Seasons of Joy: Addiction But No Cold Turkey

Ribbet collageSeasons of Joy

Warning: Brutally honest post ahead.

This doesn’t seem an appropriate post to be in my seasons of joy series, I know.  Thing is this series is about me.  It is my journey through the often murky waters of Life.  My fight, if you like, to find Joy in every season.  In order for me to authentically talk about those things which give me joy, I must also face those things which steal my joy.  This post is about my struggle to deal with the biggest robber of my joy – food.


 

I almost wish I could just not eat. Going without food seems to be a sensible option whilst trying to kick an addiction to it. But one simply can’t not eat.

I mean a recovering alcoholic doesn’t touch alcohol; a recovering drug addict doesn’t touch drugs.  I know, because my dad was an alcoholic, that just one glass is not a possibility. Succumb to that one and the rest, as they say, is history. Followed by much regret. I know my father hated it when he fell off the wagon. There was nothing about it he enjoyed except that feeling of the first drink. Just before he died, he lamented that alcohol was the one thing he had been unable to control. And it had ruined his life, his career, his marriage and ultimately his relationship with his children. That first drink after abstinence almost made the abstinence worth while.

One can’t stop eating altogether, unless one wishes to die.  Of course I want to live. But I want to live my life fuller, healthier and, I think, ultimately happier.  I want to live a life where food is not my driving force.

I don’t know what the answer is. I come from a family of addictions. My father with alcohol, my grandfather with alcohol, my uncle died of alcoholism as did my auntie. In fact the coroner made the comment that she didn’t understand how she had survived as long as she did given how pickled her entire insides were. I don’t drink alcohol. At all. I have never touched drugs and I have never even smoked. No, I have a milder addiction. Or maybe not milder but more socially acceptable or more easily hidden. It doesn’t make me behave in a silly way. I do not lose my inhibitions, I do not do anything I might regret under the influence and some might say apart from being overweight there has been little effect on my life. I have a happy and healthy marriage, five beautiful children, I live the life I dreamed of when I was a little girl at home with the rest of the family, all of us lost in our own version of hell. I have a degree, am well educated and well read. I am fairly confident and generally have an upbeat, cheerful disposition.

To all intents and purposes I am normal.

Except I’m not. I eat too much. I eat until I am full, and then I eat some more. I only like the feeling of being full and yet that same feeling disgusts me. I think I am ugly. No matter that my lovely husband tells me otherwise. No matter that I am told frequently I look like my daughters and to me, they are absolutely beautiful. No, when I look in the mirror I see a monster. You see, I know I am no better than the various family members who have battled their addictions all their lives. I don’t see the physical reality of me, I see the actual reality of me. The reality of stuffing my face, the reality of knees which give way when I stand up, the reality of the aches and the pains, the reality of someone who is made dirtier by an addiction she has no ability to control or even know where to start to control. And that someone? That person who makes me sick to my stomach? It’s me.

How do I control an addiction which is slowly killing me? How can I change the way I feel about food when I can’t go cold turkey? How do I give up food, without giving up food?

Since Christmas I have been searching for the answers to these questions and more.  I have had somewhat of a revelation which I would like to share.  And it might just be the most important post I ever write about a God for whom nothing is impossible and about a Battle which has already been fought and won.

 

41 comments

  1. Oh Claire, I love you all the more for your honesty. You are beautiful both inside and out, what is not beautiful is your self image, God does not make ugly things. He lives in you and that makes you extra beautiful. If accountability works, I am here, if venting works, I am here, if talking through a plan works, I am here, you get the idea. We are all broken and messed up in different ways and you are right, God is the answer to all things. My prayers are with you as you and God work through this one together. Xxx

  2. Claire, I can tell that anything is possible for you, with God by your side. I know that your story is going to move and inspire many others. Bless you for having the courage to share it.

  3. Oh Claire…your willingness to be raw with your readers and share in your struggle means a lot to me. I too struggle the exact same way. My weight is the ONLY thing that holds me back in life. Everything else in my life is so wonderful except me!! I can’t wait for your next post! xo

  4. You have expressed yourself so well in this post. Claire…I wish I knew you in real life. You are such a special person. Thank you for your honest post. I hope you can see what a beautiful person you are inside and out.
    Blessings, Dawn

  5. Thank you for your honesty in this post. I am a pretty new reader but I am so enjoying getting to know you through these Seasons of Joy posts. I wish you the very best in conquering your demons.

  6. I understand how you feel. Overeaters Anonymous defines “sobriety” as eating no white flour products or sugar, if that is helpful. My career before children was as an Addiction’s counselor.

