Posted by: innerpilgrimage | March 11, 2010

Still Abstinent, Despite Recent Challenges

Abstinence from Compulsive Eating: 4 months, 25 days (148 days)

      Between not really having much to say and not knowing what to say, I haven’t been writing much.

      The last week has been a bit of an abstinence challenge as I grow and try to figure out precisely what I’m doing in abstinence, both eating-wise and relationship-wise.
      I’ve written before about SLAA. As my weight has dropped, I have slipped into patterns I hoped would go away this time. It’s interesting that so many people have so many messages from my Higher Power, and listening has been a challenge recently. I know what I should be doing, but I’m finding that I am challenged anyway.
      To start, I have a fantastic marriage to a wonderful man. We’ve had our ups and downs–don’t get me wrong. We’ve faced divorce when I was drowning in my food addiction. Jealousy, fear, worry haunted me at the time, and I acted on irrational frustration rather than living in the day. Recently, I’ve faced off with my own fickle heart, and I am so ashamed of myself for returning to that easily upset woman again.
      I’ve had another broken abstinence dream, and it frightened me. I was brutally honest at meeting about the dream–that in my dream I was trying to find every way possible NOT to have to say I had broken abstinence. The habit was an old one, where I ate on autopilot. I consumed a pie’s worth of pie crust (which I didn’t want or crave in the dream and don’t particularly like in real life) without thinking. After it was swallowed and done, I was upset because I had consumed any at all. I mean, blowing abstinence on something I didn’t even consider a trigger food or potential trigger food?
      I felt shame in my dream, knowing I would have to walk into my next meeting and tell them that instead of celebrating 5 months of abstinence, I was starting over at 24 hours. I tried to rationalize, I tried to maneuver my food plan to fit it in. I tried to get out from under that horrible thing I had done.
      When I woke up, I rationalized purging if I had reached that situation. It was about fitting the calories in. That’s about the time I really recognized how far I had been walking without my Higher Power. My recovery had been set aside for the fruits of my abstinence in waking life. Yes, I have held to abstinence–by a thin thread once this week–and I have been feeling like I’m walking without my HP. I’ve been so caught up in the drama in my head that I haven’t thought to look outside of myself to even check.
      That willingness is hard to muster right now. Sure, I say, “Come on HP, please guide me,” but I clearly am not humbling myself to reach that spiritual place where my HP’s messages (which are always around) are louder than the compulsion brewing.
      My current compulsion is attention. From, well, men. I want men to think I’m attractive, that I’m worth looking at. Now, when I am in spiritual balance, the only man whose opinion I care about it my husband’s. I am at peace with my place in the world when I am right with my Higher Power, and it is expressed by a comfortable lack of that sexual tension I get while trying to con a man into finding me “pretty”.
      Very broken, and I think I’m on the verge of something because I have had messages heaped around me. I think the best one currently is someone in another program who was talking to me about sometimes thinking about returning to the compulsion. A “Wouldn’t it be nice if . . . ?” scenario that only gets played out to the first few seconds. But he talked to me about playing the reality out–going all the way to the conclusion that addicts reach. For me, it would be eating junk food until I was overfull, having the grease from whatever I ate burble up into my mouth as burning stomach acid and the oil or fat contained in the food. It would end with me in a daze, a food high that brought on lethargy and discomfort which led inevitably to lashing out at my family.
      I think about it with relationships, too. What if someone was attracted to me? How could it end well? I want what I have. My husband is affectionate, generous, loving, supportive, strong, intelligent, great provider . . . I mean he is exactly what every woman I’ve talked to says she wants in a man. What the Hell am I thinking that anyone could equal this? And on top of it, it’s about the pursuit of gaining the interest. Because once I had it, I wouldn’t want it. And every single time, I would have to walk away from something important to me.
      The thrill of the flirtation leading to something more. But I always stop before I imagine anything physical happens, because that’s where the high lies. In that moment between eye contact and that first kiss is that first compulsive relationship bite. And, when I move the fantasy forward to an unwanted but guilt-driven obligation, its like the binge. What I have been thinking of recently is the end–being found out and losing everything over something I do not want. It’s easy to release the desire to gain physical acceptance when I get to that final point.
      Maybe that was the whole point of this–to get my head open to the message that my Higher Power will remind me that the drug of food (or a man’s passion about me) is never a positive trip in real life. In my head, I can stop right at the moment of the high (which makes me long to go on and causes even worse cravings). In reality, the end is always the same: Disappointment, self-destruction, heartache. This delusional thinking is horrible; acting on the delusional thinking is unthinkable now that I’ve gotten here.
      Maybe that’s what my Higher Power has been trying to tell me this whole time. I can say my recovery is important, but I am not recovering if I only mire myself in the physical and attribute my abstinence from it all to myself. I will fail without my Higher Power’s strength to catch me when I stumble, to hold me up when I am weak.
      However, I will also fail if I am not walking beside and talking to my Higher Power when I feel strong. It’s like that footprints in the sand poem–I need to acknowledge that there is a second set of footprints beside the first when I am not being carried.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict, compulsive to the core. I am thankful right now, for the OA tools because without them I would not be able to reach this moment, where I don’t feel separate from my Higher Power any more.



  1. jess, there are SO many facets to recovery/abstinence. sometimes, in our busy lives, it’s hard to focus on more than one at time. from reading your blog, you seem to hone in on one form of recovery at a time, though you are always aware of the other parts. be kind to yourself. this is all a big journey, all the pieces don’t come together all in one shot.
    you are doing an awesome job, as i will pass on to you what my therapist said to me – don’t forget to take a moment to take stock in all that you have accomplished, because you have accomplished A LOT.

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