Saturday, December 20, 2014

Walking Dead

I just returned from my OA meeting, which I've previously described as a lifeline to sanity, or at least partial sanity. At the meeting I spoke about Terry. I stopped reading about her, the book her dad wrote as he struggled to understand her alcoholism and resulting death. But I can't stop thinking about her.

I spoke about her at OA, or rather about me, about how I identify with her, how the life of an addict, whether the substance is food or alcohol or drugs, is not life. It is walking dead, the grip of compulsive thought and actions dragging the person (me) into walking purgatory.

Drama. Is this merely high drama of the season? I don't know.

What I crave at the moment is not a fix, not a solution, not even recovery. At this moment I crave understanding. I want my OA friends, my wasband, people who know and care about me to tell me they understand what I'm saying, understand what walking dead is.

+ _ + _ + _ + _ + _ + _ + _ + _ +

An hour later...

Thanks to Retta! Her comment on my previous post led me to Sean, who threw me a lifeline of understanding, here. Wow! I'm now reading Sean's posts from a year ago, interrupted for a few seconds to make note of how blessed by understanding I am!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hard to Pray When I Feel Unworthy

I have to begin by reminding myself that this blog is for me, for my recovery, and not to entertain, enlighten, or help anybody else who happens to stop by.

I've been reading Terry, an account of an alcoholic girl/woman, written by her father after her death at age 45 by passing out, intoxicated, in the snow one freezing night. It's an agonizing read. Terry was charming in many ways, and she tried many, many times to kick the monkey off her back, with little success. It's agonizing because in so many ways I am like Terry, older and not dead yet, but like her, with brief periods of abstinence and long, long periods of abuse.

Right now almost all of my addictions are in full flare up. Alcohol is the one that so far I have avoided. Food. Oh how the food substances have been pouring down my throat, my body screaming to stop, my mind playing its usual tricks. Why do I always fall for it? Why do I always believe that tomorrow will be better? Why do I always think if I eat it all, every crumb on hand, that the next day I can stop?

Terry suffered from depression as well as alcoholism. That's a bit true for me too, although I've never sought counseling for it or medication. I don't quite believe in either, at least not for general depression and non-specific anxiety. Maybe one of the lies I tell myself is that my depression is seasonal, or occasional, or not so severe as to need help with it.

I still go to OA meetings, feeling more and more guilty, as I mouth nice words about "turning it over," and then come home to my cupboards and refrigerator. Yet going to OA meetings may be my one remaining link to sanity.

For months I've been saying I will listen again to my CDs of the Big Book. I don't do it. My clothes don't fit. I feel horrible. I'm not exercising... not at all.... not even the shortest walk.

Is it helping or hindering to keep reading about Terry? I don't know. I find it compelling on  one hand, the hard grip of the disease so totally unbreakable for her... At the same time, because I see myself shackled to her, it's pretty depressing.

With very brief periods of sticking to a food plan and abstinence, I've been on an ever-increasing spiral of relapse for 2 full years. The weight gain is horrible, yes. But even worse is the self-loathing, lying, binging, and laziness that comes along with compulsive overeating and other compulsive behaviors (like playing games on the computer all day).

It's so hard to pray when I feel unworthy.

Nasty spiral.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Light Emotions

For 4 years, since April 10, 2010, I've been going to OA and writing this blog, trying to understand and cope with compulsive overeating. One strategy is to "feel my feelings." Among other things, I've read, and written (here) about the dark emotions:

Under anger, under depression,
under actions such as addiction, suicide, and aggression,
you will find the three mothers of dark emotions -
grief, fear, and despair.

I am so familiar with these emotions, although I haven't fully learned yet how to sit with them, how to avoid trying to fix them with food, or how to heal from them.

But what of the light emotions? What are they? I frequently say things like, "I'm sad about..." or "I'm angry about..." or even "I'm afraid of..." But very rarely do say something like, "I'm happy about..." or "I feel satisfied with."

Do I numb myself against feeling the light emotions? Is it somehow not OK to feel these emotions? I've been thinking about this all day, yet still it's difficult to come up with a list of light emotions. Let me try...

joyful
satisfied
happy
curious
delighted
contented
exuberant
free
elated
fortunate
loving

Have I felt any of the above today? Yes. I felt contented during most of the OA meeting, curious about what others would say, grateful for the help of one of the members, and loving toward all of the members at the end of the hour. I felt happy talking with the owner of a new restaurant in town about his business hours. I felt happy and satisfied for an hour or so, listening to the work noises of a repair guy who is fixing my carport. I felt joyful talking with my brother on the phone for a few minutes, especially the part of the conversation about motorcycling. I feel good satisfied about my eating so far today. I feel happy to be writing this post.

