Dirty and Fried

It’s been an eventful week and I am close to fried. But before I collapse, I have many hours of travel ahead. As daunting as that may seem, I’m feeling a strange sort of satisfaction this morning.

Rough as this has been, I accomplished a lot. I got four articles out of the conferences I attended — one extra than planned, thanks to the Secret Service.

I got to spend time with our cousins, who are always a blast, and Erin and I even got a date night on Solomon’s Island at the tip of Southern Maryland. Tuesday night, I drove into Virginia and had dinner at the home of Ann and Bob Ball. Ann is a dear friend of mine from the days of North Shore Community College in the early 1990s, and I’ve found a new political debate buddy in Bob. Too bad he’s not on Facebook. Their kids call me “Mr. Bill.”

But I’m ready to be home and back to the normal routine. I’ve pushed myself to the limit this week, and I’m finding it difficult to keep a lid on my addictive instincts. I’ve pulled it off so far, with plenty of help from others. Ann, for example, made me a perfectly abstinent salad the night I visited.

But there has also been a lot of meals in restaurants. I’ve made the best choices possible for my program, but restaurant food is still restaurant food, and I’m feeling the slight bloat of what I call dirty recovery. The motor is feeling gummed up, and it has clouded my head a bit.

It really hit me last night. While on our date, Erin and I visited a liquor store to buy a couple bottles of wine as gifts for people. As I walked around I found myself staring obsessively at the bottles of gin and whiskey. I started to want some.

I haven’t mentioned this much before, but this time last year I was really leaning on alcohol as a crutch to help me keep the food plan intact. It sounds stupid, because drinking inevitably leads to binge eating for me, but for some reason it helped calm me down enough to avoid the food at the heart of my most self-destructive addiction.

In fact, as late as December, I was swilling wine even as I wrote “The Most Uncool Addiction” post at the beginning of this blog.

I was starting to drink hard stuff, too. There were bottles of gin and brandy in the kitchen cabinet Erin used for cooking. One day, I decided to start drinking both. I was also drinking a lot of wine on a daily basis.

A couple weeks into that, I saw what was happening and decided that sobriety had to be part of my abstinence from binge eating. I was feeling dishonest about calling myself abstinent while drinking alcohol.

I’ve had my challenges since giving it up in late December. Free booze flows like a tsunami at the security conferences I go to, and I actually found myself feeling awkward without a glass of wine in my hand. But I pulled it off by keeping that hand busy with glasses of club soda and cans of Red Bull. Red Bull feeds another addiction, but as I’ve said before, people like me play addiction like a piano. When you put a lid on the addiction that’s most self-destructive in your life, a few smaller addictions bubble to the surface.

That’s the daily challenge for someone like me. But despite feeling like my food plan wasn’t as clean as it could have been, I have not binged. I haven’t touched alcohol, either.

That’s a victory.

But I still have some cleaning up to do.

Which is why it’ll be good to get home.


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