I didn’t eat a single piece of candy this Halloween, despite my yearly tradition of glorious overindulgence. It’s not that I didn’t want to, or even that I made a conscious decision to stay on track diet-wise. The real reason is that I knew how it would go: I’d eat one piece of chocolate, then another, then I’d decide all bets were off for the evening and I’d devour candy until I was barely visible behind the towering pile of wrappers. I’d be ecstatic at first, then out of control, then steeped with regret. I’d wake up in the morning feeling guilty and short-tempered, sorely tempted to start the day off with a Kit Kat just to give myself a much-needed boost.

In other words, it’s not at all unlike drinking, complete with the dopamine rush and subsequent withdrawal. The bleak spiral I’ve found myself in on the few occasions I’ve binged on junk food lately is totally disproportionate to the act itself, thanks to the associations I’ve made between sugar-guilt and booze-guilt. It’s triggery, if you’ll forgive my use of that annoying word, although not in a craving sort of way — more like a familiar shameful soulsickness that makes me feel broken into a thousand pieces.

It’s something I need to work on, obviously, because come on. It’s candy, not a three-quarters of a bottle of Skyy vodka. And the whole eat-one-”bad”-thing-eat-ALL-the-things behavior is pathological and makes me feel like Barney Gumble.

Barney

If I have one recovery goal (besides the obvious) it’s to find a sense of balance in the way I’ve been treating my body. In some ways I went one extreme to another, and I’d like to find a non-obsessive middle ground where I break the bad, not allowed, will ruin life connections between alcohol and certain foods so I can have some damn chocolate sometimes and missing a workout doesn’t bring on a panic attack that all my discipline is gone forever because daily burpees are the only magical fucking wizard-spell keeping me from backsliding into entropy.

Anyway.

Do you know that Liz Phair song, “Johnny Feelgood”? It’s the perfect description of all sorts of addictions, I think.

Moderation is a memory
Dive right in and let him send me
I could take this in doses large enough to kill

And I’ve never met a man I was so crazy about
It kinda has become an obsession to me
I hate him all the time
But I still get up
When he knocks me down
And he orders me around
‘Cause it loosens me up
And I can’t get enough
And I’d pay to spend the night with him some more …

Comments

26 Responses to “Johnny Feelgood”

  1. Sandy on November 2nd, 2013 10:33 am

    Balance is a nice concept. As an all or nothing personality I am still on the journey to try to find this in many areas of my life. However certain things(drinking, junk food) need to be kept in the nothing zone. It’s just easier that way.

  2. Stacy on November 2nd, 2013 12:06 pm

    Your post is exactly what I needed today. Thank you!

  3. Heather on November 2nd, 2013 12:52 pm

    Wow. You completely verbalized what I’ve been feeling lately. Working on the balance as well and it’s tough stuff.

  4. meeshie on November 2nd, 2013 1:45 pm

    Balance can be really hard. My husband… is obsessive. It was alcohol. It’s currently video games. Someday, I’m sure, it’ll be something else. He still can’t find the balance of ‘I can enjoy a bit of this and then walk away.’

    Addictive personalities are just.. that. It’s hard. Good luck.

  5. Emily on November 2nd, 2013 2:17 pm

    Just remember not to be too hard on yourself. Self-imposed guilt is just as bad for you as anything else – actually worse, because it’s sooo easy to justify. (Like, SO easy. And so toxic.) As a constant balance-seeker myself, I believe in you. Don’t forget to give yourself a big ol’ Fuck Yeah for kicking so much ass thus far.

  6. Mary on November 2nd, 2013 5:49 pm

    All of this. Yes. Balance is something great to strive for. I am not sure what it would look like though.

  7. Victoria on November 2nd, 2013 10:09 pm

    My first Halloween without candy too. Totally addicted.

  8. KeraLinnea on November 2nd, 2013 10:11 pm

    Add my voice to the rest of the choir–this is what I needed today. I’ve been on this binge, feel high, crash, feel guilty roller coaster for a couple of weeks now, and I am so tired of it. I want so much to find the place where it all balances out.
    Thanks for always articulating this stuff so well, and for being willing to put yourself out there the way you do. You rock.

  9. Erin on November 2nd, 2013 10:34 pm
  10. Maria on November 3rd, 2013 6:03 am

    I hope balance comes to you.

    I wish Internet culture hadnt turned triggers into one of those overused bullying/troll/etc words. I don’t know any other way to describe that mechanism of mindfuck.

  11. Jen D. on November 3rd, 2013 6:19 pm

    Everything you describe here is something I have experienced and this whole post speaks to me so much. I hate how the eating shame hits me like the drinking shame and brings on so much self hatred. I hate that I can never stick to the healthy lifestyles I adopt because I take it to the extreme and then feel like the world has ended and “why bother” after one misstep. I hate that with alcohol and food and who knows what else…I can’t seem to stop at one. There really is no point to my comment, I’m sorry. Reading this post was just like reading my own thoughts almost word for word so I felt I had to say something. Maybe just thank you?

  12. Katie on November 4th, 2013 7:18 am

    This is so eerily accurate about what I experience/go through. I didn’t decide to lose a healthy 10 pounds, I dropped 30-plus and weighed 90 pounds. I don’t eat one Reese’s, I eat every Reese’s in the Halloween bucket because OH MY GOD someone else might eat the last few and I’ll never have another ever and these are SO GOOD. I hear you.

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