I haven’t posted in a while for two reasons: One, I’ve been burned out. Two, I needed time to describe what it’s like to slide back into old habits.
It seems I’ve spent so much time writing about my recovery from binge eating and other addictive behaviors that I forgot what it was like to be back on the other side — where recovery gives way to failure and the fallen is left feeling like he’s been dragged back to square one.
It started in August, amid a series of pressures. First, I injured my back and was sidelined for two weeks. I was on the couch for a week soaking up the Vicodin my doctor prescribed me. He also prescribed Prednisone, a drug that always stirs my dark side.
The Prednisone made me want to eat a lot. I largely resisted, but while I didn’t binge, I got sloppy.
Then things got stressful at work. We had to deal with a huge security vulnerability called Shellshock, and I found myself working 16-hour days and forgetting to eat. Forgetting to eat is bad, because it ensures sloppy eating at the end of the day. And one day, that’s what happened.
On the day Shellshock was blowing up and I was diving into meetings on our communication strategy, I was also in the midst of getting four videos made. The video shoot was already a pressure point because I had to reschedule it once already due to the back injury.
It was as intense a day as I can remember having in many years, and on the way home I found myself in the Burger King drive-through. I picked foods that I can eat under my no-flour, no-sugar regimen. A lot of it.
I carried around the shame for a week, until I finally told Erin what happened. After she saw a $21 charge for Burger King on our bank statement, of course.
This is my fault. Nobody else is to blame. The work pressures were the same things we all endure in the normal course of our professions. In recent years I’ve had a pretty good set of tools to manage those pressures well. But for whatever reason, in the last month I forgot to use them.
This was a long time coming.
I had been disenchanted with the OA recovery program I was following, and I had been struggled to strike the right food balance for months.
Now I have to clean up and find my way again. The upside is that I don’t feel beaten. Human beings make mistakes frequently. The important thing is what one does with the mistake to learn and grow.
I haven’t slipped since that day in the Burger King drive-through, though the eating is still sloppy. I’m working my way out of it, but I’m still in that unsettled, raw place. Getting back on one’s feet is hard, but I’m going to get there.
I have no alternative.
Next: Feelings of lingering vulnerability catch up with the author during two hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.