I’ve had a love affair with food for as long as I can remember. 𝑺𝒖𝒈𝒂𝒓𝒚 𝒇𝒐𝒐𝒅 was the best! But I don’t discriminate. I also love doughy food, cheesy food, and greasy food! I just love FOOD! I mean, who doesn’t, right? When I was a teen, I added booze into the mix for good measure, and wow, things really got interesting then! Have you ever wondered if and how you could quit using food and/or booze to cope with life?
Read on to find out what worked for me!
Getting honest about it
One of the first steps I had to take on my own journey was truly being sick of stuffing myself and drinking too much. So I think just owning it was a huge step. Being willing to say to myself and eventually another person that I felt ashamed about the behavior and yet I couldn’t seem to get a handle on it.
That required getting over myself! Admitting you have a problem can be hard. But it’s also incredibly freeing! And, I believe it’s the first step towards making a change. One of Alcoholics Anonymous famous sayings says, “We’re only as sick as our secrets”. And I found that to be very true. When we guard those things, they grow and fester.
As soon as we tell someone, some of the power they hold over us disappears.
The first steps
After I FINALLY admitted to myself I had a problem, I continued to suffer because I would just swirl the problem around in my head and try to break the cycle on my own. Only it wasn’t working. As soon as I decided that was it, I’d had enough, it seemed I’d cave in and be right back at Square #1.
So understanding that I needed outside help was HUGE. And then being willing to reach out. I had tried private counseling to get things under control in the past, and it would help for a while, but before long I’d be back to my old ways. Willpower and wanting to change/quit aren’t usually enough.
I was also going to church and had a growing faith in God. I prayed about this problem all the time, but it wasn’t working. I was growing closer to God, and I definitely felt His hand in my life as I tried to navigate this problem, but something was missing.
I had to learn a new way of living.
Get some support from people who’ve done it before you
After years of destructive behavior with alcohol, I decided it was time to look into Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve been an AA member for 10 years now. Almost 7 of which I have been sober. The first 3 years were just me fighting myself. We can really be our own worst enemies! https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrCwLCkmsth2UQARgUPxQt.;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj/RV=2/RE=1640762149/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2faa.org/RK=2/RS=wWnJIJJhis0mxxe4G8F8x3Zz2H8-
I found it hard to take suggestions from other people who had been through it before me. An addiction tries ANYTHING to get you to keep feeding it; it will pull out all the stops, lie to you, and separate you from the people who will help you.
But again, at least I had cracked open that door to change and was stepping out of my comfort zone. So, though I didn’t know it yet, I was on the right path. It took a few more years of trial & error before I started to have any success.
Part of the process was learning to be honest, admitting failure and that I needed help again and again. Humbling myself and going back to meetings and my support group of women and admitting that I was still struggling. The support and direction I received was amazing and transformative.
Unfortunately, I still wasn’t getting it. We can build up some amazingly high, impenetrable walls with this stuff.
It took a stint in rehab, a DUI, (and all the fun that goes along with that; riding my bike 18 miles to and from work each day in the dead of summer b/c I lost my license, thousands of dollars in fines, probation, etc) and a lot more mistakes and shame for me to truly hit rock bottom and say enough was enough.
But I’m thankful for all of that now, as hard as it was. Because it got me to where I am now. Sober for almost 7 years. So I feel that everything I went through was part of the necessary process to get me to the point where I was willing to give up this one destructive habit that was stealing my life.
It’s taken me a long time to learn what this meant. Caring for myself was always synonymous with food & drink, so I had to allow myself time to get quiet, rest, and reflect on what that would look like for me in this new sober phase of my life. The food component came later because I had to get the booze out of my life before I could start to work on anything else.
Getting sober takes a lot of self-examination. So while I wasn’t drinking and was learning how to stay sober, I started focusing on new skills like how to be more present and in touch with my feelings. This is another key step in behavior change because our behaviors are so often tied to our feelings. I knew I needed healthier outlets for dealing with stress and life in general. I started looking at my free time, my thought life, and my schedule (or lack of).
Check out this post I wrote for a more thorough look at self-care.https://inspirewellnessstudio.net/news/what-does-self-care-really-look-like/
Staying the course
You may read this and think it sounds overwhelming, and I guess it was at the time. Behavior change, especially the behaviors that we’ve relied on since childhood, can be daunting. We can feel like we’ll never get it.
I certainly felt that way. I told myself over & over again that I would ALWAYS be a drinker.
But I’m forever thankful that I stayed the course and did not give up! I dared to have bigger dreams for myself and they came true because I kept being willing to change the way I thought and lived! Scary emotions and all!
I think so often, we want to just ignore these problems or chalk them up to the old, “Everyone is doing it”, attitude. ONLY YOU know if what you’re dealing with really needs to change or not. I knew in my heart it did.
I hope my openness about my struggles helps you know that you’re not alone. Far from it! So many of us are dealing with food & alcohol addiction. Tommy Rosen, in his book, Recovery 2.0 talks about the Big 5. https://r20.com/
If my memory serves me correctly, they are: Food, Alcohol, Relationships, Money, & Technology. And I can see how any or all of them can turn into a problem in our lives at one time or another. We can so easily get out of balance and before we know it we’re dealing with an addiction. And addiction doesn’t discriminate. Some of the women I was in rehab with were lawyers, sweet grandmothers, nurse practitioners, and everything in between. So don’t feel alone, because you’re not!
As always, feel free to reach out to me if you’re struggling and don’t know where to start. I’ve been in your shoes and am here to tell you that you, YES~ YOU, CAN change and grow into someone healthier and happier than you ever dreamt.