I am totally incapable of overcoming food addiction in my own strength. Try as I might, my efforts to escape this nightmare seem pointless in the end. I sit in my prison cell plotting my escape. Devising plans that ‘maybe this time’ will work. Night falls and I prepare my prison break! Like Andy from Shawshank Redemption, I chisel my way through to the other side. Nothing is easy though. It’s no simple plan. I must crawl like he did through a river of sh*t to escape!! But I do it. I make it!! And I emerge on the other side to bathe in the rain and cry for joy that I am finally free. But while I rest easy for once, the alarm bells ring out!! My cell has been found empty. My escape has been discovered. Sound the alarm! Unleash the hounds!! I am hunted like the prey I am by a hunter who never sleeps.
So I must run. I must find a place to hide. Somewhere I will not be captured. Where I will not be forcibly taken back to the cell from which I only just escaped. I don’t want to go back to the food. To a life where hunger invades my every thought. Where I wake up hungry. Where I even wake in the night to the refrigerator’s calls. A life where my every waking hour is spent trying NOT to give in. It’s no way to live. Never having any peace. Always holding back the tidal wave that threatens to drown you.
You leave your prison cell behind. Even though it’s comfortable after so many years. You escape and you’re free. But soon it will happen again. The anxiety. Some life circumstance. Perhaps some trigger that drives you back. What will you do without your old prison cell? The coping mechanism you’ve come to both hate and yet crave. The hounds are on your heels and soon you know the car will go where it always goes. Back to the food aisle. The drive thru. The prison cell from which you just escaped.
So you run. You look for a fresh hiding place. And you find it. Not in a pizza box. Not in a donut box. But in a bottle where the wine freely flows. For a time, it is quiet. Your camouflage is effective. The food no longer calls your name. You are free. But something more dangerous has replaced it. Something that will kill you even quicker if you let it. You have called off the hunters only to replace them with something deadlier. You thought they had put down their rifles and walked away.
And they did.
But only to return with bigger weapons. Bigger rifles. And this time–an army.
If you are addicted to food—beware. It’s not simply the food that will call you. Anything will work as a substitute if you let it. And if you refuse to let the food capture you again, they will simply bring in the big guns. And take you down with something even deadlier.
I thought I had requested a stay of execution. I thought I had negotiated my release!! A pardon!! I walked out of food addiction to what I believed was freedom. But no indeed! That was not the case. The car that came to pick me up was not my ride to freedom at all. It was merely a transfer vehicle. Like a prisoner who asks to be moved to another location in hopes that it will be better than the last place they stayed.
From the frying pan into the fire
Hell’s flames replaced with a blaze! You thought the 3 alarm fire was bad. You thought the misery of obesity was the worst. Wait until the flames of alcohol hit the forest and the entire place is set ablaze! It is no place to run. And that is exactly what will happen when transfer addiction takes place.
Transfer addiction is switching seats on the titanic. It’s throwing water on a grease fire. You think you’re helping your situation but you’re only making it worse.
I don’t HAVE an alcohol problem. I don’t HAVE an issue with wine.
Maybe you don’t NOW. But if you can become addicted to sugar—then you can become addicted to alcohol.
It’s funny, right? You think pouring water on a fire would HELP. And the same is true of this. I don’t want to go back to my prison. I don’t want to go back to food. But if a fire is raging and I can’t reach for sugar to quell it—then what will I do?? What can I use to extinguish it?? I already know food will work for a time but I also know the hell it brings. I’ve worked so hard to get away from that way of life. Why would I ever go back?
The fire keeps burning though. And I have to put it out.
I reach for that liquid. And I pour it all over the fire. What happens next??
I tried not to go back to food. But in my effort to remain free, I poured liquid all over that fire. Just like water on a grease fire, I poured alcohol down my throat instead of food. And instead of the slow burn of obesity, I got the quick explosion.
Obesity will kill you. That’s for sure. It’s a deadly addiction but it’s slow. It takes its time. It won’t happen overnight. You may live a long life killing yourself with a fork. It takes a lot of stabs to get the job done. But alcohol. That’s no joke. If you’re tired of food addiction taking so long to get the job done, alcohol is switching from the back road to the highway.
