.Why Can't I stop.
It all feels well and good in the beginning. You perform tasks methodically, expertly. Each step is planned and executed to give yourself exactly what you want. They say you are so dedicated, 'you have so much will power'! I heard this a lot when I began waking up at 5am to go to bootcamp, and again when I'd turn down the dessert tray for a glass of mineral water. I agreed with them! I felt like I had things all figured out. I didn't realize my efforts were misplaced and that I was playing out 'diseased' behaviour.
You think you are in total control; until you wake up and realize you want out. You try to stop. All that energy you built up moving in the direction of pleasure, in running from your pain, is now at your back, propelling you forward - the law of inertia, you know? Controlling your way out, like you did your way in, doesn't work we find out. The more you attempt to put on the breaks, the more resistance you feel. The obsession overwhelms, and takes precedent over all aspects of your life. Mine was a combination of food and exercise addiction. Addictions all have similar roots. The substance changes but the process is the same; identifying with something - alcohol, drugs, Netflix, food, exercise, work, sex, shopping, gambling - and using it to make yourself feel something pleasurable.
For so long I had practiced using these things as a means to control my state of mind. I woke up one day having wasted away to an 80lb frame in this 5'8" body and I ached with hunger. I was eighteen, and very afraid. I was embarrassed that I'd done this to myself and that stopping now seemed impossible. The next 7 years were spent yo-yoing between cycles of severe food restriction and excessive exercise patterns, to full-out week long binges, then purging to compensate. The depth of my embarrassment deepened and the guilt, shame, and suffering multiplied exponentially.
I wouldn't stop, and I didn't understand why. I tried to belittle myself, guilt trip myself, I name called, threatened, and abused myself in any way I could think of, hoping it would be enough to motivate me to stop. I valued my appearance, yet my hair fell out due to malnutrition, my heart was too weak to go to the gym and train myself physically, and my skin began aging noticeably as a result of the stress, the lack of essential nutrients, and devastating dehydration to name a few. I still didn't stop. Doctors had less than positive prognosis' for my heart and bones which were deteriorating; my life was on the line. I wanted to live, but I didn't stop.
Addiction recovery is not a matter of desire. It's not about motivation, will-power, or discipline. If you resist these ideas, that's okay. I'm not here to convince you or judge you for your opinions. I am here to speak to those who are in the depths of the struggle now and don't understand how to find their way out if they want to - there is a way.
The deeply devastating disempowered position I put myself in was a harsh lesson, one I needed. I've grown up with the intellectual idea that we choose our own experiences, no matter what. We are responsible for ourselves, no matter what. So when my health was in a state of total deterioration, I knew I was responsible. Yet, intellectual knowing, does not mean true understanding. Matter of choice is always a controversial topic, especially regarding addiction and health! Choice requires taking responsibility, meaning, you are response-able. The brain doesn't work by directly answering demands; choice is a skill we need to cultivate if we desire using it. In any addict, in any human (!) yes, the key to freedom is in one's own hand, but holding the key does not mean you understand how to use it. Having the seeds in your pocket, doesn't mean you know how to grow the crop. Learning how to use your mind, to be independent and have true choice over your actions, is a process.
There are people who won't understand, but have compassion for their ignorance and surround yourself with people who do. Be gentle with yourself. Recognize the reality - you are not addicted to a substance, you are addicted to an experience, and experience is something you can learn to create from within.
Addictions are about fulfilling a need, understand what it is you're after; what is it you believe the addiction is giving you? Face your pain, befriend it.
My teacher once told me, you may find it helpful to let go of your focus on 'who to BE', and instead focus on how to 'BEHAVE'. Essentially he was saying focus more on the process and less on the results. I say, fall in love with the game, not the goals. But this requires giving up the picture in your head of who you think you need to be, who you think they think you should be, or what you think you need to have, in order to feel well. Those are stories you've made up in your mind and they are nowhere near the Truth.
If you are struggling, cultivate patience with yourself. This is a much larger post now than I'd intended (!!) and I feel like I've barely begun on this subject! To those of you who are suffering, who think it's your willpower that's the issue, that you must not be strong enough or want it badly enough, it's not true. Investigate. Be fearless.
I'm sure I'll post more on this subject and what I've learned working so closely with my own addicted mind. I'd love to hear from you. If you have questions - write me, leave a comment - I'll get back to you.
There is nothing you need. Everything you're trying to get from life, already exists in you. Breathe.