Fighting the Succulent Succubus

The (Literal) Weight of History

Quite ironically, when I was in my teen-aged years, Mama thought I might have an eating disorder. I was 5’9″ and weighed just shy of 110 pounds; and she worried all the time.

I didn’t have an eating disorder. I was a dedicated, and very disciplined, cross-country/track runner. I worked out nearly four hours a day, every day — including weight training and strength conditioning. I ate damn-near constantly, but never put on any weight. (Adolescent metabolism is a wonderful thing!)

When I got pregnant with my son at nineteen, I put on 45 pounds. After I had him, it was difficult to lose the weight; but I did try, because my first husband was “disgusted” with how heavy I’d gotten. His constant barrage of negative commentary pushed me to start fasting during the day (eating only at night), while diligently following an aerobic workout schedule; but I never got below 150 pounds. (According to current BMI standards, a healthy weight for a woman my size is 125 – 168 pounds.)

After I left my first husband, I fell head-first back into addiction. (I had gone cold-sober while pregnant with Bug.) I was drinking damn near 24/7, snorting cocaine, smoking marijuana, and abusing prescription pain killers. I rarely ever ate, and managed to fall back around 135 pounds.

That’s when I met Mitch. He encouraged me to get sober, and helped me to white-knuckle my way through weeks of awful withdrawal. And for years after that, I ate like a normal person and managed to keep my weight around 150 pounds… but then, I got terribly sick and spent almost a decade in bed.

Flash forward ten years and some change ahead of the sickness; and I find myself standing in front of the mirror, belly hanging below the hem of my t-shirt, berating myself for having gotten so overweight, and for doing so very little about it. (I now weight just over 250 pounds, placing me firmly in the “morbidly obese” section of the BMI charts.)

Addiction and the Habitual Cycle of Self-Defeat

The physical aspects of weight gain do bother me (though I often say the opposite, feigning belief in “beauty at any size”). I don’t like the way my body looks; but more than that, I don’t appreciate the way it performs.

I hate how little it takes to wind me. I despise how even the simplest of chores sends rivulets of sweat running down every piece and part of my body. I ache from the pain of carrying 100 pounds of fat on my modest frame. I loathe the despair that hurls me into kitchen, desperately rummaging for “comfort food.”

It’s ironic that the very thing that got me to this place — food — is the same thing I turn to for solace from its consequences. It’s a self-defeating habitual cycle… and even with all of the twelve-step recovery tools in my emotional toolbox, it’s the one addiction I haven’t been able to free myself from. (Well, that and nicotine.)

The Need for Instant Gratification is a Bitch (and Other Problems)

I know what I need to do to break free from the heavy chains of weight gain; but there’s this incredibly powerful impulse to satiate my emotional (un)well-being through food. What I can say about this is that I’d rather be binge-eating than binge-drinking. Unfortunately, I think that’s also one of the excuses I use to continue doing it, “This is better than drinking, Girl!”

It took me years to gain the weight I now carry. I know that it will take the same amount of time (if not more) to work it off and change my destructive routines; but as an addict, I feel like if there isn’t instant gratification for my efforts (paying off in the immediate shedding of pounds) than why bother.

Unlike achieving sobriety from drug and alcohol use — which begins to pay off in mental clarity and day-to-day functioning almost instantaneously — freeing oneself from a food addiction doesn’t pay out in swift dividends.

In addition, you can remove all the drugs and alcohol from your home and still manage to have a functioning household. It’s not the same with food. You have to eat, whether you have a food addiction or not.

I also don’t cook and/or prepare food. I don’t shop for groceries, nor do I regularly accompany my husband to the store. I count on Mitchell to do these things, and have fallen into the awful habit of not caring for myself in this regard. (This also makes it easier to irrationally blame him for our dietary missteps and mistakes.)

I’ve been saying that I have to break this cycle; but need to focus more on the “I” of that statement. I have to break this cycle. Me. Personally.

Formulating (Yet Another) Plan

Right now, my husband is slumbering in the master bedroom. Later today, he is planning on shopping for groceries; and as much as I’d like to stay right here — embedded in the recliner, not yet having taken a shower, reading my books — I need to get up and go with him. That’s step one.

Step two? I must commit to making myself breakfast and lunch at reasonable hours; and somehow (step three), need to figure out a way to curb the binge-eating that follows taking my Mirtazapine at night.

I wish it were as simple as giving up the medication; but without it, I cannot acquire a restful night’s sleep (because of the plague of night terrors stemming from Complex PTSD). Mirtazapine has proven to be the least harmful of my prescription choices in this particular arena. All of the drugs assigned to combatting insomnia have the “increased appetite” side effect; and Seroquel was far worse in this regard.

So, I have to come with alternative solutions.

One of the things I know about myself is that I am far more likely to binge-eat while watching television. Mitch and I usually eat dinner watching one of our favorite shows, and then hunker down on the couch, streaming content — and woofing down snacks — until one of us falls asleep.

If I can make myself read after dinner, I’m far less likely to consume the salty/sweet treats that have become a part of my television habits. I’m also far more likely to fall asleep at a decent hour; as reading tends to be a more difficult task than watching TV, when one is tired.

One Day at a Time: Baby Steps Matter

I think one of the issues I’ve found myself coming up against as of late is failure amidst grand plans. It’s all well and good to say that you’re going to go from being a perpetual couch potato to a weight-loss superstar; but in setting unattainable goals, progress cannot be made.

So today, I choose just to deal with the food itself. Exercise will eventually play its own role in my weight loss endeavors; but as an addict riddled with OCD and ADHD, it’s imperative that I focus on one thing, one day, at a time.

Thus, I’m giving myself permission to hope for less — to strive for better success in the little things.

Music Interlude: Lily Rose “Stronger Than I Am”

Because I’m not always as strong as I imagine myself to be; and I can’t forget that Nicky’s gone, which plays into the emotions I have yet to fully process (and contributes to addictive behavior)… but these days, you’ll find me sippin’ only on sweet tea that’s stronger than I am. 😂

5 thoughts on “Fighting the Succulent Succubus

  1. Instant gratification for an addict brain really is a bitch. I struggle with the same thing, including ADHD. I’m pregnant now, which is what I wanted, so I’m sober by force. But before then, I was deeeeepppp in my addiction with alcohol. It was bad.
    It definitely is a one day, one hour even, at a time kind of thing. It really is baby steps. Don’t beat yourself up about it, progress is slow, but it’s still progress. You got this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, my beautiful friend! It’s nice to have people who are struggling with the same issues in my corner… and makes me feel less alone in the world. (Though not so nice that you are going through it as well, and I wish peace and serenity for you.)

      Should you ever wish to attend a very strong Women’s meeting of AA, please send me an email and I will provide a Zoom link. We meet on Tuesdays at five o’clock in the evening — and it’s a meeting with decades of sobriety across a dozen amazing women that have been instrumental in my own journey to better things.


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