Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Living versus surviving.

I think people have a certain fixed idea of what constitutes a drug addict.  When I tell people I work with drug and alcohol addicted felons, they think they know exactly the "profile" of what my clients look like.  They picture someone homeless and dirty and uneducated from a poor family.  And some of my clients fit that bill exactly.

But as anyone in this field can attest, drug addiction doesn't spare any group of people.  I have had clients with Master's Degrees.  Many have worked in professional settings.  Lots of them come from solidly middle class and some of them even extremely upper class homes.  

I met with a client today who is almost done with the program.  He worked an extremely professional job before this latest arrest which was the "last straw" for his employer.  He made way more money then I do, PLUS he had a very successful construction business on the side.  He used to be the life of the party and would go to local bars and blow literally HUNDREDS of dollars a night buying drinks for everyone and then more money would go up his nose.

Anyway, this client took a LOT of breaking down before he could be built back up.  He thought that he was better than the rest of the clients and was, frankly, - using his own words here - an entitled and arrogant prick.  He has changed so much and will be graduating the program late next month if all continues to go well.  

The last time he got a DWI, he entered a drug treatment program.  I didn't know him that well last time - he wasn't on my program - but I knew of him.  So today during our session I asked him how long he had stayed clean and sober last time.  The answer was 6 months.  I asked him if at that time he had any plans at that time to stay clean long term and he said "No way!  I was just doing it for the Judge so that I could hopefully get a reduced sentence and keep my job." (Both of which happened)

I asked him what the difference is this time.  His answer?  "Before I was just surviving and now I am living!"

That statement was so simple and yet so profound that it really resonated with me and I have been thinking about it all day.  This comes on the same day that I read a post from someone on the weight loss site who is - in her view - finally near the weight that she "should be" and is beyond thrilled by this.  But - be her own admission - she eats rigidly and restrictively.  She is starving by dinner and doesn't eat enough to be satisfied at that time.  She thinks constantly about food.

Is that living or surviving?  This is the realization that I **think** that I am coming to during this experiment of mine.  It's too soon to tell what the results are going to be.  But eating more and not concentrating on every bit of food that has gone into my mouth the last week or so has resulted in my being calmer, no anxiety. not obsessing on food, sleeping better.  Yesterday it was cold and windy and freaking SNOWED and I didn't lose my shit.  Yeah, I bitched and moaned, but I didn't have that desperate, hopeless feeling like before.  

When I was actively losing weight for the most part I was patient.  I would sometimes lose 4 pounds in a week.  Other weeks I would lose 1/2 pound.  It upset me at times, but I continued the course, confident that if I did what I was doing, it would pay off.  At what point in maintenance did I come to believe that I have to exercise obsessively and be so restrictive with my food to obtain happiness?

I want to LIVE.  Because surviving alone is fine if the apocalypse happens, but it's no way to be happy and healthy mentally, now is it?  And is being a number on a scale what I want to define my life?  That kind of existence seems pathetically sad in my current mindset.  I encourage you all - beg of you - to remind me of this in 2 weeks when I am lamenting and freaking out because I weigh in the 120's!

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