Posted by: innerpilgrimage | June 7, 2010

The List is Begun, And My HP is Putting The People I Need to Make Amends to in My Way

      Today, while looking for an eighth step help guide, I tripped across something someone’s sponsor said to them: “Only 12 Steps more to go!”

      This person, of course, had completed at least 1 12-Step process, and it was a reminder that we don’t rest on our laurels once we reach the maintenance steps. Step 10 reminds us that Steps 1 through 9 are a daily process, now. We do Steps 1 through 10 when we do Step 10. Step 11 is keeping that communication open. Step 12 is the service of living all 12 Steps and sharing that OA works for us.
      I have been reluctant to really start Step Eight because of recent developments regarding my submission to an ego-driven life and my choice to turn toward my character defects instead of go forward. I have decided to prepare an Eighth Step apology for my parents, and when my Higher Power puts me in a position where I can do it, I will. The willingness to do a Ninth Step with them is there, and that is good.
      I recently found someone I want to do a Ninth Step with on a social networking site, and I found a bunch of other people in there, as well, who need to have Ninth Steps done. Some of my Ninth Step amends will injure others because the people are in their own compulsions and would choose to harm others to harm me; most will not. But I have other amends to make anyway. And now I have access to those people I need to make amends to.
      My HP will bring me to where I need to be to make those amends. And I will be ready. Probably with a PDF of my amends on my phone, so I can be ready at any time to make them. I’m not really good with amends on the fly–I prefer to write them down.
      I have trouble remembering some things I’ve done while in compulsion. I’ve tried to remember them as best I can at this point. I can only hope as I give this over to my HP, I can release the hurt without facing off with the very real possibility I could lose abstinence. It will be slow going, and I suspect I will reach more “One Minute at a Time” days as I do the very real and challenging work of making amends. I surrender this to my Higher Power, because I am pretty sure it’s in there. I just enjoy a life where I haven’t really had people I knew who I need to make amends to. Mostly I round on salespeople who I know don’t have real answers to my questions about things I am interested in purchasing because I suspect them. My best amends in that category is to be polite and gracious and not be a jerk to those people just doing their jobs.
      I’m enjoying a surprising physical recovery. And I am receiving the attention I initially sought, but I am trying to face it with the grace my Higher Power has granted me. I got an email back from the friend I wanted to impress, and it was sweet and possibly flirtatious. Not sure if it was, but I thanked him and went on my way. I have what I want in my life–a loving partner. While I was hurt he didn’t like the dress (it turned out it was not me, just the dress itself), I didn’t have to give that power over. After all, my HP was the one who wanted me to feel like a princess, reminding me that I was always beautiful to it, long before I was able to get into the formal gown. My HP loved me in the Before; my HP loves me in the After. And to honor that relationship, I have footwork to do.
      It’s time for me to really get into Step Eight, though I’m realizing my self-will is trying to rationalize my way out of it. I mean, “What is Harmful?” I ask myself. I come up with reasons not to do it, to avoid it just like I did with Step Four. But the seeds have been planted, and I have a list and I know where to find people. Now I just have to open up and think about the harms I did to others, the things that ate away at me as I ate away my life.
      Ugh, and I have to prepare my own amends, because I am a particularly introverted person and I abused myself most of all. The amends I owe me are that I abandoned exercise when I should be doing it. I regularly abandon the self-care beyond a shower. Yeah, I don’t shave my legs too often or tweeze often enough, and it causes problems. I know these things respect my body in the most basic of ways. The person I put out into the world with the message that OA can work if a person is seeking a spiritual means to overcome an eating disorder.
      My mantra for the month is progress, not perfection. I am making physical progress all of the time, but I invest too much of my self-esteem into it. It’s probably the most likely place I break with my HP and chase my own egotistical path.
      This morning, I stepped on the scale and its first reading was 188.8 lbs., so I moved it and tried again. Well, it registered 190.2 lbs., and I was pissed! I mean, I wanted that number so badly I could taste it! Under 190! Darn it!
      And I face the fallacy of it as I stare at myself through the reflection of the mirror of my soul. I live on a sliding scale of “never enough”. I mean, I focused on finding happiness when I broke 250 lbs., then 225 lbs., then 200 lbs, and now this. HP help me, when will I stop?!
      When I surrender to my Higher Power. When I accept that it’s not the relative amount of gravity on my body but the relative amount of lightness in my soul. I have created a burden to carry, and my HP is trying to get me to relax and enjoy today, not worry about tomorrow. I have made stepping on a scale a new compulsion, and my eating is often affected by it. When I am so close that I can taste it? I eat a lot less. And by a lot less, I mean less than 500 calories in a day. Yup, I am actually facing off with anorexia, too. Lovely.
      But I already knew this. Perhaps my food plan needs to have a bottom edge, too, a minimum amount of servings per day I have to eat. Oh, the compulsive life of a food addict. And I rationalize it, too. “I’m overweight. My BMI says I’m overweight, not underweight or even “normal” range. I can’t be anorexic!” Well, gee, Jess, if you’re not eating enough to sustain the 167 lbs. that the 2,000 calories is supposed to maintain, then you’re facing compulsion yet again! And I wonder . . . why would I do this to myself? Well, for the same reason an anorexic undereats:

