Hi. I’m Emily. I normally would say “and I’m a food addict” as part of this introduction, but sitting here writing this right now as I am laying on my bed…I truly forget if I am or not. I feel scared as I write that statement. Why is this? Well, about two months ago I wrote another article with all of the background information on my disease and I explained very clearly why I am a food addict, click the link to that article: https://foodaddiction.com/how-do-i-know-if-i-am-addicted-emilys-story-10-off-november-27-dec-2-intensive/. But today, I actually am unsure if I am or not. So why is this all relevant? It is the main reason why in a couple of days I am re-entering an ACORN Primary Intensive event. I picked up the food last week. I have been in relapse for about a week and I am in strong denial once again about my disease.
I believe my relapse process began a good month before I actually picked up the food. As an exercise addict, bulimic and an anorexic…I tried to hold on to all of my eating disorder behaviors while treating my “food addiction” and using my meal plan as a diet. I was tracking my calories burned on my Apple Watch, forcing myself to walk places instead of taking the subway in NYC to burn more calories, electing to eat cucumbers, only steaming my veggies and picking the leanest cuts of meat to try and lose weight, despite being at a healthy body weight. I totally forgot that dieting never worked for me. I was fully convinced that I was not dieting by doing this. I was in “recovery”. I also forgot that this is a disease that centers in my mind. I was convinced that when my body was slim enough I would be happy and cured of my disease. I was getting a “high” from my restriction and rigidity.
I know that being in an ACORN Primary Intensive event is one of the healthiest decisions I could make for myself, even if I weren’t in relapse. Something that I have learned about my eating disorder and my food addiction is that I have a built-in “forgetter”. I forget the wreckage that food and dieting caused in my life. I forget that I have an obsessive mind. I forget that I have an addiction to making my body look a certain way. As a result of this “forgetter”… my mind completely did a 180 degree last week. Last Wednesday, I was praying and meditating, I felt passionate about my 12-step meetings, I was bringing my food with me wherever I went and I was helping carry the message to my fellows.
The next day, I was eating 5 protein bars in a row along with pretzel M&M’s, Oreos, a box of cereal and glazed donut holes. As an addict, my mind is extremely powerful. I forget how powerless I am over my addictive thoughts, my obsessive thoughts about food, exercise and my body…and most importantly I forget how powerless I am over the food. I actually don’t think that I am powerless over food at this very moment. I think that I am making a conscious decision to eat from of my food plan. But really, I am powerless over this. It is my disease making this decision.
In the weeks leading up to my relapse, I was actively engaging in other addictions. I am a hardcore exercise addict. I thought I could keep engaging in this behavior while staying ‘food sober’. Meanwhile, I was ‘forgetting’ that exercise is a behavior so intimately related to my bodies overall regulation and function, my bodies’ calorie consumption as well as my energy levels. I kept thinking more and more “I got this!”. I almost accepted a part-time job, which would be my first job since I entered recovery. And I was not being rigorously honest about all of my thoughts and feelings. I thought, “How great, now I can get skinny and be ‘food sober’ too!”. I felt like I was getting support as I slipped into my ‘anorexic thinking’. Thank goodness for this relapse. I am grateful I am finally coming clean about these behaviors and thoughts that ultimately led me back to the food. I am grateful that I am re-entering treatment. I was definitely not ready to return to work and live in the ‘addictive world’.
The main point that I want to drive home in this article is the fact that I have a disease which centers in my mind. This disease is incurable. I have forgotten this. Part of me still believes that my body size is the issue. I have been 100 pounds and I have been 165 pounds. And I have been every weight in between. One may think that this is strong evidence that my body size really has not minimized my food and body obsession in the slightest. Rationally, if having a small body cured my disease then I would have stayed anorexic. If having a larger body and eating whatever I wanted cured my disease then I would have stayed at my highest weight of 165 and been happy and content. The point is, my body size has not mattered one bit. Rationally, I know this is true, but my addictive mind forgets it often.
I have now spent about one week away from my daily program practices. My prayer and meditation has been non-existent. I have almost left the 12-step fellowship. I have abandoned my loving sponsor for a day and I missed my call with her today. I have almost completely deserted my recovery team and my food plan without any hesitation at all. Meanwhile, my food addiction took me out of my job for almost 6 months, my life was falling apart, relationships were destroyed and I was on the verge of committing suicide. But last week I thought… “Ehh, who cares about all of this food crap, I got this!”. It sounds insane to write it out this way but truly this is how my addictive mind works. This disease is just so insidious and powerful.
My mind is where my disease centers. I hope and pray one day at a time that the willingness to weigh and measure my food returns. My eyes are broken. They are broken in terms of how much food to eat and what my body ‘should’ look like. I need my ‘medicine’ in the form of 12-step work, fellowship, outside help, prayer, meditation, a sponsor, a weighed and measured food plan and more. I need this medicine each day to stay abstinent. Dear God – I hope that this article helps someone out there who may have ‘forgotten’ this too. I pray that I don’t forget again. Well, I definitely will forget again because I am an addict… but I can only hope the repercussions of my forgetful nature are not as drastic next time.
Sending peace and abstinence to all. – Emily S, Brooklyn