There have been times in my life when I would do anything necessary to achieve the euphoria which comes after four or five days (sometimes only three when running comes in tandem) of starvation. It's a craving which only certain athletes and fellow sufferers of eating disorders can comprehend. But perhaps drug addicts can understand, as well. And while I know that I am harming my body when I seek it, I also understand the absolute relief I feel when that euphoria comes. And because I have experienced it more than once, when I begin to feel overwhelmed, emotionally, I really want that feeling in the worst way.
For nearly 20 years I have been, in addict terminology, "clean". But now, once again, as I sort through memories and feelings which have been carefully hidden during all that time, I find myself turning back to ANY coping mechanism which will help. But while in the past, I was able to use those mechanisms without worry or recognizable guilt, now, as an adult, I find the relief fleeting and the guilt overwhelming. I realize what I should have known before I ever put the negative coping skills into action--I'm not coping at all. I'm exacerbating an already desperate situation. And when the relief subsides, I am left with even more STUFF with which to cope.
So I crawl slowly out of the hole I've dug for myself. I start the food diary for the millionth time. I cut down on my running for a couple of days--replacing it with reading or slow walks. I talk to friends who have time for me--and then I spend a bit of time on my knees, thanking God for sending people into my life who are willing to care about the derelict (me) even when she acts really, really stupid. I remember that I'm an integral part of a family in which I am loved by each member. I remember that I have the strength to overcome. I talk to my therapist and my doctor. And I pray that this won't happen again, even though I know it's probable that it will.
1. Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming
2. An abnormally strong craving
3. A surrender to a master
4. Spiritual definition: "Addiction is any compulsive, pleasure-seeking, life dominating behavior which displaces our relationship with God, and is habitual despite moral, relational, and physical reasons which should rationally preclude its practice." (Definitions 1-3, Wordweb, definition 4, Gary's blog)
Am I an addict? Probably. Some would say, definitely. When I look at the list of all that is "wrong" with me, all that is weak, all that is broken, I am overwhelmed. It's very easy to turn to self-blame, to examine all the "if only's", "if I hadn't", "if I could have"...to believe that if I'd just been stronger one time when abuse happened, or when making a wrong choice, or when I allowed myself to go where I knew I should not be, that everything would be better now.
But the truth is this: Life on earth is not meant to be a vacation on a cruise ship. If the things I battle today were gone, they would simply be replaced by other, equally challenging trials, uniquely tailored to turn my weaknesses into strengths, and help me turn to gold in that excruciatingly painful refiner's fire. And when I look at who I have become, and compare her to the person I was many years ago, I know that God's way is working. I AM stronger. And although I'm not golden--yet--there are still times when I get a glimpse of sparkle and glitter inside of me--the potential is there.