Sunday, May 30, 2010
Yesterday at the meeting, one person talked about how she used to overeat until she was stuffed and uncomfortable in any position. But that ever since she fully accepted she's powerless over food, it became easy to not overeat or binge. She went on to say that another woman then in the group, who was successful in not overeating for a long time, inspired her when she was new to it. She said, "I want to be like her. I want to be "clean and sober" (not overeat) for a whole year." Today she has met and exceeded her goal.
I certainly recall many instances of stuffing myself until I was in agony. Just recently (March) my husband and I were on vacation in Arizona. Twice in three days we went to a casino near where we were staying to have their "all you can eat" dinners. Both times we stuffed ourselves mercilessly to the point where we had to unbutton our jeans on the way home, take multiple tums and anti-acid tabs and were grossly uncomfortable for the rest of the evening and into the night. Twice we did it!!!!
One of the other members of my OA group talked about how "normal" stuffing ourselves has become in our society. How families take it for granted that at holidays, parties, potlucks, church events, etc. everyone gets stuffed and nobody thinks anything of it.
Anyway, in 43 days of abstinence, I can happily say that I've not been stuffed once. I like it!!! My sanity is returning!
Since the meeting, I've been thinking about the possibility of one year of abstinence and whether or not I want to identify it as a goal. So far, it's worked well for me to think of my food plan as "one day at a time." Just for today, I can stick to it. It seems that setting a goal toward one year of sobriety sounds a little like "one year at a time." Just for this one year, I can stick to it.
Hmmmm... I'm not so sure I can embrace a whole year... Not that I wouldn't love to be there at the other end of 365.242199 days, looking back and saying, "I like it!!! My sanity has returned!"
Thursday, May 27, 2010
That was back in 1952. Today medicines would have me back in school, playing full-tilt-boogie again in no time. But back then, the treatment for acute kidney infection was hospitalization for one month (the first week quarantined) and home bed rest for ten more months. I was also on a 100% salt-free diet. I had a home-school tutor for most of the school year.
My parents moved me to the main floor of the house in a sun porch off the living room that faced our back yard, rather than keep me in the bedroom upstairs. I guess that was a good decision because I was closer to family activities and not so lonely as I would have been in my bedroom. Yet, it was torture in the summer months because I could hear and see my siblings and neighborhood kids playing in our back yard, while I had to stay in bed and try to make do with reading, cutting paper dolls or folding origami critters.
The salt-free diet was interesting. My poor mom worked full time and by then had 4 kids. She had to cook special food for me and even baked bread without salt. I got to eat the home-baked bread (with lots of salt-free butter and honey) while everyone else in the family ate ordinary store bread. I recall eating cookies and other goodies (specially baked by Mom) on a daily basis. I never asked her about that, but I think the deserts, honey and other sweets were her way of saying, "Oh baby, I'm so sorry you're having to stay inside for all these months."
As one might guess, the inactivity and sweets and bread began to show on my body. By the time I returned to school, 5th grade, I was definitely overweight. "Fatty, fatty, two by four, can't get through the kitchen door." Boys yelled that at me from across the street as we walked to school.
I think from that time on, my self-image has always been as a fat person, no matter what I weigh. Those formative years started me down a path that doesn't serve me well. Now it's time to let go of it.
As I continue my journey of not overeating, my body will change. In 40 days of abstinence it has already changed... one size down and half way to the next. Reminder to Peacefulbird: start changing how you think of yourself; let's eliminate the word "fat" from the descriptors!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
- like eating vast amounts of chocolate cake might help
- afraid (have I let any of them down?)
- sad, very sad
Thinking about life's ups and downs, about problems and losses we all face, about how we cope, about my binge foods and how they really wouldn't help me get through this week any more easily. Voice of reason speaking, but that didn't seem to stop me from dwelling on certain treats I would have allowed myself in the past.
Feeling sorry for myself; feeling burdened; feeling heavy and sad... all excuses to consume many treats in the past. Giving myself rewards because I carry on, treats as compensation for doing things that seem difficult. Now what do I do? Now how can I reward myself?
That's actually a good question. 10 things I might possibly substitute for food/treat rewards:
- maybe rather than need rewards, I need to identify and set better boundaries?
- an hour of quiet to do whatever I want
- take a walk at a favorite place
- an early haircut, before I start looking shaggy
- 15 minutes in the rocker with the cat on my lap
- repeat the serenity prayer
- give myself time to paint
- write morning pages
- ask my husband for a big hug
So, I'm asking anybody who's reading this... what rewards do you give yourself that aren't in any way about food?
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Sweetpea wrote a long comment describing how she was brought up in a Christian faith and later found a new spiritual pathway. Part of what she said (below) really strikes a cord in me and may be a window to my own pathway...
God - any definition of god - is to be found in the most personal of places for each one of us, this I believe. No longer being within a church structure or singing hymns or studying scripture, I was alone walking one day and realized - not sure exactly how - that nature was my *new* church. I was so in awe of the pulse of LIFE all around me, I stopped dead in my tracks and looked up, past tree tops, past bird song, to wind, to clouds, to new thoughts on high. THIS was my life force. And that moment freed me to pray again! My god was the natural world and the natural rhythm of things and this has remained with me for over 30 years.... I guess what I'm trying to convey, PB, is that when some forms of prayer don't work, remain receptive...and easy with yourself. Prayer may come from an entirely different direction than we expect. Yet when it finds you - and I believe this, IT finds YOU.
How beautiful is this!!! Many good contemplations in this for me... remain receptive, be easy with myself... and unspoken by Sweetpea, yet in my thoughts, is a willingness to try prayer... just do it!
