It’s my third day of being back on the Macronutrient plan. I am logging everything I eat, to fit under my limits for carbs and fat. I ate quite a bit of junk over Christmas, the typical decorated Christmas cookies, candy from the stockings I stuffed as Santa, and the carb fest that was our Christmas meal. The last two days have been impeccable as I have hopped back on the plan, seemingly with grace and few cravings. Last night I went to a seminar about weight loss, and today I am immersed in a book about addiction from my new favorite person, Dr. Gabor Mate.

I am back in it. It feels good. Things are only a problem when we are not doing anything about them, right?

I took a nap today after I wore myself out with my own inspirational tangents, as I tend to do. High levels of emotions and getting into the real work that is my salvation is exhaustive to my mind and soul.

I woke up two hours later a different person. My blood sugar felt low. I immediately wanted something sweet to wake me up. The feeling became insatiable. I rushed to the fridge to grab my cravings blocker – pickles. I ate four pickles, but the angst did not go away. I thought of the perfect logging I had been doing, the last two days of workouts, the seminar I went to last night, and the book pinpointing the roots of addiction that moved me earlier. No amount of work I had done was taking away the need to reach for something else.

The Christmas candy I had passed by with ease for two whole days suddenly showed itself. I knew what was in that bag – all of my favorites.

I ate a tootsie roll and walked away. I logged the tootsie roll, and it did not put me over on my numbers for the day.

So I ate another one.

It also did not kill my day. So I ate two more. Then I ate a Hershey’s kiss, a chocolate marshmallow Santa, a peppermint patty, and a handful of cheddar popcorn. I went back to the fridge and pantry three more times. Thank God I came out with nothing more. This is only my third day in.

My counseling self asks “How did that moment serve me? What did that food do for me?” It livened and awakened me when I was dull and tired.

It’s three PM on my day off in 2019. I am driving towards Huntersville on a curvy side street, a shortcut to avoid the interstate, known mostly to locals in the area. I am not a Huntersville local, though. I live in North Charlotte, and I escape to Huntersville through this windy road. It leads to all of my potential stops and lingering possibilities for food that is close enough to home that is not inconvenient, but far enough away that it is doubtful I would run into anyone I know there. The chance of anyone recognizing me when I come out of the Small Cupcakes shop with a cupcake consisting of more icing than cake is slim.

In Huntersville I can get this “small” cupcake, Carnitas tacos from my taco truck, a treat like ice cream from anywhere in Birkdale Village, and fried pickles and waffle fries dipped in ranch at Pinky’s Westside Grill. If I take any of those items to go, I have a good amount of time in the car to eat them before I get home. I could even stop at the gas station to put any containers in the trashcan. I will make sure no crumbs or evidence of any kind hit the floor of my car.

My counseling self asks “How did those moments driving to Huntersville serve me? What did that food in my car do for me?

It gave me control, freedom from everyone while only being surrounded by people who don’t know me, and time away from the distress of the year. In my car I could be the me I was before the big Knowing came to me. That girl was free.

It’s Thursday night in 2016. I live alone, and my only entertainment is facebook and watching Twilight movies on repeat, especially the part where Bella is depressed for the entire winter and never leaves the window. I am crying with Bella, but I also am on a mission. I am out to find the best and biggest cheesecake in Charlotte. To do that, I will have to be willing to drive the distance. I will do it for the best cheesecake. The Cheesecake Factory is the obvious place to start. From there on, I will get cheesecake everywhere I go. I am bound to solve the mystery. If the cheesecake does not already have some form of chocolate in it, I will get another chocolate dessert to add to it. The combination is the most perfect dessert I can think of.

How did the cheesecake serve me? It made me not lonely, something exciting and large to enjoy. It perpetuated every reason for me that I was alone and would always be. I was disgusting and gorging for cover. The cheesecake covered me alright, with a lot more fat. Who could possibly see me now?

It’s 2020, the year of everyone’s worst performance in life, and I have found a child who wants my love and attention, and together we have found frozen custard. We search high and low for the ultimate sundae and ride along with windows down and her favorite Ariana Grande songs, eating in the car while we discover each other.

The people I have always been closest with were those I could eat with. I tried to make this child that. I almost hurt her. Thank God I cut that out. I stopped dragging her on my custard mission and using her for my excuse to eat.

