October 25, 2014 by Beth Hess
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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