Am I Powerless?
Everything I have read and heard about addiction says that the first step is admitting you are powerless to your substance. Whether it be food or an illicit substance, you are supposed to admit and accept that you have no control and these substances control you.
You see, I am a food addict by every definition I can find. I love the way food makes me feel. It is a comforting blanket on a stressful day. It is a celebration when something exciting has happened. It keeps me from being bored and it entertains me when I cook. When I feel lost or when I feel found, food is there with me.
I don’t think I had this addiction my whole life. I don’t remember food always being the comfort it is today. I have spent a long time reflecting and trying to figure out where my relationship with food changed. It’s a worthy exercise if you are as overweight as I have become.
It started in high school. Between the stress of overcommitting myself to a bajillion activities to the insecurity of transferring midyear, I found comfort in comfort foods. There was nothing more comforting that a bowl of potatoes, microwaved until baked, and smothered in butter and cheese. When I felt lonely, cheese was there.
When I entered college, the comfort I had found became something I needed. I did not always have the best choice in significant others and the first guy I dated in college was a doozy. Without reliving the pain, let’s say that I quickly turned to food and the need for comfort lasted over two years. Looking back, I know all of the mistakes I made, but at the time the pain of the day was minimized by a two cheeseburger extra value meal.
After this extended period of bingeing to comfort, my relationship with food was secure and my weight battle was full-force. This is reflected when I lost a significant amount of weight early in my career, only to pile it back on in what seemed like the minutes after a family member was critically injured in a car accident.
I acknowledge now that I have a sordid relationship with food. I have an addiction to the way food makes me feel. And that addiction has significant power.
But I am not powerless.
Admitting you are powerless is a cop-out. It means you can never interact with the substance again because you cannot control it. And that would mean that I could never eat again… something that is actually impossible to do and survive.
However, I can reduce the number of decisions I have to make about food. Stepping away from our complex relationship in order to exam it and correct it. We will always have a relationship. However maybe our relationship could improve.
I am not powerless. Recognizing and acknowledging I am addicted to food and doing something to change this addition is the opposite of powerless. It takes strength and motivation. It takes desire and action.
I am not powerless. I am empowered.