UN-Happy Hours


I'm not a fitness coach or nutrition specialist. I'm not documenting my 21 or 80 Day progress, although it IS progress and I’m very proud. No, I've finally, after 3 years, realized I can apply what I know about my alcoholism to another area I fear is becoming an addiction-food. Since I got sober, I've justified unhealthy habits by telling myself, "it could be worse, I'm not drinking." While true, and I will never think twice about indulging in a fattening appetizer or sweet treat if it keeps me from drinking in a desperate situation, I cannot start another pattern of excusing bad choices out of self-pity.

Over the last few months I've felt more helpless at my lack of control over binging or eating certain things when feeling sad, bored, or wanting to celebrate. Happy Hour has transitioned from cocktails and appetizers to energy drinks, kettle chips and cookies. That unforgiving period of time between naptime and dinner time drove me to drink many years ago. Eventually, I convinced myself I HAD to drink between 4 and 6 (and then on until 10) to relax from my full time job while I prepared dinner and did laundry, helped with homework and listened to recess stories. Now, I don’t drink, but those hours still aren’t “happy!” Even though I’m no longer working, it’s a whirlwind of homework, driving kids back and forth to clubs and practices, mediating sisterly “love,” driving kids back and forth, monitoring teenage social media accounts, driving kids, advising on the latest middle school drama, driving, cooking dinner and washing uniforms, and...driving some more.

My inability to "control" something I didn’t like started feeling all too familiar...and it sickened me. Too many mornings I'd wake up asking myself, why did I do THAT (that = eating something terrible just because, OR overeating long after I was full, OR choosing something terribly unhealthy when the better choice sounded just as good). Then, I'd follow it with, "well, TODAY will be different!" (Until I failed again as my fist flew, on autopilot, between the Doritos bag and my mouth). I was becoming restless, irritable and discontent inside another vicious cycle. And then, as I started feeling those familiar feelings of shame and guilt and helplessness, God reminded me of the familiar (and comforting) lessons I learned early in recovery...

“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”

Today marks DAY 18 of not taking the FIRST bite of something I don't need. I have a plan. I haven’t bought foods that tempt me, I avoid taking “just a taste,” I don’t lick the spoon or finish my kids’ plates, I look at restaurant menus before I get there so I don’t order on impulse, and I remind myself, I. CAN. DO. THIS. I’ve done harder things. I got sober!

I've gotten through two snowed in weekends without comfort food, three Friday nights home alone with Carl, a house full of tweenagers, and no pizza. I'm feeling better, sleeping better, and have more energy. Sound familiar...?

In the big picture, I’d let my eating fears go if it threatened my serenity and sobriety. Not drinking will always trump calorie counts. But, I don’t like feeling like I’m losing control, that something else is keeping me from living my best life. I don’t like feeling like a failure.

Every day, I’m doing the work, practicing what has helped me not drink, to help me with my unhealthy relationship with food. I’m just ocusing just on today and avoiding the “firsts.” I ask God to give me strength when I feel weak, to show me where I’m feeling sorry for myself or resentful, to reveal other ways I’m “avoiding,” and to keep me sober in both my physical choices, and my spiritual life.

My sobriety is about more than not drinking. It’s about self-reflection and evaluation, taking responsibility, and spirituality which ultimately improves my serenity. It’s empowering. My sobriety has the power to influence my whole life, and for that I am so grateful...most of the time...except maybe when the kids are eating Oreos.

Alyssa Adkins