Torres column: We have control over our decisions and desires
Many members of my family have or have had struggles with addictions, especially alcohol. I have an uncle who almost puked his liver out. The story goes like this: He has been beaten up several times for getting in trouble due to bad decisions he made because he was drunk. He has been sent to the hospital often for cirrhosis. He has been sent to rehab more than six times. He lost his family. He depends on other family members. Two years ago he went to the hospital vomiting blood. The doctors said his liver was giving up, and he had only a few hours left to live. He finally went into a coma. However, he recovered.
I thought for some reason this event would change his life. I was wrong. He still drinks just like he used to. I have seen similar stories with lots of other people. For example, my mom got into a lot of trouble thanks to alcohol.
I saw the story of a famous American drug dealer who got arrested and spent most of his life in prison. When he got out, he thought the next $1,000 drug deal would be the last one, and he got caught again.
People eat the wrong foods and overeat, regretting it every time, but then they do it again. Other people gamble and lose it all thinking the next time will be the last time.
One of my dogs, Pelon, overate last year. He was served more than he usually gets due to miscommunication. My bed is around 3 to 4 feet high. Pelon is a small dog that has the strength to jump onto and down from the bed. You probably know the story already about when he got hurt and slipped a disc because he jumped down with the extra weight of overeating.
He loves food, as many dogs do. He will get in the trash to eat bones, and he will eat the leftovers from our other dogs. I do my best to be careful and put the trash where he can’t reach it and make sure food is not around him. This year he has overeaten three times to the point where his health is in danger.
The first time, I got in the shower and forgot to move the trash to a safe area. The second time we were given organic ham to take home, and we forgot it in the car while we stopped at the supermarket. When we came back to the car, the ham was gone.
And this last time, Sarah was given dry food for another dog that we were taking care of. She never used the food because we feed organic ground beef to our dogs, and we fed the same to our visitor. The dried food was in the car, and I completely forgot to get it out, so Pelon got into it when we left him in the car. This was the worse time ever. His stomach was very big, and he was in a lot of pain.
I got very upset with him, very upset. The reason it bothered me was because he was in a lot of pain, and he is very valuable to me. I bet no one wants to see their loved ones in pain. I also got upset because it could have been avoided. How many times does it need to happen for me to understand that I need to be careful with Pelon’s bad habit? It could have been avoided, but I can’t go back to the past.
Now, when is Pelon going to learn about the pain he experiences when he overeats? Or the real question is, does Pelon have the capability of adding 2+2? Does Pelon understand his behavior? Who is going to get it first, Pelon or me? The truth is that I am a human, and I have a more developed brain than Pelon (or at least that is what I want to believe).
This is what makes us so different from animals: We can make conclusions about cause and effect. We have the potential to change our lives for the better when we notice that our behavior is not helping us to grow, feel better, stay healthy, or to be alive, free, without pain and happy.
We can make a couple of mistakes and understand that we are doing something wrong that is not contributing to our lives in a positive way. When do we stop being animals and become humans? Or is being human determined by our psyche instead of our actions?
What I certainly know is that I have control over my decisions and control over my desires, and I make conclusions about my behaviors. I want to think that all of us humans have something in common.
Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently.” His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.