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Archive for the ‘choice’ Category

The Fox and The Hound

“You can’t run with the foxes and hunt with the hounds”

Many Tuesday evenings I accompany some friends, my sister, and my parents to a trivia night at a local bowling alley/bar/resstaurant. Its nerdy, yes, and I rarely know a single answer to a question but it is fun. I get to spend time with my family and some good friends while I continue to re-build the relationships I nearly threw away while I was using. One night when we were there the above quote was the answer to one of the questions. I don’t remember the question, it was probably a fill-in-the-blank where you had to provide ‘foxes’ or ‘hounds’ to answer it but I digress…

The quip basically says you can’t do things half way… you can’t be hanging out with the foxes if you’re also planning to go hunting with the other hounds. You have to choose what “side” (for lack of a better word) with which you plan to align yourself. Eating disorders and addiction are the same thing… compromising with either of them doesn’t ever work. Just ask the wino who switches to beer or the bulimic who switches to restricting. We try to make all these compromises with our addictions because we know that it is only leading us towards death but we are scared to give it up completely. So we bargain with it… We say to our addiction: “I’ll still do ‘x’ for you but I don’t want to do ‘y’ anymore. If you let me stop doing ‘y’ then I can be happy and you can still hang around.”

There isn’t a way to get rid of the things you don’t so much like about the addiction and keep the parts you like or that make you feel safe. In my eating disorder I had the twisted conception that bingeing and purging was “bad” but restricting was “good.” However, I couldn’t stop bingeing and purging but continue to restrict my food…. duh, eventually my starving body won out and I found myself bingeing (which always led to purging). I also believed firmly that only drugs were my problem, but I couldn’t quit cocaine (one of my earlier drugs of choice that I wanted to quit so I didn’t lose my nose) but continue drinking… duh, I ended up drinking just the way I used to do lines of coke.

On another level I couldn’t quit using chemicals but still control my food and vice versa. I tried this for a LONG time. I quit using drugs/alcohol for nearly a year… but became very sick with the eating disorder and wound up back in the hospital (whoopsies). I also had a period where I was eating well but quickly found myself drinking all day every day (oops again).

Compromising didn’t solve anything and ultimately didn’t bring the happiness that I was looking for. Why? Because the drugs weren’t the problem; the eating wasn’t the problem… the addiction was the problem.

ANYTHING I do to an extreme in order to control/escape/numb etc. is part of my addiction. So, the choice is whether I want to run freely with life and recovery or if I want to hunt down death with the addiction.

I chose the freedom of recovery; this meant (and still means) that I have to take everything that comes with that.  On a basic level I had to accept that I was going to gain weight when I stopped trying to control my food intake; it was just a fact. I also had to accept that I was going to have to find an entirely new way of living without chemicals because cutting out chemicals meant cutting out friends, activities, and a persona I identified with. Even today, choosing freedom in recovery means I have to deal with my emotions instead of run away and I have to understand that 99.9% of life is out of my control so I may as well just sit back and relax.

Either choice comes with consequences; we all have to weigh whether the stink of the foxes outweighs the possibility of being bitten by the hounds. But for us addicts the choice is taken away from us if we refuse to make a choice in the first place. For me, I think I’m going to continue going to trivia on Tuesdays.

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