Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"I have a boyfriend who just got out of prison..."

(This is another re-post, written on 11/07/2007. I had been in recovery from food addiction for almost three weeks, and it was hellish. I was shaking uncontrollably, nauseous, vomiting, shivering with cold, clammy hands and feet, the inside of my mouth was blistered with cold sores and I was quite literally dazed and confused all the time. The severity of my withdrawal from flour and sugar was pretty nasty. I should have been in a treatment center, at least that's what a recovering meth addict told me. He went through that kind of withdrawal while detoxing in a hospital. Well, I was actually working at the time. But my mood and behavior was pretty monstrous. I wound up having to leave that job a few months later because I developed some pretty life-threatening complications as the result of all those years of piling highly refined, toxic sugar and flour into my body. Garbage in, garbage out. My body has been through a shredder. But I'll post more about that later.

Oh yeah, I make a reference to a "Dark Angel" character in this blog. She's basically my "evil twin" cartoon character that I occasionally bring out of the loathsome depths of my imagination. I wrote an earlier blog where I resurrected her, but I deleted it. It seems a bit silly now. But at that time, "Dark Angel" expressed what I was afraid to tell the world--that it sucked, and even worse, *I* sucked. I was in a whopper of a mood in those days. And it's entirely possible that I could go back into that soul-draining bottomless pit again. One day at a time, I don't want to go there again.)

No, I don't. I'm actually quoting my co-workers. It's a slow day, and we're hanging out talking about what to say to obnoxious guys. I never thought about saying "I have a boyfriend who just got out of prison," or "My husband was just dishonorably discharged from the Army for assaulting his commanding officer." I just roll my eyes and walk away. No words needed, as far as I'm concerned. I get that cold, nasty BWC (black woman crazy) attitude sometimes. It began in high school, and every once and a while, that sista-with-attitude behavior resurfaces. Inappropriate behavior for a Baha'i, and I'm glad I don't have many opportunities to show that side of my personality. I'm consciously trying to be a gentle, loving, considerate person these days, and it ain't easy to change old habits. Especially when the changing is taking place at the same time I'm living without sugar, flour and excess portions of food. The way I've been feeling lately, it wouldn't be a good idea to test my patience. There's nothing holding down my inner brat these days.

Other people have an "inner child". I have an inner brat, and she's been acting up lately. It's funny what happens when a person gets clean and sober off flour, sugar and excess portions. Yes, the program is working. That's the good part. In fact, that's the miraculous part because I have been abstinent in spite of the fact that: a) my parents are rapidly declining into dementia, and the process is very frightening; b) I'm having emotional reactions to life that I've never experienced before. c) I have no experience in how to deal with aforementioned emotional reactions to life since my only coping mechanism has been to eat some of my addictive foods.
d) I'm averaging one emotional meltdown a week in which I have a panic/anxiety attack or I become unbelievably afraid of people and/or leaving my house.

Apparently, this is normal for any food addict who is "coming down" off the addictive foods. It's not fun, but it's also instructive. This process has revealed to me how much I rely on food to make life manageable. This past summer, I got through my math class by chewing numerous pieces of sugar-free mints. It wasn't chocolate or Cinnabon's giant cinnamon rolls (oh God, deliver me from food fantasy), but that isn't the point. It's not "just" about calories. It's about engaging in addictive eating, which will eventually lead my addict brain to rationalize eating the chocolate or cinnamon roll. Other people do just fine with making sugarfree or low calorie substitutions. I have a friend who calls herself an emotional eater, and she is able to keep her weight under control by making those kinds of healthy substitutions. Not me. I turn into a sugarfree-eating junkie.

What I have isn't cured by going on a diet and making substitutions. I have to learn to rely on God instead of food to deal with life. When I'm anxious, scared, lonely, bored, tired, angry, impatient or just plain fed up with everything, I have to remember to leave the food alone and call on God for help. Unfortunately, asking God for help isn't my first choice very often. That's why I've decided to work a 12 step program that specifically helps food addicts like me. I need to be constantly reminded of how to deal with life on life's terms without stuffing myself. To paraphrase Earl, an addict and alcoholic who has a similar story to mine but with different substances, I can't be walking around unattended. Left to my own thoughts and machinations, I'll eat. And eat. And eat.

So this is what I do: I wake up at 5:30 am. (I'm not a morning person at all; it takes me at least a half hour to remember that I am a human being.) I say morning prayers, call my sponsor at 6:10 to tell her what I'm going to eat for the day (I don't get much of a choice; it's protein, vegetables and fruit in which the portions are strictly weighed and measured, and I have to write down my food the night before I call my sponsor); I have a half hour of "quiet time" in which I read the required meditation for the day and try the best I can to meditate without going back to sleep. I don't always accomplish this, however. After that, I rush to eat my yogurt with fruit (plain, with no sugar) and oatmeal (also no sugar), grab the food that I have packed the night before, then hurry to make the bus and train without succumbing to the panic that seems to overtake me every morning.

The rest of the day is work, prayer, phone calls, lunch, prayer, phone calls, work, prayers, dinner, go home, more phone calls or meetings, more prayers. Or very desperate pleading to God for His Divine Assistance and Intervention when chocolate or a loaf of French bread seems like a good idea. Oh, yeah. I attend three meetings a week plus make at least three phone calls every day to other members of my program besides my sponsor. By the time I get home at night, I'm exhausted. Luckily, I have a friend who helps me immensely by keeping me laughing. Without the laughter, I would probably snatch the car keys from my father and drive myself to the nearest mental health facility. That's not an exaggeration. I seriously considered making that trip this past Saturday. Even though I felt absolutely insane, I didn't eat. That's the good news.

No Dark Angel, Liz. :) I can feel her lurking around, waiting for the precise moment to strike. She made a slight comeback twice, but she's no match for God. I've had two instructive slips (and one of them let me know that I can't play around with eating sugar-laden food any more unless I want to be horribly sick), but I'm still with the program. Prayers for steadfastness are definitely welcome. I might give the Dark One some room on this blog, but that's it. She doesn't need to have much more than that from me. I've paid my dues to her with morbid obesity and two near-death experiences. That's quite enough.

Ya Baha'ul'Abha'!

God is sufficient unto me. He verily is the All-Sufficing. In Him, let the trusting trust.

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