In 12-step lingo we call the disease of addiction “Cunning, baffling and powerful” and my food addiction is all those things times a million.
I am certain that food is the worst disease of them all because with so many other substances sobriety or abstinence is absolute, the substance is gone from the body and the physical cravings have an opportunity to heal.
With food, we have to go back to the bar 3 or 4 times a day to sustain ourselves, so day after day we play with the very fire that’s burned us. Food addiction is this elusive epidemic in our society, the thing we almost never talk about but nearly everyone relates to.
It’s not sexy like other substances, there is nothing cool about being a food addict, it’s very lowbrow as they say. Alcoholics often wear their sobriety as a badge of honor, a source of pride.. But you’ll never experience that with a food addict. Maybe because the threat of relapse is always so close, maybe because 3 or more times a day its like we have to go sit down with our rapist and make nice.
I’ve been in stages of deepening recovery for more than 20 years working a strong program of recovery with the 12-steps and meditation and a hundred other things and yet everyday I still learn more about myself. I can see now the grips of this disease tightening or loosening day in and day out. I go for days or weeks feeling good. The better I feel, the sooner the bad day is coming.
Feeling good never lasts for me. Every time I feel really good and walk through my day just feeling like I’ve got it I now know for sure the very next day will be hell.
This used to make me feel like I wasn’t really in recovery, like I was still living in this disease and had more work to do. I’ve come to know this is just how it goes— good days, bad days, healthy thinking, fucked up thinking.
The endless circle.
These days I am so grateful to have finally dropped the expectation that I will be “well” or feel “recovered”.
Now when I observe a good “streak” I smile at it, bow and pause in recognition of the fruitage of this rigorous spiritual practice. When I obverse a difficult streak, I smile and am so thankful to know this is about to pass.
My brain has finally convinced my heart to not trust how it feels on the bad days.. I know it’s the disease trying to take control and I can simply observe it but not react. Mostly, my days of acting in the midst of my disease are gone. Instead, when I swing to either the really good days or the really bad days I know to get still and do nothing. Only for the short space in the middle do I try and act from, it’s the sanest part of me and my best navigator.
The middle is the only firm ground I’ve found and I don’t get to stay there full time. I think most people stay stuck because they have an expectation to remain there once they do this or that.. It doesn’t remain, it comes and goes. For me, accepting this is real freedom and keeps me sober.