More on food

I've been looking at OA Twelve Steps stuff recently and considering this first step: We admitted we were powerless over food and that our lives had become unmanageable.

I mentioned this to Skip last night -- who is well aware of my life-long and recent eating struggles -- along with the fact that I'm really struggling with this idea of powerlessness and unmanageability. It's a hurdle. It seems like a huge kind of surrender, of acceptance. And I haven't been able to get there.

And he said, "Well, yeah, of course." And then proceeded to tell me about something he'd just read from a neurological perspective about how one of the curious aspects of the human brain is that we create explanations for our behavior after the fact that we then perceive as our original intention; but that really, most of the time, we have no idea what motivates our behavior. Our brain is so complex, our true motivations are actually deeply hidden from our conscious awareness. Much of our consciousness is this effect: creating an explanation after the fact.

So, I've been thinking, "Yeah, but how can I say I'm powerless when I know that some days I make plans and/or 'choose' to eat the things I know I'm like a crack-addict for?"

BUT, what if when I say, I "plan" to eat that crap some days, that's not necessarily true? What if, really, it's just my way of dealing with my powerlessness? The belief that "I" am choreographing my behavior is much less frightening to me -- even for the wrong behavior -- than accepting that this consciousness I consider "me" is really not in control at all, but just inventing after-the-fact explanations for some deeper, inaccessible, unconscious system of selecting actions or inaction.

Yet, truly, that makes more sense. I'm not a self-hating person usually (except when I can't get me to do the things I know I should or need to do). Generally, I like being me in the world. But if that's so true, then why do I "choose" foods and ways of eating that set me on a course of likely debilitating chronic disease, obesity, and premature death? Because. I'm not choosing.

Maybe my only power here is clinging to, or abandoning, the ego-comfort of believing that I'm choosing. Clinging to it is not helping. Maybe I just have to surrender to this deeper truth: I am powerless over food; and my eating, and its effects on my life, are unmanageable. Hell, really, my whole life is unmanageable. At least by me.

I'm an observer and appreciator (or not) of this particular view on the world that makes me, "me" -- but I'm not, in fact, in charge of my life at all. "I" -- the conscious decision maker -- do not, and apparently, cannot, manage it. Wow.

That's kind of a rough blow on the ol' ego. It doesn't make my mama-self all that comfortable either, even though I absolutely see its truth in that arena, too.

Think I'll reel with that for a bit.


  1. I would guess the hardest part of all of this is that we need to eat to survive. It doesn't seem as easy to overcome as some other types of addiction (I could be wrong). It is so good that you are ackowledging it and working through it, not matter how long it takes.

  2. congrats on getting this far! some of us can't even have this train of thought - that's how scary it is.

    this is right on: "BUT, what if when I say, I "plan" to eat that crap some days, that's not necessarily true? What if, really, it's just my way of dealing with my powerlessness?"

    great post - good luck on your journey. above all, remember this thing you said "I like being me in the world"