ADF Hardcore, Day 2: Enumeration

June 22, 2010 at 8:22 am 2 comments

As promised, my enumerated discussion about why I chose to go Hardcore this time. 😉

Okay, so…

First, an update: Andy and I have filed for divorce.  This is obviously not happy news, but as divorces go it’s not as bad as it could be, either.  We are reasonably cordial about it, and not bitter.  There were no long battles over who gets this chair or that dish, not a lot of emotion in general.  I think the only part that has been  really hard is worrying about the kids and how they’re coping with all of the changes, but so far they seem sad about the fact that Daddy lives somewhere else now, but otherwise fairly accepting of the situation.   They do get to see Andy more or less daily still, so it’s not as bad as I guess it could be.

That out of the way, I also have a job now.  I work part-time for a nature center of sorts.  I love my job, and it does keep me busy… which is never a bad thing when one is trying to fast, right?

A few months ago, a friend of mine from high school came back home.  He was battling a number of demons, the most prevalent of which was addiction to alcohol.   He happened to resurface around the time that my marriage was really falling apart, and I was only too happy to serve as his soundingboard and support as a kind of distraction from the drama in my own life.  In some ways it wasn’t the healthiest thing I could do, and I’ve now cut contact with him again because certain behaviors I began to notice out of him — and, to be honest, out of myself too — really worried me.  I understand he’s seeking the help he needs now, and that’s good.

Out of all of that, though, I got a very fast, up-cl0se-and-personal glimpse of what life in a substance abuse situation is like.  I watched my friend go through detox at the hospital, live in a sobriety house, relapse in grand fashion three times, one of which involved a suicide attempt…. or something?  It was pretty upsetting at times, but also very educational.

Perhaps the most educational part of it was attending AA meetings with him occasionally.   Up until all of that happened, I hadn’t given a good deal of thought to what makes a person become an alcoholic, or a drug addict or an addict of any other kind, for that matter.  I had ruminated on it briefly when I first started ADF but at the time I was more focused on symptoms than on causality.  From the SYMPTOMS, I determined that I was not, in fact, a food addict… But the truth is, I now know I am one, as addicted to food as my friend is to alcohol.

Which, of course, strikes immediately as amusing.  Aren’t we ALL food addicts?  No one can live without food, after all.  But no… there is a difference, and I get now that the difference isn’t about symptoms.  It comes down to when and why we eat.  If I ate only at mealtimes and only because I needed to, indulging in sweets or snacks only occasionally, I’d be eating ‘normally’.   But as it is, I don’t do that; I eat whenever I feel like eating, whatever I feel like eating, and usually the decisions that mandate the when and what have nothing to do with nutrition.  They have to do with how I’m feeling at a given time.

Alcohol and drug addiction run much the same way.  They are mood altering substances, pleasure inducers.  Addicts have reached a point where they have trained their brains and bodies to cope with unpleasant emotions by seeking the high provided by the substance, and the habit is so ingrained in them that it’s difficult to break it.  Adjusting one’s mood with an artificial high is satisfying, reliable and relatively quick, so having reached that point presents a serious problem.  Trying to then retrain one’s brain to deal with those emotions without the chemical crutch is really difficult; even if you know it’s better that way, the fact is that you’re still acutely aware that you could do away with these unpleasant feelings much more quickly and easily if you’d just give in to the habit this one more time.  That’s why addicts relapse even when they’re presumably dedicated to quitting.   When the chips get down, the easy fix seems that much more appealing.

And I’ve come to realize that ANY pleasure-providing activity can serve the exact same purpose.  And everyone probably has a coping strategy of some kind; some are just more acceptable than others.  The acceptable ones — like endorphin-producing exercise — are just termed ‘coping strategies’, while the less acceptable ones are called addictions.  Either way, the function is much the same.  I am feeling some unpleasant emotion and am seeking to distract myself from it until it goes away.   In my case, I go to food, which is why I am, in fact, a food addict.

This reality is actually put into sharp focus by a strict ADF diet.   I am 30+ pounds overweight; it’s pretty clear I don’t NEED food to get through a day, no matter what my brain/mouth/stomach might insist.  Even if I AM needing something, odds are what my body needs is more likely to be found in a carrot or a bowl of quinoa than it is to be found in a candy bar or a bag of Billy Goat Company chips… but since I’m going for pleasure, not fuel, I go for the pleasant-tasting, pleasure-inducing foods.   Given that, the ADF fasting days are actually, I think, a good training tool to help someone like me differentiate between Real Hunger and I Need A Fix.  I did find that there was a distinct difference when I started doing this the last time, and I think that fasting for real, even if just for one day, is a good way to address the habit.  Since I can’t eat ANYTHING on those days, I can’t even go to carrots and salad when I’m feeling down or bored or whatever… so I have to figure out something else to do, ideally something more appropriate.

So that’s my logic.  I guess it’s like quitting cold turkey, but only every other day.  😉

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Entry filed under: ADF.

ADF Hardcore, Day 1: By Popular Demand (Ha ha) ADF Hardcore, Day 3: The Second Day Phenomenon

2 Comments

  • 1. Pangie  |  June 22, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Do you still plan to take your vitamins on your down days? Based on what you’ve said on your down days in the past, I think as long as you remember your vitamins, you’ll do OK on your “cold turkey” days. Just don’t eat any cold turkey! 😉

  • 2. midwestchickadee  |  June 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    You wrote:
    “Addicts have reached a point where they have trained their brains and bodies to cope with unpleasant emotions by seeking the high provided by the substance”

    Addicts choose to stay in those bad situations, have that bad line of thought, etc making it easier to stay addicted to the substance of choice, or as a way to justify the addiction.

    Breaking the addiction means that person needs to break those bad habits, get out of the unhealthy situation etc and changing those aspects of their life can be just as difficult as quitting the addiction.

    You’re on the right track girl. You’re doing so much changing and it’s for the better. Remember to be patient with yourself as we all have good days and bad. And little steps are just as important as big steps.

    I’m so proud of you! ❤


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