Then came a comment from PJ, who gave me a fantastic link to a World Prayer site that I love! It's so gentle, clean and undogmatic... just many beautiful prayers, some ancient, some modern, some poetic, some by known mystics and religious figures, some by native shamen, some by unknown prayerful individuals from around the world. At the bottom of the site is a prayer wheel... each time I click on it a new random prayer comes up.
I love the prayer wheel so much that I've put a link to it on my side bar. If I read a world prayer every day, maybe one will help me to find my own most personal of spiritual places. I feel very calm now and optimistic. Isn't it interesting that the prayer that just came up on the wheel is this Tibetan Buddhist prayer...
Serendipity! Thank you Sweetpea and PJ!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
- I've not binged or eaten even a tiny crumb of my binge foods for 35 days. I feel great about making an abstinence commitment to myself and keeping it, thus honoring and respecting myself enough not to cheat.
- I'm doing well sticking to my food plan.
- I'm much more comfortable in my jeans; almost time to downsize!
- My digestive system likes my food plan; not needing Tums and anti-acid tablets.
- I feel supported by the OA structure and group members.
- I enjoy writing this journal blog.
- The blogging community is supportive, inspirational, fun and instructive.
- My husband is pleased with me for doing this.
- One day at a time works!
- My craving for sweets seems to be diminishing!
- It difficult for me not to stop eating when I'm not hungry when there is still food on my plate.
- I sometimes "taste" foods and nibble while I am preparing meals. This is not part of my food plan.
- I read a blog last night that totally slammed OA. It upset me to think that I could fail at regaining my sanity. I need to remember that many people remain "clean and sober" for the rest of their lives. I can be like those people.
- My best friend is gone again. I miss her.
- I had a nice burst of doing my art work, but have relapsed again into procrastination.
- I haven't found a form of prayer that works for me yet.
- Sometimes I feel like a fake... like I'm role-playing this sobriety process... saying and doing the "right" things, yet not fully engaged.
- I'm having a problem with significant heel pain (despite ice, Aleeve, changing shoes) which means I'm not walking very much. I miss it.
- I tend to forget that change happens in baby steps. It feels like I'm rushing to feel my feelings, find faith, make amends and radically alter my eating habits all at once... forgetting to breathe and love what I love.
- The scale is calling me.
What is one thing in the second list that I can change? #5... I can change that. OK, I will. I hereby make a public commitment to work for at least one hour per day on my current art project for 5 days starting right now. I shall stop writing, stop blogging and go to the studio immediately. Oh boy, oh boy!!!
Friday, May 21, 2010
I'm accustomed to writing my blog to a lot of readers, many of whom I know pretty well, having followed their blogs for a long time and in some cases actually meeting them. Lots of images on art blogs. Not so many words. Somewhat personal, but we don't dwell on personal issues for the most part.
So this is quite different. It's so much more personal and so much less designed to appeal to and attract readers. Yet, I am appreciative of readers and their comments. I like it when I'm able to share something personal and important and see that it was heard (or, as I like to think of it, witnessed). And I've already come to care about you other weight-fit-food-eat bloggers. That feels good. Also I like making commitments and being accountable for them to more than myself and more than an e-page of words.
I have two different blogger identities. My identity here is Peacefulbird, which is a name given to me when I was in China 18 years ago. For the other blogs, I use my real name. It's not that I want to hide my full identity... I decided to use my Chinese name because of the anonymous nature of OA. It feels a little odd... almost like I have a split personality.
Tonight I decided to post a picture of my most recent collage, called Forgive (click on picture to make it bigger). It's appropriate because I began this piece when I was first starting my sobriety program with OA. I knew that forgiveness was going to be a key to changing my habits, so that is the concept behind this improvisationally designed piece.
I guess by showing my art here, I'm shifting this blog, originally started as a private journal, more into the realm of community, exchange and readership. I hope it will be a good thing for me to make this change.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Why did she dress like that? How could it be anything except that she wants to be loved? She wants to be loved and through lack of training and modern media/advertising she mistakenly equates sex with love. Does she think if she gets laid, she will feel loved? Does she think if she advertises her sexuality, she will attract love? How sad!
Recently my husband and I read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman out loud to each other. The languages of love are:
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Chapman's theory is that every person has one primary language of love and when spoken to in that language, they get it. Their love tank fills. But when love is given to them in the other languages, they don't get it as well (or may not get it at all) and don't feel loved. Chapman provides exercises and discussion suggestions that help the reader to identify their primary love language.
At first, reading his introduction, I thought mine was quality time. After finishing the book, I am convinced that my primary language of love is physical touch.
Now, as I look back at my youth, like prom age and a couple of decades after that, I can better understand and appreciate my behaviours, which until recently were a constant source of self-criticism. I used to have HUGE crushes... I'm not going into the embarrassing details of what I did when I'd get a crush on someone. But I will say that when I get around to making amends (Steps 8 & 9) in my OA program, I will need to admit to several men that I made some big mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
But now that I understand how important physical touch is to my sense of well-being, to knowing that I am loved, it's not so surprising that I sought "love" so desperately. Now I have more compassion for myself and certainly for Genie's son's date. Maybe her primary love language is also physical touch. Maybe, like me, she doesn't get hugged and touched very often by her family. And maybe, like me for many years, she tries to find somebody to fill her love tank by desperately seeking romance and/or sex.
I feel very sad thinking about this.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Wherever you are, I hope you will "hear" my apology and my new understanding about our relationship.
