Thursday, December 22, 2011

Progress and the slippery slope

Last Sunday, my family met for brunch to celebrate my birthday and that of my nephew Alex. The hilarious and very congenial waiter convinced the table to order a plate of gingerbread pancakes to share as we waited for our food orders. My sister cut the plate-size cakes into small triangles and passed them along. They looked really good and so I put butter and syrup on mine and ate them (three bites). They were great but good and the amazing thing is I didn't think about taking a second helping (there were several left) or about trying to sneak them or even wanting them. It didn't occur to me and that seemed such a major breakthrough. And when the waiter brought the birthday cake slice for me in a to-go box, I didn't even hesitate, just passed it right along to my sister.

But it's the holidays, a time fraught with peril for those of us who are alcoholic and/or food addicts. It's a time of year when normal eaters and drinkers binge and the dangerous substances are everywhere. At every party, every event (no matter how benign), there are plates full of sweets and cookies with rum and spiked drinks. And sometimes abstinence feels like penance, rather than a choice freely taken. And even resolve gets shaky.

Last night another family dinner, this one smaller. My nephew ordered gelato after. Ice cream is my weakness. And he didn't finish it and I really, really thought about it. About using the spoon the waitress had so kindly placed in front of each of us. I was craving for a minute and then I thought about the consequences. About starting up again in all of that. And I took a deep breath and let it go.

May we all find peace around food and drink in this holiday season.

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