Friday, January 13, 2012

Tacos and Burgers and Pizza... Oh, My!

I've been feeling down lately. I can't pinpoint a reason, which makes it worse for me, but suffice to say I've been feeling blue.

Then, two days ago, my trainer tried to kill me. We'd never worked on calfs before, but we did on Wednesday, and he had me do five thousand calf raises off of a step. (That's how many it felt like, anyway.) I was in tears when I finished. What he may not know is that I'll do anything he says, regardless of the pain. As usual, I want to be the alpha fill-in-the-blank. In this case, the alpha client.

When we first met, I told him I'd never use the "c" word in front of him. He said, "Thank you," but I'm not sure he understood which "c" word I was talking about. What I meant was that I'd never say 'can't.' (To be honest, I've got one heck of a potty mouth...a blue streak...I use colorful language freely. In other words, I could make a sailor blush. So it's entirely possible that he was thanking me for promising not to use another "c" word in front of him.) I suppose it's possible he wasn't trying to kill me. Maybe it's my fault for not crying "uncle," but I never have and I don't intend to.

After today's workout, while running errands, I was limping so badly that people were looking at me funny.I couldn't stand up straight. So I was in pain, feeling down, and to top it all off, people were staring at me, which I hate. My mind went to the place it naturally goes on days like today: I wanted comfort food.

I started going through a mental list: tacos, burritos with sour cream and extra cheese, bacon double cheese burgers (even though I don't eat red meat) pizza, macaroni and cheese...but something happened that has never happened to me before. A not so little voice spoke up almost immediately asking how I'd feel if I ate those things and the answer was immediate: I'd feel horrible. There was no internal debate, and no conscious decision to make. The knowledge was just there, and it chased away the thoughts of food. I knew I'd feel sluggish and uncomfortable if I were to eat unhealthy food and that's the reason I didn't. Not because I'm on a diet - which I don't consider myself to be - not because of guilt or embarrassment, and not because I would be a "bad girl" if I gave in. I made the choice based on how the food would make my body feel.

This was a definite first for me. Fat or thin, all my life, food has been about comfort. I've never thought of food as fuel, but rather as a way to pass the time, a punishment, a reward, a friend, a way to numb out...a drug.

Today, I didn't dwell on the semi-cravings or the instant reasoning that took them away. It all happened more as a fleeting thought. It's only now, as I reflect on this afternoon, that I realize the significance of what happened. It feels like real progress.

It feels good.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Don't compare your insides with other people's outsides."

A counselor once told me that, and I understood exactly what she was telling me, but I've never been able to fully explain it to someone else without an example. Unfortunately, I have a new one to share.

A friend of mine from my using days connected with me on Face Book a couple of years ago. We were close, he and I, and I'd thought about him often since becoming sober. When he contacted me, I had about three years clean time and, while still fragile, I was feeling pretty good about things.

He told me he was doing well, was out of prison and had started his life again. He was going to school, working, and the pictures in his online albums showed a healthy, happy man. He missed me. I missed him. He wanted to get together to catch up. I couldn't do it.

I told him how much I wanted to see him, but that I knew I wasn't ready. "I've been clean for three years. Maybe it was all fun and games for the rest of you guys, but it was HARD for me to kick, and when I think of getting together with you, all I want to do is get high."

He understood and said he'd be there for me whenever I was ready. And I knew he was genuine.

Here's something most people don't know: regardless of what you've seen in movies or on TV, addicts, in my experience, are very supportive of one another when it comes to quitting. We know that what we're doing is killing us. We'll never voice it or even allow ourselves to think it, but deep down we know we're dying. We wouldn't wish our addiction on anyone...especially someone we care about.

So when he said he understood and that he loved me and respected my sobriety and my feelings, I knew he meant it. Every so often he'd call or e-mail me again saying how good he was doing He was sober and had graduated from school. He had a girlfriend and even though some of his friends still "played around," as he put it, he was doing great and meth held no interest for him anymore.

"Why is it so easy for him?" I'd wonder, scrolling through pictures of him fishing with a big group of friends, all smiling and hamming it up for the camera. "Why am I so weak?" I'd ask myself clicking through pictures of him at weddings and celebrations. "He's out there living this great life, and I'm hiding from the world because I'm scared to engage with it."

And I wanted to see him. I really did. I have a lot of love for this man. But when I would speak with him on the phone it was almost like I could taste the glass pipe and hear the click of a lighter. I'd cry after hanging up because I couldn't quit thinking about meth,. All of this made me feel weak and unsure of myself and whether or not I was really in recovery, or if I were just hiding from my addiction.

Why don't I feel the way he looks?

I found out a couple of days ago that he's been arrested again for possession with intent, and conspiracy. This is his third felony drug offense and he's currently on parole.

I have mixed emotions. My heart is breaking for him. He's a wonderful man with a good soul, and trite phrases like, "lost potential" are floating through my head. At the same time I feel like I dodged a bullet. Not that I would have used with him or that it would even have been possible, but it would have opened a door that's best left locked forever.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if we could all see each other for who we really are all the time. It might save a lot of heartache.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fixing the Hole Where the Rain Gets In... part deux

I'm 43 years old and I'm tired of battling my food issues. I'm a recovering addict - Feb. 2012 will mark my 5th year clean from a 6 year meth addiction. These past few years, though, I've felt like a fraud. I may have quit using meth, but I continued doing what I've done my whole life - turned from one addiction/distraction to another. Most recently, I turned from meth to food.

Addiction is addiction. It's all the same thing - desperately trying to fill a bottomless hole in order to avoid falling into it.

I've been to rehab. I've seen therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists for my severe depression since I was 13 years old. But I found myself at the age of 43 still trying to "numb out," only this time it was with food.

It occurred to me that if I were going to be "fixed," it would have happened by now. I am what I am. Unfortunately, being cognizant of the source(s) of my issues doesn't make everything alright. I still feel broken, and I'm tired of being broken. I'm tired of hopping from one addiction to the next trying to escape myself. I don't want to hurt myself any more than I already have.

"What I need is a permanent band-aid." That's what I told my trainer the first day I met him. "Look," I said, "I'm broken." And I went on to explain to him what I've just explained to you here. "What I need is a permanent band-aid, and this 'training thing' better be it, because I'm out of options." (Those words may sound tough, but when choked out between sobs, tears and a runny nose, trust me...they're just pathetic.)

It wasn't quite a spontaneous decision, but almost. I had a part time job at the time cleaning the gym by my house. That's when I first saw Jacob: This high-energy bald guy with a perma-grin. Which would have been cheesy enough to make me want to smack the shine off his dome, except that he seemed genuine.

And he is.

I've been training with Jacob for about four weeks. I never thought I'd say this, but going to the gym is absolutely, definitely, without a doubt my favorite thing in the world right now. I look forward to my workouts and I dread the days between them. (It doesn't hurt that Mr.Clean is easy on the eyes, either.) My body is responding and showing changes I used to fantasize about while sitting on the couch eating ice-cream and watching The Biggest Loser.

I have high hopes for this new way of life which, by the way, is what I'm calling it. No more diets. No more fads. No more eating disorder. No more self-loathing. That's the goal, anyway. It's a process.

I'm working on the no diet thing first.