The Sweet Spot

Posted by Sherry , Tuesday, March 2, 2010 Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This is kinda big.

I'll start off by outlining what my vision of 'addiction' has always been:

Ok, remember that scene in “Leaving Las Vegas” where Nicolas Cage is wandering The Strip, looking like a homeless person and every once in awhile tripping and falling over his own shoes? I think there was also a little puking. And slurred speech – but then again, we're talking about Nicolas Cage here, so the monotone voice and “smell the fart” acting may be to blame for that. Anyway, know what movie I'm referring to? Well, THAT, for me, was addiction.

It was bloodshot eyes, family in ruins, pissing away money-type stuff. Yes, I watch Oprah. I saw the one(s) with the suburban soccer moms who stash Tanqueray in their Pottery Barn toy boxes and have a Estee Lauder free-with-purchase make-up bag full of prescription pain pills. But honestly, none of it hit home because I just plain didn't KNOW anyone who lived like this.

Then the bomb dropped.

The other day a good friend told me that she feels she has a drinking problem.

She's probably the person I am closest to in the world.

She called me the other day—and I'm sure it wasn't an easy call to make--to tell me that she's given up drinking, is seeking help and wanted me to know before she sees me again.

There was a a little crying, a lot of “Oh My Gods” and a fair amount of shock. Now, I won't go into our entire conversation and, obviously, I'm supporting her in any way that I can, but one of the things that I found myself reflecting on after we hung up was my own perception of 'addiction'.

During our conversation she mentioned a few times that she knew she was more likely to fall to an addiction because it runs in her family.

So I started thinking about who in my family has addiction problems.

I mean, the only 'addict' in my family that I could think of was my paternal grandfather who had a drinking problem, apparently. I never really witnessed it but I didn't know him all that well. I couldn't think of anyone else. At first. Then it came to me: My mom – smoker. Off and on as long as I can remember. My sister: smoker and drinker. 3 out of six aunts – smokers. Father – big gambler. Cousins – drinkers and pot smokers (to excess).

I was sitting high and mighty – a non-smoker who has maybe one drink a week and doesn't gamble -- until visions of guacamole, doughnuts, and penne a la vodka danced in my head. I suddenly fell off my throne with a thunderous thud.

I know you all probably saw that coming. I'm sure a lot of you have examined your relationships with food and maybe some of you even label yourselves as 'food addicts.' For me though, my weight has always been the problem. Not the food. Sure, anyone who has taken a high school psychology class can tell you that the two co-exist that its a symbiotic relationship. I guess I just never felt the need to label myself as an 'addict'.

To be perfectly honest and lay my heart on the line – I've always felt like a VICTIM not a perpatrator of my battle with weight/food. It was my metabolism. My coping mechanism. My lack of willpower. A byproduct of my father leaving us.

Addicts use their 'drug' to cope. Addicts can't stick to just 'sometimes'. Addicts lie to others about their habits. Addicts feel guilty or ashamed. Addicts can't stop on their own.

Check. Check. Check. Double Check. And LAP-BAND!

Isn't being Banded my re-hab? Isn't being FORCED to eat slowly, cut out certain foods, re-examine how I use food and how those uses have affected my life my own little 12 steps?

Side bar: I wonder if lap-band adjustment would be easier if I had Celebrity Rehab's Dr. Drew narrowing his sexy salt & pepper eyebrows at me and asking me about what my father did to cause me to dive face first into a bowl of spinach and artichoke dip?

In all seriousness, I am realizing that this woman and I have a lot more in common than our long eyelashes, fondness for dirty jokes and our soft-spot for cocker spaniels.

Its not fair that my 'addiction' has a tangible tool that can help me beat it and hers is going to be mostly reliant on willpower. But it is bittersweet to know that the person I trust more than anyone else will be able to support me in ways I didn't realize.

I just hope that we can both find our sweet-spot and come away stronger, better people.