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I Replaced My Other Addictions with Food

The scope of my addiction never ceases to amaze me. Booze, drugs, food, men, money, shopping, spending, being a control freak, whatever “it” is, can so easily consume me. I can abuse pretty much anything and in some very creative ways. I want relief from how I feel and what’s going on around me and at times I get desperate to relieve myself of those feelings. Although I haven’t had a drink or a drug for several years, I often find myself powerless and out of control—especially with food.

Many years ago when I would make feeble attempts at getting sober, I never believed that food was actually an addiction. I would find myself in halfway houses and long-term treatment women’s programs, binging and purging, then med-seeking to get medications where the side effects included weight loss. I was trying to starve myself and failing miserably every time.

I was perpetually unhappy with the way the outside looked and the inside felt. My addiction was similar to my love affair with other substances. I didn’t want to give it up because it wasn’t killing me…just yet. I practice complete abstinence from other substances, however, one must eat to survive. One bite of anything can and will set me off.

I was never the thinnest girl in school but I was also not the heaviest. My wonderful personality traits were buried under low self-esteem, sprinkled with introversion and adolescent alcoholism. My family owned a restaurant and a bar, so I spent much of my life in the back room or at the pizza table. I didn’t realize that the whole world didn’t drink, overeat and gamble because that was how my family made their living. Eventually, I ended up in backs rooms of many other bars and restaurants.

I didn’t realize that the whole world didn’t drink, overeat and gamble because that was how my family made their living.

I had no idea how serious these issues could become for me. I would see other people eating and drinking however they wanted and I wanted to be able to do the same. But I can’t do that. I’ve managed to put the drug and drink down after a lot of work and even more pain. I’ve often heard it said that people enter recovery the day before they die, and I believe that is true for me. I was so thin and gray and covered with sores. My hair was falling out, my eyes were sunken in, I was so severely malnourished that I just didn’t have it in me anymore to fight or to not fight. I was simply done.

Fast forward several years later and I find myself in the same situation with food over and over again. I was painfully thin when I got sober. I gained 80 lbs with my second son. I had two kids in 22 months and I was newly sober. That’s a heck of a tall order for just one human being.

I’ve tried 12 step food help, paid program, free programs, apps, pills, fad diets, gym memberships that I don’t use. While 12 step helped me immensely with drugs, I can’t seem to connect to it with food. I even binge on foods that are healthy for me—it doesn’t have to be sweets or junk all the time.

I even binge on foods that are healthy for me—it doesn’t have to be sweets or junk all the time.

I have had so many day ones in these last month or two. I am trying so hard and failing miserably.  It brings me right back to where I was when I used to try to get sober and I just couldn’t get it. It’s so fucking hard. My toolbox is full, yet I’ve lost the key. I haven’t felt this level of despair in a long time. If you are struggling with anything today, I am right there with you, sister. I can replace my addiction to drugs and alcohol with anything. Life is literally one day at a time for me, with everything.

Here I sit, at the end of another day that I didn’t drink, still feel like I failed miserably with food and that’s okay.

Here’s to another day one tomorrow.

Nicole is an East Coast mama in long-term recovery. A survivor of all the things, she is a fierce advocate for women, loves the “f-word,” practices kindness, and loves patchwork. Nicole is a newly single mom living north of Boston with her two sons.

3 Comments on “I Replaced My Other Addictions with Food

  1. Thank you for posting this. I’m struggling with the same thing, and now I feel less alone.

  2. Wow.
    Beautifully written!
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I can relate 100%
    I remember feeling like i couldn’t understand how this couldbe happening.
    I was about 6 years clean & sober but COULD NOT stop eating.
    Thank God I don’t have to live that way today.

    Thank you for addressing this so eloquently.

  3. Thank you so much. I struggle with an eating disorder which I recently have been receiving treatment for and found that when I drink, I act on more ED behaviors. This is what has prompted me to get sober. I’m havjng trouble connecting the food stuff to alcohol; it’s all the same! I’ve been trying to stay sober for the last 8 weeks and slipped up 3 times. It feels good to know these things I deal with; others do as well. Every day is different but every day you’re strong and deal with new challenges as well as exciting “stressors”; all of which can trigger us. So happy to finally find women I can connect with.

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