Tuesday, September 7, 2010


This is a blog about food addiction. But it's specifically a blog about my food addiction. So tonight, I want to talk about the intersection of my addiction and another part of my life: relationships.

One of the twelve steps - forgive me, I'm too new to remember which one or exactly how it's worded - talks about making amends to those you've harmed while active in your disease. Call me naive, but at first, I thought to myself, "It's not like I'm an alcoholic or a drug addict - I haven't harmed anyone with my food addiction." But I'm slowly beginning to realize that's not true. I have harmed many people in many different ways.

I'm not trying to say that I've pummeled my partners with the snack cakes I was about to binge on or anything like that. But I have expected things from my lovers that no one should expect from someone else. My disease developed as a combination of many factors, several of which I probably haven't even discovered yet. But one of them - a big one - was my need to fill the void left by my absent, alcoholic father and the fallout from my parents' terrible, tense relationship. I have, without ever realizing it until after the fact, expected every one of my partners to love me enough to validate me, which is one thing my father never did. Every child needs validation, love, and support, and without it, I've grown up with a sort of metaphorical hole in my heart. I eat to plug the hole up, and when that doesn't work, I look to other external things. I've been asking a whole lot of my past partners.

High expectations don't even begin to explain what I have for the intimate relationships into which I enter. I ask for simple, straightforward things like communication, honesty, and fidelity. I ask for those things outright, or in the form of some "contract" - making it official, for example. But there are things I don't say out loud that I am constantly asking my partners to do. If they don't show enough affection, I get pouty. If they don't say "I love you" back, I panic. If they leave me, I feel worthless. If they start dating someone new shortly after we've parted ways, I become enraged (I recently found out that my newly-minted ex - two months since we broke up - has been dating someone new for a few weeks, so this really hits home).

Why all the drama from my end? Great question. I'm not trying to justify it, but it comes from this deep, wounded place in me that I haven't figured out how to effectively soothe with anything, food included. But I try food almost every time, because it has this numbing effect. Plus it tastes good, and it stimulates the pleasure center in my brain. It's legal, often cheap, and easy to get. No one suspects me of foul play when I'm eating a sandwich or an ice cream cone. But the ways I act out with food are emotionally and physically criminal, and I'm the one who suffers most.

Coming full circle, this brings me to more thoughts of amends. If I harm myself most in the process of overeating compulsively, should I make amends to myself? Where would a process like that even begin? "I'm sorry for causing you untold amounts of self-hatred and despair"? Is that what self-amends look like?

Questions like these tell me I need a sponsor, and fast. I'm considering a bold move at the next Monday night meeting: raising my hand during the announcement portion of the evening and telling all 30+ people - most/all of them strangers - that I'm new and I need a temporary sponsor. That is not the sort of thing that would normally daunt me at all, but this is new territory. It's a whole new me, in fact.

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