I do not feel in control anymore in my life now with a child and a newer relationship. I used to make sure I answered to no one. I ate when I wanted to eat. I flat out binged in that townhome for years on my own. Now I cannot stop and get full by myself without seeing what everyone else wants to eat. I do not want to answer to them. I want to eat.

When can I get away and get my own food? Maybe I can go to my mom’s and eat alone. I am sure she has something baked on the counter. I’ll eat just enough so that I won’t be too full for dinner later. This is just what I do. Why should I change this time that I deserve, to be alone and be in control of my own self?

The safety net that sits under me daily is that I can go to any one of these places at any moment and binge eat whatever I want. I do not want to right now because I am finding healing in the emotional work I am doing. But I hold onto the lingering possibility daily that I might plan a trip to go get another piece of cheesecake to see if I still have it in me. The Small Cupcakes place is always there, open and ready. And now Crumbl Cookies is here.

Crumbl Cookies….let me tell you what happened.

Crumbl Cookies opened last year sometime, in that year we shall not speak of. You know the one. I was crawling out of my skin because every bit of comfort in my life had been ripped from me in so many ways.

After scoping out the flavors of the week online, I drove there one afternoon. Cookies with more icing than cookie?!? This may be as amazing as Small Cupcakes. I got three cookies, the biggest and richest I could find. They were likely red velvet and some chocolate varieties.

I went back to my car, my safety dome, and opened the box. I felt like Macaulay Culkin on Home Alone with his cheese pizza and no parental limitations. Ahhhh, a lovely box of iced cookies just for me.

I took a bite of each one, savoring every bit of sweet saliva circling my entire being. It was sooooo sweet, and I had been sticking mostly to a Paleo plan prior to this relapse, so this kind of sweetness felt new all over again. I had really busted out of prison on this one!

I went to take a fourth bite of freedom, and suddenly I stopped and laughed. I could not do it. I was literally trying to force a binge, like in my cheesecake days, but my body knew better than to accept it. I had changed and done some healing apparently. I did not feel that I had room for all three of these cookies when I had become filled along the way with some kind of Knowing.

I drove to the gas station and threw the rest of the cookies away. I wiped my seat of all crumbs, checked my face, and hurried home to my new family. I haven’t gone back there since. But it is always open in case I want to.

The work of Dr. Gabor Mate is blowing me away these days as I am reading about his years with drug addicts in Canada and how he approaches them with respect for their humanity in every way. He is teaching me self-care through his work with people who have truly hit rock bottom. I have already cried many times, and I am only a fourth of the way through the book.

Today I made a list of how my food addiction is like these drug addictions. I listed all of the similarities I have with people who, by the average person, would be judged as the lowest of the lows. The list made me cry again.

-I have an addictive drive that Gabor Mate calls “the Hungry ghost.” It always wants to be fed and full, and the hunger never seems to go away. I always want food like these drug addicts always want their drugs.

-I am defensive about my weight and eating habits towards others the same way many addicts are when they are called out on their behaviors.

-I do not like the way I feel a lot of the time about myself and how I fit into the world around me. This is the same for many of the people lost in drug addiction. At the root of all addiction is pain and isolation.

-I want to distract from difficult emotions just as these addicts do with their cocaine and heroine.

-I was traumatized as a child. Some of the stories I have listened to about people hooked on the worst kind of drugs are so traumatizing, I have felt sick hearing them.

-I have shame and denial much of the time that perpetuates cycles of behaviors.

-I sacrifice my health for my addiction regularly even when I know that the harm I am doing to my body is a slow death. Many of us look at people addicted to drugs and wonder how they can kill themselves like that.

-I am dishonest about my food addiction. Most drug addicts are liars, and few are even good at it.

-I isolate in order to stay in my addiction. I gravitate to being alone.

-I have stayed around people and surroundings that shared my food issues so that I could stay in my addiction the same way many of these people stay living on the streets.

-I can be manic with food that seems to come from an insatiable angst and an imminent void.

I keep messing up over and over and over again. Then I bust into the room with my new ideas about how many days I am going to start exercising, how I am going to never eat candy again, how I am a new person who can say no to food any time I want. And I truly believe this in these moments. I really want it. Anyone can tell.

This is addiction. The stories are endless if I really think about them. The key to the true freedom for which I have been searching in all of the wrong places and substances, is to tell the stories, in a most vulnerable way.

My name is Katie, and I am a food addict.

My food addiction is accompanied by a fear of living outside of who I have always been.

My healing comes with a fear of not living as who I came here to be.