At this time of year, I usually find myself thinking about independence and what it means to me. My recent reflection brought three different aspects of the word to my mind and how each has played – and continues to play – a role in my life.
The three words are Dependence, Independence, and Interdependence. What does each word mean? How do they relate to me, especially with regard to being a food addict?
Dictionary.com defines the words as:
- Dependence is defined as “the state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid, support, or the like; an object of reliance or trust.”
- Independence is defined as “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.”
- Interdependence is defined as “the quality or condition of being mutually reliant on each other.”
Each of these concepts has played a role in my life as a food addict.
First, when actively eating addictive foods, I was dependent or relying on particular “somethings” for aid and support. Specific foods, especially sugar and volume, became my Number One Go To! When depressed and in need of support, I turned to food. When sad or lonely, the food was there. When happy and in celebration mode, I turned to food. When afraid, I relied on and trusted that food would make it better. I would go to any lengths to get what I needed to feel better. It satisfied me in ways no one or nothing else ever did. I was dependent upon certain foods and volume to feel any sense of normal. My brain is wired such that certain addictive foods and excess volume worked! It was all I needed.
During my dieting years, I became quite independent and free from the control, influence, support, and aid of others. I didn’t need anything or anyone beyond my own self. My willpower would triumph over any perceived problem with food. I had periods of great success where my sense of independence, self confidence, and self control grew and grew. The possibility that I was powerless over certain foods was presented a few times but was easily replaced with another bout of self will and self reliance. I don’t need anyone’s help. I have within myself what it takes to win this time. Just put your nose to the ground and stop eating. You can do this, Mary! You’ve got this! Unfortunately, periods of “controlled eating” grew shorter and shorter.
I remember the pain and despair while dependent on sugar and volume. I remember the pain and despair during years of independence and the freedom of doing it my way.
If dependence doesn’t work and independence only goes so far, might there be another option?
What I discovered through years of trying and failing is the vital necessity of interdependence; the quality or condition of being mutually reliant on each other.
First, I had to be convinced that dependence didn’t work and attempts at being independent resulted in isolation, fear, hopelessness, and relapse. Through professional support for food addiction and being an active member of a Twelve Step program for food, I have been shown how to become interdependent. Others show me how to live with reliance on a Higher Power. I learn how to weigh and measure food to deal with volume addiction. People show me how to pack food for travel. Sponsors model recovery and putting abstinence and recovery first in their lives. I adopted SHiFT’s process of surrender that removes “self” from food decisions. I found someone who “holds” my food plan so that no changes to the plan are made without their (and my sponsor’s) approval. I have weekly sessions with professionals to deal with emotional trauma from the past and situations that arise as I walk through life.
There is no perfection on this journey. Even though the food is down today, life is still life, and emotional balance sometimes eludes me. I vacillate between being dependent on others for emotional security to being independent and taking care of business all by myself to waking up to the need for an interdependent relationship with others and with God.
I am grateful to be in a network of support where we are mutually reliant on each other. Others are there for me. I am there for others. There is nothing like it.
Thanks for listening.