problems, and weight problems, were brought on not by God, but by me. My problems are because of me, and the consequences of my bad decisions. I choose to eat food that’s bad for me, in extremely unhealthy portions. I choose to drink excessively (when I drink), occasionally to the point of making myself sick. I choose to not exercise enough. A lifetime of this has left me with very high blood pressure, for which I have to take two different medications. I’ll probably have to do this for the rest of my life, but it’s a lot better than the alternative.
What am I getting at? I just wanted to lay the groundwork for where I am. But I also realize that changing my life is not something I’ll be able to do easily, or by myself. I need to involve God, and others like myself. To that end, I was briefly involved with a program called “Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous.” Very similar to AA, but different from Overeaters Anonymous, mostly in its methods. FA’s path to health and weight loss is very strict, to start, and involves abstinence from all flour and sugar. You eat three weighed and measured meals with nothing in between. It was tough, and I think I did it for a month or two. It worked, but at the time the discipline became far more than I was willing to deal with, as it required me to attend AA meeting besides the once a week FA meeting.
I crapped out pretty early on. From what I can tell from the website, OA mainly consists of accountability, and planned menus, without the extremely strict nature of FA. We’ll see, I guess.
So what I plan to do now is to attend an OA meeting and see what that’s like, and if I am more suited to its disciplines. In that regard, to those of you who pray, please pray that I am able to maintain the discipline I need to get healthy, whichever program I take part in.
The truth is, I’m tired of feeling bad, and tired of not being healthier. I know what I need to do, but in trying to do it on my own, I’ve failed miserably. And of late, I’ve felt myself sinking back into old thought patterns. And while that isn’t as bad as old sin patterns, that’s the next thing in line, and I have no desire to go there.
So please pray–whatever God puts on your heart to ask for on my behalf…