It started with something as simple as ICE CREAM. Somehow though, the ice cream opened up a whole can of metaphorical worms. The grocery advertisement proved to be a temptation almost more than I could bear. My flesh wanted desperately to download the digital coupon. In my mind, I plotted how I could rearrange the freezer in order to hide my slide down the slippery slope of my addiction. The coupon was for Blue Bunny Ice Cream snacks and pints of Blue Bunny Sundae concoctions – all of which fuel the fantasies of one hopelessly addicted to … well … FOOD! To someone like me – those grocery ads are quite simply – food porn!
It’s not just supermarket ads either. Let us not forget – Cupcake Wars, Cake Wars, The Great British Baking Show, Spring Baking Championship, Kids Baking Championship – and ALL manner of Food Network Shows that feature the word BAKE or CAKE in the title. You can easily turn off the Food Network Channel, but of course, there are all of those other television mediums that zing you with their restaurant ads and snack commercials. And YES – even the weekly supermarket ads are extremely challenging. They ALL send me into a fit of caloric lust for which there is little escape.
The likelihood of me actually downloading the digital coupon and making a trip to this particular grocery store are slim to none. It’s not a store I frequent – plus there’s that whole thing of being techno-challenged by downloading anything on a two-year old phone that has little to no storage space. I knew in my heart I was safe from falling down that particular rabbit hole BUT that didn’t stop me from entertaining those fantasies of falling. And fall I did, for several minutes at least.
In my mind, I could see myself buying six (it would have been more, but six was the coupon limit) of the most decadent flavors of gooey, chocolaty, chocked full of peanut buttery, treat-filled, creamy ice cream ever concocted in an ice cream manufacturing plant. In my mind, I wanted to devour every last morsel of the forbidden frozen treats – one pint at a time, one cup at a time, one bar at a time. And heck, if I was going to sink to that level of debauchery, I might as well download the digital coupon for Double-Stuff Oreos, Nutter Butters and BOGO (buy one-get one) Donuts while I was at it. Let the flesh experience a total and complete breakdown of normal, common-sense, Herculean restraint and Weight Watcher will-power!While part of me is proud of the fact that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would never succumb to such a temptation – the OTHER part of me was faced with the reality that although my flesh is able to abstain – my mind was diving ALL IN, face first and devouring as much as I could, as quickly as I could. For several minutes, I mentally undressed every frozen ice cream bar and fondled every unearthed candy-coated peanut butter bunny.
Once an addict – always an addict – at least FOR ME. True – I may not actually hide in the pantry and devour snack foods in secret as I once did. But there’s no denying that to this day, I remain an emotional food addict.
I have a friend who swears that if you are an addict of any sort, those addictive behaviors can very easily seep into other areas of your life. My friend swears that having one addiction, makes you more vulnerable to many other addictions. His beliefs are borne out of a past life of surviving simultaneous addictions to alcohol, cocaine and gambling.
I don’t dispute this argument, especially after a being coerced into visiting a local casino last week.
I’m not much of a gambler, per se. When it comes to casinos, if it weren’t for BAD LUCK, I’d have NO LUCK at all. Truth be told, I seem to have a very UN-lucky streak and free stuff rarely just magically comes to me the easy way. I positively hate throwing money away “just for the fun of it,” especially since “extra” money is really hard to come by in my household. But, visiting out-of-town relatives convinced me they really wanted to visit the casino before they headed home – and it would be oh-so-much-more-fun if we ALL went together. Isn’t that what families are for? Who am I to argue with someone who plays the “family first” card?
Not surprisingly though, the moment we hit the casino floor – everyone scattered to divide and conquer their own particular favorite machine or table. So much for spending time with family! I opted to circle the casino floor a couple of times, mainly for the benefit of adding steps to my fitness tracker. Plus, I wanted to get the lay of the land and size up my machine choices before blindly throwing my money away on the first machine I saw.
My stingy nature being what it is, I watched and waited for the right machine to call to me. Sadly, every machine that whispered my name, all repeated the same message: LOSER! After a mere 15 minutes and down by $15.00, I knew when to cut my losses. I found a comfortable chair near the lobby and alternated between checking Facebook, reading my emails and playing Slotomania on my phone. (How much of a loser do you have to be to go to an actual casino and play casino games on your phone???) With almost two hours of wait time ahead of me before rejoining the family, I engaged in one of my favorite pastimes of a little eye-opening people-watching session.
I deduced that my friend really knew what he was talking about with regards to addiction. Though it may come in many colors and styles – no matter how you label it – addiction is all the same and possesses the addict fully and completely. Here it was the middle of the week and the middle of the day and the casino was packed. (The over-flowing, multi-leveled parking garage SHOULD have been my first clue!) How is it so many people have time to hang out in the middle of the day, for hours on end and throw away so much money? Throwing away hard-earned money on the hope that you might just be that one to strike it rich has a certain appeal – but clearly comes at a high price.
Years ago, I once sat next to a woman who won $5,000.00 on a slot machine and rather than cashing in (as I WOULD HAVE), she continued to dump money into the same machine for the hour that I was in the casino. For the love of all that is holy, WHY??? Unless of course – she was a serious addict.
Many of these people seemed to corroborate my friend’s theory of multiple-addictions as well. The largest percentage of the casino patrons who held vigil at slot machines that seduced with their flashing lights and bells and whistles – ALSO smoked and imbibed of the free liquor being offered. And don’t get me started on the obese guy I saw seated at a Black Jack table, sitting in an electric scooter, smoking a cigarette (in spite of the oxygen tube hanging from his nose), drinking a beer, and eating from a large trough of pasta that had been delivered to his table. The only thing missing from this picture was a high-priced hooker sitting behind him wishing upon his lucky four-leaf clover and rubbing his rabbit’s foot necklace. Can you say multiple addictions? I think so!
While it may seem as though I’m standing in judgment of these people – I promise, I am not. If anyone understands the power of addiction – it’s me. I will likely always be a food addict. To my way of thinking, a food addiction is probably one of the worst – because let’s face it, we cannot survive without food. You can’t say that about cigarettes, liquor, sex, gambling, shopping or most other addictions.
My list of past and present addictions is a lengthy one. Some of these addictions are rather benign, while others … not so much. I would wager If people are honest, just about everybody harbors some sort of secret addiction. Heck, how many of us are addicted to our cell phones these days? Or coffee? Or diet soda? At what point though – is an addiction just an addiction and not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? OR does addiction start as one thing and then end up as OCD? Gambling in and of itself probably wouldn’t qualify as OCD, but whose to say that your compulsive need to buy a lottery ticket at the same place every week at the same time isn’t the thing that pushes you towards a full-blown addiction??? Sometimes there is no explanation for our weird quirks that begin simply and metamorphosis into addiction.
How can you know if you have a real bona-fide addiction? If you’ve ever uttered the words, “I can quit anytime I want to!” a little self-analysis might be in order with regards to your behavior. Simply ask yourself – “can I give this up? Can I walk away from _____________ whatever this thing is?” Perhaps if you are reading this, you can honestly say, “Yeah … I’m good. I don’t have ANY addictions.” If that’s you, that’s amazing! Good for you! In which case, I’m just writing this blog for my own benefit!
I know I have a problem in certain areas. Every day is a struggle. Every day finds me in pursuit of living a balanced life. The more I’ve come to understand the WHY of the reason I behave the way I do, the more I realize how lost I am and in need of a Savior. Will I ever get it right this side of Heaven? Only the God of Mercy knows for sure. With my every breath though … I’m going to do my best to keep pushing forward!
Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Romans 6:16 (NLT)
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