I don't even know if my memories are accurate. Of course they aren't! Nevertheless, my operating belief about you and me is shaken today by a single blog post about how a mother questions the wisdom of showing love to her son by baking him cookies (here).
Until now, I always thought of living with you and Grandpa those two years after Daddy died (age 5-7), as being the start of my compulsive overeating. I blamed you for two things. First, and most significant, I blamed you for not allowing me to cry, especially for telling me, "Don't cry, dear. Your daddy is in heaven and he will hear you crying. It will make him so sad. You don't want to make him sad, do you?" I blamed you that I hide grief and dispair in anger and food. Secondly, I blamed you for feeding me sugar as a pacifier and as a reward.
I thought you were selfish. I thought you were silencing me because I was a bother or a nuisance to you. I thought you didn't like me. I thought you wanted me to disappear. My mother reinforced those beliefs. Mother didn't think you liked her or me.
Today, reading the thought-provoking words of a mother searching for wisdom about baking cookies for her son, about showing her love through giving him sweets, makes me look at you in a different way.
Perhaps I've wronged you all these years. Perhaps you told me not to cry because you loved me and didn't want me to suffer. Perhaps you gave me sweets as a way of showing your love for me.
In his book, The 5 Languages of Love: The Secret of Love to Last, Dr. Gary Chapman tells us we each have one primary language of love, the language by which we can fully understand and receive love from another person. The five languages are: 1. words of affirmation, 2. acts of service, 3. receiving gifts, 4. physical touch and 5. quality time.
Perhaps you thought making waffles, pancakes, cookies and cakes for us (and your husband) was how you could show your love for us... an act of service. Perhaps what I interpreted as selfishness was (is?!) actually love.
My primary language of love is physical touch. You weren't big on that and neither was grandpa. From looking at pictures of your son, my daddy, I'm guessing that he was very comfortable showing love through physical touch and that as a very young child I understood that I was loved. After he died and I came to live with you, that changed. Perhaps you sensed my longing for love. Perhaps you wanted, with all your heart, to replace the love your son had given me. Perhaps you just did it the only way you knew how.
I know I wronged you. I blamed you for my food compulsions and did not forgive you in your lifetime. Even if your intentions were selfish and not about love, I forgive you. My compulsive overeating is my responsibility, not yours. But now that I understand your actions may have come from love, I am even more sorry and my wrong is even greater.
Dede, I ask your forgiveness. I made a big mistake, one that came between us for our entire life together. From this day on, I shall remember the good things about you... the way you used to let us come in the bed with you and tell us made-up stories, the way you took us many fun places, the way you assumed the care of us when you, yourself, were grieving for the loss of your only son. I shall remember how often you wrote to me, how you traveled all the way across the country to see me graduate and how you never forgot my birthday. Thank you.
Hugs (the most natural way for me to show love),
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Well, last night, IT reared up again and got really ugly for a while. We were both angry and upset, although we show it in different ways. He seethes, while I explode. Once again we aired the wrongs of the other person. Once again we were full of resentment and frustration.
Was there anything different for me? Yes, maybe a little. I cooled down more quickly and was able to identify some of my own faults regarding the situation. I was also able to apologize for my angry outburst and for my mistakes. This cooled him down and opened him to join me in the problem solving mode. We went to bed, finally, feeling better about each other and with some plans in place for dealing with a similar situation which is looming ahead of us next month (which triggered the old stuff in the first place).
I never would have thought of the small changes, the awareness of my own mistakes, my own responsibility for the problem, and my willingness to apologize as "working OA's 12-step program," except for the surprising email I received this morning.
One of the members in my small OA group had read yesterday's post about the quilt gig. Below are excerpts from the email:
My name is _____, and I'm a compulsive overeater; and I'm so proud of you.You are such an inspiration!
Many with our disease would have given up and gone into a full-blown binge that might have lasted anywhere from days to weeks or months. Instead, you looked at your part in the situation and made a list and then faced the emotions you had felt.
Many with our disease then would have punished themselves by following the diet mentality of turning to a more strict food plan. Instead, you realized that the issues were emotional and had nothing to do with the quality of your food plan. You then looked at where you had not followed your food plan and used your spiritual tools to move back to your current food plan.
Many with our disease would have given up again and declared, "You see? OA doesn't work any better than any of the other gazillion programs I've tried." Instead, you said, "I'm making progress, but am not perfect. So I'm choosing to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again."
Now here's the coolest part: Whether you realized it or not, you worked the steps.
Step 1: Oh darn, I'm still powerless over food and my life at the quilting event was unmanageable and food at home wasn't wonderful either.
Step 2: I remember from my OA meeting that there is a power greater than myself. I just forgot to ask that Higher Power for help this time.
Step 3: I think I'll ask HP to help me now.
Step 4: Here's an inventory of the events and emotions that brought about my behavior, here's how it affected me, here are the other people who were affected, here are the defects of character that led to me falling off my food plan, and here is how it all affected my self-esteem and fears.
Step 5: Okay, blog followers (including my current sponsor), here's what happened. Oh, and by the way, I'm putting this out there for you to see as well, HP.
Step 6: Here are the defects of character that I exhibited and I'm thinking about them.
Step 7: And since HP already knows what those defects are from step 5, I'm considering being willing for HP to remove them.
Step 8: I know the people I affected, and I'm thinking about whether I did them any harm in case I need to make amends and move on to step 9.
Step 9: Regardless what I decide about other people in step 8, I know that I hurt myself by dealing poorly with my emotions and self-esteem, and I will make amends by starting over again and trying to use my tools more consistently.
