Hey, my old friend. Good to see you again. We accomplished so much together. Remember Day 135, that letter, oh my...one of my favorite times with you, indeed. Day 327 was a game changer... and, and the day we hit the 200 pounds lost milestone, I'll never forget it! And of course, November 16th, 2010--goal day...wow, I could hardly believe how far we had traveled. I remember looking in the mirror and barely recognizing the reflection. Can you believe it's been two years since goal day? I know, I know...we're not here to revisit the glory days of this transformation.
We have more important things to discuss.
I owe you so much. I've missed you. Oh, I know you've always been here, it's been me avoiding you. I need you now more than I did before. I've been lost, so deeply lost---spiraling out of control, into an abyss I thought I'd never see again. I've tried over and over to pull myself back onto the path and still, the self-destructive tendencies of addiction pull harder. It would be easier to accept had you never shown me the truth. I can no longer escape the truth and wisdom you've gifted me. I can't keep running from you, hoping I'll wake up and magically feel like I did before. I need your strength because I'm not powerful enough on my own. I surrender. I'm holding out my hand, please pull me up. I don't want to go back there ever again. Please keep me in your embrace. I'll listen, I'll learn, I'll be patient and I'll share.
You know my heart. You know my truest desires and passions to overcome and spread a message of hope to anyone and everyone battling obesity, especially those like me, the food addict-emotional/compulsive eater. Maybe this is a test you're giving me. Maybe you're tired of me ignoring you and foolishly trying to be all powerful over my addiction. I dare not question you. You know what? Maybe I should simply stop trying to figure out the why and how I've found myself here and simply be grateful for the hope, love and strength you so generously provide. Thank you for every blessing you've given me. I'm ready to fully regain control and I can only do it with your strength and guidance.
Thank you for humbling me. Thank you for getting my attention. Thank you for loving me unconditionally.
My heart burst with gratitude, Lord.
The last six months have gone by so quickly. I've learned a valuable lesson, many lessons actually and it's only now I feel I can honestly sit down and write it out, honestly.
As I started to slip, I kept telling myself it would be okay and I could easily get back into my groove. And I would, for a day or two, maybe three...then I would slip again. I walked with a foolish confidence, full of pride in my accomplishments while ignoring inarguable truths that had brought me so far. I would often turn to facebook and write something brimming with truthful realness in hopes of inspiring myself. You might have thought those uplifting and inspirational posts were written exclusively for others...not entirely...oh no. And then I started sharing my struggles--hinting at a much worse reality, but still not fully acknowledging just how bad it had become. Remember this one?
"The key to maintaining my weight loss is squarely on my ability to understand my needs in coping with stress and emotions. I must always understand food's role and my role. Food isn't a therapist. Food doesn't fix my issues within. It's my responsibility to work on my issues in handling and understanding stress and emotions in a very direct way. Food cannot and will not be used as an escape from this responsibility ever again."
Or this revealing post:
"Despite the glaring truths revealed along the way, I sometimes struggle by foolishly searching for comfort in food. Knowing the truth about emotional eating doesn't mean we're immune or somehow “cured.” With personal awareness, acknowledgment and support, we can overcome. Facing my own personal awareness and finding your support has been a wonderful gift. Now, I'm once again feeling the comfort that comes with consistency in my Calorie Bank and exercise choices. And that kind of comfort is so wonderfully wholesome instead of deceptive, shallow and fleeting."
Or how about this one--written after a Friday night binge alone in my apartment:
"Dear addiction: When I'm feeling lost and alone, I reach for you. Let me have you in this moment so I can feel good again. I'll pull you to my lips and taste your temporary and deceptive relief from my pain. You taste so good, but the flavor quickly fades, replaced by a darker reality than before. I must resist your temptation and realize, it is not you tempting me, it's the tempting allure of escape. The road to freedom isn't down this dead-end street, yet I make the turn. I pray for strength against these damning compulsions. I stare myself down in the mirror, wipe away the tears and choose change. I'm stronger for the moment, until these emotional and circumstantial realities gain ground again, just as I grow weak. The process repeats, creating struggle--and it will over and over, until I confront, dissect, better understand and find a peaceful accord inside me, thus aligning with my truest self. You see, addiction, I'm on to you and your deception and I refuse to let you win. I'm winning, okay? You hear me? I'm winning."
As I fell deeper and deeper back into my addiction, I started feeling like a disgraced evangelist. I was spreading positive energy, truth, wisdom and hope one day then cruising up and down restaurant row looking for a fix the next. People know me around here. More copies of my book have sold around here per capita than anywhere. Rarely a week goes by when someone doesn't come up and tell me how they enjoyed the book. And that kind of feedback feels good when I'm doing my best. Anytime it's happened in the last six months, it's been slightly terrifying, because--What if they notice I've gained some weight? Did they see me ordering that 750 calorie dessert at Braum's?