  7. I really haven’t any practical answers for you. My father uses drugs and my mother drank while they were together. My brother is an alcoholic and always on the verge of suicide. I was on the same path but chose to follow Jesus. Since we started this adventure of healthier living I have come to realize the same about myself. I turn to food when I am not hungry. I’ve made an idol of food and that breaks my heart. I pray about it and onsome days I do okay and others days i just don’t care and eat. I feel the need to slow my life down and my family’s. I can better concentrate and listen to the Holy Spirit if I am not so rushed and busy. My husband agrees and we are working together to keep outside commitments to as few as possible. My husband has the same struggle with food so we are trying to work with each other instead of sabotage each other…not easy when one of us is having a bad day. Hugs and I understand the self loathing. To me you are beautiful. I just love the color of your hair. I love the joy in your eyes when I see you pictured with your loved ones. I can see their love for you in the pictures you share. I love the way you write and share your heart. Your writer’s voice is beautiful to me. We may never meet on this earth but when we get to Heaven I’m going to hug you…and we will both be able to our beauty.

  8. Your honesty is so encouraging, and I know what you mean about those hidden addictions. Mine is probably something to do with hobbies or something like that. I don’t know, I’d have to think on it. I can’t wait to read your revelations you’ve come to.

  9. Being so brutally honest with yourself and with the world is very courageous and, I think, the first step to healing. Addiction, in whatever form, is a very complex problem that goes beyond physical symptoms. Good to know that you’ve found a solution. 🙂

    1. Thank you Hwee. It is in deed much more complex than simply going on a diet. A fact I maybe should have realised years ago when every diet I tried ultimately failed!

  10. I can’t wait for you next post. It’s hard to be honest with yourself on these matters, much less with an audience. You are so kind and encouraging to others and I hope you know that you are worth so much to every who knows you even in the least.

  11. Like everyone, I so love your honesty. I am sure you are helping so many people with these posts my friend. I will pray for you; for strength and control. I know how hard it is. Hugs and love my friend.

  12. I have said it before but I’ll say it again – you do look very much like the twins, and are beautiful! I’ve struggled with the same addiction, and it wasn’t until I did Live Below the Line one year that I realised I’d never actually learnt the difference between feeling sated and feeling overstuffed. It’s such a hard struggle, I’m glad you’ve had a revelation!

    1. Thanks May. I’ve never heard about Living Below the Line but I’m guessing it means living below the bread line? ie less money so less food??

      1. Live Below the Line is a charity thing, where you get sponsored to live on £1 a day (for food) for five days. I only did it once because it seemed a bit gimmicky – I’d rather just give money to charity than pretend to be poor, that’s not going to help anyone – but it was interesting to see how, with a limited budget and a carefully planned shopping list, I could feel full without feeling overstuffed. No spare money for snacks, sugar or anything non-nutritious!

  13. It must have taken so much courage to write this post – my heart and prayers go out to you, in conquering this battle, and in seeing yourself in the same light that your loved ones (and many devoted readers) see – a woman whose inner and outer beauty shines far beyond her deepest struggle. Something that is so much easier to say than to really feel, but I look forward to reading about it the day that you do (as I’m sure you will, just as I’m sure you’ll conquer this addiction).

  14. Claire

    There are no words. Thank you so much for your beautiful honesty you continue to blow me away. Im sure self awareness is the first step.

    Loads of love

    Lx

  15. My addictions, and my struggles with food have been rather different to yours; but from that I can tell you much not eating just sucks all the joy from life. I know a lot about *how* to lose weight, but I also know that doing all those things will make you miserable probably even more than it’ll make you slim.
    So I think it’s really important to lose weight not from the perspective of “if I weigh X I will love myself/be happy” but of “I am happy and I love myself now and losing weight is just an extension of that, something nice I’m doing for myself.” And also to remember that you are beautiful, your beauty and your weight are separate things from each other. And your worth as a person is separate to both those things: we are so much more than how we look!
    Sarah xx

    1. Thank you Sarah. You are so right, we are so much more than our looks. You are beautiful inside and out and we feel very blessed to have you in our lives.

  16. I know that took alot of courage to share those thoughts and feelings with people you don’t know, but I am grateful for your transparency. It’s one of the things I enjoy about your blogs.
    I suffer from some of the same thoughts and feelings about myself. I can manage for a while to maintain some healthy eating habits, but there’s more to it. Food is an unhealthy way of dealing with stress, emotions, and things that feel out of control. I’m saying that because I know this is what I do.
    I have been able to kick some unhealthy foods if I wean myself from sugar and don’t bring any into the house, but a bad day, or a taste of something sweet, and I’m back to square one. I love to cook, and I love to eat good food, with a variety. Regiment is not my friend.
    If can offer any encouragement, I will say that it’s my opinion that you have a beautiful soul(and I think you’re a pretty lady–great smile!). Some days all we can do is hang on to what God says about it(even if it doesn’t feel true).

  17. Have you ever tried the Whole 30 diet? My husband found that it really changed the way he thought about food. You only do it for 30 days, and then after that can continue the changes or not, as you want. God bless, Rachel x

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