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How I convinced myself addiction wasn’t sin

Sue Berscheid is a wife, mother, special education professional and catechist at Risen Christ Parish. She is passionate about supporting teens as they navigate this often-challenging time in their lives.

I’m not sure why, but I don’t really like the color yellow.

It’s a perfectly fine color as colors go, just not my favorite. Yet, as I made my way through the grocery store last month, I was captivated by the beautiful bouquets of yellow tulips, daisies and sunflowers. The color and vibrancy burst forth, screaming to me: spring is here, spring is here! But as I stood in the flower aisle, the faith and promise of another spring was overshadowed by my feelings of desolation and shame.

I was empty, depleted, with my arms wrapped tightly around a bleakness I couldn’t shake. Though I could see the yellow hope in spring, the new life bursting around me, I couldn’t feel it. Was my spiritual dryness going to end? Did I have the conviction and faith my friends seemed to have with a new season upon us? I suspect most people struggling with an addiction have faced those feelings at one time or another.

For years, actually decades, I never thought of my eating disorder as an addiction. Actually, it wasn’t until recently that I thought of my years of bulimia and binge eating as a sin. I’m a “good Catholic”—I attend Mass regularly, serve my church and community, am in a small faith-sharing community, seek spiritual guidance, try to be a loving and wise parent, and a devoted wife. But behind closed doors, in the secrecy of my darkest hours, I run to food as my comforter and healer. Afterwards, I put on a mask that announces to all that I am happy, all is well, and I am OK.

But with disgrace and guilt running through me, I enter back into the world trying the best I can to keep my head above water. Once again, I’m back in my loneliness and desolation.

For me, it was easy to separate my addiction with the rest of my life. Consumed with humiliation, I did everything I could to hide this side of me. It never occurred to me that I was living a life Christ wouldn’t desire for me. It may start out harmless enough, but soon I became entrapped with deceit as my guide. I convinced myself that the life I was living was good enough for God. I was doing all the “right” things. In some strange way, I suppose I thought that what I was hiding from everyone else, I was also hiding from God. My sin.

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I now realize that bringing only part of me, the “good” part of me to the altar, to Eucharist, to reconciliation, isn’t good enough. I need to bring everything, all of my faults, my failures, my humanness, my sin, to Him who is the greatest of healers.

It’s taken a long time for me to reach this awareness, and I’m not perfect. I struggle regularly, sometimes daily, sometimes monthly. When I long for the old blanket I now recognize as sin, I run to the Lord. Well, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s more like a stroll.

I’m blessed with a support system that encourages me and loves me, warts and all. I’ve developed a desire, actually a longing, to spend time with Him in adoration and attend daily Mass when I can. It is only through Him that we are restored and made new. It is only through Him that our sin can be redeemed. The hardest part is coming clean with myself.

I’m not sure how long I stood in the flower aisle. Contemplation comes to me at the strangest time, even when world is bustling about. Winter has come and gone, Lent is complete and we have rejoiced in our holiest of days, Easter. It’s time to embrace this beautiful season; it’s time for me to embrace the yellow.

I decide on the tulips. As I reached for the bouquet, I added in sunflowers. They look great in my home.


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