Several years ago, I dated a very nice guy over the summer. He was a friend of a friend and only one of two people I’ve met organically in quite some time. What was unique about this relationship was that he and our mutual friend met through AA. Yes, he was a recovering alcoholic and had been sober over 18 months when we met. He was very open to talking about it, and I appreciated it. Fortunately for him, I am not really a drinker. In fact, if someone said that they’d give me a million dollars if I never drank alcohol again, I’d be a millionaire. I wouldn’t even bat an eye. Alcohol is just not something I have any issues with and have no problem leaving it behind.
Occasionally we’d go out to eat, and he’d ask me if I wanted to order a drink. Without really thinking about it, I’d say, “Nah.” This blew his mind. After all, to him, he wondered why I wouldn’t want a drink given I could have one. It just doesn’t occur to me that having an alcoholic beverage with a meal is necessary. For me…well…I’d rather eat my calories.
He and I were in the middle of a conversation one day about how he feels about alcohol. Part of the way into this conversation, I stopped him because I’d realized something pretty profound. If he were to take the word “alcohol” and replace it with the word “food,” it would perfectly describe me. Just as he would ask me when going out to eat if I wanted an alcoholic beverage, I’d ask him, after he’d order a salad, if he wanted a burger or something a little more “naughty” instead. After all, he could have it! His response to this was paralleled with my response to his drink question.
So now, several years later, and several pounds gained and lost, I’m still in a struggle with food. When I thought back to my conversations years ago, it made me wonder something. Why is it that if I have an addictive personality (food, in my case), it doesn’t translate to alcohol, drugs, smoking, or even gambling? Why does my brain restrict the addictive tendencies to only food?
I remember yet another conversation with this man that had me choosing my words carefully. I told him, “Ummm…I really hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, but…you’re lucky in the sense that your addiction is alcohol because the way to control it is to just not consume it.” Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying, by any means that he is lucky to be an alcoholic. My point was this – you do not need alcohol to stay alive. You do, however, need food. That was my issue.
I explained it to him how I’d read it described several years before. Imagine your addiction is drugs, alcohol, etc. This would be like you going to the zoo every day to see the lion and then going home. The difference is for a food addict, it’s better described like this: go to the zoo every day, three times a day. Take the lion for a walk and then go home.
I wish there was some way to make my brain recognize food in the same way it recognizes the other addictions that I don’t battle. I’m not saying I’m gonna take up smoking to replace it. BLEH!!! Can’t stand the stuff! I just wish I could have it be a non-issue for me so I can stop focusing on it so much. I guess it’s time to do some research. The brain sure is weird!