Before I got into recovery, immediate gratification was how I lived. When I wanted something, I wanted it now. As a recovering food addict, in order to take care of my food needs and to protect my abstinence, planning and thinking ahead is a necessary component of my everyday life.
The holiday season can be a vulnerable time of year for addicts of any stripe. Being a food addict has its own particular challenges. Non-abstinent food is everywhere. It’s a central part of the holiday season. I’m surrounded by it, seeing it, smelling it, even fixing it for others. I go to work, it’s there. I go to a friend’s house, it’s there (where usually it isn’t). I visit family, it’s there. I go see my doctor/dentist/lawyer (fill in the blank), it’s there. Gifts of food (and usually not abstinent varieties) are everywhere I look. It’s visually appealing, it smells yummy, and it will kill me.
It’s a time of year when I am particularly vulnerable to having cravings and dangerous thoughts. Early in my recovery I learned to think ahead when I have a craving: What will it be like if I act on that craving? What will I feel like after the binge? What will my life be like then? When I do that, the old feelings of shame, self-loathing, and disgust come right back up and I usually end up feeling immense gratitude for my abstinence, and the craving/dangerous thought disappears. I can carry the “thinking ahead” even farther, if necessary. I know that I will lose everything if I pick up. I will lose my relationship with my Higher Power because food will once again be the Power I serve. I will return to a life of isolation, hiding, sneaking, lying, living in fear, hurting others. This would be the result of the immediate gratification of a craving or dangerous thought. So I think ahead.
At this time of year, I am especially grateful to be abstinent because I no longer have to dread New Year’s Day when I was always starting my diet after eating non-stop from Halloween to the end of the year. By the grace of my Higher Power and the 12-Step program of recovery, I wake up most days happy, joyous and free, but I wake up every day FREE!