one girl's journey to let go of the rulebook and embrace her already abundant life

I am an Addict; But Addiction is not Me (Sugar Sober Series)

I can’t get the mug shot out of my mind.

Prescription fraud. Doctor “shopping.” Trafficking. Endangering a child by switching his Tylenol with codeine for a different substance that made him sick. (Presumably so she could have the codeine for herself.)

The news story stops me in my tracks.

Because I know her.

Several years ago, I met with her and her husband repeatedly for a business transaction. She was working in a job she loved and was perfectly suited for. They were expecting a baby. They were just like thousands of other young couples in America.

I enjoyed my time with them so much. I watched them cherish and love on that baby, and they celebrated his accomplishments as he grew. The husband called me a couple of months ago for some business advice. He sounded great, and I was happy to hear from them.

But there was a surgery. Prescription painkillers. Addiction. Addiction-driven decisions. Arrest. Prison is likely.

It was the moment I think I finally understood what it means to be powerless.

Because addiction is a beast. And it does not play favorites.

Addiction does not spare the happy family. Or the doting mom. Or the accomplished professional. Or the faithful Christian. Or the “good girl.”

It can strike anyone. Anytime. For any reason.

I have not been spared. I am powerless. (Step One)

Addiction is kind of like having a pet lion.

When it’s a cub, you can pretend its just a regular cat. It’s comforting and warm and snuggly. And easily managed.

But it’s still a lion. And as you and he grow together, no matter how much you think that lion doesn’t really want to hurt you, he can only ever become the ferocious predator he is. You will quickly become overmatched.

And it will be time to remove the lion from your house and ban him from return.

The lion that feels like family, even when it hurts you. The lion who is nothing more than a predator lying in wait, even when it looks comforting and harmless.

The lion you have come to identify so closely with that you start to believe maybe it can be tamed. Maybe you can change your own behavior to make it safe. Maybe you can keep it and your sanity, too.

But you can’t.

Because lions weren’t meant to be pets. And addiction isn’t your friend.

When I was living with the idea that I was the addiction. That I caused the addiction. That I was wrong and weak and incapable of self-control, it was a nasty circle of beating myself up and then looking to the addiction to comfort me again.

Like any bad relationship, a cycle of I need you to go. No, wait, come back. We can be different this time.

But I can’t.

Because while I am an addict, addiction is not me.

I may have invited it in, yes. I may have made excuses for it, and myself, over the years. I may even like its company most of the time.

But now I can see. Addiction is in me, but not of me.

When I begin to think of food addiction as a foreign invader in my space (no matter how comfortable I have become with it), it is significantly easier to consider the need to exorcise it from my being in order to restore myself to health — in body, mind, and spirit.

It brings me to a place where I am ready to say that I have no more control over my addiction than I would over an attacking lion. I cannot save myself.

Praise God, I have a Savior.

(to be continued…)

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sugarsoberoctoberIn response to the 31 Day blogging challenge, I will be publishing EVERY DAY in October while I stay sugar-free. You can read previous posts HERE. To be alerted to new posts, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter using the links on the right side of this page. Or Subscribe to get posts sent to your Email. Feel free to Tweet your own experiences with #sugarsoberoctober as well.

PLEASE use the comment section to share your own thoughts, questions, or experiences. Like any road, sugar sobriety is one more easily walked with friends. I do my best to reply to every comment.

12 Responses to “I am an Addict; But Addiction is not Me (Sugar Sober Series)”

  1. Such an important distinction there: I am not my addiction. The difference here is between shame and guilt – one hating self and leading only to bondage, and the other turning away from destructive behavior and leading to life. I’m so glad you’re choosing life and peace, Beth. The only way to lasting change, indeed. Bless you.

  2. Dana Butler says:

    Beth, this is powerful and I was riveted. Thank you friend. Much love.

  3. ambercadenas says:

    Wow. The cub-growing-up-into-a-lion image is a powerful metaphor for addiction. I never thought of that, how they can seem harmless and small, and yet they will, eventually become lions – and lions, as you said, were never meant to be pets. Also, this distinction of addiction not being what you’re made of, but something foreign that’s inside you and needs to be evicted? I see you growing through this month that is almost over, in depth of insight and conviction. There’s a strength in you, friend, that is being nurtured by God, and I know this will only continue to grow over the coming weeks and months and years. A lion of its own stature that cannot be evicted because, unlike addiction, it IS a part of you.

    • Beth Hess says:

      The cub/lion metaphor works for me in all kinds of ways. I’m sure to be exploring it more and more as this journey moves on. I’m not sure I can yet feel a fierceness of my own, but it means to very much that you trust it is there.

  4. Beth,
    You are so right…it is in the moment we declare we are powerless then we can change and go to God for the help we need or anyone else…I had to learn that when I was dealing with PTSD and postpartum depression…Thanks for sharing your story :)

  5. Chloe says:

    Wow that’s amazing. I can completely relate to being sugar dependant. I would love to try this, ! Xxx

    • Beth Hess says:

      Welcome, Chloe! It’s really pretty eye-opening the things we let control us and our moods that we just dismiss. But anything that keeps us from being our best can be an addiction. Let me know if you go sugar-free and how it goes for you.

  6. This is so true. I went through a month of sugar detox and I had not realized how sugar had such a control over me. I felt like I was a junkie and had withdrawals. Even the shakes. Afterwards, while I am not completely sugar free, whenever I introduce something that is very sugary I get headaches and feel sick. So, I am walking this “getting rid of the addiction” part. Funny how we do not think as been addicted to food but in reality is like any other addiction an it gets a hold on us really fast.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 31 Days Sugar Sober Recap (Get caught up on the whole series in under 10 minutes) | Just Be Beth - […] steps forward, one step back-ness of it all. Well, we’d probably never start walking. Day 25: Addiction is …
  2. The Shepherd Leads & I Will Let Him (Sugar Sober Series) | Just Be Beth - […] I Can’t. He Can. I Will Let Him. […]
  3. For When the Lions Circle (Sugar Sober Series AND Word of The Week) | Just Be Beth - […] (…continued from Day 25. If you haven’t read it yet, please start there.) […]

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