Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Did Adam and Eve have Bellybuttons?

One of the craziest arguments I ever got into was about whether Adam and Eve had bellybuttons. Some argued that since they were never born they wouldn't have had an umbilical cord. Others argued that they had to have had them or could not have genetically passed them on to their children. This was back when I was a freshman in college and as you can tell, this was a fairly conservative group of Christian young people.

It's a which came first, the chicken or the egg kind of dilemma.

The same thing is true of trying to get at the root causes of compulsive overeating. Their seems to be more and more evidence of brain chemistry at work in food addictions as well as genetic pre-dispositions to having these problems. At the same time, emotional factors seem to play a big role in all eating disorders and for some people seem to have been the trigger for their addictions. Social and spiritual issues are also involved. Chicken or egg?

Likewise, in dealing with compulsive overeating, a variety of tools is needed to find recovery. Some people find it helpful to to keep track of their food and plan it ahead of time. I have no problem with this as long as they don't expect me to do it, too. Just thinking about doing it makes me want to eat.

I don't have a problem with it as long as it doesn't become just another form of the disease, another food obsession, with the restrictions reaching the point of ridiculousness. I knew one man who was genuinely allergic to gluten so he eliminated all gluten from his diet and felt much better. He was no longer heavy but he decided he was addicted to carbs, especially simple carbs and eliminated all carbs other than fruits and vegetables. Then he switched from caffeine to decaf but decided decaf was now an addiction and had to be eliminated. Of course, sugar substitutes were an addiction, and oversized portions were an addiction so he weighed and measured everything. I don't think he ate red meat. His food plan became his bible. He and another woman who didn't have the gluten issue but had been massively overweight and followed the same food plan combined forces and began promoting their food plan in OA meetings.

Many people asked them to be sponsors because they appeared to be successful in conquering their food addiction. Those of us who didn't adopt their plan began to feel like misfits. Eventually they formed their own recovery business, divorced their respective spouses and married each other. When I went back to OA recently I saw a lot of that same mentality.

The fact is that I am totally incapable of that kind of rigidity. I really am officially diagnosed as ADHD and my friends and co-workers know it and joke about it with me. I designed my job so that my assistants would take care of all paperwork and details and organization that drive me crazy. At home my husband does the same. This has freed me up to stop trying to be someone I'm not, and allowed me to do what I'm really good at--teaching and tutoring at-risk students with all my creative juices flowing, with flexibility and the ability to change lesson plans in a heartbeat and fly by the seat of my pants in a new direction when the situation needs it.

Many of the emotional issues that contribute to my eating disorder arise from being an ADHD girl in a school, church, and social setting where that was not acceptable (it hadn't even been given a name, yet). Its taken me a long time to learn to love my ADHD and the gifts its given me. I can't be around people who trigger that old shame from my childhood, people who think that everyone should be able to recover using the same rigid techniques.

This past year I really saw and measured the progress my students made over time, I saw ideas I had bloom and take on a life of their own in ways that really helped and will help the school. My classroom and my work have been enormously blessed. My ability to see the big picture and implement a long-term vision for my classroom paid off. My classroom is where I am most myself, where my ADHD is my biggest asset.

I think that's partly what gave me the courage to go ahead with the lapband. I picked a tool that works for me and coordinates well with my ADHD. Instead of ADHD being the trigger for compulsive overeating, I'm letting it be part of the cure. This blog is evidence of that.

I am becoming the person God has always meant for me to be. I am doing the good work he set aside for me to do. I will not be made over into the image of those who would shame me for not being like them. I want to be made over more and more into his image. I want to hear, "Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into my rest."