I fell back into the same patterns as before--hiding my addiction, escaping--sabotaging myself and relationships along the way...straight into another drive through where my dealer awaits. My dealer doesn't ask questions. I give them the code number A21 and for $5.86 they hand me roughly 2500 calories of sesame chicken and fried rice. I tell myself I'll just have a reasonable portion, but I know I can't stop. I also know there isn't a reasonable portion of this, for me. The poison I've chosen holds the perfect combination in unlocking the floodgates of my addiction. It's battered and deep fat fried then coated in a sugary sweet and slightly spicy sauce. I've come to realize several foods to be my "trigger" foods, but none quite like this dish. The combination of sugar, fat and carbohydrates is a deadly mixture for me. If I were an alcoholic, it would be a bottle of Jack Daniels--and I can't allow myself to smell it or even have the tiniest taste. After indulging--the high sets in...I can feel my heart beating faster. I hadn't paid much attention to the physical reaction of binges past, but now--every beat of my heart is a reminder of a place I promised I would never visit again.
Releasing my special "I'm Choosing Change" leather adjustable bracelet was a brief turning point. I put it on and felt a renewed power. I would wear it, looking at it constantly during moments of weakness. Eventually, I realized my struggles, my choices---my compulsions, were very much choosing change, but not the kind of change I had in mind. In a state of self loathing, I recently took it off because I felt I was disgracing its powerful message in my wandering ignorance.
The physical symptoms of my struggles have shown themselves in every way you can imagine. When my size 36 jeans started getting too tight, I would squeeze into them anyway, until I couldn't anymore. I ended up wearing more forgiving wardrobe choices, like workout pants. Not because I was headed to the gym, because they wouldn't cut off my circulation and complicate my breathing.
When shirts started getting tight, I quickly retreated to the same technique I once relied on as an obese child: I started wearing a warm sweater jacket to "cover up" the evidence of my gain--even if it was too warm outside for such a choice.
Getting fitted for a tuxedo was another real moment. Realizing I had gone from a 46 long back into a 50 long in a matter of months was sobering--truly depressing.
And all of a sudden, instead of loving the camera for the first time in my life, I found myself hating it again and the truth it was quickly starting to reveal.
How could I have allowed this to happen??? After all the good I've experienced?? After so much success? What about the writing from my April blog post?? Remember this:
“The illusion that food somehow makes my troubles and stress easier to handle is gone. The tendency to abuse food like a drug is gone. Does this mean it's some kind of effortless day to day existence?
Not at all.
I'm human. I have cravings. I love the taste of food. The difference now is this: Instead of making food my number one focus and my number one go-to in the face of stress and emotions of every kind, I simply appreciate food and what it does for me. I don't ask food to be something it isn't. Food isn't a therapist. Food doesn't fix anything other than my hunger and nutritional needs. When I stopped putting inappropriate and unrealistic expectations on food, things started dramatically changing inside my head.”
The second sentence there was obviously not true. I honestly thought it was gone. I was, in a way--renouncing my addiction and proclaiming I no longer had those compulsions to abuse food. I will always be a food addict. Does this mean I'm doomed? Not at all. There's plenty of truth in the above paragraph too. Maybe better with some slight modifications:
...Instead of making food my number one focus and my number one go-to in the face of stress and emotions of every kind, I will remember to appreciate food and what it does for me. I will not ask food to be something it isn't. Food isn't a therapist. Food doesn't fix anything other than my hunger and nutritional needs. When I remember to stop putting inappropriate and unrealistic expectations on food, my dream of maintaining a healthy and appropriate relationship with food becomes easier to navigate.
So, what in the world has been bothering me so much over the last six months? In other words, what emotions and circumstances have I been avoiding and stuffing with food? I'll not go down the list for a couple of reasons: 1. Treating my emotional and circumstantial realities like a list of excuses isn't appropriate. I'm attending weekly therapy sessions and they're proving to be extremely helpful in gaining a better understanding of me on levels I hadn't explored. I highly recommend counseling of some kind to anyone wanting to explore and face facets and patterns of their life that are sometimes very hard to understand. 2. Sometimes the issues are simply too personal and writing about them, again--would read like a list of excuses and in my opinion would be considered inappropriate, or "tmi" content.
So what about now, today? How much have I regained?
I've avoided the scale for a very long time. I've even told close personal friends the gain is around 30 to 40 pounds or so.
I recently weighed again and discovered the truth. If I'm to reclaim my freedom from this relapse--blog about it along the way and enjoy your generous support, then you need to know and deserve to know the truth of where I am.
289. A 59 pound gain. It could have been much worse. My intermittent awakenings over the last six months must have kept it from becoming a 100 pound gain... I don't know. I'm very blessed to be present again, aware and moving in a positive direction.
Here we go, my friend. If you're struggling too, please join me--I'll support you too and we'll choose change together.
It's back to the basics for me. Calorie Bank and Trust--Daily exercise---Steel Curtain Zone... And writing in this blog...
This time, I'm armed with new information about myself. I'm not Superman and I don't have to be... I have a higher power I'll lean on for strength. And some of the most incredible friends all over the world offering support. You're a wonderful blessing to me. Thank you.
Also, I've finally admitted that although I once proudly proclaimed "Nothing is off limits," there certainly are some things I must declare off limits for me. A21 at the Chinese Express isn't an option for me, ever, for any reason.
I just put on a new "I'm Choosing Change" bracelet. It feels good.
Thank you for reading, goodnight and...