Interesting. It took a lot longer than I would have thought to figure out and name these feelings. I wonder if it would help me recover from compulsive overeating if I practice noticing and naming the light emotions each day?

Wouldn't hurt to try....

Still Reeling

Yep, I'm still in shock, still reeling about what I did, about the impossible-seeming act of eating an entire NY cheese cake in one sitting. I mean, how low can I go? Yet, there's a glimmer of hope growing in me, a faint sense that maybe it was a turning point. Since then I've been on plan, abstinent. Tomorrow is OA, a tool that definitely helps me stay on plan.

I want to write about steps 8 and 9, the ones about listing all the people I have harmed and then making amends to them. It's true I have harmed people, especially by lying to them. But the person I've lied to the most and harmed the most is me. Here are a few of the ways I've harmed myself with my compulsive overeating:
  1. habitually referred to myself as "fat." I wouldn't say that to anybody else.
  2. denied myself the comfort of wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts in hot weather.
  3. denied myself the joy of swimming because I look horrible in a bathing suit. (I love to swim!)
  4. denied myself the pleasure of attending social events because I am fat and don't look good enough.
  5. thought of myself as stupid. After all, aren't all fat people stupid?
  6. harmed my body by yo-yo dieting and by the extra weight I've lugged around most of my life.
  7. deceived myself about my compulsive overeating, telling myself lies to justify eating.
  8. suffered from extreme shyness in social situations because of my weight.
  9. burdened myself with guilt and shame about weight, sneaking sweets, lying about my eating, lack of control, selfishness.
  10. jeopardized my marriage and previous partnerships in many ways connected to food and compulsive overeating.
I'm 71 years old, and have been struggling with weight and the above abuse since 5th grade, or about 60 years. That's a lot of harm. Now... how can I make amends to myself? It seems to call for action. Saying "Dear Self, I am so sorry I harmed you" does not constitute making amends in my book. The only real way to make amends is to give up compulsive overeating. That's a crossroad, isn't it?

One thing I can do is stop saying I'm fat. Never mention my fat arms, or my fat legs or my fat belly, or my fat body again.... ever! I don't know if I can keep those words out of my mind, but at least I can stop saying them out loud.

I wish I could say I will wear shorts and sleeveless shirts, and go swimming.... don't think that will happen. Oh dear, this making amends part is really tough.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Starting Over

Have you ever devoured an entire cheese cake, a thick, bakery-fresh, New York style, cheese cake, one designed to serve 4 people, in one sitting? If so, you know how horrible it makes you feel a little while later, and how fuzzy your teeth get.  If not, don't. It does not fix your despair. It does not make you feel better. In fact, quite the contrary, it makes you feel a thousand times worse, as you set your abstinence back to zero... again... as you realize once again that compulsive eating makes you feel crazy. I know, because that's what happened yesterday.

The good news is, that was yesterday. Today I was abstinent. Reminder to self: it makes you feel great to be abstinent.

That's all for today. Tomorrow is another new day, day 2 maybe.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"You Are Safe"

A friend in OA just sent me something he found on a blog... I love it... so to keep and share it, here you go:

You may feel overwhelmed, alone, in danger – about to be consumed by the waves. You need to know something today.
You need to know that I love you, without condition, without condemnation. I love you just for you.
If someone tells you what you’re doing wrong, don’t take it on yourself. Bring it to me. Talk to me. Ask me to show you if there is even a grain of truth for you in it, then with a breath, I’ll blow the rest away. Someone else’s assessment of you is not yours to carry, only what I give you.
If there is a grain of truth, it will not crush you. You may feel embarrassed or your pride may be wounded, but only because you forget this was never about getting it right – it’s about a journey with me. To grasp what I show you is to admit you didn’t already know it. Let that deflated pride go, grab onto what I show you, and move forward with me.
And if someone tells you what you’re doing is wrong, and you bring it to me, I may tell you that you are fine. Perfectly fine just the way you are. It is my job to lead and guide you in this life.
Remember, my burden is easy to carry, because I’m here to help you carry it, and I know exactly where you are and what you need. Others give you burdens that are too heavy for you because they aren’t fitted to you. Set them down. Instead, just follow me.
Step inside my unconditional love. Let the waves crash outside. You are safe.
I am with you. I will be with you forever.
I love you. I will love you forever.
This can be a message from me to me, or a message from my higher power to me, or a message from me to "Little Me." The thing that strikes me the most is the line at the end, "You are safe." It's what I crave in this crazy, over-populated, self-destructive world. See?I can get so bent just thinking about the world's troubles, and the bottom line is this: I don't feel safe. With the guidance of these words, I want to practice letting "the waves crash outside." Ah, for a moment, my shoulders are at rest, not hunched up around my ears. Ah, it feels good!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dealing with "The Voice'

While writing morning pages last Friday, I may have discovered a way to deal with the voice, the one that incessantly says I need to eat more, to eat my trigger foods because I deserve them, just this once, just eat today and be abstinent tomorrow. I'm pretty sure anybody who deals with overeating and overweight, is quite familiar with the voice.

