STEP ONE – Stopping the Denial
In this article, I will focus on Step One and stopping the denial. While we may have a bundle of good excuses tucked away in our memories to justify every aspect of our problems, we can’t get well until we stop kidding ourselves. Renewal begins when we allow the facts to be the facts. While you may not want to say the words out loud, you may actually be struggling with a love hunger. Take a look at the following story for insight into your own.
Marybelle lived through four years of an abusive marriage relationship. She anticipated a husband like her living father. Because of her great respect and admiration for her father, she never anticipated her husband deceiving and running around on her. When she discovered his adultery, the truth nearly destroyed her. The man had been critical, demanding, unemployed much of the time, and a real cad on top of it all! Obviously, Marybelle’s need for love and appreciation became enormous.
Then, a year after the divorce, Marybelle’s mother discovered she was dying of cancer. Marybelle’s childhood family had been the center of her life. Nothing was more fun than sitting at Sunday dinner around a table piled high with food. Through the years her mother remained the center of the family constellation with all the brothers and sisters circulating around her. During the two years of her mother’s illness, the center of the circle disintegrated. When her mother finally died, Marybelle’s life dropped into a black hole. She described her constant eating as an attempt ‘to fill up a bottomless pit at the center of her life.’ The demise of Marybelle’s marriage and death of her mother filled her with a fear of emptiness. This void, which was really a lack of love, drove her to eat compulsively.
***** Renewal begins when we allow the facts to be the facts. *****
What about you and your story? While admitting a need for love can be extremely difficult, it is the first step out of addiction. We may have to probe and push to get in touch with the truth, but honesty is the way to start climbing out of the pit.
STEP TWO – Face the Emotional Pain
Being honest about the depth of our emotional pain is extremely difficult. No one wants to get in touch with the root of the pain system, since this renews the loss and deprivation that we’re trying desperately to avoid.
Generally our apprehension twists our opinion of ourselves, leaving us with low self-esteem. Even though our personal accomplishments may be of considerable scope, we tend to see ourselves in a diminished and insignificant position. The result is emotionally devastating.
***** Self-esteem is a gift only we can give ourselves! *****
We must learn that self-esteem is a gift only we can give ourselves. Rather than a product of accomplishment, enduring self-esteem rests on a sense of self-worth intrinsically ours because we are children of God. I John 3:1 says: ‘See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!’ We have value because the heavenly Father has placed us in this world as His special envoys. We must recognize and accept this fact as true.
***** In God’s eyes we have supreme value! *****
Whether the president of the United States or a dishwasher, we are of supreme value in God’s sight. Recognizing that fact is one of the most important steps we can take to break out of emotional pain. Experiencing unconditional love from good friends over a long period of time also reinforces our feelings of self-worth.
STEP THREE – Recognize That Food Fuels the Wheel
The addictive process is an endlessly turning wheel until something breaks the cycle. For the alcoholic, the chemical content of alcohol keeps the wheel moving. Food addicts have to accept the fact that food can have a similar effect on them. Let’s enumerate a number of the effects food can have.
First, food can kill pain. Often people overeat because feeling full gives them a sense of well-being, which pushes away the gnawing anxiety they felt before the meal. Unfortunately, the effects of consistently overeating pile up around the waistline and the overeaters don’t like the way they look. They are actually punishing themselves by becoming unattractive and endangering their health.
Second, food also has a tranquilizing effect. When we eat, blood sugar levels rise and neurochemicals called endorphins are released to give us a sense of well-being. After a few minutes of trotting, runners often experience a similar pleasant sensation. Food has actually turned into a tranquilizer. The quest for this feeling of well-being turns people into food addicts.
***** The addictive process is an endlessly turning wheel until something breaks the cycle! *****
Third, food can distance us from others. People who were sexually abused or felt the intense pain of a broken love relationship find that eating excessively can put enough fat around them to keep members of the opposite sex away from them. Consequently, they protect themselves from any further abuse or unexpected rejection.
An oral addiction can also take on many other forms. Smoking, excessive talking, using profanity, grinding teeth, all can be expressions of the same pain. In each of these activities an addictive agent is fueling the Ferris wheel of our addiction. If you are caught in this swirl of confusion, you must put food back in its proper place. You cannot allow the pleasantness of eating to distort what you actually require for your life.
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We have value because the heavenly Father has placed us in this world as His special envoys.