I lost 25 pounds this year. Not on purpose; I was thin to begin with. Now I’m entering illness thin. As an alcoholic, I’ve never been that in tune with my body, nor recognized the physiological changes that various chemicals created. Booze, pot, nicotine, sugar, and caffeine: all had their place inside my shell, and all of them I ingested until it was time for bed.

At the height of my drinking, I simply swapped out food for alcohol. Five dollars in my pocket for lunch meant a dollar burger and two twenty-four ounce aluminum cans. If I only had four bucks, well, there went the burger. It was like constantly filling up my car’s tank with grape jelly: somehow it still ran, and I never questioned it. So when it came time to switch back to regular gasoline, there were all kinds of fits and starts, lurches and grindings.

Now, as a recovering alcoholic in the program, I’m finding that I’m still the person I was before the drinking: a high-strung over-thinker with the metabolism of a ferret on crank. If Alpo would just come out with People Chow, I’d be all set. Because instead of malt liquor in the mornings, it’s coffee until mid-afternoon. Eating is something that can almost always be put off or pushed back, and if I’m in a mood (image that), my stomach goes into knots and nothing’s getting down my throat. I guess I see nutrition as something of a reward for good behavior. Or as a self-inflicted punishment for the perceived slights of others. Something like a martyr’s food strike.

It also doesn’t help that I tend to eat the way I tend to do everything: in the extreme. A party-sized bag of chips will disappear in one sitting, followed by a giant bowl of ice cream, right before sleep. Portion control has never been something I’ve enjoyed.

So what’s this all have to do with my sobriety and serenity? Well, my shrinking waistline is telling me that I’m still a hot mess, sans alcohol. I went a week without coffee and when I then indulged in a morning cup, I felt like I had a bad case of the shakes. My body’s a delicate conglomeration; one that I’ve spent years treating like a blunt instrument. If one coffee can do that to my body, what chance did I have constantly pouring gallons of funny liquid into it?

Thankfully, today I understand that I’m a summation of a lot of moving parts. I might not always understand their inner workings, but at least with a clear mind and a roomful of mechanics at my disposal, I’ve got more than a fair shot at getting things humming again, at least for today.

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