I can’t deny the label any longer. I am an Addict.
I’ve fought that realization for a lot of years. I remember going to a seminar once where someone said “once an addict … always an addict” and I got really offended. How dare they say that? They don’t know me. I’m different. I’m better than that. I don’t have addiction problems.
I referred to myself as someone who overcame an addiction and even got some strange sense of pride in sharing my story … a way of thumping my chest thinking people would realize how much better I was than other “addicts” who couldn’t do it. In my mind, I was stronger. I had more resolve. I was different.
Around three o’clock Saturday morning, it hit me that I’m not any different at all.
I felt awful. My whole body ached. My chest felt like someone was stabbing and squeezing me at the same time. I was wide awake and my mind wouldn’t settle. It wasn’t the first time, but somehow it felt different.
For about the past year I’ve been using alcohol and food to numb myself … the very definition of an addiction. Drinking has became a habit again. It’s automatic. Wine or beer (and sometimes stronger) nearly every night. Cheeseburgers, nachos, fried everything, tons of ranch salad dressing and Dr. Pepper nearly every day. I’ve gained back around 40 pounds and every part of my body feels it.
While I was lying in bed, not sleeping, early Saturday morning I realized that I’ve been fighting the “addict” label all these years, because I thought in some way it made me seem weak. But if I’m going to help people live a more honest life, then I have to start with myself. I have to change the way I see myself and my addictions. I have to change everything.
I’m not saying I’ll never have another glass of boxed wine or French fries ever again. That isn’t realistic for me and I’m not going to pretend it is, but it is realistic for me to take a moment before I poor the glass (or order the cheeseburger) and ask myself “Why are you doing this?”. If it’s something I feel I need in order to help me avoid feeling anything or to reduce stress, then I don’t need it and I’m doing it for all the wrong reasons. I’ll feel my emotions and find other ways to deal.
There’s the change. My brain has to start processing what I’m doing to my mental and physical health and why I’m doing it. The stomach lining I’ve torn up. The foggy thoughts. The mornings when I feel just plain awful.
The label I fought for so long is exactly what I need. Now I just have to process it all.
Anything taken to extremes that numbs you from feeling emotions can be an addiction (exercise, sex, drugs, food, social media, etc.). Take an honest look. I did.
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