Isn't that amazing? Isn't it astounding how the program works? Again, I'm so very proud of you. You are such an inspiration!
Wow! Thank you, _____!!!!
I'm so blown away by this message... I just had to add it to my journal. It helps me in so many ways, besides the obvious way of being very supportive and encouraging. It helps me most of all to have a more clear idea of how to work the steps or of how to apply them to daily situations. I love it and am so grateful, because this part of OA was still quite a mystery to me. I couldn't see anyway for me to consider anything but Step 1 and possibly Step 2.
Although I can't really take any credit for working Steps 6 and 7 in yesterday's events, the rest of it rings surprisingly true. Makes me feel good.
Plus, thanks to the email, I now look at my part in last night's argument and see some progress toward working Steps 6, 8 and 9, unconscious though it was. This is good. Never too old to change!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Not enough sleep (3rd night in a row).
Went to OA meeting... told about the 10 things list leading to serenity prayer leading to commitments. Noticed my shoulders drop into relaxation.
Immediately after OA, went to a quilting work-day. Pot luck. Lots and lots of foods and deserts. Went armed with food plan: took my own food and sat at the table furthest away from the food spread. Saw somebody eating what looked like cashews coated with sesame seeds. My food plan calls for one plate or bowl and no seconds. I had already eaten the food I brought. Went to the food spread, found sesame/cashews and took a handful. Ate them. Yum. Took a second handful. Ate most. Got to thinking about how the sesame seeds were stuck to the cashews. No! I was eating something quite sweet, like maybe caramel. Pop. The last few popped themselves into my mouth.
Dinner tonight. One plate, yes, but perhaps a tad overloaded and all consumed.
I want to name all the feelings I had at the quilting thing... not all at once and not all the time... some fleeting, some more pronounced.
Sad and angry that my good quilting/art friend didn't choose to sit at my table and seemed to be ignoring me until the very end of the day.
Lonely in a crowded room... most of the time I was there and especially at first.
Bewildered, a little, about the quilt I'm working on. It has a lot of small but difficult decisions that need to be made.
Overwhelmed by all the noise... talking and sewing machines... a couple of women with very loud, piercing voices.
Happy in a rub off sort of way. Most of the women there were having a really good time; lots of laughter.
Glad to be making a little progress on my quilt. Glad and thankful that we have a community of women who make quilts in our town.
Angry about eating those sugary nuts. Angry about not winning a drawing. I wanted the item very much and spent $15 buying tickets for it. Angry that there was so much noise.
Jealous of the women sitting at my friend's table. Jealous of the winner of the drawing.
Afraid that I'll never really feel like I belong to that group, even though I'm not sure I want to belong. Afraid that I did or said something to impair the trust and camaraderie with my friend. Afraid that I may be starting to slip off my food plan. Afraid nobody there likes me. Afraid I'm not a likable person.
Well, that gets to the root of the matter, doesn't it?! Yikes! I certainly wasn't aware of all those feeling while I was there. In retrospect, it's easy to find them and to belatedly feel my feelings.
I don't know if it's good or bad to list and revisit my feelings. However, I do know that prayer never entered my mind. I had just come from an OA meeting, yet the part where I rely on a power stronger than my own (the Universe, God)and pray for guidance, reassurance, love, forgiveness... that part never entered the room with me.
I am not perfect. I do not have to be perfect. I move forward with greater understanding and the hope of recognizing my feelings and responding with prayer the next time.
Friday, May 14, 2010
So I did great on all three of my goals today... An hour + of art and silence and about an hour to clean up a long-time-bug-me mess in the kitchen... the tray where we stash all the odds and ends. It's no longer overflowing and gritty on the bottom... ready now to begin that cycle again!
These three CAN do goals really worked well for me this week. They got me off the pity pot, out of the obsessive-about-sugar mode and into a period of feeling good about myself and life in general. I only committed to 5 days of it... I'm thinking about extending. Maybe I'll take a couple of days off and then try for another 5. (Lord knows there's still plenty of irritating stacks and drawers and closets I could tackle and doing art always gives me peace, quiet and satisfaction.)
Moving on... Chocolate.
I am a chocolate addict. Many people laugh when I say that. "Ha-ha," they say, "I know what you mean... me too."
Yeah, but do you need a fix two to four times EVERY day? Do you hide it? Do you scarf it down in your car? Do you lie about it? Do you get crabby, angry and irrational when someone/something gets in the way of your fix? Do you stuff it in, failing to notice the taste after the first bite or two? Do you eat a whole box/bag of it at one time? Do you get one fix in one place and then drive to another place for a second fix? Are you unable to have it anywhere near you without eating it instantly... all of it? Do you get it in your mind and then drop everything else to obtain it?
If so, then yes, you do know what I mean.
The first time I remember applying the word "addict" to my chocolate habit in a serious way was about 25 years ago. I had been visiting a friend who was having boy friend problems. I listened to her all evening, but didn't tell her how lonely I was and how long it had been since I had a boy friend. When I left her home, I drove straight to a Baskin 'n' Robbins for a triple scoop chocolate-chocolate mousse ice cream cone. While eating it in my car, I drove from there across town to my own neighborhood. Finishing my cone at about the right time, I arrived at a second B 'n' R, where I bought and ate a two-scoop cone of the same flavour. On the way home, I thought, "Geeezst, I'm a chocolate addict."
By the next morning, I was laughing at myself for using the term "addict"... I told myself, that only druggies, alcoholics and obsessive gamblers are "addicts"... not to worry!