When I've been abstinent and eating on my program for quite a while, when it becomes habit to not eat sweets, not eat between meals, and not overeat meals, then the voice gets pretty quiet. But once I start getting off track, it comes right back, bossier and louder than ever.

Friday night I couldn't sleep, tossing and turning in bed, my mind churning, rubbing me feet together, and grinding my teeth for hours. Finally, I got up, turned on the light and wrote morning pages, trying to calm myself. "Be still," I wrote! About half way through, I wrote this:
I resolve every night not to overeat the next day, and every morning or day, I overeat again... Maybe, instead, I should resolve to eat everything. Tomorrow I will eat chocolate, huge quantities of it... and pizza, and pastries, cake... chocolate cake from Kings Market. I resolve to eat at least 2 of each of my binge foods. I'll go right to town and buy 2 pieces of cake, 2 pastries, 2 cookies, 2 chocolate bars (the gourmet chocolate toffee I noticed today), 2 pieces of chocolate pie, and 2 pints of chocolate ice cream. Then I'll go find a private place to park, and eat all of it sitting in my car. YES!!! Oh yes! I am resolved to do that. Absolutely. Screw everything. I will do it!
Well as you might guess, it made me giggle to write such an absurd vow, and then chortle, and then laugh right out loud. The idea of eating all those things at one time is so ludicrous, my mood suddenly lifted, and the I felt OK for the first time in weeks.

My new idea is this: when the voice starts insisting we have a cookie, just this once, I'll say "Sure, let's go to the store. Only why stop at one? Let's have a couple dozen. And let's have ice cream to go with the cookies. And let's get a whole pie too... Come on... let's go!"

When the voice says, just this once we need to have a piece of toast with butter and jam right after we've eaten dinner, I'll say, "Sure, I'm all for it. Only let's have more than one piece! Let's toast a whole loaf a bread, spread it with a whole cube of butter, and use a whole jar of jam on it! And why stop at that! Let's go to town and get some real treats! We can have 2 of everything we like! Just today... We won't do it after today."

I'll make my reply as ridiculous as possible. Maybe laughter will be an antidote... I'll let you know.

Thanks for the responses to my call for "Help" in my previous post. Your support surrounded me, and helped me get through the past week, not quite squeaky clean, but much better about eating than I had been previously.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Downward Spiral

HELP!

Help me, please. I am on a downward spiral of eating too much, especially too much bread, jam, honey, and restaurant foods. This past Saturday and Sunday, both days, I found an excuse to be alone, drove to a bakery, bought a large cookie, and ate it sneakily in the car before returning to my quilting buddies (on a retreat).

This, after 452 days of abstinence... no cookies, no candy, no pie, no ice cream, no pastries, and most importantly, no chocolate (which is my absolutely worst addictive substance). Cookies are a road to chocolate.

I am so afraid of getting into my old binging ways, where shame and fear rule me, where my weight skyrockets and I hate myself.

Today and yesterday I was abstinent. Two days. I must remember that 452 days began with one day, and then a second day.

Meetings? Yes, I go to meetings. Steps? Do I work the steps? Well, I have probably spent 30 hours working the steps in the last 6 months. I don't have a sponsor. I do have one. But she is on a year-long road trip. And I never really asked for her help.

One of my many problems, is I don't trust that anybody or anything can help me. See? I'm still having a problem with steps 2 & 3. It all felt clear when I was writing in the 12-Step workbook, but now I'm lost again.

I feel dirty. Eating those two cookies makes me feel dirty. Eating them gave me no comfort and no relief; it only made me feel dirty, sneaky, and stupid.

Usually, when I write here, I try to end on a positive note. At this moment, I can not find a positive note.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What If?

What if I stop struggling so hard?
What if I start writing here regularly?
What if I write my feelings?
What if I say I'm angry, resentful, and despairing much of the time?
What if I turn to Words Paint for help?
What if I didn't look in the cupboard and refrigerator for help?
What if I said no more often
What if the world is in better shape than I think it is?
What if many hands and many minds are helping the world?
What if I am really, deeply loved?
What if I forgive myself?
What if I look more for gratitude?
What if food was just food?
What if writing "what if" could fix everything?