A while back I wrote about my brother's drug addiction click here. Several people contacted me privately and commented on how they had never thought of the spiritual dimension of addiction that I proposed in the post. Well, I have a confession to make. The reason I "get" the ins and outs of his addiction is that I struggle with my own addictions. My whole analogy of the game the addict and the devil play, came not from me trying to figure out his problems, but first from looking at my own sins and trying to wrap my mind around what I continually keep allowing myself to go through.
Hello, my name is Little Catholic Mama, and I am addicted to eating too much (junk food in particular) and the computer (facebook in particular). The computer addiction is a little easier to deal with than the eating so I am going to focus on the eating in this post. After all, as St. Augustine said, "Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation,” and you HAVE to eat! As for facebook, I have simply deactivated my account!
I have gone up and down the scale with every pregnancy, birth, and in between, for the past 10 years. I realize this does not sound uncommon, and most likely to most people looking at me from the outside my addiction is not really that noticeable. After all, I have had 5 pregnancies in 10 years. Most women's body's DO change a lot during these years. However, anyone who has paid close attention will note that unlike most women, I LOSE the weight very quickly after pregnancy and GAIN the weight back until I get pregnant again. Just the opposite of what happens to a "normal" woman's body. To put things into perspective, 6 months after our second child was born, I was a size 2. By the time I was pregnant with our 3rd child I was a size 12. While my friends are worried about gaining weight WITH a pregnancy, I am worried about how much weight I am going to gain if I never get pregnant again. I know. Pretty messed up. I take care of myself and my babies when I am pregnant, and it all falls apart when it's just me, taking care of me.
So, while my food addiction is perfectly legal, it is ever bit as damaging to my soul, to my body, and to my well-being in general, as my brother's drug addiction. I began our last pregnancy at my highest non-pregnant weight ever. Having gone through a previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes, and knowing that I had put on a lot of weight between pregnancies, I started testing my blood sugar right away. I was in tears and complete misery and remorse because the numbers were so high. I couldn't believe what I had done to myself and possibly to our baby after PROMISING myself that I would eat better after the gestational diabetes. So there's that rock bottom with the pathetic addict begging for help, and I was. I was begging God, "PLEEASE, please, just let this baby be healthy, and I WILL NOT eat the junk anymore." With God's help, I did great with my diet and the pregnancy. I counted every carb and after the 1st trimester my blood glucose numbers were lower and a bit easier to manage. In fact, when the 28 week glucose screening came along, I passed it. Barely, but I passed. I continued to carefully watch everything I ate, our baby was born healthy, and I quickly started dropping the pounds. I also quickly forgot how enslaved I had been to the sugary foods and it wasn't long before I thought I had it licked and every now and then I would allow myself to indulge in an extra piece of cake, or ice cream. Before long, every now and then turned into everyday, and everyday turned into, "I NEED THIS NOW...I DESERVE THIS." My pants and skirts got tighter and once again I pulled out my "big me" clothes, and I was/am now at that point where I was/am in so much bondage to the sin of gluttony that it even becomes difficult to ask God for help. It is difficult because I KNOW He will help and I am so attached to the sin and don't want to let go. (Notice how my conversations became "me" centered. I was no longer asking for God's help, but seeking what would satisfy ME).
This IS the devil's game, and even though I realize this, even though I am hitting back with the Sacrament of Confession, Mass, daily seeking God's help, the understanding of what I am up against, and knowing I can't do this on my own, I am still losing the battle. I have the Sacraments, I have the knowledge that I need to seek God's help, and still I am losing. How much more difficult must it be for my brother, who has none of these things? He does not even know what he is fighting. Both of us are trying to fill some sort of void, and I know the only way either of us will ever overcome our addictions is total surrender of our hearts and souls to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and on top of that, this is a lifelong battle. We must continually remind ourselves of how little, weak, and helpless we are, and learn to fully rely on God's mercy and love to fill all the voids in our souls, and in my case remember that I don't DESERVE anything, or NEED anything other than food to fuel my body.
While my brother spends the next 5 years in prison battling his addiction, I have resolved to spend my time battling my own, and any graces that I receive I am asking Our Lord to shower upon him as well. How can I tell my brother to stop indulging in his addiction, if I cannot stop indulging in my own? How much better of a witness can I give to my brother about God's healing power if I myself allow Him to heal me of my own addictions first, rather than looking to be a great hypocrite? This is a HUGE hold the devil has over me. This is currently his main tactic in moving me to self loathing, and despair. I fall into these dark areas, despite my knowledge that God's mercy is endless and His love greater than any sin. I can only imagine how much darker the darkness is for someone like my brother who has not yet witnessed His great love.
Sharing all of this is a big deal for a couple of reasons. Number one, right now I am doing better. I've been exercising regularly for over a month. This means I am gaining confidence. Unfortunately, this also means it's about time for my head to swell and start thinking I'm doing something grand. Not true. Everyday is a struggle and I need a constant reminder that I am only going to beat this with the help of God and the second I let go of Him, I'm going to fall. Oh, and I will fall. I already have. I need to remember to be thankful for the falls, because they allow me to remember how difficult this journey is, and that really, it's NEVER going to be over. This post is a reminder when I do fall, that it's not that big of a deal and I just need to crawl to Confession, and get back up. Secondly, I need prayers. Prayers for me, prayers for my brother, and prayers for anyone struggling with any sort of addiction.
And a little perspective (and I think motivation) from Matthew West: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8JsRxVczmQ