Tag Archives: addiction

Feeding Demons

Feeding Demons

I like buying vodka tonics for my alcoholic friend.

Before he stopped drinking, it was his favorite cocktail.  Mine too.

For him, the vodka tonics cause cascades of problems in his life, both physical and emotional.  One day, he turned a corner.  He acknowledged that he has a problem with alcohol, and announced that he was going to stop drinking and work on getting healthy.


I am super proud of him.  I cheered him on that first week, then 2, and was ecstatic when he got his 30 day chip from AA.

I took him out for dinner to celebrate, and got him a vodka tonic.  Just one, of course, because I didn’t want him to go overboard.  I just wanted to reward him a little bit.  He *loves* vodka tonics.

Ridiculous, right?  No decent person would sabotage a friend that way.

So why do we do it with food for our friends who are struggling with healthy eating?

Not the friend who’s swearing off dairy for a month because she’s bloated, or the one who wants to be down 5 lbs. for an upcoming social engagement.  No, not the vanity dieters.


The ones who have struggled with food addictions, with weight issues, with emotional dependency on food for years, decades, even an entire lifetime.  The ones whose quality of life, and quite possibly length of life, is being destroyed by food.  The yo-yo dieters, the ones who hate having their pictures taken, the ones who feel so self conscious when they’re out in public they develop anxiety, the ones on multiple prescriptions before they’re 40.


They struggle greatly.  If they’re lucky, something clicks one day, and they commit to making a change.  Just like our friend the alcoholic, they decide to take back their life.  You encourage them.  You cheer them on.

Then you set them up for failure.

You have great excuses:

“It’s a birthday, for heaven’s sake!”

“Christmas only comes once a year!”

“One teeeeeeny tiny slice of cake is not going to kill you!”

“Ohmigosh, it’s not like you can go FOREVER without mashed potatoes!”

“Everything in moderation!  Just don’t overdo it!”


It’s like buying an alcoholic a vodka tonic.  Do you know that research shows sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine?  EIGHT TIMES.Seriously, the research is right here. )

Imagine, you’re addicted to cocaine.  You want to stop, you really do.  It’s ruining your life.  It’s ruining your health.  It’s ruining your self esteem.  Yet, 90% of what you ingest everyday to survive has some cocaine in it.  You find out that all the “healthy” food you’ve been eating has all sorts of cocaine in it!  OMG!  You tiptoe around to find food that won’t trigger your cravings and the inevitable spiral that happens once you give in.  Then your friends keep offering you cocaine!  Just a little, of course.  Can you imagine?


Not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic.  Not everyone who eats a cupcake has a food addiction.  But if your friend has a serious battle with food or weight and is trying to get control of their health and their life, please don’t sabotage them.  Don’t encourage them to “cheat a little”.  Don’t bake them a cake for their birthday, or encourage them to splurge one night at dinner because they “deserve it”.  I know you mean well, but you’re hurting them.  Respect their boundaries.  It may be that they hit a spot where they can have that teeny tiny slice of cake once in awhile, but only they know when they’re ready for that.

Take food out of their celebrations and personal rewards.  Pile up some strawberries, or some other favorite treat that works in their eating plan.  Want to reward a milestone? A gift card for some smaller clothes.  Get a photo frame for a “before and after” reminder of how far they’ve come.  Join them on a walk or bike ride.

Most importantly, love them through the process.  There will be setbacks, there will be failures, but keep pushing and supporting and cheering them on.  Just don’t give them a break with a Kit Kat bar.


The Circle…..or, Why I Want to Slap the Shit Out of Ophelia

The Circle…..or, Why I Want to Slap the Shit Out of Ophelia

I’m not sure that I can write cohesively and coherently while I’m swimming in a cesspool of negative emotions, but I’m going to try.  I think the bright white honesty of this topic might be lost if I wait until I calm down, and raw honesty is probably more important than the flow.  Or not.  We shall see.

I’m not going to identify the persons in this post, and it should be because I want to respect their privacy.  In truth, privacy is the last thing in the world I care about right now, but there’s some red flashing light in the back of my head spelling out “DISCRETION“, and I’ve learned to trust the red flashing light in the back of my head.

There is a woman near and dear to me whom I shall call Ophelia, because it means “helper” in Greek.  Ophelia has established a permanent sidekick whom I shall call Chaos.  Over the years, Chaos has actually taken on the form of various people and situations.  As one version of Chaos leaves  just long enough for me to think that maybe Ophelia is ready to move on without some sort of Chaos, *poof*, Chaos returns!  I hate that bastard.

For the last few years, there has been one consistent person filling the Chaos role in Ophelia’s life.  He is an abusive, addicted, dishonest, criminal, low class, bad person.  This is not my opinion, this is fact.  Even Ophelia acknowledges all of these attributes as valid.  I don’t know anyone who would disagree with this assessment of Chaos.  I hate this particular Chaos most of all.  Yeah, yeah, I’m not supposed to “hate”.  So sue me.