I am afraid (no, terrified) that I will gain a pound.

      Yikes. That is terrifying, more terrifying than possibly gaining a pound. I mean, when will it end? If I hit 181 lbs. (the top of my normal BMI range), will I stop there? I would love to say yes, but that’s not freaking likely. Now, already I have negotiated with myself that 175 lbs. is where I want to sit at. But . . . what if I’m between a size 10 and size 12? I mean, it’s only ten pounds and then I’m in that 10, right? Hey, why not? It’s easier to find 10s than 12s, I rationalize.
      Oh, oh! But why not go for an 8! I’ve never been an 8 as an adult! Yeah, why not! And, and, when I get to 8, why not push to a “Perfect Size 6”! Hey, I mean, that’s PERFECTION. I mean, it’s even what they called it in the 80s . . . “a perfect size 6”. Of course, that’s not really perfect because if you think about it, there’s sizing creep, so a size 6 is actually a 4 or a 2. And if I reach a 2, then it’s only one small hop to a zero . . .
      . . . and flatlining in a hospital bed after my family tries everything to save my skeletal self from dying by my own hand, going from morbidly obese to morbidly underweight. I’ve been permissive to myself for too long, still playing with my compulsion. “If I don’t eat when I’m hungry, my stomach will get smaller and then it will take less food to fill me up and then I can really enjoy the 2,000 calories!” I reason. “If I really work hard, I can be the thinnest person in my family!” I shout jubilantly. “And then . . . and then they will love me!”
      I have a list off the top of my head of 5 women who are notoriously thin who are not particularly liked or admired because of their attitudes. I know people who are where I was 12 months ago and bigger, whose hearts and minds are so keen and beautiful and their souls are so radiant. Giving, loving, empathetic, sympathetic people. My family. My real, loving family that my HP has given me to live one day at a time with. Heck, one of the people I have to make amends to is still a big guy, and I looked into the eyes of his profile pic and remembered the hours he spent holding me when I cried. The love he poured out, the patience he had. I was 2 sizes bigger than I am today . . . and he loved me because he saw me. He knew the real me, and he loved her. And she abused the living shit out of him for it. No, not hitting. Just the complete lack of respect and lack of love returned. The constant ranging for “something better”.
      I have been graced with so many “something betters” in my life. My HP put amazing men through my life, and I demanded far too much from them. I had so many runs at happiness that I didn’t take because I was so driven by compulsion to always seek the grass on the other side of the fence. It may appear greener, but it isn’t. In fact, like that freaking goose Petunia found out in one of my childhood storybooks, it was pretty nasty and kinda dry. And I reached for and found the nasty dry grass, but I couldn’t get back into my old field. So I had to move on.
      I am currently in a wonderful green field, and there are women happily enjoying the beautiful fields I rejected out of hand. Do I resent or regret? No. Those women deserved the men I pushed away, and they will always be better for them than I could have been. It took my current life, my current situation, and my current husband to make it all come together. Without him finally not taking my shit any more three years ago, I would never have started on the path to OA. While it took me three years and an out-of-state move, I have found home. Real home. Home with friends who really understand what it’s like to have your soul sucked dry by addiction. Home where my family hugs me whenever they can and my dog actually likes me. Home where I have learned not to fear losing what society says I want but instead value the intangible things. I find intense pleasure in paying off my debts, not in owning more than my neighbor. In fact, I want to own less because I don’t want to travel so heavy any more. I want my life to fit in a 17 foot moving van. And since I’m the one who gets to move it, I’m seeing I really appreciate light furniture.
      Holy crap, I am the woman I want to be. Now I gotta do the footwork to make the life surrounding me be that, too.

      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict who’s back on the walk. I am an anorexic and a compulsive overeater and a bulimic under stress. My Higher Power wants me to become Grace. And I think because it loved me before I believed in it, I can honor it by following its guidance and becoming a 12-Stepper for the rest of my life.

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