White Knuckling Isn’t Working
This was a journal entry that my wife Maggie suggested I share… I do what she says 😉
DAY 43 (408)
Who am I kidding? This is not Day 43. I am not even coming close to changing my eating habits in any sustainable way. It’s Day 408. I haven’t had a drink in 408 days, and I very likely won’t have one tonight or tomorrow. But pizza? Sugar? Ice cream? Total crapshoot. So yes, Day 43 for food is BS.
Tonight at one point I had three pieces of pizza down the hatch. That’s a win. And without thinking about it, but having thought about it throughout the Friday night AA meeting as it relates to uncontrollable behavior, I convinced Izzy to order another small pizza of which she ate one piece and the rest were downed by me in a matter of 90 seconds. Earlier, while picking Izzy up from an extended outdoors walk with a friend, I asked “should we stop here at the Co-op and get Graeters Ice Cream?” Raspberry Chip was on my mind, as it is on many occasions each day. And of course, she said yes because it’s her second to last night before going back to school. Not more than two hours later, both of those pints of Graeter’s ice cream are right now gone. I dug in to each pint knowing this would be the case. The same fucked up shit as usual… go a few bites, put it away. Put the spoon in the sink, rinsing it a bit before setting it down. Walking away a few feet, coming right back, rinsing the spoon as though it matters, or worse getting a new spoon, digging back into the freezer and grabbing a few more spoonfuls before repeating the cycle over and over again until the pint is all gone. At first, I actually took time to get a small bowl (not a large one) and transfer the ice cream rationally into the bowl. Like a normal person. I finish that first bowl. Refill the bowl. All very civilized… but the way it ends is like a drunk sifting through trash cans for remnants of nearly but not completely empty bottles of whiskey. No bowl, no pretending, just full-blown cravings winning out. And my brain just following along accepting my defeat.
At AA tonight I heard a few people talk about being unable to put the bottle down. Unable to push off the cravings. As I have said and will continue to say, I finally get it… only because of what happens to me with certain foods (pizza and ice cream being the deadliest dynamic duo) and not long ago with beer and alcohol but only after my 4th, 5th, or 8th drink as opposed to my first. I feel confident I could happily drink a single beer or glass of wine… but the possibility of getting to that #4 and leaning into the perilous blackout mode is not an option ever again. At least not for today and tomorrow.
How can I look at pizza and ice cream as I do liquor or beer? But were they ever the same kind of addiction in the first place? If Graeters Ice Cream or C&As Pizza were beer and I was J or K, tonight would have been an epic relapse. Over the top. Masterful. And I would also likely have been dead many years ago.
“But its food”, people say, even today. “You have to eat”. Yes… I have to eat, as I have to drink. But I can’t drink alcohol, and therefore I can’t eat pizza or ice cream. Or… the list is long friends. Very long.
When will my bottom come? When will the mind tricks stop? The fear? The knowing that every day I will white knuckle it until I finally crash and crash hard. No pizza (ugh, that sounds impossible even to write… “just one piece!!” I hear myself saying. No ice cream…”but the big chocolate chunks are back!” I hear myself saying. Just one quart. Every so often. Right?)
I feel for people dealing with this craving for alcohol, drugs, anything really. I get it with trading too, somewhat… I get mesmerized by the numbers, the thrill of the risk, of the numbers rising, of the doubling down into insanity when the numbers dip. The sorrow of the heavy loss, the thrill of the gains. The knowledge that I can uniquely see patterns in the trends which mostly just makes me dangerous… but does it? What if I keep going? Hedging to an increasingly perfect set of positions that my informed gut just knows is an improvement over the last set of positions? Isn’t that joy, in a way? For today it works. For tomorrow, it might, or it might not. It could just be more mind tricks.
John. I’ve spent the last two days thinking very seriously about getting sober. Your bravery about this is one of the main reasons. I have a friend I reached out to yesterday who has been sober for 6 years. He gave me a lot of resources, but I have also been thinking about you a lot. THANK YOU for sharing all of this. It means a lot.
Hi John, I read this post after Maggie referenced it on FB a while back and I keep thinking about reaching out, so… There are many of us out there whose paths do not appear to cross as often as they do. I read Laura McKowan’s book “We Are The Luckiest” last year. It is one of many very brave books out there about recovery. It was interesting to read someone’s personal perspective on sobriety but there was something much deeper she was able to communicate. Laura is changing the conversation about alcohol and recovery. She is also funny, down to earth and living in Marblehead, which is dear to my heart.
If you are interested, check out her TLC meetings…Hello to your lovely wife…. Carrie S.