I didn’t get crazy the first time Ophelia tried to intervene and help Chaos change things around, find a new direction, make some better choices.  Chaos was her friend, and she wanted to help.  She’s a big helper (codependent) by nature, probably because she was raised by a codependent parent.  Anyway, the “help” didn’t quite take, but somehow Chaos became the romantic interest anyway.  That’s when I got confused.  Chaos brought nothing to the table except, well, chaos.  He’s not funny, handsome, smart, hardworking, rich, popular, or kind.  Seriously.  On a scale of 1 to 10, he’s a 2.  Ophelia is way out of his league.  Like, light years.


Just Stop

I should mention that Ophelia has another concern:  Theo.  Theo means “watcher” in Greek.  Theo and Ophelia are a team, and Theo watches all.  Sees all.  Theo is near and dear to my heart, too.

I could recount example after example, scenario after scenario, of the destructiveness of this relationship with Chaos, until your coffee was cold and my fingers were bleeding, .  I won’t, because the flashing red “DISCRETION” is still invading the back of my head.  Instead, I’ll give you The Cycle.

1.  Enter Chaos.  2.  Commence Crisis (property destruction, physical violence, vile verbal confrontations, theft, infidelity, threats, etc.)  3.  Theo watches.  4. Chaos departs, at least from public view.  5.  Ophelia’s circle surrounds her, and starts picking up pieces (both figuratively and literally).  6.  Ophelia begins hinting at how Chaos needs her help.


That is Ophelia’s cycle.  My reactive cycle to Ophelia’s goes like this:

1.  Bite my tongue until it bleeds.  2.  Anger and fear overwhelm me.  Communication during the Crisis is typically fragmented and hysterical.  3.  Shield Theo as quickly and thoroughly as possible.  Sometimes it’s not possible.  4.  Relief and gratitude, with anger and fear still lingering in the background.  5.  Whatever it takes.  Talks, encouragement, friendship, advice.  6.  A quick spiral into a pathetically pointless conversation.

Ophelia loves Chaos.  I get that.  You love whom you love.  What I don’t get is letting love dictate poor decisions.  Chaos needs to be in rehab or jail, period.  Ophelia has the ability to put Chaos in jail, but won’t.  Rehab is a decision that Chaos has to make, but right now it’s just a word that Chaos throws around to manipulate Ophelia and give her delusions of a Happily Ever After something to cling to.

And Theo watches.  Theo hates Chaos when Ophelia does, and welcomes Chaos when Ophelia does.  Theo has already learned to display the opinions and feelings that will cause the least resistance:  one version to Ophelia and Chaos, another set to others.  I don’t know what Theo’s true feelings are, and I don’t think Theo knows either.  The knot in my stomach is indescribable when my brain thinks too much and I envision Theo repeating this cycle.

So here I am, in the middle of a storm, choosing to get soaked rather than open the umbrella known as Codependency.  I’ve been in this storm with Ophelia more times than I want to admit to.  Over the years, Ophelia’s choices with Chaos (and please note that I’ve progressed to putting the responsibility on Ophelia for her choices, rather than on Chaos for just being Chaos) have resulted in Ophelia and I not speaking for months on end; hours and hours of ugly, skin blotching, snot running hysterical crying; and sad endings to (or cancellations of) celebrations that happened to intersect with points 1., 2., or 6. in Ophelia’s cycle.  The thing about making memories is that sometimes you wish you hadn’t.


Ophelia refuses to give up on Chaos.  I refuse to give up on Ophelia.  Every time the Crisis arrives, she thinks, “Chaos has really learned his lesson this time.” and I think, “Ophelia has finally hit the end of her rope this time.  Chaos will be gone for good this time.”    I find myself on the phone with her, totally exasperated, saying “Why do you do this to yourself?  You KNOW how it’s going to end up!”  Then someone points out that *I* am doing the same thing:  getting worked up over the situation when I know how it’s going to end up.  Oh, the irony.

So today I sit here crying, realizing that there are no magic words I can speak to change Ophelia’s mindset.  My heart is breaking, again, knowing that it’s not over.  I try to talk myself into acceptance.  I pray.  It’s probably not good that I get all attitude-y with God when I talk to Him about this, reminding Him that I don’t ask for much, and never for myself, so it would be really appreciated if He would just HANDLE this somehow, and exactly as I would like it handled, thankYouverymuch.

I suspect that Ophelia’s somewhere crying as well, realizing that there are no magic words she can speak to change Chaos’ behavior.

What I really want to do is cut Ophelia’s head open, and somehow insert the thoughts that I want her to have.  “I don’t wish Chaos anything but the best, but I need to remove him from my life.”  “I’m worth so much more than this.”  “I need to show Theo that mistreatment is never OK.”

We can build rockets that travel to outer space and regrow human organs from a pig’s ear, but no one has invented a vaccination or a pill or maybe some electroshock therapy that will make Ophelia do what I want her to do.  Dammit.

And that is why I want to slap the shit out of Ophelia.