Saturday, May 30, 2009

ADDICTION: Part 2 - Hi, my name is Stages of Change and I am an...


I am an addict.

I am an alcoholic, and I am a binge eating, compulsive, food addict.

I also firmly believe that I have the capacity, if I went down various paths, to become addicted to virtually any of the other things in life that one can: drugs, sex, spending, relationships, etc. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if in some magical way, I woke up tomorrow and the world no longer had or needed food or booze, I would likely pick up a new addiction within a few weeks.

One year ago, to the day, I left rehab.

I went to rehab because I was in a massive struggle with alcohol and with food - a struggle that I was losing, big time.

I went to rehab because I was an addict.

An addict because I had continued to eat and drink despite the negative consequences. I continued to eat and drink even though my health had been getting worse for years. Even though I barely graduated high school, and didn't even make it a year in college because partying was more important. Even though I had become 300, then 400, then 500 pounds. Even though I was depressed. Even though my weight and my drinking lead to me tearing my knees up...both of them...seperately...multiple times. Even though drinking had led to me being hit by a car. Even though my behaviors were devastating my family and loved ones. Even though I had blown tens of thousands of dollars on food and booze.

Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Bottom line is that I was an addict. So, I went to rehab.

As it turned out, I loved rehab. It was one of the best times of my life. I learned, and more importantly, accepted to my very core, a number of extremely important things during my time there.

Well, it's a year later, and know I'm way over 600 pounds; probably 150 pounds heavier than I was that day, one year ago, that I left rehab feeling like a million dollars; feeling like I could do absolutely anything, and would.

I have done well enough, largely due to external forces, with not drinking, but eating has kicked my ass.

Why have I continued my food addiction?

Why do I still compulsively binge-eat?

Why is that possible, when this last year has been so amazing?

The year: Rehab was incredible. I had a relationship that taught me a lot about life and myself. I read a book that changed my whole outlook on life. I slowly, over the year, completely changed my world view and political opinions. I learned humility. I only recently established a burgeoning faith.

This year was the most challenging, brutal, wonderful, amazing, transformative year of my life. This year was all about growth, and healing, and change. There was, however, one thing that didn't change. One thing that remained constant throughout the year: the eating. I ate through it all. And so, here I am.

Here I sit, on the verge of death.

THAT is fucking addiction.

And, horribly, due to all my fantastic growth in the last year, I now know that it's all my fault; I can't deny it. I can't blame it on anything or anyone else. I can't blame it on the addiction. It's my fault.

All this time, I've had the control to stop the bleeding and start the healing, but I have chosen not to. I have chosen to not do what is necessary for me to succeed. I have chosen to fail. I have chosen to continue to eat myself towards death.

I say this not to punish myself. I say it not to beat myself up. I say it because it is the truth. The raw, unfiltered, unemotional truth. And, and I cannot stress how deeply I believe this, the Truth sets us free.

So, this is my truth. No, let me rephrase that to make a point: this is THE truth. Because truth, no matter how much we may wish it was, is not situational. The truth is what it is, always.

And so, I have hope. I have hope because the truth is that the ONE thing in this world that has proven, unequivocally, to work; the ONE thing, above all else, that can heal people's addiction, is the ONE thing I have not yet tried.

It's easy to get down, and feel miserable, and be frustrated that one year after leaving rehab for addiction, I am worse off than ever. But then I remember. There is one thing I haven't tried yet; it's insane that I haven't, but it's the truth.

So, here I am. I either choose to take the necessary step and do What Works, and start healing, or, I choose my addiction, and I die.

*The thrilling trilogy concludes shortly with part 3: ADDICTION - The Justice of Recovery*

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ADDICTION: Part 1 of 3 - Defining a Misunderstood Tragedy

What is Addiction?

Is it the drunk that has to start every morning with a pull from the stale remains of last nights bottle just to be able to get out of bed?

Is it the coke head who doesn't generally use all week, but every time, when the whistle blows on Friday, he gets right to the 48 hours of blood pumping, mouth numbing, insane, powder-coated chaos?

Or, is it your relative, girl friend, or co-worker who is just SO addicted to Grey's Anatomy/chocolate/massages/etc?

It's surprising how little your average person understands about addiction; how few people even know what addiction IS.

Addiction has been defined a lot of ways by the medical and psychological community, but the definition that has been embraced more recently by many in the field, is, to me, far and away the most accurate; in essence:

ADDICTION: Continuing a behavior in spite of existing and ever-increasing negative consequences.

THAT is addiction.

That is what addiction truly is, and yet, the misunderstanding about it is bountiful. The misunderstanding about addiction allows for many troubling situations: It allows true addicts of the kinds of drugs that are not generally used every day to say they are not an addict (because, they argue, an addict has to use all the time). It allows the woefully ignorant family members/friends/etc of recovering addicts to say ridiculous things such as: "Oh yea, I know how it is. I am just SO addicted to chocolate. I have to eat at least one little piece every day! So bad, right?" It causes the teenager who is just starting to use marijuana to go ahead because the well-circulated, yet completely inaccurate "common knowledge" amongst so many is that marijuana can't become an addiction.

All wrong.

Again, ADDICTION: Continuing a behavior in spite of existing and ever-increasing negative consequences.

Addiction is continuing to drink despite the times you've thrown up and been hung-over(physical consequence)/missed work (professional consequence)/cheated on your significant other (inter-personal consequence)/etc.

