Hung Over and Junk Sick

by Bill Brenner on July 26, 2010

When you have a binge-eating addiction, the feeling you get before, during and after is a lot like being drunk and stoned.

“What’s my drug of choice? Well, what have you got?” Layne Staley, Alice in Chains

Junkies have a feeling they get before binging: Their brain is stuck on having whatever ¬†gets them off. Alcohol. Heroin. Blow. For me, it used to be food. I’m free of the aftermath, but the demon still taunts me. Yesterday was a good example.

We spent a wonderful afternoon on Salisbury Beach Reservation in Massachusetts for a reunion of folks who were in the Haverhill High chorus, marching band and color guard in the 1980s and early 90s (Erin was in color guard).

All the stuff I used to get my fix on was spread out across three tables, totally legal and there for me to shove down my throat: Hamburger rolls, chips of all kinds, cookies and all the other flour-sugar substances that are essentially poison to me.

Before I found recovery, my demon would start harassing me long before getting to the scene of the junk. Forget the people who would be there or the weather and surroundings. All I’d think about was getting my fill. Then I’d get to the event and get my fill from the time I’d get there to the time I left. I’d sneak handfuls of junk so what I was doing wouldn’t be too obvious to those around me.

Halfway through, I would have the same kind of buzz you get after downing a case of beer or inhaling a joint deep into your lungs. I know this, because I’ve done those things, too. By nightfall, I’d feel like a pile of shattered bricks waiting to be carted off to the dump. Quality time with my wife and kids? Forget it. All I wanted was the bed or the couch so I could pass out.

The next morning would greet me with a bad headache, violent stomach cramps and blurred vision. Just like having a hangover or being dope sick.

Yesterday I stuck to my food plan and my tools of recovery, and it all turned out fine. I got to enjoy the surroundings and the company, though I was still distant in spots because there were a lot of folks I didn’t know. And because of that, there were moments where I gazed at the tables of food.

At one point, during clean-up, me and Duncan took a bunch of cookies and chips and tossed them to the seagulls, who eagerly dove in for their feast. That was rather liberating for me, because I was taking the substance I’m addicted to and throwing it to the wind. It also made clean-up easier, because seagulls leave nothing behind.

Also helping me was the beach itself. The ocean always has a healing effect on me. That comes from growing up on Revere Beach.

So here it is, Monday morning. I did not wake up feeling hungover or dope sick.

Another victory.

A new day.

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