Tonight I learned that a dear friend died of a heroin overdose. He tried for years to live sober for the sake of his children but in the end it finally took him away.
He and I had had many conversations about addiction... one of the ones I remember most went something like this: "Is it really worth it to stay sober and live my life always denying myself? Or shouldn't I just be who I want to be, addictions, faults and all?"
I have said this to myself many times, recalling his words, in regards to food. Why should I try to change? Why shouldn't I enjoy my life the way I want to? Why should I have to stop bingeing and lose my only friend, my one reliable source of pleasure when things are boring?
Right now I am still in shock about this, but I am coming to a realization. Religions like to call it 'the war between flesh and spirit', where 'flesh' represents carnal desires that, when taken to excess, cause harm. My spirit tells me I am just like this friend.. the addiction is there and I continue to let it live in me by justifying reasons why it is okay. 'Other people are able to eat what they want. It isn't fair. i shouldn't have to deny myself.' Or the famous.. 'I deserve a treat'.
What I really deserve, and indeed, OWE to myself, is a chance to live unencumbered by the obsession of food. Yes, food makes me feel better temporarily.. but it is a selfish hobby. It is like a jealous lover who demands that I be with it to the exclusion of all others. When we indulge in foods that fatten and tire our bodies, give us happy feelings but then leave us drained and unable to do anything else, we are being stolen from. It is stealing our lives. If someone asked me if I would trade everything I enjoy for some cookies or a bag of chips, I would surely say 'no, that's ridiculous!' But, I have done just that. I am not even that overweight. Maybe only 30 pounds. But that tiny amount has made me physically tired, unhealthy, and unwilling to do things I once enjoyed. I eat a bowl of pasta knowing that I will collapse and fall asleep minutes afterward, unable to keep my eyes open. And this is okay??? I deserve this? I CHOOSE this for myself? Surely I must be insane. And yet even as I write this I am still thinking 'well maybe just cheese puffs once a week.. maybe just the occasional cake and soda'. This is crazy!
What fasting represents to me is the possibility that all this can change. That 'living meal to meal' is not all my life has to offer. That I can let it go.. that I can face the scariness of having no security blanket of food. That I can face myself, and say: "No, I am not who I want to be. That is alright, because I am working to change this RIGHT NOW, as we speak. I may even dislike myself, but that does not mean I have to drown my feelings in Sugar
and caffeine. This simply means that the pain I am feeling now is for a great cause, and that cause is my very LIFE!!!' You know, my whole life I have said that the reason I couldn't lose weight was because I had a low metabolism. I pretended my weight was the problem and everything could hypothetically get 'better' if I was thinner. But more and more I am seeing that with the amount of calories I eat, it's amazing I'm not much heavier. I have tried to shift the blame for my ill health and joint pains onto some other cause, something I could do nothing about. But it is a lie. It is a stream of endless excuses.
When I am justifying my binges, alot of the time I am thinking 'Why shouldn't I accept myself as a little heavier than the American ideal? I shouldn't have to weigh what they say I should! I deserve these cookies and chips! No one can tell me what to do.' But I have discovered an important thing. It is NOT my weight that I dislike about myself. It has almost nothing to do with it! I dislike myself because I feel like I am weak and irresponsible. And by always blaming something else for my binges, I perpetuate that view of myself and bring it to ugly life. This past week I have not changed my eating. But, I have consciously said to myself, 'I take responsibility for my health and for all the things I am missing in my life. I am missing out because I choose food over other things. I could be dancing right now, but instead I am eating chips. Is this really who I want to be?' I have decided I will be who I want to be right now, not 'when I get skinny'. I will feel good about myself now, not when I reach some stupid goal that doesn't even matter. And the funny thing is.. I told my boyfriend today 'I feel as though I have lost weight-- even though I haven't lost a bit. In fact I have gained a pound!' But I was walking taller, smiling more, feeling better than I had in a long time. Because it didn't have to do so much with my weight as what my weight represented... my inability to take charge of my own life and do what is really best for me. It is a very scary prospect for me to live my life without excuses. Because then if I fail it won't be because I am fat or because this or that.. it will simply be MY FAULT! Can any of you perfectionists out there say "Nnnnooo!!!!' I am a perfectionist and I HATE to admit I am wrong about anything. I refuse to try anything half the time unless I can be the best. That is what has held me back in so many areas.. including fasting. I have been thinking that I am too incapable to do anything by myself. I have thought so many times 'I am a failure at everything else. This will be no different. I know I can't do it.' And I still feel that way as I am writing this.. and I am embarrassed to be posting it on a forum for anyone to read. But I still am going to do it because I believe there are more people who feel some of the same things.
I don't want to end up like my friend.. maybe not dead instantaneously of an overdose.. but maybe just living in a dull half-life devoid of all real meaning because I gave it all up for one last binge. That is basically what I am doing now and I hate it. I don't want it for myself any longer. This may not be the end of addiction for me, but it is the beginning of the end.