Addiction: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something.
For years I bit my nails so short they would sometimes ache. My parents tried to rid me of this habit, but I continued the painful behavior into adulthood. Then one day I just stopped. I saw what my nails were like long, and it changed my habit.
Every once in a while I’ll find myself mindlessly biting my nails and immediately stop.
It’s not worth it to me anymore.
I’ve cultivated a few other bad habits over the years, but nothing compares to my deepest struggle.
I am addicted to food.
Over the last two years I have used the term emotional eater to describe myself. An emotional eater uses food to make themselves feel better, forget their emotions, and often times feels powerless over food choices.
I still believe I eat my emotions to feel better. Or rather, I eat my emotions to feel numb.
Feeling better and feeling numb are two very different things.
My father is a recovering alcoholic and my ex-husband is a drug addict. I’ve seen what addiction can do to a family as mine was torn apart from the inside out.
I have always been so careful with my alcohol consumption and deliberately stayed away from any type of recreational drug use.
In spite of my advocacy for living a life without addiction I realized recently that my emotional eating was more than emotional eating.
I told my sister a few weeks ago, “If I can’t control the situation then, dammit, I’m gonna eat.” She responded, “That is the mentality of someone with an eating disorder.”
Oh, great. Something else for me to think I suffer from.
Yet her comment created a spark. I began to think about my issue in a totally different way.
Using food to numb emotional pain from stress, anger, anxiety, and depression is a classic symptom of addiction. I’ve made food my drug of choice through almost every season of my life.
When my parents fought I would sneak into the kitchen and eat anything I could get my hands on.
After a date with a boy I really liked I would stop at a fast food place and binge because I didn’t know how to handle all the emotions rolling around inside me.
During my first marriage I used food to squelch the pain and disaster of living with a spouse who abused drugs.
I binge when it feels like my world is out of control, whether it’s when my kids don’t listen, my husband and I have a fight, or I feel anxiety about our washing machine not working.
To top it all off I feel extreme guilt because I know better.
I believe in a God who grows in my weakness. I’ve seen his work in my life, witnessed miracles, redemption, and healing. But I haven’t given this over to him because I’ve been comfortable in the mess of addiction until eight days ago.
I went to my husband and confessed. I ugly cried all over him as I explained my desire to live differently. He lovingly challenged me to take the steps in order to live a life without using food to fulfill my emotional needs. He shared a dark period in his own life when he decided to turn away from things that were draining the life out of him.
Is the food more important to you or is our family and marriage?
The question set me on a new path.
This is my eighth day without a binge, and to say it’s been easy would be a gross injustice to the recovery process.
I stood in front of my pantry the other night in tears, I wanted to eat after a stressful evening with my kids.
I paced the kitchen floor earlier thinking about food while I waited for our washing machine to work.
I’m listening to my family fix sub sandwiches while I wrestle with the fact that I am full from eating a few hours ago.
I want to eat, but I want to the freedom more.
I invite you to join me on this path of deliverance.
Maybe you need it too.
If you are struggling with any type of addiction or feel like this post resonated with your heart please reach out to someone. We can’t walk this path alone. And I am always here for encouragement, just make the first move. You won’t regret it.