Posted by: innerpilgrimage | June 14, 2010

243 Days of Food Sobriety

      Eight months.

      What’s funny (well, okay, not funny) is my near-desperation to break 190 lbs. this month. A 4-lb. weight loss is forward motion, and I am happy that I even got that. I’ve not been too great about exercising this last month, so I’m going to decide to be content with the weight loss at all.
      My initial goal was to reach a healthy weight by my first anniversary of abstinence, HP willling. I wanted to lose 5 lbs. per month, and I am doing fine along those lines.
      Yesterday, I went to Good Will and tried on a size 14 dress, which fit just fine. I wasn’t wild about the cut for the price, so I didn’t purchase it. I also tried another dress, a snug formalwear 12. I got it zipped high on my back, above my waist. I just could not zip it past my shoulder blades. It reminded me of the Marilyn Monroe dress, the one she sang Happy Birthday to President JFK in, and as I stood in that beaded dress, I wasn’t unhappy. I mean, yes, I would have liked to zip the 12. But it’s not the right time.
      When my HP wants me in a dress like that, I will be. I have to remember that a year ago, my Lane Bryant Right Fit size 5s were very snug, and those Right Fit size 4s weren’t fitting at all. Though Lane Bryant says I was a 24 or so at the time, I didn’t really wear much but those jeans because the size 44 waist expandable men’s khaki slacks I wore were strained and uncomfortable. And now the LB size 14 is loose, as are the size 14 Old Navy jeans I was given by a fellow OAer. I could not wear a 3X women’s shirt out of the red bullseye department store comfortably.
      It’s a matter of disbelief. I know I was there. I have photos that I was there. I just don’t want to admit I was there, or that, a year later, I am completely away from there. I want to smack myself upside the head.
      I’ve lost 6 sizes since last year.
      I never would have without OA. I would be precisely where I have been year after year, lamenting obesity but unwilling to take any type of real action on my compulsion to overeat. And I need to get out of my head about the numbers game. Right freaking now.
      This is a symptom of a broken mind, a mind that is constantly telling me, “It’s not enough”. There’s something held back, something in my deep memory that I think will explain the source of “never enough”. Yes, I can pinpoint a few places. And I have that unhealthy mark of 125 lbs. stuck deep in my head, something that really needs to be excised. I logically don’t want to be 125 lbs., because I would be underweight and very unhealthy–if not dead.
      The hardest part of this whole messy mental recovery is that my head isn’t where my body is, by a long shot. I’ve chased a physical recovery for months, turning OA into a “diet and calories club” for me. But it was easier! I mean doing the footwork of a physical recovery was easy because all I had to do was hold on to my food plan for dear life.
      And I ask myself, was it so easy? Was it really as easy as I want to think it was? Well, no. There were days when I was obsessed with certain foods. Completely out-of-my-tree obsessed. I have to not romanticize what I actually went through. It wasn’t easy. I still have bad food days, where I am waiting out bedtime–or go to bed early.
      The vigilance of my physical recovery is deserved for my mental and spiritual recoveries. I get so frustrated that I got so focused on the physical that I got into a position I have to dig out of. I mean, I knew better. I really did. I knew a balanced program would be the only way to have real recovery.
      Well, then or now, I have to work on this. It’s really hard because I know what I’m supposed to be doing–I’m just resistant and don’t thoroughly understand how to change such deep-rooted self-hatred.
      For example, I equate humility with groveling. Pointing out successes in hopes someone might pat me on the back was “fishing for compliments”. Fear and self-hatred kept me in line; I wanted people to be happy with me.
      I am seeing one of the deep roots of the problem right now. When I was a child, my parents were delighted with me because I was pushed forward a grade. I loved to learn, and I loved doing my schoolwork. I went from first to second grade midyear, and I actually did okay in it. But the social ramifications were terrible.
      I remember another child telling me that I was moved because they didn’t have enough chairs in the first grade classroom. Essentially, she told me I was “kicked out”, not wanted. I knew I wasn’t kicked out, that I had been promoted. But moving away from my age peers into a classroom I wasn’t particularly wanted was painful.
      So much of my childhood was spent trying to make people smile, be happy with me, laugh. So much failure and rejection. And every failure (which is normal in life!) was more devastating, perhaps because of that one, huge success so early on. The one I was measured against. Being better than my siblings. Being better. Being more than 100%. I had not just done the best in one grade, I had been moved up to the next–and I did okay there. I saw my grades in 2nd grade a couple of years ago. I thought I did better, then. I got As and Bs. I think that’s when it really started. Bs were akin to a sin in my family. Cs were humiliation. Ds were unspeakable. Fs meant I’d better’d freaking run. And I’m serious. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I was strong enough to tell my father I would call Child Protective Services on him if he raised a hand to me again.
      Is that harm, admitting that I was beaten as a kid? Of course, I am sure so many of us have similar stories. The terror of having to be perfect all of the time or get the living shit spanked or belt-whipped out of you. Or worse. HP help me, I know there has been worse. Admitted in the rooms, and I feel so much guilt that I am thankful I was only beaten.
      This is the hardest part of doing Step Eight. You know, I think one of the things I can’t forgive myself for is not being strong enough when I was 10 or 12 to say what I did at 16. I just kept my head down and I tried to be the perfect daughter. And I spent a few years not being hit, though I was yelled at for not getting perfect grades.
      I tried to be the perfect daughter, but I couldn’t. I really tried, and that freaking target was always moving. I mean, what I did one day that worked was completely wrong the next week. Sometimes worthy of hitting, even.
      I was born me. That’s what the Hell I did wrong.
      Welcome to my very broken mind. I have a lifetime of this crap to sort through, a forgiving spirit to enlist, and an apology and amends to the person I never defended through all of this: me.

