We grappled with the difficult subject of suicide in our OA meeting today. Members talked about how serious medical issues are caused by or worsened by overeating, about how both mind and body suffer terribly from a long-term pattern of binging and other compulsive eating disorders, about how it's a slow way of killing ourselves, a passive death.
It's got me thinking about my addiction to alcohol, an extremely active addiction in my 20s and 30s, and how I took so many risks with life then, like passing out with my car running, like driving in total black-out condition or driving fast and recklessly in the early stages of getting drunk. Was that behavior a semi-passive way of attempting suicide? Looking back, it certainly seems possible.
Why? Why would I want to kill myself? I don't know. Except for one broken-hearted occasion, I don't recall consciously thinking, "I want to die." It just seemed like fun, each first drink seeming to be all about having fun. But looking back, each next drink seems increasingly to have invited death to my side. It wasn't that I was unaware of that either. The next morning, I'd realize I'd been driving blacked out... again... and understand what a risk I was to myself and to others. It didn't stop me.
What stopped me with alcohol (and more recently with food) was that someone told me he was an alcoholic. He described his "symptoms" and told me about his AA recovery program. That was 30 years ago. It made a strong impression on me as the light bulb went off about my own compulsive use of alcohol. I quit for good within a year, without the benefit of AA. And now I would have to add, without the benefit of the whole spirituality-based recovery process.
A friend recently told me she considered her life to be a precious gift from God. Her way to repay or return this gift to God is to shepherd herself, to take care of and preserve herself as best she can.
Well that's an interesting thought to me, who's never been religious. Can I think of my life as being a gift? Hmmm, certainly it was a gift from my parents. That I lived through a serious childhood disease is a gift of well-practiced medicine. That I survived years of alcohol abuse is a gift of the universe.
I believe that my parents and doctors had intent behind giving me life. But the universe? Was it just chance? Some people would say not chance. Does it matter? I don't know. But I'm still here. Do I have a purpose and a responsibility because I've been given the gift of life many times over, whether by chance or intent (or a combination of both)?
And how does all this relate to food? Overeating and binging is a way of committing slow suicide, no doubt about it. My whole system... my heart, my joints and possibly most insidiously, my mind... suffers a slow death from overeating. Would I knowingly ingest a small amount of arsenic every day, slowly killing myself? No. Nor would I ever drink alcohol again in my life.
So why would I kill myself with food? I don't know the answer about why. But there is much of me that does want to live. The child within wants to live. I must honor and respect the gift of life.
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Today's gratitude: getting a ride to OA (too much ice and snow for me to drive), quality pens and pencils, coffee, finishing my tax preps last night