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I’ve never revealed I’m an addict before now.
I always thought I would be shamed.
It’s easier to say I’m living passionately, a pretty phrase to hide the truth of my addictive nature, even from myself.
I hear Franz Kafka’s words telling me, “Follow your most intense obsession mercilessly.”
My obsessions can work for my good. It gave me a new lease on life when I used it to regain vibrant health by losing over 100 pounds in 10 months. When I got to 100, my addiction came knocking, go further, and I dove down to 120.
My life was ruled by the number on the scale.
I was cutting so hard and fast to get a new low every week, and I was likely catabolizing lean muscle, taking me away from vibrant health.
My addiction to the scale punishes me to this day.
My latest obsession is writing, and it’s taking a physical toll on my body. It’s 3 a.m. again, and I feel exhausted, in pain, and wondering why I’m pushing myself to the point of injury. My body finally says no, and as I lie down, my last thought is: how soon I can write?
I crawl out of bed after snatching two fitful hours of sleep. I slog toward the living room. Stopping next to my wife, who’s already sipping her green tea, lost in the world of her mesmerizing iPad adventures.
I plop onto the broad flat arm of the deep black leather armchair. Even though I groan audibly at the jar of my landing, she doesn’t hear me.
She’s got her headphones on out of consideration, thinking I’m sleeping, having a lazy Saturday lie-in. She catches me out of the corner of her eye and stops playing.
I slip down off the arm into the seat of my favourite chair. Favoured because it’s where we come together in the heart of our comfortable timeworn home. In the living room, we always share time after our busy days apart.
No matter how broken in after 12 years of holding my formally excessive weight of 275 pounds—regardless of what position I take—my chair offers no comfort.
I’m not even annoyed at the shafts of light streaming through the breaks in the greying slats of the French window blinds causing me to squint and blink repeatedly. It’s a regular morning annoyance I don’t care enough to deal with; tending to my obsessions always taking precedence.
It’s a mosquito of a nuisance compared to the yowling pain raging from my shoulder.
Sharps, sticks, and seizing, throbbing banging on and on—it’s hard to hear anything, but I latch onto the concern in her voice; it’s the comfort I need to feel.
My obsession with pursuing a new form of writing is being infected by my old nemesis. My addictive personality traits are finding an outlet again. When I let my obsessions run too wild, I can fall into my neurosis and harm myself, going beyond obsession—sliding into addiction.
Addiction becomes the loudest advisor in my head.
The rush I’d found when first writing was taking longer to find. I was chasing the high, desperately trying to stay in the flow. By attaching to flow as a goal, I forced myself to spend longer and longer writing. I was diminishing most of the good I’d initially found to morsels. It’s not enough to write for only an hour or two.
I’m addicted to writing. I have to use. Yet I see how I’m hurting myself by ignoring other parts of my life.
When gripped by addiction, I constantly break my agreements with myself. My vision narrows. I can’t be bothered to file the taxes, clean the floors, or deal with the two-inch-high pile of mail and hastily scribbled notes. They tut at me, deal with us.
I look to my wife; okay, here are some things I can do before seeing the Naturopath. I’m trying to rationalize why my shoulder is injured, looking for external factors. These are symptoms, not the cause. I don’t think it’s typing; it’s the excess mousing; I’m not stretching, blah, blah, blah.
Then she gently suggests, perhaps you can take a day off? Oh, that’s an interesting idea. I’ve been thinking about giving myself a day off.
Inside, my addiction screams, no way, get back to your desk and write.
She’d already expressed concern at my midnight writing that I told her about; it was 5 a.m. When my addiction is shouting, I withhold and fear judgements, especially my own.
Instead of hiding, I admit I have a problem and ask for help.
After our talk, I start the rest of my morning habits. Weighing myself is one of them. At first, I recorded my daily number as data to see which of my experiments produced results. Then I started to weigh two times a day. More data, better science, I reasoned.
BS; when I step on the scale, deep down inside, I’m saying, I don’t believe in myself.
I’m ignoring the objective data that says checking in more than once a week is meaningless. I do it three, four, or five times a day, even in the middle of the night.
Addiction is not rational; it’s demanding and does everything possible to stay alive. It’s a living beast of neurosis, and we all have them in varying degrees. By acknowledging I’m an addict out loud and asking for help, I’m taking my first step to grow and move forward. I don’t deny it. I embrace it.
I’m standing before the scale, thinking about my empty desk—these physical things my addiction uses to drive me with fear.
The scale looks at me. Don’t you want to know?
My desk calls to me. You can hack it, work, finish— remember how good it feels—you’ll find relief. Relief? What about good? I’ll give you a taste of that to keep you coming back.
Pissed at my habit of continually injuring myself with my actions, I chose my next step to heal by not stepping on the scale.
My moment of growth comes from a simple act of defiance of the scale. It shows me that the physical step doesn’t have to be huge, even if it seems trivial to others. Our growth is defined by our perceptions of the importance of the action taken. The distance of that step was like leaping the chasm of the Grand Canyon.
It’s been four long days, and every day my addiction claws at me, weigh, weigh, weigh. Today is another day I don’t weigh, another victory.
F*ck you addiction! I’m bigger than you.
I’m an addict in recovery and choose not to use today.
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