Ha! Shortly after that, one of my all-time-highs on the scale, I joined Weight Watchers for the first time. It was "successful" for me. I lost 85 pounds to reach goal weight! And every day, every single day, I ate two double packages of Weight Watchers chocolate mousse or chocolate brownies. Gave up other goodies and counted the points. But the chocolate stayed with me.
On the other side of goal weight, I replaced the WW products with richer, tastier chocolate... and more of it. Of course the weight came back!
Then 15 years ago, I was self employed. I had two clients scheduled... one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I planned to drive somewhere to get a chocolate fix in between the two. Morning client came and stayed late; afternoon client came early. Yup, they overlapped and Ms. Chocoholic didn't get any time for a fix. Ooooh, I got so crabby and rude to my poor afternoon client... I wanted her to get OUT!
The very second she departed, I rushed out, got in my car and was driving away before she got to her car. Seriously, I did! I decided on the way to the supermarket that I'd check the deli for their double chocolate cake. Voila! I told the clerk I needed a big piece because three of us were going to split one piece. When she wasn't looking, I grabbed a plastic fork, then paid for the cake right there and headed to my favorite eating place... my car. Bending down, hoping other shoppers wouldn't notice me, I quickly gobbled down the cake.
When finally I surfaced for air, a terrible sense of guilt began to overwhelm me. I had been rude to my client, lied to the clerk and devoured a huge piece of cake without even tasting it. AND, I wanted to drive to a different store to get something else. Once again, out of desperation and shame, the word "addict" popped into my mind.
The next day I talked with a friend who is an AA member, describing my actions and thoughts of the previous day. "You are an addict, no question about it," she said. It began to dawn on me that the only solution, the only way to find some sanity around chocolate, was to abstain completely. So about a week later I began my first period of abstinence.
Three time since then, I have fallen off my vow of abstinence and quickly returned to my previous behaviours. The first of those times, I told myself, "Oh I can have chocolate only on my birthday each year." Yeah, right. Birthday, and the day after, the day after that, and quickly back to bingeing. The second time, it was, "Oh, I'll just eat chocolate this one time while we are on vacation." Same disastrous results. The third time, I was depressed and simply didn't care what happened. Each of these "once only" chocolate treats lead to a period of several months where I ate huge amounts of chocolate on a daily basis, lied about it, hid my behaviour and lost my feelings of self-respect.
So now I'm abstinent and fully aware that chocolate has power over me that's stronger than my will power. What about other sweets... cakes, cookies, cheese cake... as long as they're not chocolate? Well, perhaps some day I can eat them again. I don't know. I think they lead me down the slippery road to bingeing, not as bad as chocolate, but bad enough to be VERY wary and abstinent for a long time.... one day at a time.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
#1 ~ Clean up/organize at least one area.... Ran out of motivation or steam or was just plain lazy today (so far). I hope to get back on track tomorrow
#2 ~ Spend at least one hour working on an art project.... Today was another glorious date with my art project! I'm almost finished with one and have started another so as to avoid that syndrome where I get stuck after finishing something. I notice that it cuts down on my computer and blogging time to be doing my art. Maybe the trick is to improve the balance rather than going overboard with one or the other. Hmmm... a little like overeating and dieting....
#3 ~ Go wherever I need to go to be alone with no radio or TV sounds for at least one hour.... Like yesterday, I enjoyed complete silence while working in my studio. Tonight as I type away here at the computer, my husband's music (from his computer) and TV (in the living room) are not bothering me at all. Obviously I need some quiet most days, but not constant quiet.
We drove out to see the sun set after dinner this evening.... It was so lovely, making everything look so warm and rosy. Somehow it feels like maybe I'm starting to climb out of a hole. I am grateful to Overeaters Anonymous and the book that got me there (Holy Hunger) for showing me a pathway to a more sane way of eating and living (day 26 today).
Also, I am deeply thankful for the support of those who are reading this journal... I had no idea anybody would want to read my ramblings and am surprised by how much the comments inspire and support me!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
#1 ~ Clean up/organize at least one area.... My husband's been wanting me to hem two new pairs of jeans for him. For the past two months they've been sitting on a chair in our living room. Tonight they are hemmed and put away. Hallelujah!
#2 ~ Spend at least one hour working on an art project.... Check!!!! Today was glorious! I spent 5 hours beading, stitching and painting! I'm feeling so fine... and not one single obsessive food thought all day.
#3 ~ Go wherever I need to go to be alone with no radio or TV sounds for at least one hour.... Often when I'm working in my studio, my husband stays in the house (with his various sounds of music). So today, except for a couple of phone calls and one "visit" from my husband, the whole time I was doing art was in total peace and quiet. I had nearly 4 hours in silence. Waaaahoooo!
Hard to believe that I ever let his music bug me when there's such a simple solution with multiple benefits. I must remember this.
I've been thinking a lot about reasons I eat, about obsession in general and about my history of various obsessions in particular. It feels a tad self-indulgent to think about myself so much... hopefully it's a necessary part of recovery and healing.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
It definitely helped to fess up. Even as I wrote yesterday about craving fritters, they became less appealing. Chocolate? Well, no... I think rich, dark chocolate will always look good to me.
What helped even more was realizing that there are things I cannot change (like the oil in the Gulf and financial shakiness in the world) and things I CAN change, like the mess of papers around my computer. That insight allowed me to focus my energy on the things I can do, shifting it away from wanting to sugar binge.
OK, now the report. I commited to the following:
- For each of the next 5 days, I will clean up/organize at least one area, starting this evening with the clutter right around my computer. I will report my progress each day.
