Friday, February 20, 2009

Addict's Mind a/k/a The Bright Side vs. The Dark Side

Weigh-in today was not pretty. And this was expected with NYC family fun and celebrations and NO gym all week while they were here (we did beach-walk some and biked one day). I have gained 10 pounds in the past MONTH. I have gained 15 pounds since Thanksgiving. I'll let you do that math and see how close I am to the weight I was this time last year. And I'm sure you don't have to be told how this makes me feel. But I'll say it anyway: I feel like [insert word for the most nasty thing you can think of]. Yes, this blog today is interactive...must be the influence of kids with video games in our house this past week.

So...I've been thinking A LOT the past few days about Addict's Mind. I watched Sober House on the elliptical at the gym last night and I saw a lot of similarities in how the addicts on that show deal with their substances of choice and how I deal with mine. It popped into my mind that those of us who deal with Addict's Mind are constantly either looking on The Bright Side or The Dark Side. It's not a roller-coaster, it's a teeter-totter where stopping in the middle is nearly impossible. And we use those viewpoints to excuse our actions again and again and again. My Bright and Dark self-talk:

The Bright Side:
- It could be worse. You could weigh as much as [insert time when you weighed more than now]. At least you have clothes in your closet that still fit...[semi-]comfortably.
- You eat healthy...MOST of the time.
- You'll stop eating/drinking right after this weekend/this meal/this treat/this drink/this holiday/trip/long weekend/season.
- You know you can lose weight...after all didn't you do it last week/month/year?
- If you look just-so in the mirror, you don't look too bad.

The Dark Side:
- You weigh [insert huge number of pounds from 2 to 100] more than you did last week/month/year/in your late 30s and you are disgusting when you weigh more than your absolute lowest-ever weight (even if that was when you were 10 years old). You know you could weigh that again if you really tried.
- You suck because you don't really try.
- You never eat perfectly.
- You'll never weigh as little as you did [last week/month/year] because you're [hormonal/menopausal/hungry/depressed/incapable of overcoming your weight issues].

(And that's without even TRYING to think of a lot of examples...if I TRIED, I'll bet I could write all day.)

What I see from all this is excuses:
- It's not as bad as it was. Might as well have a bit of that donut. And that plate of pasta.
- You've been "good" all day/week/month, you deserve a treat once in a while, don't you?!
- Might as well enjoy this one "last" meal/day/weekend...better load up before you have to crack down.
- If you eat this "last" treat/meal/entire day's worth of food in one sitting, your "starting" weight will be elevated so it will look like you lost a lot your first your Addict's Mind.
- You already look (and feel) like [yuck]...who cares if you have a martini or two or a few beers?
- It's hopeless. Even when you deprive yourself, you gain/don't lose. So why not just be "happy" and eat that treat/meal?

Every single one of these statements above is something I've said to myself...most of them recently. Every single one of these statements, when I look at it in black-and-white and try to have a little distance, makes me want to cry and makes me feel even more hopeless...and there goes the vicious cycle again.

What is it about Addict's Mind that makes us use EVERYTHING as an excuse to use our substance of choice? I saw a guy on Sober House last night and it was pitiful how addicted he was. Everyone watching MUST see it. And then I substituted "chips and dip" or "cheese" or just plain "food" for "crack" or "heroin" or "cocaine" in the things he was saying and the behavior he was exhibiting. And it was uncomfortably familiar. The abdicating of responsibility for our addictive behavior. This guy actually got upset about a person calling him a "loser"...and used that as an excuse to go on an enormous drug binge (I missed the end of the show, but I think he ultimately had a heart attack...but I think survived). ONE WORD was all he needed for his excuse. that shocked me. But sometimes that's all I need it just that we are "too" sensitive?

And here I am, fairly self-aware, able to say all this stuff (which, frankly, I wouldn't have been able to do 10 years ago so I know that's progress)...and I still can't seem to overcome it. And, today, that is making me feel very very sad and hopeless and resentful.

Add to all this that DB and I had a conflict last night which I feel remains unresolved (at least for me)...and I know I'm the one who's going to have to ask for his help to get it resolved (i.e., I'll have to bring it up again)...and it's SO DAMN HARD to communicate sometimes even with someone you love with all your heart and who you normally can communicate with SO WELL...and so, yeah, I'm having a bad day. Or maybe just a day on The Dark Side.


Vickie said...


You are coming off many continuous 'field trip weeks' and going back to reality - and I think that transition is hard - no matter what.

So this is not an enabling comment - but a reality one - if it were ME - coming off that many weeks of not being on my normal schedule - I would be second guessing myself all over the place too.

As you know - I think that almost ALL of us are addicts or compulsive overeaters or whatever you want to call us - various shades of the same colors.

And I suppose that means recovery and/or therapy if you take it literally - which I do.

So, I guess it means - do you take where you are right at this minute as a blip in the screen - adjusting back to normal? Or do you take it as a glimpse of reality that needs attention? I still struggle with that (with myself) all the time. which side of the fence am I on - and what am I seeing/feeling?

Helen said...

Thanks, Vic...I'm gonna think about that last part...that's a loonnnggg meditation. What IS normal? I sure wish I knew...

Anonymous said...

It's very hard for most of Us to find a balance and teeter-totter is exactly the right image. Everything is either good or bad, up or down, black or white. When things are going well, we tend to take them for granted and when they crash, well, as you said, there are all sorts of excuses.

Good for you for facing up to the scale and exploring the Addict's Mind and how it applies to Us.

LG said...

All of this was very interesting and gives me things to think about. I know I have a lot of the addict's mindset. I agree with Vickie and Anne, you've had a lot of non-routine things and family events that you are transitioning and it is hard.

I don't know what else to say but lots of *hugs* and know you're doing the first and important thing which is working on the problem.

Vickie said...

I was thinking about 'normal' and I didn't mean the world's normal - I meant your routine, status quo, typical. I was thinking about this at 5am - went back to sleep - but remembered it.

Laura N said...

Oh Helen. I so know what you are talking about and where you are coming from. You practically climbed in my head & pulled out my own thoughts. Esp. that "just this once/one last time" food thing.

It's horrible to be on the dark side. But you CAN make that leap back to the bright side. It's a bitch to stay bright, though, but if you can make it stick for longer than you're in the dark, then you have a fighting chance. And you can. You can. You can.

Hugs & prayers for you.