Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why do we do it?

This is a profile at Obesity Help I have continued to return to over the years. Jade's story is one I find especially poignant given her age and the fact of her morbid obesity. Jade died shortly after the weight loss surgery she hoped would give her a new life. She weighed over 400 pounds and had struggled her entire life to control her weight.

I read a comment on another post here recently in which the writer was wondering why anyone would return to such a massive state of obesity if the weight was once lost. Am I alone in thinking there is no real good answer to this? I am reminded of the portion of the AA Big Book which says "in their hearts, they really do not know why they do it." It was written in reference to alcoholism, but I don't see this affliction as being far different from that one.

Even understanding alcoholism as well as I do from my education, my training, and having lived in sobriety for almost 24 years, I have still found myself frustrated at times with the retreads who just. won't. get. it. I'll ask myself why? Why? WHY? what the hell is wrong with them, before getting the click in my brain that says "oh yeah, it's an addiction, they can't help it." And no, I am not abdicating responsibility, but there's something there beyond just deciding what to eat every day, whether or not to drink.

I have no answers as to why I would lose that initial 80 or so pounds I gained after my mother's disappearance, and then regain that and more, then repeat that loss regain cycle over and over and over. Why can't I actually keep a top weight and work in a safety zone below that? Sometimes I think that the comforting idea of having a top weight is just an illusion ~ one more trick of this cunning, baffling, powerful disease that tells me it will be okay, I'll stop where I've always stopped, if nothing else I'll not go beyond that point. And maybe I will. But again, maybe I won't. I don't think I'm fundamentally different from someone who weighs 1000 pounds. I don't think someone trying to lose 20 pounds is fundamentally different from me. If I can't lose and keep off 20 pounds, it's only a difference in scale between me and the 1000 pounder. Can't is can't and to pretend otherwise is a dangerous sort of denial.

I've gone beyond and beyond those top weights, and I know I'm not alone. At least I'm not alone when I go to Obesity Help's pages and pages and pages of folks with starting BMIs over 50, pages of profiles filled with despair and sadness and grief over a life spent in an ongoing, yet failing, battle with compulsive eating.

When I have a "bad food day" (the terminology persists, though I don't really believe in the concept any longer), I think how easy it is just to give in and return to old habits. I am envious and shocked by how much others can eat with a relatively small weight gain or none at all. One day of eating willy nilly hell for leather as much as I want and as much as I'm capable of, and I can gain 8-10 pounds. One day.

I'm rambling, but I'm thinking of Jade and all of the others on the Obesity Help Memorial pages who fought this battle and died trying. I don't want to be one of them, but some days I think it's a gossamer thread that connects me to this life in recovery.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a moving post. I've always struggled with my weight. Up and down. This time I'm trying to get to a reasonable, healthy weight and stay there. Forget the teeny sizes. I want to be here for the long haul.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Hang in there.

September 16, 2006 8:43 PM  
Blogger *Christie* said...

Wow. What a powerful post!!!!
I have a hard time facing up to this as an addiction or disease, but I am really starting to see how true that is. The cycle up and down and up and down seems to happen despite my efforts.I really do TRY. And just like you said one might look at an alcoholic who backslides after a year of sobriety and something and say "why? Why would they do that to themselves? What is WRONG with them?!" - I'm sure people who do not struggle with weight look at us the same way. I've seen some blogs of opinionates skinny women saying things just along those lines. "They decide what goes in their mouths. Just DON'T eat bad things. It's that easy."
But we all know it's NOT that easy. It's a complex web or emotions - I think even more so for those of us who've been heavy throughout our entire lives because there are years upon years of emotional scars, self-esteem issues, and doubting that we can even do this at all.

Thanks for your post :)


September 17, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Vickie said...

You are exactly right - that no matter what the scale says - how different the "step" we are currently ON - we are all the same.

I read Frances Kuffle's "Passing for Thin" several years ago, and it just happened to "catch me/catch my attention" at 215+ lbs - but there is no difference between that day and another day when it might have been 315+ lbs -

I check in here everyday - yu inspire me and help me stay/feel "grounded"

September 17, 2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Crazy In Shreveport said...

Addiction. I live amongst it. my father drinks too much but always held down a job because he balanced alcohol, food and working out (he was a professional wrestler).

Is that the answer? Working for balance? Juggling addictions so they are not addictions because you have so many balls in the air you are a "normal person"?

I've not had a "bad food day" since I started taking something from the health food store that a friend suggested because I told her that I was thinking about asking my family doctor for a prescription because I was so stressed out. I've lost twenty pounds. sssshhh don't tell anyone because I didn't take it for the weight loss. I just wanted the stress to go away.

September 17, 2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger TrixieBelden said...

Thank you for the link to Jade's story. It made me cry, and not much makes me shed a tear. It also made me realize how much I have to be thankful for.

I know you are scared, but you are doing what you need to do: seeking qualified help, getting support from friends and taking it one day at a time. You will survive. You will thrive.

September 17, 2006 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. Thank you, thank you. It was so poigant and spoke to me on so many levels. Thank you for sharing apart of yourself.

September 18, 2006 9:51 AM  

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