Dirty Recovery

by Bill Brenner on July 5, 2010

The author on how his recovery enters a sort of Purgatory around summer holidays.

Mood music for this post: “Locomotive” by Guns N Roses:


There’s a danger for a recovering addict around summer holidays like July 4th. It’s a rather obvious statement. But I’m feeling it from my own perch as a recovering binge eater.

I’m in a place I’ll call dirty recovery. My abstinence is intact. I have not gone on a binge. I’ve steered clear of all things with flour and sugar. But I’ve had a lot of meals lately away from the comfort of home, where I can carefully weigh out everything I put in my body.

The last month has been crammed with cookouts. The standard fare is hamburgers and hot dogs with the usual sides. The most recent event was my friend Chris Hoff’s birthday bash.

Birthday boy and cloud security guru Chris Hoff

The man knows how to throw a party, and it was a great time with friends from the security industry and their spouses and kids.

The event is known for its abundance of pork, mojitos and a lot of other stuff. When an addict like me sees a pile of bacon on flames like the picture on the right, the demon starts to roll around in my head.

Hoff is great about making sure their are a lot of veggie options on the table, and that helped me out tremendously. He was also generous in sharing his cigars. Since that’s one of the few items I will still indulge in, that also helped a lot. I’m also lucky because many of my security friends read this blog and are well aware of my dietary restrictions.¬†God provides is many ways.

Still, when someone like me is at an event like this without my trusty food scale, perfect abstinence becomes all the more difficult.

I’ll pile up the plate with salad and coleslaw and try to estimate what LOOKS like 10 ounces. I throw in what I think LOOKS like 4 ounces of pork. But I can never be sure I’m not taking in MORE than what I should be having.

With so many cookouts lately, I’ve been dancing on this barbed wire quite a bit. I’m feeling slightly bloated this morning, leading me to believe my measurements have been off.

It’s still a vast improvement over the days where I’d get drunk and then shovel food down my throat until I couldn’t look down and see my feet because the gut was swollen and obstructing the view.

My head is still clear, which is the most important part of my abstinence and sobriety. I pursued recovery to end the mental insanity more than the weight gain.

So in the big picture, it’s mission accomplished.

But recovery is dirty of late, and I need to clean up my act and tighten the portions.

The reason is simple: Dirty recovery, if you let it go on for too long, inevitably crashes head-on into full-blown relapse.

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