The Disease of Addiction on January 31, 2011 4:41 pm
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For a long time, I thought my obesity was my own fault. I thought that it was a horrible character flaw that led me to make bad choice after bad choice and become “grotesquely” overweight. I wondered why I had no will-power, why I didn’t like broccoli, and why I hated working out. I looked around and saw ambitious, healthy people doing all of the things I knew I was *supposed* to want to do, but didn’t. And so, the condemnation continued.
It was my own damned fault that I was fat.
And then I had gastric bypass surgery, and I learned that my obesity was not entirely my *fault* at all. I learned that it was a biological, physiological, emotional and spiritual disorder, which meant that I was contributing to it, but not necessarily causing it; that many of the things I thought or did exacerbated the problem, but didn’t create it.
And so, I went about the business of changing my behaviors; doing things that a healthy person did; thinking the way a healthy person thinks. Or, at least, I THOUGHT I did. As it turns out, I was doing a lot of self-sabotage by refusing to acknowledge 2 simple facts:
- I am a FOOD ADDICT
- Addiction is a Disease
Now, I know a LOT of people who steadfastly disagree with that second statement. They disagree to the point of anger, resentment and even hatred. They say that anyone who can CHOOSE “not” to have something, can’t possibly have a disease, because, well…you can’t *decide* not to have cancer.
Here’s what I’ve got to say about that: I didn’t choose to be a food addict, anymore than a cancer victim chooses to have cancer. BUT, I did do things that contributed to the severity of the problem; I made choices that inflamed my condition. I did things to make my condition worse.
If I were to draw a parallel between cancer and food addiction, I would say that, by my thoughts and actions, I made my condition worse. I refused to admit I even HAD it, and then I refused “TREATMENT” (almost like a cancer sufferer refusing chemo or radiation.) I believed that I had caused my problem (much like a lung cancer victim could believe they deserved their disease because they smoked, or a liver cancer victim could believe they deserved it because they drank.) I’m not going to say that smoking and drinking are good ideas, or that they don’t CONTRIBUTE to the disease, but I believe we are either predisposed to cancer, or we aren’t; we are predisposed to obesity and food addiction, or we aren’t.
It is immaterial whether you agree with me or not that obesity and addiction are diseases, for I have chosen to treat both conditions for what they are, instead of believing the misinformed and beating myself up for being a bad person.
Perhaps that is why choosing to abstain from addictive behavior is called RECOVERY. Like a cancer survivor who is in REMISSION, I will never be cured of my disease. It could come back at any time, so I must be ever-vigilant. I don’t know when a trigger will pop-up, or someone will inadvertently do something to encourage a relapse, but I cannot live my life fearing that the addiction will return.
Today, I choose RECOVERY. I choose NOT to allow my disease to rule my life. I choose to live my Bariatric After Life™ to the fullest and embrace all that life has to offer. But, just as a cancer survivor might have to take medication or participate in therapy, so must I.
At the end of the day, I could lament the fact that I am an addict; that I will have to fight obesity for the rest of my life. I could complain and ask “WHY ME?” — OR, I can be thankful that there is a treatment for my condition. I can have gratitude for the gift of recovery, and I can rely upon God for His healing touch. After all, RECOVERY is not something you do alone. You need the support and guidance of others who have gone before, and the power of someone who is much greater than yourself.
Thank GOD I have both
Originally published 1/31/11 on BariatricAfterLife.com Read more like this there :-)
How do you fail in your WLS after life? on March 15, 2010 11:32 am
We were having an interesting discussion about the Bariatric After Life at my weekly support group meeting last Thursday, and my bariatric buddy, Mike, shared something that I thought was brilliant (hope you don’t mind, but I’m pimping your philosophy here, Mike!): He said, “Ya know, I don’t always get this bariatric eating thing right. I make mistakes and I try to learn from them; Sometimes, I really fail, but when that happens, I realize that I’m only a failure until my next meal. And, since that is most likely about 2 or 2-1/2 hours away, that means I’m only a failure for 2-1/2 hours MAX. After that, I have a chance to succeed again.”
This was, of course, the essence of his longer message, which revolved around his success through INCREMENTATION. He says it’s really important to plan and increment everything — meals, portions — even FAILURE. Whether you call it “failure” or you call it a “lack of success,” as long as you learn from the experience, it’s never a wasted opportunity.
I like what Mike is saying about incrementalizing (is that even a word? I made it up, so, yes) because, it makes me feel safer. Yeah, I do like to color inside the lines — big deal — I don’t mind limitations and boundaries — if they serve a purpose. I feel safer when I know what I’m supposed to be doing; I hate to guess. Call it the old “measure twice; cut once” idea, but I just like knowing what is expected of me, and what I should expect.
If I take Mike’s advice, from now on, my failures will only bite-sized; They’ll be “incremental” and only last only as long as I have to wait for my next meal.
How about you? How do you measure failures in your bariatric world? Do you throw the entire day (or worse) away if you eat the wrong thing, or eat too much of it — too fast — OR — do you decide that failure will only last until your next meal? If you fall into that latter category, then you’re an “incremental thinker,” and you’ll have a better time of succeeding in your new — healthier — WLS after life
At least that’s what I think. Thanks for the great insight, Mike!