If you thought eating yourself to death was miserable, you were right. It is.. But it’s slow
Its taking the scenic route to your own demise. Watching your death in slow motion.
Replace food with alcohol and you’re not on the back roads anymore. You’re on a highway headed for a construction zone. You’re flying through the barrels and ready to fly straight off the bridge into oblivion. If you thought struggling with food was bad, start celebrating your freedom from it with champagne. And then wait for that elevator to take you to a level of hell you didn’t know existed.
You thought the humiliation of being over 400 pounds was rough. You thought that was as bad as it could get. Take the elevator down a few levels to what lies in wait for you at the end of a vodka bottle. Pour liquid on that grease fire and watch the whole place blow up!
This has been my life for the past several years. I thought I had escaped but I was wrong. I DID escape for a time. But I didn’t stay free. And my freedom from food came with a price. One too great to bear.
I actually went to Alcoholics Anonymous when I decided alcohol was becoming too much of a problem for me. It was strange to say the least. To show up there in my mid 40’s having never had a real problem before. I didn’t know if I was an alcoholic. I rather feel more comfortable calling myself a food addict. Compulsive Overeater. Binge eater. That’s what I’m accustomed to. That’s what I know. I’ve been in and out of THOSE 12 step meetings for the past 20 years. But alcohol? That wasn’t a problem. Not until I gave up sugar.
You know what I found at Alcoholics Anonymous?
As a matter of fact, at the first meeting I attended a woman literally walked around and put candy on the table at everyone’s seat. The second meeting I went to they passed a bowl around full of starburst. The third meeting I went to they brought cake. And I was advised on page 134 of the Big Book to “constantly have chocolate available”. It further addressed this issue by stating that should I have a craving in the middle of the night, it would be “satisfied by candy”. It even went so far as to say that the practice of eating sweets was beneficial to anyone trying to stop drinking alcohol!
This is not a one way street. It’s clear this road has two lanes. One may be sugar and the other may be wine but if you’re weaving in and out of both lanes you’ll wreck all the same. One lane just seems to drive faster into the fire than the other.
It appeared to me there was no escape. It was clear now the fire was going to rage. I could put it out with food or I could put it out with liquor. But alcohol seemed to be a far deadlier method than food. So I picked the lesser of two evils. Like an escapee who is done running. Tired of always hiding in the bushes and sleeping with one eye open. I emerged defeated with my hands behind my back. Go ahead, I said. Cuff me. Take me back to prison. But let me go back to my old prison cell. The one with food. I felt safer there. So I gained back 100 pounds .
I was a prisoner who escaped. With great effort, I ran towards freedom. But my freedom was short lived. Just as the alcoholic was advised to eat chocolate. I was advised (by myself) to drink some wine in the evening rather than eat. I wasn’t an alcoholic after all. And I couldn’t become one now, could I? I’m a Mom. I’m in my 40’s. No one arrives in their 40’s with a spontaneous drinking problem, do they? What kind of sense does that make?
If ‘something’ was needed to put out the fire, why not pour liquid on it instead of chocolate? Why not drink a little wine?
But as time went on, I found the amount of alcohol required to get the job done increased substantially. I kept trying to put out the fires of my life with wine instead of food. And as I began to sense trouble brewing, I willingly accepted the idea of having an alcohol problem as an acceptable alternative. So desperate was I to NOT gain back the weight.
SERIOUSLY…this conversation happened in my head. I realized I was using alcohol too often for stress but I began to think…ok…well…
At least I’ll be thin
I was so desperate to maintain my weight loss that I was willing to develop a new problem just not to go back to my old one.
Like an old movie where you sell your soul to the devil
Before long, I was in a deeper part of hell than I had ever anticipated.
If your ship is going down, does it really matter which seat you’re in? Switching seats on the Titanic won’t save you.
I return again and again to what appears to be my fate. Try as I might, nothing ever changes long term. Even if I am able for a time to release the choke hold food has on my life, I find it is almost immediately replaced with something else like alcohol. Even cigarettes! I’m not even a smoker! But at one point I literally thought…maybe I should be! Anything to not give into the food. How insane can I get? The very moment I exit one prison cell, I am thrown squarely into another. Like a prisoner who requests to be moved to a different location. I fill out my paperwork begging for a transfer. But I don’t need another transfer. A transfer is still prison. I need a release. I need total freedom FROM destructive substances that provide temporary relief while creating additional problems.
