Posted by: innerpilgrimage | June 21, 2010

L’enfer, c’est les autres

      Great meeting tonight. Fantastic meeting. And, for those who are wondering what my title is all about, it’s from Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit”. Hell is other people.

      In compulsion, I avoided people. I longed for people to be around me, but I sequestered myself from the world. Sometimes it was because I wasn’t good enough; sometimes, others. The rationalizations (delusions and denials) were near-infinite. But I isolated. I kept away from people because I could not accept myself, and I assumed the world could never accept me morbidly obese.
      Well, here I am, sliding down to a size 12. I’m somewhere between 15 and 5 pounds outside a healthy BMI. I have the physical recovery I sought when I walked in the door of my first OA meeting last September.
      I’ve lamented in the realization I’ve spent less than ten percent of my life within a healthy weight range. Most of my adult life, I have been between 50 and 100 lbs overweight. And now . . . well, now I am seeing the very real eating disorder I possess. I have a horrible body image, and I want to work it (because I’m worth it).
      My current difficulty is that I am in compulsion in much of my life. The abstinence has become law, a habit I have put myself into because of love, once upon a time. (I’m trying to find the related Hazrat Inayath Khan quote yet cannot.) The abstinence is part of how I deal with the physical realm. It is because I cannot live without it . . . but why, then, do I still isolate myself most of the time?
      The compulsive mind I still possess.
      I have read a lot and listened a lot in meetings and there are two things I realize I never really ate away: fear and rage. That was how I manifested myself in the world. Feeling blocked, out of control (despite deluding myself I was completely in control), and always frustrated because the world was doing just fine without me. I took my toys and went home. I left the world.
      And within this enlightenment moment of meeting, I realized that I was completely, utterly, and totally helpless. I have done this all of my life and still do it. I use my drug of choice alone. I sequester myself and live a vibrant and vivid life inside my head, the dramatic film noir heroine posing and pouting for an audience who will never cross paths with me.
      Welcome to a broken mind. i often admit my eyes are broken and my mind is broken. Fine, Jess, that’s lovely and all but . . . what are you going to do about it? Or rather, what are you going to do about it today?
      My breastplate of fear immediately is in my hands, and I put it on. I recoil from this because if I face myself in a mirror of self (not just glass and silver), I will have to see me.
      I fear my greatest critic (me) will be right. I fear that if I extend myself and work on my spiritual program by using the mental clarity I have been graced with (because of said abstinence), I might find out that the 12 Steps won’t work for me, that I have been deluding myself into thinking this was the answer, after all. I fear. HP help me, I fear.
      Well, the admission has been made. I am compulsively obsessed with my body image because it’s something I can quantify. Not a size 2, not acceptable. And I hate. I am filled with rage and blame society for making size 2 the new gold standard of what I have to be come. The new unattainable goal I have to fight not to chase every damned day.
      But . . . that body image was broken long before that. I see myself at 250 lbs., whether or not I am higher or lower. I think I am thinner when I am not; I think I am fatter when I am not. And I’m not happy at 250 lbs. I cannot move through the world how I want to. I cannot function at that weight.
      But will a size 2 make me more able to run? No. Will it make me healthier? Definitely not. So . . . I blame the world and I blame myself and I blame, blame, blame.
      What I don’t do is change.
      I wonder sometimes how I can be the booster to the world, the cheerleader with the pom-poms pushing others to cross the goal line and score the winning touchdown. I want to be part of that, to experience others’ success. I want to consume happiness vicariously, binge on others’ experiences. Yet . . . it’s bittersweet. I am happy for those successes for others, and I am jealous I cannot achieve it.
      So I live within my broken head, still, fearful of what is outside of it. I write, creating happy endings and lives torn asunder which are put right (for the Hell I put them through). Suffering, I believe, is the source of true happiness.
      Suffering. Is. The. Source. Of. True. Happiness.
      Not a fact, but I treat it as one. Not true, but I cling to it like a prayer, hoping my suffering has finally earned my true happiness. And I am having a reality dawn on me, something that is bringing this whole lesson full circle: Suffering is like abstinence–if I practice it, it will become second nature to me.
      Suffering needs to be treated like a compulsion. I’m not talking real suffering, by the way, I am talking about the martyrdom that I want the world to appreciate. I want the world to sit up and take notice as I make up this anguish and suffer loudly at them. Oh, I admit I have real anguish. But I’m unwilling to even look at it. The made-up ailments, the mental aches and spiritual pains of this malade imaginaire (hypochondriac), mask the real source because those aches and pains are easier to face than the very real disease eating at my soul.
      It’s time for me to become bad body image abstinent. It’s time to stop bingeing on trigger melancholy. It’s time to make a sanity plan and stick to it, accepting that it will be as hard to do in the first twenty-four hours as stopping that first compulsive bite. That the first week will be Hell. That as each month passes, that sanity I want more than the next compulsive thought will be easier to maintain until it’s part of me.
      How? I argue with myself. How, when I have no idea where to start.
      Well, I have to start the same way I started a food plan–search around until I find the right balance for me to obtain what I want. Until I find the sanity plan that’s right for me, I will lose sanity. But with daily vigilance, I have hope that I can recognize the things which trigger my compulsive self-loathing and learn to turn them away. To weigh and measure what I think and learn to make healthier choices and leave the compulsive thoughts to yesterday.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food restricter and food addict. I feel the same hopeful excitement mingled with fear that I had when I was trying on food plans to fit my abstinence and recovery. I didn’t start here. I had a long road to walk before I got here.
      I just have to remember that it was done only one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.


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