Friday, May 14, 2010

Progress Report #4 and Chocolate

Quick progress report and then we'll talk about the dreaded C word...

So I did great on all three of my goals today... An hour + of art and silence and about an hour to clean up a long-time-bug-me mess in the kitchen... the tray where we stash all the odds and ends. It's no longer overflowing and gritty on the bottom... ready now to begin that cycle again!

These three CAN do goals really worked well for me this week. They got me off the pity pot, out of the obsessive-about-sugar mode and into a period of feeling good about myself and life in general. I only committed to 5 days of it... I'm thinking about extending. Maybe I'll take a couple of days off and then try for another 5. (Lord knows there's still plenty of irritating stacks and drawers and closets I could tackle and doing art always gives me peace, quiet and satisfaction.)

Moving on... Chocolate.

I am a chocolate addict. Many people laugh when I say that. "Ha-ha," they say, "I know what you mean... me too."

Yeah, but do you need a fix two to four times EVERY day? Do you hide it? Do you scarf it down in your car? Do you lie about it? Do you get crabby, angry and irrational when someone/something gets in the way of your fix? Do you stuff it in, failing to notice the taste after the first bite or two? Do you eat a whole box/bag of it at one time? Do you get one fix in one place and then drive to another place for a second fix? Are you unable to have it anywhere near you without eating it instantly... all of it? Do you get it in your mind and then drop everything else to obtain it?

If so, then yes, you do know what I mean.

The first time I remember applying the word "addict" to my chocolate habit in a serious way was about 25 years ago. I had been visiting a friend who was having boy friend problems. I listened to her all evening, but didn't tell her how lonely I was and how long it had been since I had a boy friend. When I left her home, I drove straight to a Baskin 'n' Robbins for a triple scoop chocolate-chocolate mousse ice cream cone. While eating it in my car, I drove from there across town to my own neighborhood. Finishing my cone at about the right time, I arrived at a second B 'n' R, where I bought and ate a two-scoop cone of the same flavour. On the way home, I thought, "Geeezst, I'm a chocolate addict."

By the next morning, I was laughing at myself for using the term "addict"... I told myself, that only druggies, alcoholics and obsessive gamblers are "addicts"... not to worry!

Ha! Shortly after that, one of my all-time-highs on the scale, I joined Weight Watchers for the first time. It was "successful" for me. I lost 85 pounds to reach goal weight! And every day, every single day, I ate two double packages of Weight Watchers chocolate mousse or chocolate brownies. Gave up other goodies and counted the points. But the chocolate stayed with me.

On the other side of goal weight, I replaced the WW products with richer, tastier chocolate... and more of it. Of course the weight came back!

Then 15 years ago, I was self employed. I had two clients scheduled... one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I planned to drive somewhere to get a chocolate fix in between the two. Morning client came and stayed late; afternoon client came early. Yup, they overlapped and Ms. Chocoholic didn't get any time for a fix. Ooooh, I got so crabby and rude to my poor afternoon client... I wanted her to get OUT!

The very second she departed, I rushed out, got in my car and was driving away before she got to her car. Seriously, I did! I decided on the way to the supermarket that I'd check the deli for their double chocolate cake. Voila! I told the clerk I needed a big piece because three of us were going to split one piece. When she wasn't looking, I grabbed a plastic fork, then paid for the cake right there and headed to my favorite eating place... my car. Bending down, hoping other shoppers wouldn't notice me, I quickly gobbled down the cake.

When finally I surfaced for air, a terrible sense of guilt began to overwhelm me. I had been rude to my client, lied to the clerk and devoured a huge piece of cake without even tasting it. AND, I wanted to drive to a different store to get something else. Once again, out of desperation and shame, the word "addict" popped into my mind.

The next day I talked with a friend who is an AA member, describing my actions and thoughts of the previous day. "You are an addict, no question about it," she said. It began to dawn on me that the only solution, the only way to find some sanity around chocolate, was to abstain completely. So about a week later I began my first period of abstinence.

Three time since then, I have fallen off my vow of abstinence and quickly returned to my previous behaviours. The first of those times, I told myself, "Oh I can have chocolate only on my birthday each year." Yeah, right. Birthday, and the day after, the day after that, and quickly back to bingeing. The second time, it was, "Oh, I'll just eat chocolate this one time while we are on vacation." Same disastrous results. The third time, I was depressed and simply didn't care what happened. Each of these "once only" chocolate treats lead to a period of several months where I ate huge amounts of chocolate on a daily basis, lied about it, hid my behaviour and lost my feelings of self-respect.

So now I'm abstinent and fully aware that chocolate has power over me that's stronger than my will power. What about other sweets... cakes, cookies, cheese cake... as long as they're not chocolate? Well, perhaps some day I can eat them again. I don't know. I think they lead me down the slippery road to bingeing, not as bad as chocolate, but bad enough to be VERY wary and abstinent for a long time.... one day at a time.


  1. How honest! This makes me realize that many of us are very casual in our use of "addiction" or other terms when we talk about our issues. I applaud you for recognizing and taking the steps you need to control this. Lots of people out there preach moderation and poo poo the notion of abstaining or avoiding certain foods. Not me. And I know that I am happier when I avoid certain things, much as I really, really want to eat them. Great job!

  2. Wow, I would say you are definitely a chocolate addict. I do adore chocolate, but I don't feel that I must have it on the same scale as you do.

    I have some ugly stories of my own about eating in the car and hiding food. These are not activities that make one feel good about oneself....

    OK, now that you've revealed the intensity of your craving for chocolate, all the more to admire about your abstinence!

    You are strong Peaceful Bird, and you can continue to triumph over this food.

  3. I've been reflecting and identifying my abstinence. I used to not like structure.. Scratch that. The Food addict in me doesn't like structure because she's rebelling at the OCD / absent but present mother. But I'm learning that structure as well as flexibiity is what makes a healthier, fuller life for me. I've gone the no sugar, no flour, no artificial sweetner, no caffeine abstinence for over a year. Then when things got to be great and I thought I was doing great and let it slip back in , I lost control. I've gone the 'avoid all trigger foods' route and that worked for a while. But I also obsessed and obsessed and obsessed, and then learned I had to give in to stop the obsessing. It's a see saw. I need balance. I'm learning that balance..Figuring out how to balance it all out is what I'm looking for. My abstinence includes the ability to have trigger foods or chocolate because then I don't obsess , I don't binge. It's what works for me at this stage in my life. It's a different abstinence than I had 10 years ago, 2 years ago, 2 months ago.

    I totally get your chocolate thing. total avoidance for now seems to be the right move.

  4. Robin you are working a first step really well. Remebering our behavors and being accountable to them is a strong step to sobriety/abstainance. I am working a 4th step right which is painful, but necessary to get to peaceful sobriety. Julie C


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