Every year since 2008, I've made it my mission, once a year, to re-read Drunkard, written by Neil Steinberg.
For those of you who know my story, reading that book was one of my ‘turning point’ moments, because it demolished my concrete wall of denial. It forced me to face the ugliness of food addiction head on . . . smack-in-the-face, kind of head on.
Every time that I've read it something new pops out.
This time, it was Steinberg's description of his moment to unwind after work, at the bar, just before drinking his favorite glass of Jack Daniels. He describes it so eloquently in the following excerpt from page nine:
" . . . .I always pause to gaze for a rapt moment at the filled glass, the ice, the Jack, the square napkin, the dark linoleum bar. The twirling universe stops dead, the Jack its motionless epicenter. I pick up the glass and take a long draw." 1
When the kids were little and I was obese my "Jack Daniels" was the leftovers after the evening meal. I couldn't wait to be alone in the kitchen. All alone. Totally by myself, kind of alone (while the children were wrestling with Dad in another room) . . . to unwind and soothe my frazzled nerves by eating the slightly burnt & greasy roast and potatoes that were stuck to the sides of the crock pot; or to eat the crusty & gooey leftover lasagna sitting in the pan; or the kids' leftover soggy salads that were swimming in ranch dressing and bacon bits; or the leftover dinner rolls that mopped-up the ranch dressing; or the pieces of cake with melted ice-cream cascading down the sides. The twirling universe stopped at those moments for me.
Ahhh . . . . . the epicenter of calm had been visited.
Later in the evening, after baths for the children, brushing their teeth, bedtime stories, and tucking them into bed, I returned once again to the epicenter of calm . . . .the large, ceramic bowl of Frosted Mini Wheat cereal soaked in milk with a couple spoonfuls of crunchy peanut butter on top. Ahhh . . . .
Then I *graduated* to more acceptable ways of escape:
- Alone time with a humongous bowl of mixed greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar, sunflower seeds, sliced strawberries, and chick peas; followed by a plate of California Creamed Kale. I'd eat beyond full, stuffed, and then some, and still lose weight!
- Scraping the remaining sorbet or banana ice-cream from the sides of the Vita Mix canister and eating it. Whether I was hungry or not had absolutely nothing to do with the growing habit.
- Grabbing extra handfuls of walnuts and raisins while working in the kitchen.
If I'm not careful, Jack can still creep into my life ~ ever so slowly now, of course. He's still there if I'm not cautiously aware of his presence.
He's hiding in the dark crevices, but as long as I continue to shine the flashlight on him, and continue to expose him, he can't and won't harm me!
Exposing Jack makes him powerless; he's a coward in the light.
Don't give him the pleasure of lulling you into believing that he will be your calm.
It's a lie.
The images above were taken three years apart. The picture on the left was taken in the summer of 2008 when I was captive to Jack as my epicenter of calm. The picture on the right was taken this past summer after three years of consistent abstinence AND freedom from food addiction's suffocating grip.
So what’s your Jack Daniels?
Are you a food addict? by Dr. Fuhrman
Breaking up is hard to do by Dr. Fuhrman
The powerful freedom of abstinence by Emily Boller
Junk food - just as addictive as smoking? by Dr. Ferreri
1. Steinberg, Neil. Drunkard. New York: Dutton, 2008, p.9
Photography credit: Fake Food by Esther Boller
Painting: Absinthe (1876) by Edgar Degas; Muesee d’Orsay, Paris