A Year in Overeaters Anonymous
I've been going to OA for a year now, though it seems like lots less than that. I've never been to a meeting that didn't help me, contribute to my newly developing sense of inner harmony and peace of mind, make me feel accepted. Like they say, "Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous; welcome home." Always somebody says something that clarifies an attitude, an action, or a reaction for me. My gratitude for each person in my small group is immense.
My abstinence program regarding certain foods (cake, candy, chocolate, cookies, pie, ice cream and pastries) is solid. 194 days of perfect abstinence on that score! No regrets. No misgivings. Rarely tempted. Not feeling deprived. Happy to not eat any of it, ever! This was a 360 degree change from 60 years of binging on chocolate and the rest of them every chance I could get (not an exaggeration).
My abstinence program regarding my meal plan is not going so well. In fact, not going well at all. In the past few months, I've observed a steady increase in both portion size and snacking. I think the way to get back on track is to work the OA steps. I'm hung up on the 4th step. Maybe I need to return to the first 3 and then approach step 4 in a refreshed state of mind. My spiritual recovery is stagnate. I'll try to write more about that in my next post.
So, looking at the year as a whole, I see a much thinner, much happier me, who is now needing to take new pathways into the program.
I'm currently reading a very interesting book called, Stuff, Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee. Bringing a clinical psychology background to their ten-year study of compulsive hoarding, the authors present case histories and their personal impressions about this problem that may affect more people than we realize. While we all keep stuff we don't need or use, the authors say it's only a problem if it makes us miserable, if it "causes substantial distress or interference in every-day living."
The book is a good read, well-written, sensitive, courageous. I saw it in a bookstore and paid full retail because I couldn't wait to get it through Amazon. Why? Because I hoard stuff, stuff I don't need or use or want. Always it bothers me. Always I wish I could give or throw it away. Do I have stacks reaching the ceiling? Only in my closets. Do I have a warehouse full of stuff? No. Have I filed bankruptcy because I overspend my income? No. Has my husband threatened divorce because of my clutter? No; at least not yet.
But (and this is a BIG BUT), what I do have bothers me A LOT). I'm looking for a little help from this book. The authors say that fixing the problem takes "heroic effort." Three ideas regarding a fix are helping me already:
1. I am practicing a total shift in my decision-making process in reaction to the sight of a desired possession. Rather than narrow and focus my attention on the thing, I expand my attention to consider how this object "fits into the fabric" of my life. Expand rather than narrow my attention... that's an important key I think.
2. This one again involves the desire to acquire new stuff. Each time an opportunity to acquire stuff comes along, I ask myself "When will I use it? Do I have anything like it already?" and "Do I have a place to put it?"
3. Already the above have made a difference in my level of new acquisitions. However, disposing of the stuff I already have is an entirely different and much more difficult matter. I find that like more serious hoarders, I attach great value to my stuff. I think of it as potential, exciting and worthwhile, things I can use to make my art, things that I can do or learn from someday. To my eyes, my stuff also has sentimental meaning. Like many hoarders, I seem to derive a sense of self from my stuff, my collections, my supplies, and my piles of inspiration. Gaining a better understanding of this from the book may help me to let some of it go, to find potential and value in myself rather than my stuff.
Each chapter begins with a quote. Here's one I like a lot by William James:
It is clear that between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves.
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Gratitude for today: longer days, my special surrogate-granddaughter, my husband, red roses