I’m addicted to many things, including sugar, alcohol, complaining… once I start using them I can’t stop. I don’t plan to go all the way to full on binge. I only want to indulge a little, just enough to catch an emotional and physical buzz and then I want to level off. But that never happens.
It’s like being on a highway. I hop on, planning on driving just a little while and then getting off the first, maybe second exit. But as I drive, I get caught up in the music, the breeze through my hair, the feeling of freedom. I don’t pay any attention to the exit signs – don’t even see them! Instead, I cruise right past the first one for FEELING ALRIGHT, the second for THAT HIT THE SPOT, the third for YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH; even the fourth for LAST EXIT BEFORE OBLIVION.
By the time I look up they are all in the rear view. The sun has set, the air is stale and the road ahead is dark and full of regret. There are no more exits. The only thing in front of me is a banged up yellow sign reading DEAD END and I think, as I hang my head low, I’ve done it again.
My sponsor refers to the sugar highway, the final binge as The Last Supper. I’ve had many a Last Supper, usually on Sunday nights before I dive into another Monday of full of hope, determination and lots of veggies. She describes it like this…You know you only plan on having one bowl of ice cream or cereal or whatever. But before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole darned thing. Then the thought crosses your mind – screw it! I’ve come this far – there’s no turning back now – give me those Oreos. And it’s off to the races.
I busted out laughing as she described The Last Supper to me. Not just because it was a very funny analogy. But darned, it was spot on. And the crash, the fall from grace that inevitably occurs a week, ten days or one good cheat day into my resolve is so painful, so shameful, so dis-graceful. There’s got to be a better way, right? There’s just got to be.
I had this awareness about the highway today. I’d already realized I was addicted to many things. But something clicked inside my head when a friend of mine was talking with me this morning. I know that it is the first drink, drug, sarcastic comment, sugary treat, that places me on that highway. I know I can’t have just one. I know that if I do I will end up at the yellow sign.
But what clicked this morning is that I can’t get on the highway at all! I have to take an alternate route. What a revelation!
I’ve found alternate routes for many other addictions – but sugar – holy cow! It’s like my car is permanently stuck to the sticky sugar highway. But this morning I realized that I’ve got to find a healthy alternative route that takes me along country roads lined with fragrant fruits and vegetables and fields of grazing protein. Even though the highway is a shorter route and the higher speed is sometimes exhilarating, I have to resist the temptation to hop on even for one exit.
Because for me, there is no such thing as just one!
I have to look instead at other options, like seeking out directions for new routes and asking people who have already traveled the roads to lead me until I know where I’m going. I have to stay away from the inviting Highway and Turnpike signs because even the free roads are toll roads. And I’ve paid that price for too long.
I know to succeed, to reach my destination of health and happiness with my own body that I can’t get on the highway at all. That sucks. That’s really hard. That’s kind of overwhelming and scary. But I know that even though the back roads might take longer and might be confusing and scary, they are so worth it. I know because I’ve traveled them in other areas of my life. So this time I just have to remind myself of what a beautiful trip this will be as I reach for the arugula instead of the Reese’s.