- For each of the next 5 days, I will spend at least one hour working on an art project. I will report my progress each day.
- For each of the next 5 days, I will go wherever I need to go to be alone with no radio or TV sounds for at least one hour. I will report my progress each day.
#2... Yes! Today I worked on an art project for 3 hours! I feel great about it!
#3... I didn't quite get an hour of quiet... more like a half hour. It was the last half hour that I was working on my art project, so it was a two-for-one blessing. Even a half hour makes me feel rejuvenated. I shall try for a whole hour tomorrow.
Monday, May 10, 2010
For a couple of months, my husband and I were both addicted to apple (him) and blueberry (me) fritters... the gigantic fluffy kind, mighty sweet, mighty full of calories and mighty emply of anything else. We'd talk about splitting one, but often we each got one thinking that we'd have half one day and half the next. Ha! Never happened.
So today I got to thinking about those fritters and a huge craving started growing. Although I knew I wouldn't give into the craving, it has stuck with me all day.
Another thing on my mind was a type of home-made, dark chocolate almond toffee that I saw at our local grocery market yesterday when I was shopping. When I saw it, I actually picked up a celophane bag of it, held it in my hand, admired the darkness of the chocolate and the thickness of the toffee.
Today, thinking about it, I began to feel sorry for myself.... began to think about never, ever having such a delicious treat again. One day at a time went out the window, replaced by deprivation depression.
My husband says I should remember how much chocolate I've eaten in my 67 years and reconfigure my thinking to see that I've used up my chocolate quota, punched all the holes in the ticket, been there done that.
The good news is, for this one day I did not deviate from my food plan at all... despite the cravings. The not so hot news is, I don't have a clue what is going on emotionally (or IF anything is going on emotionally) that has triggered this craving.
I'll see if a Ten Things List will help. Ten things that might be behind me to wanting to consume binge foods today:
- Mother's Day blues... my mom being far away and not being able to talk on the phone with her or communicate with her directly.
- Mother's Day blues... me not having any kids.
- My messy and disorganized work spaces in our house.
- Not setting aside chunks of time to work on my art projects.
- Feeling lonely.
- My best woman friend not being available lately.
- Frustration about noise levels; my husband always having radios and TV going in every room and always his choice of music.
- Not enough time alone in peace and quiet.
- Head and eye pain from squinting (wearing 10-year old glasses while new prescription is being filled)
- Worry about the world, oil spill, financial system, overpopulation, environment, etc.
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Taking a look at my list again, what CAN I change? Numbers 3, 4 and 8 are definite canidates. OK, dear journal, here's the deal. I am making a commitment right now:
- For each of the next 5 days, I will clean up/organize at least one area, starting this evening with the clutter right around my computer. I will report my progress each day.
- For each of the next 5 days, I will spend at least one hour working on an art project. I will report my progress each day.
- For each of the next 5 days, I will go wherever I need to go to be alone with no radio or TV sounds for at least one hour. I will report my progress each day.
We shall see how it goes. I want to be like PJ and not beat myself up if I fail to meet this commitment. Also, like her, I want to give it high priority, because they ARE things I can change.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
What's in my refrigerator?
Old salad dressings caked under bottle caps,
lettuce and asparagus, too yucky to eat.
What's in my freezer?
Things for making healthy meals
if only I could remember to thaw them.
What's the key
to my refrigerator
and my freezer?
Let the sound of its humming remind me
to nourish my soul, take care of my body.
What's in my refrigerator?
False promises, that's what.
All expectations from food --
that it will make me less lonely,
that it offers strength, where there is fear,
that it sooths disappointments
like a lullaby from mother's lips,
that from food comes reality.
Oh yes, my refrigerator
has held promise all my life.
I'm chained to it, barely able to feel anything
for the numbing solace of food.
I wear the refrigerator
around my neck,
not as a shawl,
but as a yoke.
Dear old refrigerator,
faithful old friend,
I've cast you off now.
I'm not wearing you
around my neck anymore.
I'm ashamed of all the years
I've held your hand.
Yet I look back and see you
as the most dependable anchor
in the deep waters of my life.
I miss you, dear pal.
You, like no person
and no other thing,
were always there for me.
I feel naked and scared
without you around my neck.
When I believe no one cares,
when there are too many
rocks in my path,
what will I do?
I look at you
and the answer comes to me.
I'll wear these words
in your place
to remind myself
that you are too heavy a load,
that rocks are just rocks,
that the Universe cares.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Since writing this poem, I've done the 10 to 50 pound yo-yo thing at least 8 times. What happened? I'm pretty certain that each time some event(s) triggered strong emotions... fear, loneliness, grief, possibly anger, possibly boredom. Under the influence of these emotions, I plum forgot that rocks are just rocks and that the Universe cares, which caused me to fall under the spell of my refrigerator... again.
That's why I'm in OA now. Because I forget about the Universe, the caring entity that some call God. Through OA I hope to come to a less shaky faith where I won't forget. And if I do, my sponsor and other members will remind me.... YES, the Universe does care.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Some thoughts I was having about asking for a sponsor:
- nobody will want to take on an extra task
- I'm doing well with abstinence
- I'm following my food plan
- what I really need is help with the spiritual part of this
- I am and have been agnostic most of my life
- "God" is a word that has many negative connotations for me
- prayer makes me feel uncomfortable
- religions of the world are responsible for much chaos and suffering
- nobody would want to work with me given the above
Because of PJ and Julie, I gathered my courage today and put it out to my group that I needed a sponsor. I "fessed up" about my lack of religious faith and just asked if there was anybody who would consider working with me to please let me know.
