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Starting That Moment

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I grew up in an American, Midwestern, blue-collar, motorcycle-riding family that fully embraced pride of all sorts—pride in our family, our country, our bikes, our tattoos and putting in an honest day’s labor. If family needed help, you showed up on Saturday and helped. You taught your kids how to fix engines, build things, and to listen to their mama.

You took care of your family, even if you got divorced. You did things because they were right, not because you wanted to do them. Man, I loved my family. I thought I had the coolest family in the world.

It was also true that almost everyone was addicted to something. Great-grandma and great-grandpa smoked. Another great-grandmother was about 400 pounds (181 kg). My grandmother smoked, dad overate, one aunt died of alcoholism, and another was addicted to anger. An uncle over-collected. Lots of cousins smoked or did drugs, and many drank.

One thing my family didn’t do was challenge each other about our addictions. I grew up thinking this was acceptance. Turns out, this was just denial hiding under love.

Despite helping each other with household tasks, party planning, and fixing vehicles, we never helped each other with our addictions, and we never asked for outside help. That’s how pride crippled my family. One cousin was in and out of rehabs, psych wards, and jail, but no one ever mentioned that.

One day a car hit me while I was proudly driving my motorcycle to my good job. I never asked for it, but starting that moment, I got help—a lot of help. A stranger gave first aid. Another called an ambulance. Paramedics provided life-saving care and took me to a hospital where a battalion of medical professionals continued to save my life. Then I received months of care from hundreds of others whom I never asked to help me. They did it because it was their job and the right thing to do.

By the end, I realized how dependent I was on the rest of humanity—my family did not have a lock on helping me. In fact, my family didn’t know what help I really needed. They sent me sweets of all sorts and didn’t know I was a compulsive overeater. Heck, I didn’t even know I was a compulsive overeater.

After I put on 40 pounds (18 kg) by eating everything that anyone brought me, I came to believe that no diet or exercise plan alone would help. It never helped in the past because I always did it alone.

It was not until I got truly humble and agreed to let thousands of strangers help me that I could begin my recovery. So, faithful reader, today you are helping to save my life. Thank you. I need you.

— Mard, Arizona USA

 

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