I get a bit flustered in Twelve-Step meetings when speakers feel restricted from making comments about anything but the addiction of the specific group meeting they are attending such as AA for alcoholism, OA for food issues, NA for drug issues, and the list goes on. I do believe that we each have our own primary addiction, for me that is alcohol, but I also engage in a host of other addictions in the same way as I do alcohol. Some of these behaviors are formally recognized as addictions like my compulsive over-eating. Others are perhaps more subtle and less viewed as addictions but as bad habits or circumstantial, like my workaholism.
But for me the important point is that these behaviors result from and are symptoms of the same thing – my inability to live life on life’s terms. I emphasize the for me because this is my story and experience and I do not mean to pass judgment on others.
I have remained sober from alcohol for some 29 years and counting one-day-at-time. I have not used nicotine in any form in over 16 years. But I continue to struggle with an eating disorder, workaholism, and a host of lesser issues that I could quibble with whether these are addictive behaviors, bad habits, character defects or what. But what I do recognize is that I practice each of these behaviors in the same way that I consumed alcohol. I was absolutely amazed when I truly examined my eating disorders a few years ago, simply as a behavior, this addiction predates my alcoholism and is full-blown by the time I reached elementary school as a child. When I then consider the reasons for that eating disorder so early in life, the answers I come up with are the same as my alcoholism later on – my inability to live life on life’s terms – the need to escape and anesthetize myself into a state of passive existence.
Today, I know if I choose to drink alcohol, then I am choosing to check-out of life. I realize too that the same is true with my eating disorder. Again, for me, the immediate impact of an eating binge is not the same as a drinking binge, though the behaviors, the self-loathing are the same, though perhaps less pronounced.
Again, for me, the essence is knowing that this recovery business is truly a process not an event. Recovery is not a matter of getting more holy than the next person. Rather, I appreciate that beginning with taking my first steps in alcohol recovery, I started on a path that is directed toward solutions. If I choose to continue on the path, I will have the opportunities to continue addressing my other addictions/character defects/bad habits or what have you.
I am grateful for this process.