After the meeting, J came to me and volunteered! I felt a flood of relief and gratitude. Turns out J hasn't sponsored anybody yet, but has been working the 12 steps for three years. For starters, she agreed to read my blog. She'll get a pretty good idea of where I am in the process from that. I think we'll do well together...
Now the difficulty is knowing when I need to ask for help and feeling OK about asking. One day at a time... One step at a time... I have a sponsor, that's the first step. Time is on my side... lots of time ahead... Thank you, PJ and Julie for helping me get started! And thank you, J, for the blessing and gift of your sponsorship.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Just as I learned that the urge to eat was usually the signal of a feeling that needed to be explored, I also learned that the urge to eat was a signal to pray.... When I confess that I'm powerless, I recognize that I've come to the limits of what I know how to do. I face the fact that my autonomous willpower is unable by itself to stop me from overeating. Out of the depths of this powerlessness bursts a cry for help, a willingness to reach out for a relationship with some trustworthy Other that has the power to save me.This quote involves two related subjects... higher power and prayer... both somewhat new and difficult for me. I am not accustomed to prayer and I have never had much faith that any higher power might exist, let alone want or be able to save or help me.
I wrote about faith a while back, here. One of the comments on that post resonates with me today. Pam commented: "...I wish I knew the path to faith...perhaps it might start by being thankful. Maybe by acknowledging God's part in all that is wonderful in my life, I can begin to place my trust and even my faith in God. "
This is a very good suggestion for me, because I tend to get all puffy and prideful about how well I am doing with abstinence and following my food plan. With humility, I accept the support of my husband, the help found in writing this journal, the suggestions of my readers, the grace of my OA group, the caring ear of my walking partner, the insights found in Holy Hunger and some higher power who surrounded me with all this good energy at exactly the right time. Gratefully, I thank the Universe for this.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
For example, my food plan... It seems easy and straight forward. Three meals a day, only what will fit on one plate or one bowl, nothing between meals and no snacks. From Holy Hunger, I get the idea that making a plan and sticking to it is an important recovery tool. It seems that commitment and keeping one's promise to oneself is just as important as what and how much one eats.
So here is my one little problem... meal preparation. I am accustomed to tasting... OK, I admit it... more than tasting... one might say nibbling as I prepare meals. Oh, a wee dried cranberry rolled off the plate onto the breadboard. Pop! It goes in my mouth. Cutting the meat off of the bones? Here's a little tidbit... Pop! Into my mouth with it. Cutting up avocado? Naturally it gets on my fingers. Pop! They go right into my mouth.
Technically, this is breaking my commitment unless I change my food plan to allow a bit of tasting/nibbling/finger-licking during meal preparation. I've been debating with myself about this for three days. Shall I change the plan? Or shall I make a commitment and stick to it about not tasting as I go? Will I be setting myself up for failure if I commit to being strict about this?
I need some practical guidance from a sponsor.
Abstinence from my binge foods is going really well. I was tempted yesterday several times. We live on a remote island. It's a big deal... a whole, long, day-trip... to go to the mainland to shop at places like Costco and supermarkets. So the first temptation was the drive-thru where I always used to get coffee and a delicious, home-made berry scone. Yesterday, it was coffee only for me! The second place was Costco, where I used to graze through all the food-sample demos. No samples touched my lips! The third was a supermarket with a fantastic bakery, where I was accustomed to picking out one or more delicacies to devour in the car. Walked right by the bakery counter without stopping! Oh it called to me, sang its siren song... but I lowered my eyes and walked on by!
So all-in-all, guess I'll give myself a pat on the back and grateful thanks to the universe, despite the meal-prep nibbles.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
The old saying goes... it's not what you are eating, it's what's eating YOU. Sometimes there is truth to that. Sometimes not. Sometimes for me it is just about food and habit and boredom.
I couldn't agree more.
Sometimes I overeat because something is eating me, something very current, especially if I feel a person close to me (mostly my husband) has slighted me or disrespected me in some way.
Sometimes it's all about celebrating... my birthday, his birthday, the cat's birthday, that we accomplished some chore, an unexpected sale, that the snow melted... any old thing! Celebrating has always involved overeating, rich foods, deserts and buckets of Tums.
Sometimes it's all about being bored. I don't know how that got started, but I can recall many back-to-back refrigerator raids associated with boredom and perhaps as a remedy for it.
Then there are the pot-luck parties, open house events, fund-raisers, gallery openings, etc. OMG, I can graze way past the need for Tums when the opportunity arises.
At a workshop about a year ago, a local diva hosted a party at her spectacular 2-story artists' studio condominium. She set out a lavish table full of exotic cheeses, crackers, breads, chocolates, pastries, fruits and nuts. Being somewhat shy and always uncomfortable in social situations where I don't know people well and where I feel a class difference, I hung out at the table while the others put a few goodies on a plate and then gravitated to an adjacent sitting room. I filled my plate, ate standing by the table, filled it again, ate again... and again... and again... I probably stuffed 4,000 to 5,000 calories into my bulging tummy that evening.
In my case, I'm fairly sure that most of my overeating in recent years is long-established habit; while a much smaller portion is directly in response to current issues that I can't or won't face.
However, what's behind the habit? Why hasn't long-term diet success (like twice reaching goal weight in the Weight Watchers program and keeping it off or a year or more) been sufficient time to break old habits and establish new, healthy-eating habits? Why is it that EVERY TIME after dieting, I returned to repeated and habitual overeating and bingeing?