      Oh, and for the recording of it’s sake:

      October 27, 2009: 267 lbs, by a doctor’s scale.
      November 30, 2009: 253 lbs. by a scale at a store.
      December 21, 2009: 246 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      January 14, 2010: 232 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      February 14, 2010: 221 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      March 14, 2010: 214.4 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      April 14, 2010: 201.8 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      May 14, 2010: 195.6 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      June 14, 2010: 191.8 lbs. by the scale I currently use.

      My name is Jess, and I am eating disordered. And I am hating Step Eight right now because it freaking hurts! I hope to HP that what I’ve been told happens once you purge it and make amends does happen for me. There has got to be some reward for breaking myself down besides wearing a bullshit pair of size 12 jeans.
      I really want to stop hurting like this, and now I don’t really even have the food to turn to, since it doesn’t inspire me like it used to. Eight months of building a habit of abstinence has been blessing and a curse, because I want to cover my head and hide from this so much–and food doesn’t cut it.



  1. It may sound weird, but I can’t wait to feel the feelings I’ve been self-medicating with food. When that cloud is lifted and all that’s left is me and all the stuff I have been putting off healing from.

    I think you’re very courageous to share your story with us and to stay abstinent when things get really hard. This, too, shall pass and hopefully with the help of other COEs, we can help soften the blow for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I actually spent a good deal of time using the OA sayings. For abstinence, there’s a really good one: “Nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.”

    It reminded me that a life outside of the compulsion is a life I want to live, where I am not constantly in a daze because I’m rolling toward food coma.

    Right now, I’m holding on to “Progress, not Perfection.” As a perfectionist, I will constantly find myself wanting. As a person seeking progress, I know as long as I’m actively working toward abstinence and recovery–even a tiny bit–I am not sliding backward toward an uncontrolled life where I abuse food to stop feeling.

    I rely on every COE out there, whether today is their first meeting or they’ve been in program since 1960. We’re all working the same 24 hours. We’re all one compulsive bite (or denial or trip to purge) from losing abstinence. I take inspiration from so many people who don’t give up, despite setbacks. We’re dealing with addiction, here, with something that goes completely against mindsets and habits and coping mechanisms we’ve established over long years. And, like those other mindsets, habits, and coping mechanisms, a new way of living can be established in time.

  3. Congratulations! Wow! That is huge ๐Ÿ™‚
    I just got my 30 days… so I know what a big deal that is. Thank you for your honesty about step 8.


    • That is so awesome that you’ve chained 30 days of abstinence! I remember my thirty days, how shocked I was that I had actually stayed the course. I never stayed on a diet for more than 3 days (except when I was at fat camp, and that’s because they fed us). 8 months is baffling to me. Completely baffling.

      But I’m starting to get to use the 12th Step now, extending myself to compulsive overeaters and giving the compulsive-overeater’s world view to people who want to help their compulsively overeating friends. It feels good to do that service, to help those who want to help see the cry for help so they can act at a time when it makes a difference.

      Sometimes having a broken brain is a blessing, because it allows me to help people who have no idea how a food zealot prays, who cannot get into that headspace. And I always say that OA is not the only answer–just an option and my own answer.

  4. Thank you for sharing so many raw emotions in your post. They speak volumes, and I can so relate.

    • Rigorous honesty is rough, but I’m glad it does what program says it does. I’m only as sick as my secrets, right? And if I’m letting the reasons I eat in hiding out into the light? I can’t use them as reasons to eat in secret any more. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for reading my journey/journal. Sometimes I get anxious worrying how awful people will think I am when I expose the less-than-pretty side of me . . . but when people like you share that those are the parts which are the ones which do the most good? I remember that the usefulness comes from the willingness to be strong enough to share the experiences that I’d rather keep hidden–because that’s where people find the most hope. The first hope I walked out with was the first realization I was not alone, that I didn’t have to do this alone. Over time, it became a truth instead of a hope. We are not alone in our fear, anger, sadness over this isolating and life-and-soul-sapping disease. The substance of choice may change, but the feelings don’t. And that’s where I find that the truth–even if I hate to write it–brings that usefulness and community I longed for when I was utterly lost in food addiction.

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