I have succeeded and failed at both


It has recently come to my attention by Miss Carry, that maybe not everybody understands the dynamics of a day-to-day recovery from a disorder or an addiction. Possibly some readers may be doing research for themselves or a loved one, they may be struggling deeply and looking for answers or they may just find it interesting.

Miss Carry thinks it is interesting and worth a few words. I’m feeling agreeable today and am happy to oblige. I’d like to pull on an alcoholic/eating disorder comparison. I can share some of my experience with both of these challenges. I have succeeded and failed at both.

{Plus, if I get this written I can play on Twitter and Scrabble all weekend in my fur hat and pajamas}

I stopped drinking in 1998.

I had come to an impasse in the party with myself. Shadowing alike most of my addictions I was a mostly functional drunk. All that really means is I always had a job. This is fairly difficult to write, not because I don’t know that I am a pig drinker and was a daily drinker long before I stopped; but because most people in my life now don’t know that about me. They don’t know that young woman.  I was lucky enough to have been introduced to a way of life without booze and be exposed  to help before I ever knew I needed it.

Unlike learning how to recover from an eating disorder, I was introduced to how to recover from alcohol abuse almost at the same time I started doing it. My childhood best friend’s mother was very active in AA at the time. She went to lots of meetings and in those days there were dances probably twice a month. My friend and I would sometimes sit in a meeting, either through boredom and some ride/monetary need or because we were being subliminally introduced to where we were on our way, through stories of loss and despair.

{Which roughly translates to we got caught doing some stupid booze/boy related bullshit}

At AA as a young girl, mostly what I saw was a bunch of old men and regular people. Drinking coffee. Some would smile and looking back most just disappeared into a crowd of muted colors and tops of heads. Lots of weirdos – which is entertaining now never mind when you are 11 and 12 years old. Maybe that is my unending fascination with freaks. Early exposure. We enjoyed the dances and the people smoking outside. The free coffee and cookies. The attention from dreamy/gross young men too old to be even sporting a conversation with us.

I know now that I am a fortunate woman to have been exposed in the early years and had connections and resources to find help when I needed it.

What I learned early on in relation to food is that you eat when it’s available. I learned that eating is not only necessary but also social. When my Father was with us he used to make me clear the plate. Whether I liked it or not. You would sit at that table for a fucking hour trying to figure out a way to consume squash. Then you just ate it or waited to get away.

In Mother’s house sometimes there was lots of food, like a pile of cooked bacon and all the stuff for BLT’s. (a day of good tips) Other times food was scarce. Lettuce sandwiches with mayo.Peanut butter crackers, toast. Cereal. All the stuff my kids balk at. My mother would take us to local restaurants when she could and drive us out-of-the-way to beachcomber type digs as a treat.

It was much better with sporadic food and just my Mother.

Thank God for cereal. Cereal is always allowed now. When I was very restrictive with my food I wouldn’t eat it, but now I find different kinds that satisfy the carb cravings – All while hoping I am getting a decent degree of fiber and all those other things that i would get if I ate”normally”. Not very exciting all this seemingly nonsense self talk, but all of this internal conversation that plays constantly in my mind falls into a lifetime of carefully constructed rules and regulations of when what and how I eat. I  enjoy the textures of cereal  (I don’t like muesli) I enjoy the speed of preparation and eating fast. I don’t like anything soggy. That’s fucking gross. Essentially we are not taught to eat “properly”. We are taught what we experience what we eat.

I was happiest in my mother’s house when I had cereal. It sustained me as it has throughout adulthood.

Most of my pre twenties life my Mother was very thin. When she was a child she was no food poor. She was the younger of fraternal twins and the boy got the food. Just the way it was. Young and divorced with three small kids she busted her ass for whatever food she could buy. She is an anxious type and didn’t drink yet. She smoked lots of cigarettes and drank coffee…. Hmmmmm. Seriously just made the parallel leap. I am not busting my ass 80 hours a week for somebody else’s business though. Thank God for that. Anyway food was a treat to her, a luxury per say. More than a of couple times she has been caught eating weird things while sleepwalking in exhaustion.

I haven’t picked up a drink today. I have yet to desire a drink today, most likely I won’t. There isn’t booze in my house aside from wine at my Mother in-laws. And when I need it for cooking or entertaining I just buy what I need. Some nights if I am out with my first husband at a bar I will have the passing thoughts of deep amber beers and vodka drinks….and then I sip my Starbucks, my fountain soda or my Sugar Free Red Bull. Sometimes I put a cherry in it. Sometimes I wish it was tequila shots.  And then – big finale – I think it through. I use the basic steps of AA to abstain from alcohol one day at a fucking time.

I have never liked quoting AA. But it works for me and a gazillion others. I know that the first drink gets me drunk. It will take many drinks to realize it though. If I don’t take that first sip – I don’t have to fight that compulsion.

I haven’t eaten any food yet today. Starting to get that hungryish feeling. I am not sure what I am going to eat yet. I am feeling thin and I have PMS so I feel like I am “winning”.  Winning against who and what I still don’t know. I am pretty cognizant of need for some changes in the kind of close future. The mental tricks of my addictions never seem to amaze me. How they can tease you into feeling like a winner. When they generally push me into the losing category. No matter the loss. It may be simple things like free time or major; friends & relationships, trust and physical health. I know I really should eat soon to rid any sort of mood swings in an hour or two.

I plan on making apple slices, celery and peanut butter for the kids after school, I think I’ll have some of that. I want to feel energetic and spunky – not wired and maniacal. I have to feed my body to feel that. I need to eat food.

The difference,  I can abstain from the alcohol. Take it away and I am okay. I can not abstain from food. I have to continue daily INGESTING the food in some form that doesn’t trigger erratic behaviors that turn back into habits.

As a rule I do not weigh myself often and I try to eat healthy food.
As a rule I do not fantasize about booze.
Sometimes I do both and my day really sucks.

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