I'm 67 years old and have repeated the cycle over and over for 50 years. So now, I am looking behind the habit at emotions and related patterns of eating as ways of coping that must have been firmly established long ago.
At age 5, I had significant childhood grief at the loss of my daddy (fatal car accident) and temporary loss of my mommy (for 2 years while she returned to college immediately after his death). There were no tears allowed. Mommy set the example... stoic and determined to find a way to support her two kids... no time to cry. I recall my paternal grandmother, who took care of us for two years, saying "Don't cry! Your daddy in heaven will hear you and you will make him sad." During these two years, she'd give us sweet treats to make us stop crying any time we had an emotional or physical injury.
In all my life I only remember seeing my mom cry, very briefly, one time and that was more in frustration and anger than in grief. I never saw my grandmother cry. We were admonished and bribed with sweets not to cry. It seems quite reasonable to figure that sadness is what is behind the habit that manifests in overeating and bingeing... probably much accumulated sadness, starting with daddy and including the death of pets and all the other losses, defeats, illnesses and hurts of my life.
One thing I may need to do to break the overeating habit is to feel the grief and to cry. Yikes. There are such strong prohibitions against this... I can feel myself stomping on the break pedal. So I pray for strength and guidance to crack open the floodgate on the lake of tears inside my heart... to sit with the sadness, one journal post at a time.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Reading OA book of stories. Many of the writers attribute their overeating to medicating for feelings of anger... supressed anger. I wonder if I have that? It really wasn't very OK to be angry in our house as a child. My grandmother washed my mouth out (and made me gag) with a large bar of soap for saying something in anger to my brother. Did I puke then? I don't remember.
I do remember yelling at the tops of our voices, back and forth with my mom and dad, outside in the neighborhood... feeling embarassed that our neighbors could hear us even as we continued to yell. We yelled sometimes in the house too. It was flash anger, over fairly quickly. One of my brothers did it too. I don't recall hearing yelling with the three younger kids. My dad was uncomfortable with anger and so is my husband. He hates it when I get to the flash point. Definitely not OK with him.
I do it much less often... rarely now. But does that mean I'm stuffing my anger? My instinct says, no. My instinct says I'm stuffing my sadness and that anger is a convenient and long-time, habitual cover for sadness...
I don't want to write about my sadness. It crushes me sometimes. I get angry and I eat and binge to relieve myself, even if just for a moment or two, from sadness. Someday, maybe I'll write about it here. Someday, maybe I'll feel my feelings of sadness. Someday, maybe I'll cry.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
My dear husband started a shift in this mindset. He'd heard me slander my legs many times. One day he told me, "I'm taking your legs out to dinner tonight. It's Legs-Appreciation Night. I want you to tell me all the things your legs have done for you in your life... all the hiking, all the dancing. I want to hear all the details." I thought he was joking. He wasn't. He pushed me until I finally broke down and began to get into the spirit of the Legs-Appreciation thing.
What a huge gift! I shall be ever-grateful, because from that evening on, I have put cream on my legs, patted them and thanked them regularly. And the altered mindset has spread to the rest of my body. Even at my highest weight (OK, this might be the only time I mention this number...234), I could give thanks to my body. How can I hate something I am thanking? Hate for my body slowly drained away.
Even before this OA journey began, I knew that being thin or slim is mythical and that whatever it was, it wouldn't fix my life. I've been there, done that... dieted until I could fit comfortably in size 12 clothes... and still felt fat, ugly and unworthy of love or respect. Ever so slowly, I've come to understand that it's not about slim, not about the scale or pounds, not about appearances, not even about being fit.
In addition to the legs dinner, help along the way came from a poem that gradually taught me to accept myself just the way I am... Here it is:
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I read that poem often and substitute different words in the first line. I tell myself: You do not have to be thin. You do not have to be pretty. You do not have to be rich. You do not have to be right. You do not have to be smart. You do not have to be nice. You do not have to be happy. Even without any of those, you always have a place in the family of things.
Ooooh, that feels good. Let's try it this way: I do not have to be thin. I do not have to be pretty. I do not have to be rich. I do not have to be right. I do not have to be smart. I do not have to be nice. I do not have to be happy. Even without any of those, I always have a place in the family of things.
Good words to remember. Good words to fix my life!
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Driving to town, the thought came to me that I was looking forward to saying the words, Hello, my name is "Peacefulbird" and I'm a compulsive overeater. What was that about? I didn't know at the time. But I said it 4 times during the meeting and each time I recall feeling good, smiling, looking at the other people around me as they looked at me with understanding and compassion in their eyes.
I am telling a truth about who I am. It's not the whole truth, but it is an important truth and one I have never told anybody (except, perhaps, in a half-joking way) until now. I am a compulsive overeater. The other people at the meeting are witnessing my truth. They know what I am saying. They know it intellectually, experientially, intuitively, emotionally and spiritually. Each time I say these words, they are witnessing my truth. It feels terrific!
When I started this blog, I thought of it as a private journal, not written in anyway for the benefit, entertainment or support of anyone else. If anybody wanted to read it, fine. But I wouldn't go out of my way to encourage readers.
Today, I'm rethinking that position a bit. Today, with the contentment of my truth being witnessed fresh in my mind, I'm more open to an exchange of this service with other bloggers who are in recovery.
I also hope that some of my closest friends (L, J, S and C for sure) will want to read what I write here. I want them to know me better, to know a more truthful side of me and to witness my journey of recovery. Is that a lot to ask? Yes, it is.