Like many people, I was crushed earlier this month when I heard that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died. Minutes later, when I was reminded that he had battled addiction and likely died from an overdose, I got angry. He was so talented. Had a beautiful family. And drugs brought him down.
But in the hours and days that followed, as friends and strangers mused on his brilliance and questioned why he was so self-destructive, I was quiet. And I read few articles about him. Because how could I be angry at him for succumbing to his addiction when I continued to be brought down by my own?
Drug addiction and food addiction are different. But they're also similar. You live for your next fix/meal. You promise yourself it's the "last time" you'll use/binge. You want to be better, but you can't get out from under the weight of it all. And, for many, adding in a hefty dose of self-hatred makes it that much harder to end the addiction. Part of you doesn't think you deserve to be clean/thin and loved. Part of you wants to die as much as the other part wants to live.
But no matter what kind of self-hatred may have been involved, I'm pretty sure Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't want to die with a needle in his arm on the bathroom floor. Likewise, I don't want to be carted off to the hospital or mortuary on a specially made stretcher, hoisted by a half dozen firefighters straining from the weight of their victim. (That was a hard sentence to write.) I don't want my family to have to order an extra-wide coffin. I don't want the newspaper article to read "... the morbidly obese D'Abruzzo, who spent her lifetime battling her weight ..."
I can't choose how I'm going to die, but I can choose how I'm going to live.