Molested by his cousin, neglected by his parents, he watched his intoxicated father beat his mother. Thinking she would die too many times, he ran away, returned in a police car over and over again, as if wanting to get away was a crime. He came back and raped his neighbor, more than once. He spent a lot of time trying to get sex even though he knew it was ruining him and others. He lost interest in almost everything else. He suffered uncontrollable impulses.
He was 18 years old when he left it all for the safety of prison. During the next fifteen-some years he was diagnosed, treated, and kept. But kept for what? For eating. He gained weight, until he needed 2 seats to sit in. Eating became his preoccupation. He didn’t have sex. He had food.
He was released to a home for sexual offenders, put on a diet and lost weight. He lost it big and fast and felt in control. He started purging and not finishing his meals. He thought about purging all the time. He knew he shouldn’t do it. His voice was changing, raspy and his throat hurt but he still purged. He wasn’t having sex. He wasn’t over-eating. He was purging.
For whatever reason, no one had yet seen the pattern. Mostly everyone saw sex offender. Me included. I was trying. I was trying to treat him with empathy, trying to get past the bile that comes when I think of rape, trying to consider the courageous things this man was doing now in life.
In one of my favorite scenes from the film, Rachel Getting Married, Kim played by Anne Hathaway argues with her sister about her own chances to have a future:
Rachel: Kym, you took Ethan for granted. Okay? You were high for his life. You were not present. Okay? You were high.
Kym: [Whispering] Yes.
Rachel: And you drove him off a bridge… and now he’s dead….
Kym: Yes, I was. Yes, I was stoned out of my mind. Who do I have to be now? I mean, I could be Mother Teresa and it wouldn’t make a difference, what I did. Did I sacrifice every bit of… love I’m allowed for this life because I killed our little brother?
I thought of this and somehow through all that trying, I did. And because I could empathize, a space opened up for me to be more objective. That’s when I saw it. I saw the pattern.
Addictions migrate. Someone who may have started out as a food addict, might turn to gambling, and then later to alcohol. Someone with sex addiction, might turn to food and then later to purging.
It can be like that game I used to play at Chucky Cheese, trying to hammer down the little animals that pop out of holes. We need to treat the disease of Addiction regardless of how it’s dressed, or else it will keep popping up. And like Kym, if we do, although perhaps terribly wrong in some unchangeable ways, we will still have a future. If you’d like to read more about this “kainos” (Greek word for the opportunity to be made new,) read the post New versus New.
Self Care Tip #62 – Get treatment to move on. Be a friend to yourself.
Question: What do you think? Please tell me your story.