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.