Addiction is continuing to use meth or coke despite the drug-fueled fights you keep getting into with friends.

Addiction is continuing to have random casual sex with strangers despite the personal emotional torment that follows every encounter.

Addiction is continuing to pop pills despite several arrests for unlawful possession.

Addiction is continuing to gamble despite your wrecked personal finances.

Addiction is continuing in a relationship despite your partner's emotional and/or physical abuse.

Addiction is continuing to binge eat despite the fact that you weigh 600 pounds, your health is deteriorating, and your binge-eating, and it's subsequent consequences, are completely devastating your loved ones.

THAT is addiction.

And it is hell.

*Coming Soon, part 2: ADDICTION - Hi, My Name is StagesofChange and I am an...*

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Individual Accountability, Forced Equality, & "Fat People's Rights"

In our society today we are taught, by and large, not to judge. We are taught that we are all the same, and that everyone's approach to anything (within reason) is just as valid as anyone else; all of that is bogus.

Gauging the value and worth of different approaches, tact's, viewpoints, worldviews, acts, ideologies, etc, is an important and integral part of establishing and refining those things for one's self.

Believing that one thing is better than another is absolutely great, and more importantly, it is our job as humans. It is our choosing of what is right and wrong. It is the freedom of our conscious: our most vital freedom.

Conversely, on the other hand is the closed minded argument that allows no for judgements to be made. And with no judgement comes complete equality in all things; nothing is better than anything else, and nothing is any worse. Everything, everyone, every idea, every act - all of the same worth.

Forced equality is a line to be walked carefully, but the argument gets very simple when it comes to forced equality for a group of people that have no reason to deserve it...

...Fat People. I've seen many talk shows in my life with a group of fat people who didn't care that they were fat, they were happy with who they were. They felt that if they were content and happy with who they were then so should society be, and predictably, to that end, they generally were rallying for what amounts to: "Fat People's Rights".

Now, lets dismiss the obvious. "Fat People's Rights" is, on it's face, a ridiculously misguided concept. Fat people are just people that are fat. They are fat in the same way average-sized people are average-sized, teachers are teachers, doctors are doctors, drinkers are drinkers, married people are married, pet owners are pet owners, etc. They are people who, with few major biological-based exceptions, are fat because they have chosen to be. They are people who have eaten too much, exercised too little, haven't created or changed their lifestyle to a healthy one, haven't gotten the counseling if necessary, haven't gotten the regulating drugs if necessary, haven't asked for the help, haven't learned what they needed to learn, etc.

Again, the key is that it is a choice, and all the work parties, dinners with friends, sedentary jobs, rainy weather, intimidating gyms, traumatic childhoods, learned eating habits, unhappy relationships, entertaining television, etc, do not change the fact that being fat is a choice.

Okay, having established the fundamental problem with the concept, let's get specific and look at the many ridiculous issues borne out of one of the most egregious attempts, of the many attempts in modern western society, at Forced Equality: "Fat People's Rights"

1) Restaurants, theme parks, bars, hotels, bars, etc, should have to provide adequate seating options for fat people.
2) Airlines should have to provide 2 seats, at the rate of only one, to those who need more space than one seat due to their size.
3) Department stores and clothing stores that sell average sized clothes should have to sell larger clothes as well.
4) Restaurants should have to provide lower calorie/fat meal options and/or display the nutritional information of their food.

Here's the truth, any business that believes it would be a wise business decision to create larger seating options, offer low-cal food, sell big and tall clothes, or offer two airplane seats for the price of one to heavy people should go for it. Great, good for them. Truly.

But those businesses that don't? The restaurants that offer tons of fatty foods with no low-cal alternative, the clothing stores that sell exclusively small to average sized clothes, the bars that only offer small booths, the airlines that charge two seats for a fat person who needs two seats, they're doing what they as businesses have the right to do. That's their choice, and their right. These businesses will thrive or suffer or remain the same dependent on how the consumers react to whatever choice the businesses make. That's it. Capitalism in action.

I've had to walk in to and walk right out of places that I wouldn't be able to sit in because there were no chairs - only small booths, I've had to buy two tickets to fly on multiple occasions over the last few years, I've had to make the best decision I could (if I wanted to) when out with friends at restaurants with limited low-calorie options, I've had to buy clothes exclusively from big and tall stores for years. Do I feel like I'm discriminated against because of these facts?

Absolutely not.

As hard a struggle as my weight is, it's still up to me to lose, gain, or stay the same. I will eventually get to my goal weight. It's extremely challenging, for a variety of reasons, but I know that it's ultimately on me to succeed or fail, and I would have it no other way. And that's the point.

I love myself and I love my fellow man, and I wish for everyone what I wish for myself: to be healthy, happy, and successful in whatever I undertake; knowing that it was primarily my hard-work, my tenacity, my desire, my humility, my honesty, my sacrifice, etc, that caused my success. To be healthy, successful, and happy in life, in all ways, because of what I've chosen - not because some misguided soul mandated that I be treated like a victim and that the playing field be forcefully evened for me.

The Truth is that no one should be forced to provide equality for those who have earned their struggles.

The Truth is that, though I have compassion, and empathy, and sadness, and hope, and love in my heart for people that struggle with weight issues, it is still up to them, as it is for me, to create the change they desire.

And if I live a joyful, healthy life staying true to my beliefs of not looking for forced help or forced accommodation, but instead owning the fact that I create my reality, that I get out of life what I put in, then I will someday die a happy man.

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values." -Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged"