Happy “Tranquil” Thursday!
I pray that all are having a wonderfully blessed day and week.
On this day, I am contemplating the role of addiction in our lives. I’ve always said and believed that we are all addicted to something. Oftentimes when we think of addiction, we think of a person that is considered less than worthy due to excessive use of drugs or alcohol. When we think of addiction, our minds shift to the extreme – persons struggling with a debilitating disease that has virtually destroyed their lives.
During my writing time, I often sit outside of a Starbucks that is across the street from an “upscale” liquor store. In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed one woman that comes to the liquor store almost every day. When I see her SUV pull up, my heart sinks. I often say a little prayer under my breath asking God to help her with whatever she is struggling with. Whatever struggles she is having, whatever she is avoiding that causes her to step into the doors of a liquor store most days of the week. I also often contemplate what the employees must think or how they feel. What are they thinking when they come out and help her out of her car as she stumbles into the store. What are they feeling as they walk her out and help her place the alcohol in her car. I thought about it so much so that I almost went over and asked them, but I recognize that was likely a futile effort. The level of addiction she is unfortunately facing is staggering, real and deeply painful. Addiction that I believe only God can heal. So, I continue to pray for her each and every time she enters that parking lot.
And while severe forms of addiction are unfortunate realities, there are perceptively lesser addictions each and every one of us struggle with everyday. Addiction to technology that holds us hostage to our iphone, iPad, smartphone – needing to immediately respond to that next email, text message or Facebook update (all while driving). Beholden to technology that keeps us from having a real conversation and being in relationship with those in our presence without constantly looking down at our phones. Addicted to working ourselves to exhaustion to receive perceived prestige and self worth. Addiction to the approval of others – bolstering our own self esteem based on what others say or think about us. Addiction to constant busyness, things to do lists, constant movement – avoiding that which we really need to face; constant movement that keeps us from receiving the blessed peace of stillness. Addiction to money, shopping and purchasing something new to soothe temporary pain. Addiction to sexual pleasure to release pain from within. And addiction to TV, reality shows, the news to numb out and focus on the lives and difficulties of others – rather than focus on our own lives.
So as I think about these real issues, I also must reflect on my own addictions. I personally have struggled with each and every addiction listed above. It was not until God stepped in and transformed me, transformed my life that I was healed from many of my addictive tendencies. A transformation that forced me to relinquish my dependency on addictive behaviors and vices. It was not until God stepped in and healed me that I released my addictive use of alcohol, sex, money, shopping and TV – all vices to numb deep pain ailing within. While an amazing blessing, there is one addiction that God is still working to heal me from – my addiction to food.
I have struggled with an addiction to food for the majority of my life. A struggle that began when I was a very young girl. At a young age, I learned to use food to cope with pain going on within me and around me. At a young age, I learned to use food when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was confused, when I was angry or when I was bored. At a young age, I developed a coping mechanism and dependency on food to soothe my pain. An addiction that ultimately resulted in my putting more than 240 lbs on my small frame. A struggle that ultimately became detrimental to my overall health and uprooted multiple forms of disease in my body. Illness and disease that had God not stepped in could have potentially taken my life.
Food is an addiction that I see so many of us struggle with, especially in this country. The interesting thing about a food addiction is that unlike other vices, you can’t just go “cold turkey”. As an example, once my body began to reject alcohol such that I became horribly ill, I had no problem letting go of my nightly red wine. However, food is different. You have to eat each and every day – it’s not an option. However, what we eat and how we eat it is an option. That is what I now know and deeply understand. I also now know how important it is to practice conscious and slow eating.
In reflection, I am truly grateful with how far I have come in overcoming my dependency on food. To see and celebrate my own progress, I had to look at some pictures of my old self just three years ago. To be honest, I barely recognized myself. And while the physical transformation is an amazing blessing, I still remain in a place of contemplation as I continue to struggle with the remnants of food addiction. I continue to work to understand the root cause of my need to still use food as a coping mechanism. I continue to be committed towards my own recovery and ultimately moving towards using food as healthy, life sustaining nourishment each and every day.
So, as I reflect I know that I have made astounding progress (and have the pictures to prove it :). However, remnants of dependency still remain. During my time of devotion, I questioned why this was the case. But, if I’m honest with myself I know the answer to that question. I have yet to fully embrace my authentic self and let go of that which no longer serves any purpose in my life. There is hesitancy on my part, there is fear within, of coming forth fully as my authentic self – as the original creation God made me to be. Because, once I finally and fully release my dependence on food, I have to move out of state of victimization. Once I stop using food as an excuse, I have to step forth into who I was always meant to be.
I realize that my former issues with food and weight were nothing but barriers of protection. Barriers to keep others out and keep myself within. Once I take food and weight issues out of the picture and the story I’ve been telling myself since I was a young girl – I lose my former identity. I am no longer the overweight girl/women struggling with health issues. That girl, that woman no longer exists. Once I let go of my addiction and dependence on food, I have to fully trust in God and allow the pained little girl from within to be fully healed. I have to let go of the excuses I continue to tell myself as to why I can’t move forward in my life.
Understanding the root cause of our addiction is truly a profound revelation. The reality is addiction is about avoidance. Avoidance of memories, feelings, pain, discomfort, current reality and most importantly avoidance of our true selves. I now deeply understand that that which we avoid will remain a constant presence in our lives, until we have the courage to step forth and face it. We cannot fix, what we do not face.
My prayer today is that I can once and for all face the remnants of my own addictions and put this unhealthy dependency to rest. I pray the same for each and every one of us. Praying that when we release our addictive tendencies and behaviors – we can open up our lives in a way that we might have never imagined. I also step forth knowing deep in my soul that God does not expect us to do this alone. He will give us the strength and courage to do so and is with us every step of the way. Once we make the choice and commitment to let go of our addictive tendencies, He will lovingly and gently guide our process towards healing.