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The Heart of the Matter: Why I Binge on March 5, 2010 9:48 pm
Getting to the Heart of the Matter on my Bingeing
“In matters of the the heart, nothing is true except the improbable.” – Madame de Stael
As I’ve posted before, I am a binger. Okay, not a world-class binger or anything, I mean, I don’t purge, and I don’t do it everyday…I just do it enough that it is harmful to my psyche and body. So, eating disorder treatment is one of the reasons I’m going to counseling.
I got to meet with Jim (my therapist) this morning for the first time in about 2 months (his schedule didn’t permit, then mine didn’t, and well…you get the picture). It had been a long time coming, clearly, because I had a lot of junk built up in there. Perhaps that was a good thing, because I was able to identify (what I believe is) a pattern and it brought the source of my binges to the fore.
From what I’ve been able to deduce apparently, I want to binge when:
- I feel that I have been grossly misunderstood
- I feel that I am being accused of not handling a situation well
- I feel that my character is being assassinated
- I feel that I’m not getting credit for doing the “right thing”
I started each thought with “I feel” because that is the crux of it. I FEEL that these things are happening, when in reality, they probably are not (and perception is reality, right?) But, let me explain a little more.
I am pretty intuitive, and as a result, I tend to “pick up” a lot of stuff from people –– stuff that they aren’t even aware of. Now, in my past, this has served me well, because I’ve been able to help people, or diffuse difficult situations. I have generally always considered my ability to emotionally “intuit” as a mostly positive thing, with only a little negative stuff attached.
As an example, if I walk into a large gathering of people — especially a party — I tend to feel like a magnet for people’s insecurities, unhappiness, worries, discomfort, even joy and happiness. It all comes at me like little blow darts, and I feel like a voodoo doll. I used to think I hated parties because I was fat, but now that I am thin, I realize it is because of how I viewed my role at the party. I guess I thought it was up to me to make others feel comfortable, and that is why I would “allow myself” to be the recipient of their emotions, thoughts and feelings.
Ahhhh, but here’s the thing about that plan of attack: I have no way of knowing what others are feeling or thinking. Sometimes, THEY don’t even know what they are thinking or feeling, so how could I?
So, here is what I need to work on:
- I cannot know what others think or feel.
- I cannot know others’ motivation or intentions behind actions or words.
- I cannot allow others’ to judge me.
That last one is tricky sounding, I mean, I judge people all the time, and I know they judge me, so how do I stop them from judging me? The easiest answer is, I don’t. What I mean by that is — and these are Jim’s words that I must internalize: I have to stop assigning malicious attributes to people’s words and actions. My job is to believe that most people have a benevolent (at best) and benign (at most) reason behind what they do and say. Then, even if someone is judging me, I don’t have to accept it as truth, or acknowledge it as any more than a point of fact. In other words, there should be no emotion behind the thought. No judgment.
Here’s how it looks when I ALLOW people’s words to become judgments about me:
Someone can say something to me that I immediately want to interpret as mean. The next thing I typically do is take the comment and run down the road with it:
- Why are they so mean? (I judged them as if I know their motivation behind their words).
- What did I do to make them mad? (I immediately determined that they were mad, and that it was something I had done.)
- I didn’t do anything wrong. (I get defensive and start to find ways to correct their indiscretion.)
All of that happens in the blink of an eye.
Now, if it happens enough times at a particular event, then I can create the most fantastic mountain out of the most innocuous series of mole hills. Each of the shovels of dirt I add to my mountain are “justifiable” and make “perfect sense.” After all, I have to defend my position. I have to stop letting them get to me. I have to look for someone to make me feel better about myself to prove that the other person is wrong.
Anyway, there is much, much more to it than that, but I think you have the heart of the matter.
Moving forward, my job is to stop jumping to conclusions. Stop pretending I am so important that other people live for the sole purpose of making me happy, or making me look or feel bad. We are all selfish creatures, and virtually everything (if not absolutely everything) we do comes from that place of ego; that self. How will it make ME feel? That’s just human nature.
BUT, it’s what you do with it that matters most.
My goal is to begin assigning benign attributions to people’s actions — even if they SEEM blatantly or overtly malicious. That’s my first order of business. Once I do that, then I will move to the next step, which is to stop allowing others’ statements to become judgments that I automatically accept as true — meaning that I “think” I have to defend myself against them. The third thing is to stop looking at myself as if I am a target. I’m not a voodoo doll, and I’m not entering a sniper zone without a bullet proof vest. People in this world are not out to get me (I don’t mean that in a panicky, paranoid sort of way) — they are as wrapped up in their worlds as I am in mine.
So, that’s my therapy for the day. I’m going to work on it this weekend. Maybe I’ll make little flash cards for practice (LOL). I don’t know if anyone else can identify with this, but I’m just working stuff out here…
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What I Learned From a Guy Named Chet & a '71 Ford... on March 4, 2010 3:04 pm
A funny thing happened at the plastic surgeon’s office; I got handed a fistful of “before” surgery pictures and wanted to cry. Not tears of happiness. No, I was genuinely mortified by the images staring back at me. But then I learned about a guy named Chet and his '71 Ford truck, and I learned a valuable lesson: Why waste time worrying about something you can't even see?
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