When life gets too overwhelming for me, I struggle to find the peace I need from God. I go to Him but I always want to bring a sidekick with me. Something that will feel immediate. A quick release. Because life happens and in that moment I need something tangible to get me through. When things pile up on me, I just don’t seem to be satisfied with prayer. Meditation. Or even the knowledge that God WILL get me through. I always clung to God as a lifeline. And He was there for me. I just never realized how MUCH I also depended on the food until I tried to give it up. My Bible was under one pillow. But M and M’s were under the other one. It’s like I have decided on my own that He won’t be enough. And I reach for whatever is behind door number three.
I keep waiting for things to “calm down”. For life to “slow down”. For things to ‘even out’ so that I can focus on this issue. So I can get back to the business of weight loss. But try as I may, life only speeds up.
In the past month, my air conditioner sprung a leak which is under the house and will require thousands of dollars to repair. My refrigerator decided to break. My dishwasher decided to break AND now my kitchen sink is backed up. We had a hail storm and now I have a leak in my roof. I forgot to put the trash out so I missed my weekly pick up and maggots developed in the trashcan. EWWWWWW! A bee built a hive right outside my door and when I opened the window to let some air in (since the AC was broken) bees flew in and I had to run like a maniac trying to kill all of them while the children ducked for cover.
You know what?? Life isn’t going to slow down. It’s not going to calm down, ease off, even out or otherwise cut me some slack.
If I keep waiting for things to ‘calm down’, I’ll be in the grave before it happens. I have to find a way even in the fire to reach for more than a swiss cake roll and a glass of wine. Paul said “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”-Phillippians 4:12 This is the answer. To have peace in the midst of all circumstances. Peace that comes from God. Not food. Not alcohol. To find that is to find the solution.
I know the answers. I just repeatedly fail to follow them. I’m like someone who has been hypnotized to suddenly go into a trance at the sound of a bell. I am Pavlov’s dog. The perfect example of classical conditioning. I have all the good intentions in the world and I’m totally in control. Then someone rings the bell and I fall into a trance. With my arms out in a hypnotic state, I walk straight back into donuts. Suddenly I awaken and go “What happened??” …”How did I do this AGAIN?”
Beating addiction (whether to food, alcohol or whatever else calls your name) is no joke. It’s definitely the battle of my life. One thing I know to be true though. I”m not alone.
I disappear at times from my blog and yet people still write me. People leave comments on old posts just to say hello. A reader of my blog who is now a friend even tagged me on Facebook to say “Where the heck are you?? You are missed”. I think it’s pretty amazing to wake up to that. To people who even after months (or shoot…at this point..years) remember me even when I’m absent. In the midst of bee hives and broken air conditioners in the Texas heat—someone out there takes the time to tell me I matter. And I cannot underestimate the impact that it has on me. It attacks the lies that often fill my mind. The voices in my head that scream —“Holly, You suck at life ;0)) !! Nothing you do makes a difference! And tomorrow will just be another day of failure!”
This has been long. I’m sorry. I’m either silent or rattling on endlessly. But this is what I had to say today. In spite of everything I’ve told you, I still think things are looking up. Believe it or not, I’m doing a few things right. I should probably tell you about them so you don’t think all is lost! I’ve made small progress in certain areas and that gives me hope. I will keep at it. I will keep trying. I will keep fighting. What else is there really to do?
We can’t win if we give up. We can’t overcome if we don’t keep trying. And why should I expect this to be easy? Why should I expect there not to be highs and lows? Why should I not go through the valley? Why should I not have a broken refrigerator and a swarm of bees in my kitchen! Come on, Holly. This is life. This is what it IS! Grab hold of it and get back on the ride! It’s in these times we are tested. It’s in these times where we get to decide if we keep walking forward in the dark or give up for eternity. So I think I’ll just keep going. Because sometimes all you can do is hang on.
Tie a knot and just hang on.
Whose with me?
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