Addiction: If you want something different…

Things have been beyond busy around here for the past few weeks. The new school quarter has really tested my ability to manage my time and grieving (aka my constant desire for doing nothing). Even though things have been busy, there have been plenty of insights along the way.

I believe that we all have addictions to one degree or another. Addictions are a mental distraction from what is causing us psychological/spiritual  pain. For many, this is also an issue of physiological dependence. I am not sure of how a psychological/spiritual distraction turns into a physiological dependence for some and not others. I can honestly say that I’ve tried to become and alcoholic or drug addict, but my physiology always found an extreme that it no longer wanted to continue.

I am also not sure of how the two are different, but I am aware of how they are similar. There is a pattern of seeking, bingeing, consequence, and guilt that appears to be a common thread along all addictions. Most notably, there is the intense fear and anger that arises at the thought of no longer having the object(s) of addiction in one’s life. For me I have realized and accepted that my addiction shows up in two forms. Isolation and food.

Isolation: It is what I know as my normal. Isolating myself is not only a protection from others, it reinforces my false belief that I am alone. As much as I hate isolating, I love it. I look forward to it when I am not at home, and when I am at home I loath it. I overindulge in it by sleeping on the couch for hours during the day. It has led to falling behind in school assignments, a resurgence in depressive symptoms, and most notably, a significant weight gain.

My therapist and I have put into place a plan of connection. She asked me to consider reaching out to support groups. Since my return to school, I have had to go from two counseling sessions a week to one, and two ACA support systems to one. She suggested that I need more support and explore how I can do this. I was resistant to it at first because my schedule is so demanding (and it would cut into my “do nothing” time as well). How am I going to fit in more things to do? But I decided to try.

So now I am going for a long morning walk on the weekend, going to Inner Light on Sundays afternoons, and attending an OA support group for my other addiction…

Food: It has taken me a long long time to understand and accept that I am a food addict. It’s embarrassing, but after really noticing the addictive patterns of friend who is an alcoholic and drug addict, I was able to see my own addiction to food. Not only has my physiological self been hurt by this, my psychological/spiritual self has been harmed as well. I eat to comfort/distract myself for the painful feelings I do not allow myself to feel.  The intense guilt feelings after bingeing and the love/hate relationship I have with food feels overwhelming and my life feels out of control. I worry about my weight and health (both now and in the future) and I am unable to love the person I see in the mirror.

At first I was very resistant. Most notably when I went to my first meeting and realized that if I decided to do this, I would no longer have food as a crutch. A surge of anger and fear went through me, and in that instant I knew that I truly was an addict. Slowly I am understanding what this relationship with food is about, and in some strange way it has opened up a new path towards loving and being more compassionate to myself. Hearing other people’s stories and experiences is very inspiring and a little scary at the same time. The fear of the unknown and fear of failure are definitely present, but that is what change is I suppose. As I once heard: “If you want something different, you have to do something different”.

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