Nourishment. Enjoyment. Community. Creativity.
Overindulgent. Painful. Isolation. Addiction.
It isn’t a “common” addiction. To some, it isn’t considered an addiction at all. But for me…for me, food–sugar in particular–was my addiction. It was where I turned when I was having a bad day, a hard day, a sad day, a long day, a day.
It wasn’t just a donut here or an ice cream cone with friends there. Sure, those things happened, too. Being out with friends, enjoying a treat together…there is nothing wrong with that.
It was two bags of Hostess processed donuts, paid with cash so it wouldn’t show up on my bank statement every other day, eaten in secret so I wouldn’t have to face the shame and embarrassment of someone knowing. It was a destructive pattern–having to get my “fix” at 7:00 a.m. before I went into work and after a hard day at school.
My sugar addiction didn’t just magically appear. It came after I had starved myself for weeks, depleting my body of all fat. It came in the midst of a hard and stressful school year and emotionally exhausting and painful relationships. It became a coping mechanism, something to make me feel better in the moment–but if you’ve been addicted to anything, you know the cycle.
You feel horrible. So you indulge. And you indulge to the point where you feel horrible (for me, physically ill). And then you hate yourself for hurting yourself, so you hurt yourself again because you feel horrible.
This cycle didn’t just magically appear, which means it didn’t just magically disappear either.
I knew the pattern was destructive. And in the midst of shame and embarrassment, after months of suffering alone, I found the strength to tell my mom I was struggling. I didn’t tell her specifically about the food but about the depression and suicidal thoughts that came regularly, heightening my need to emotionally eat. With her support, I began my first attempt at recovering. I moved into her house where we meal-planned together. I went to a therapist who tried to help. But my cravings were too strong, my life circumstances too hard, and my mind too unhealthy.
After college, I again was determined to beat this addiction that was causing weight gain, exhaustion, and unhealthy thoughts. I moved to a new city where health and fitness were going to be my focus. And they were…for a few months. Then the secret drives and cash payments started again.
It wasn’t until I started taking responsibility for my life, my feelings and behaviors, that I was able to overcome this addiction.
After that city, I moved to another new city where once again I decided I was done with the pattern, the habit, the addiction. This time I refrained for longer. But I wasn’t better, I wasn’t healed.
It wasn’t until I started taking responsibility for my life, my feelings and behaviors, that I was able to overcome this addiction. Therapy, church, prayer, positive relationships, supportive people, all these things came into play to help me not necessarily get rid of my sugar addiction, but heal myself–emotionally and mentally.
I began to uncover the root of my extreme emotions, which fueled my need to emotionally eat. I began to intentionally journal, exercise, and invest in positive relationships. I began to build self-confidence and self-worth that helped me stand up against the cravings when they did come.
Sure, I was tested. When I got into a fight with my boyfriend, I was tested. When my mom got cancer for the third time and died, I was tested. But something changed. Whereas I used to go through the motions to get my “fix” without much thought, this time there were a lot of thoughts.
I remember one time in particular, after visiting my mom in the hospital, I was sitting in the parking lot of a store–knowing full well I could ease the pain of these deep feelings with just one purchase–crying. Sobbing. Not going in. Proud of myself. In pain. But not going in.
That time in the parking lot was about two years ago now. And I am happy to say I don’t have those intense cravings anymore. I am still cautious about acknowledging heavy feelings when they come so I never fall into that cycle again, but I know I have the strength to continue living a healthy life. That even in the midst of stressful situations, painful relationships, and heartbreaking life experiences, I can handle it, on my own, without Hostess donuts, because I am strong. I have the faith, the tools, and most importantly the hope to continue moving forward every day.
. . .