Can a Food Addict Drink Safely?

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Aug 17th, 2016
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Can a Food Addict Drink Safely?
Current readers know that I’m experiencing a renewed stretch of clean eating this summer. It started with a 35 day stretch of daily AA meetings here on Martha’s Vineyard, continued during three weeks off-island, and has stuck to me like superglue  in the 8 days since I’ve returned.  I’m pushing 70 days, I think.
August life here is more complicated that June life – lots of family and friends in and out – and I’m making only 4-5 of my 6:45am AA meetings a week.  But I continue to find a daily reprieve based on the maintenance of my spiritual condition.
I’m “out” with most of my AA colleagues and friends, meaning that when I say, “Hi, I’m Kathryn, I’m an addict”, they know I’m talking about food, not meth or pills.   When I share in a meeting, I don’t talk about the fact that I drink socially, and without compulsion.  I suspect it might trigger feelings of envy or disbelief.   Maybe that’s just projection. I know I’ve felt envy, disbelief and even resentment when I’m with people who eat one or two bites of some luscious sugary confection and then they push it away, sated and/or disinterested. I wonder How do they do that?
I count it a great blessing to have been welcomed at this AA meeting along with other 12 Step tag alongs who identify as co-dependents, adult children of alcoholics, and drug addicts, etc. But one AA friend has been very focused on the fact that I don’t identify as an alcoholic.  He somehow convinced himself that I’m in denial and has repeatedly tried to convince me that if you have any addiction, alcohol is waiting in the bushes to take you down.  Let’s just say there have been intense emails and conversations about this.
Two days ago,  I finally put my foot down.  I told my friend I appreciated his concern, but that he had to stop.  I told him, I’ve been dealing with my food addiction since I was six years old and sneaking extra birthday cake.  I know what it is and what it isn’t.  On various occasions I’ve used shopping, overwork, romance, and yes, even a glass of wine to avoid my feelings, but none of those behavior have become habit or have hardened into compulsion.  I told my friend that I appreciate his friendship and his concern for my health.  But I have a sponsor, I said, and a large circle of people who know my strengths and weaknesses well.  I’m in good hands.

My boundary-setting prompted one last email on the subject.  My friend explained that he’s witnessed too many alcohol-related deaths in his many decades of AA.  One of his friends froze to death in the snow. One committed suicide a week after my friend thought about intervening but then pulled back, hesitant.  Many other deaths have made my friend hyper-vigilant, and he acknowledged that he had pushed his concerns on me too aggressively.  He apologized.

 

 

 

As annoying as this series of conversations were, I don’t regret that we had them. Because it’s good for me to be reminded that people die from this disease of “more”.  We food addicts kill ourselves by thousands of nicks and cuts, not dramatically by freezing ourselves to death while binged out on Oreos.  But it is a form of death just the same when we numb ourselves from the beauty and pain that is our gift as humans.  I’ve lost years of my life by simply not being present.  I appreciate the reminder that it is my responsibility and my gift to show up every day, clean of mind, body and spirit.

 

 

We food addicts kill ourselves by increments so tiny that it’s easy to dismiss the cumulative damage. To the contrary, alcoholics are often reminded that they can die from their disease quickly and dramatically.  I think that’s why I’m finding my experience with AA so powerful.  If I knew that eating  plate-size apple fritters from Back Door Donuts could lead to jail, my death, or physical harm someone else before the end of the day, I might hold onto my recovery with a much tighter grip.
PS.  This image has nothing to do with this post and everything to do with the fact that August 17 is the most high holiday here in the MV Camp Meeting Ground…The Grand Illumination!  You can read about it here.
And please ignore the weird paragraph spacing or lack thereof.  Can’t seem to fix it.

2 Comments

  • Ellen

    Congrats on 70+days Kathryn! I have awakened today to day 15 and a heart full of gratutide for this miraculous gift…again. Thank you for todays post…I’m inspired by your journey. And loved the trip down memory lane of illumination. In Gratitude and Peace, Ellen

  • Linda

    Always great to hear from you, Kathryn! I have alcohol about twice a year. Since I can take it or leave it, I know that it isn’t a problem for me. I have gone to parties and had some and other parties I haven’t. Whatever addiction we have, it can kill and it sounds like you had a good dialog with your friend.

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