So I read this book called Drunkard by Neil Steinberg. The cover had lime green lettering with a large ice cube and it screamed "You need to read me!" from the shelf of a Barnes & Noble and I purchased it on Friday night. I was done by 3:30pm on Saturday. It is not a thin book. It is the memoir of one man's struggle with alcoholism. But it is not just for alcoholics. It is a book for anyone facing an addiction, anyone trying to climb a mountain, anyone who is not perfect, and anyone who maybe thinks they in fact are perfect... and they've always wondered what the other side is like. I'm pretty sure that having read this book is going to be one of those important turning points in this journey for me. I can't be certain, but I have that feeling... that mattering feeling you get when you know something is important. It's not a how-to book. I like those. The lists and forms and calendars in them make me feel calm and in control. Drunkard is a tale, a chronology, a documentary. It is honest and it does not suppose to tell you there is hope for you... the only message is "This is my story" ... not to discount the actual many messages... but really, that's the bottom line.
I tell you about this book almost in the same way that the author speaks of one of his AA meetings... because its one of things that has led me to today.
I lost 3.6lbs at Weight Watchers today... I weighed in at a meeting. Alone. And I sat alone. And I listened to the ra-ra message trying to use the Olympics to inspire the members to move more- not even to exercise- but just to move. And I saw again, the way I used to think of it when I started years ago, how WeightWatchers is really similar to AA. The blessing and the curse... the blessing is that food is not physiologically as addictive as alcohol. The curse is that you can't decide to never eat again to lose weight.
And I know there are probably a bunch of recovering alcoholics who would hate that I can make this comparison b/c how can this possibly be the same.... but I'm pretty sure for me, that it is exactly the same.
A craving. Always on your mind. Where is the next drink coming from? How good will it be? And eventually it doesn't matter to the point of desperation of drinking the cooking vanilla in your kitchen cupboard. I have shoved countless amounts of shitty shitty junk food into my mouth without ever tasting it. Its not hunger. Its to feed the addiction. The loneliness and lack of rational thought leads me to the food and its never a question- of course I'm going to eat everything. B/c the fuller I can make myself feel- the less empty I seem. Its a type of numbing process that I've honed since a child.
And I'm not sure that Weight Watchers will work. But I also don't want to be one of those people to have to resort to surgery. Nor do I want to die from a stroke, or heart attack, or develop diabetes. I'm on that path. And I can't always make myself buy-in to the WW spiel. I was "on the wagon" w/ this endeavor for quite a few months- and I had some success... but I fell off the wagon, and I've been off doing some damage.
I'm finally sliding back on- I lost this week which is great but I"m more concerned with this coming week now. What will I eat? How will I avoid the bad stuff? Can I still make the right decisions if I am social? And haven't I been slowly isolating myself so that I will have no one and nothing left to do but hang out with myself and exercise and eat at home.
I'm pretty sure I am addicted to the stuffed & numbing sensation that over-eating provides me. I'm pretty sure that if I did have the surgery instead of doing this myself, I would end up a Drunkard. Because I am not someone who needs to lose 30lbs or their baby weight or their freshman 15 or 40 as the case may be. I have a lifetime of disappointment, regret, and loneliness hanging around my heart and I know how to physically get rid of the weight. Calories in and calories out.
But until I deal with why... I am never going to succeed. I can track everything I eat now- but its just the wagon. I'll keep falling off again and again until I get to the bottom of the black hole.
And the thing is- I don't really want to get to the bottom of it because its pretty scary. I wish I could go somewhere for 28 days that would detox me of my food addiction and I could come out not eating, ever. Sadly, I must eat to live and I don't know how I'm going to figure out how to make the right choices. Because I hate them. Just like the Drunkard believes he can handle 1 glass of wine that turns into a week-long bender on Jack... I find a way to rationalize whatever it is I'm putting into my mouth at any time. I have a reason for everything and I'm always starting over. Relapsing.
Isn't anyone else sick of me relapsing? No. Because I don't get dysfunctional like a drunk... instead I get fatter. So as long as I can pretend to live with that, there are no consequences, until my health collapses.
When there are no consequences, I don't change. Because I don't have to. Hell, even when there are consequences, I don't change. Because I care more to support my food binging habits that somehow make my world ok, than I do if I end up in the hospital. That may not be true deep down, but that's how I act on every single given day.
And haven't you heard...?
Beware of your thoughts for they become your actions. etc etc
The catalyst to change for the Drunkard in the book was a night in jail. The law forced him into rehab. No one is going to force me into anything over weight loss. There is no crime. There are no legal ramifications. There are mostly only serious health consequences...
those clearly aren't having any effect on my actions...
But this book, this book opened my eyes to the true nature of my habits... almost all of them... they are an addicts habits. The cravings, the needs, the price and joy in the ritual, the feeling that it my god damned right to do as I please if it makes me feel good, the shame, the disbelief at how much of a choke-hold it has on your day-to-day life, the unforeseen triggers, the unfolding hell with strict, dark, blinders on.
But it opened my eyes- and reminded me that if I am to eliminate some habits or activities or joy- that I better find something to replace it with. Hopefully I'll be willing to keep my eyes open long enough to make some real, actual, measurable, progress.
... I want not to post this right now as its 3:30am and I've had a lot of caffeine keeping me up... but even as I type, I know I'm going to anyway. Because even if its rough and needs refining and maybe some clarity... the heart of it is true and correct... and if I let it go, I'm just going to censor it down until its a funny anecdote about a book I read that maybe has some relevance to this. When the reality is, I have to post this now before I stop myself, because it's real, maybe critical. And I'm just tired enough to let it be.