Posted by: innerpilgrimage | July 13, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes . . .

      It’s been exactly one year since I took my before picture, the one I show newcomers and others as an example of my physical recovery.

      The photo was taken on my son’s last birthday. His birthday this year is going to be quieter–my family isn’t here for a reunion, the friends he had last year at his party moved to another state and the friend he invited is grounded because of a messy room, and I actually made a cake-shaped cake this year. Two layers, round, frosting. It took 1 hour instead of 2 days to make.
      I still have the clothing I wore sitting folded in my closet. I’m wearing them tomorrow to my home group meeting, where–if my HP wills me to maintain abstinence today and tomorrow–I will be getting my 9-Month Abstinence Coin.
      Nine months.
      Wow. That wasn’t me. That was never, ever me. I could never do this on my own power. It’s shocking to think that I’m here, having been given the ability through something so far beyond myself to have some recovery.
      I do have a confession about a small resentment. I was very frustrated when my friend I went to see seemed to think that only after nine months, I should be something akin to an OA Yogi Master. I got pissed off (ironic, hunh?) because I still fight with my compulsion. I mean, it’s not a cult, and I’m not a zealot. I didn’t find that glassy-eyed inner peace, and I know when I look at people and think, “Man, that person needs [insert 12-Step Program Here],” I am not being true to the whole point of being in a 12-Step program.
      Walking into a 12-Step program is an individual choice. No one has to walk in, though anyone facing an addiction that’s taken over their lives is welcome. If you have no money, it doesn’t matter. I give my few dollars every meeting because of what I’ve gotten out of the group. I want to keep my two groups going because I like having a place to go twice a week where people understand what I am talking about when I say that I can’t stop eating on my own power. It’s not “just needing some willpower” for me. And when I walk in the room, I know someone else’s experience will give me a new perspective on my own recovery.
      Last night at group, we read out of For Today, a little daily inspirational reader. We read about the fact we have no real leaders in OA, that everyone is equal in it–no matter how long each of us has been in program. We all can learn from others–from newcomers attending their first meeting to the people who attended the first OA meeting in 1960.
      It’s frustrating that I was put into a position where I was expected to have found perfect enlightenment overnight. I’m far from out of compulsion, here. Sure, I’ve lost weight. Sure, I’ve learned a lot about my spiritual life and how relaxing and living an HP-driven life allows good things in my life. I’ve changed some of my thinking and I’m able to spend more time outside of compulsion about certain things than inside compulsion about them. But I am far from complete enlightenment. The irony of resentment because I am still compulsive is not lost on me, doubly so because the compulsion to resent being told I am compulsive builds that compulsion to resent . . . ugh, that’s a spiral of insanity.
      I know I have to let it go for my serenity. Actually, I also need to let go the whole compulsion about the weight loss, too. I want people to know too much that I lost all the weight. Of course, that’s my ego talking. I want people to see the work that I put into weight loss (see the ego already?). I didn’t put work into the weight loss. I just survived 24 hours at a time and made it to here in my physical recovery. Living within reasonable limits gave me the freedom to make sensible decisions in my eating. It allowed me to reject foods I knew would break my abstinence because I knew they would trigger a binge. It allowed me to make positive food choices which led to more positive food choices. I mean, I was the queen of the cream sauce and now I can’t even look at them because the idea of mayonnaise and buttery, creamy sauces and salad dressings makes me somewhat queasy. I don’t like things that are too sweet any more, so candy and cookies are slowly sliding out of my diet. I also don’t really like fried or greasy foods, so snack chips and fries and onion rings are out by choice. I don’t drink often because that comes straight from my spare calories, and to keep abstinence I can’t drink enough to get drunk.
      Life may not be idyllic, and my abstinence may not be “perfect” (I don’t have set, regular meals at set times, and I sometimes drink quite a lot of diet soda, and I do eat binge foods in limited quantities), but I keep within my food plan’s limits. Since the concept is for me to have a plan that fits my recovery, this one fits me perfectly. I am releasing my binge foods because I tend to avoid them because I don’t have enough calories to spend on them. Most of my calories are set in food groups which lead to a daily-balanced nutritional diet. I don’t feel I deny myself food when I follow my food plan, and I have enjoyed getting hungry and learning that I prefer eating to satiety instead of feeling overstuffed and so sick I feel ill. While I could certainly live without the nausea “hunger pangs” which kind-of make me not want to eat instead of want to eat, having my body function like this is nice. I like getting hungry because I used to be able to go days without getting one hunger pang. I like being able to eat smaller meals and have two or three meals out of one when I go out to eat. I like eating reasonably, feeling satiated instead of stuffed (I know, I already said that). And I really like that I can get stuff done and that the barely sufferable summer heat isn’t kicking my ass this year like it did last year. I was wearing a parka of fat 24-7-365 for years and now I can tolerate the heat. I don’t perceive summer as being so bad this year.
      It’s a wonderful gift from my Higher Power, to be able to live comfortably in my skin. Like I have said before, I have arrived at my goal of physical recovery. I can function in this body. That’s a pretty awesome thing to have been given because I gave control of my food choices to my Higher Power in the form of a food plan nine months ago.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict (and food restricter). My choices for today are just for today, yet I know that they will make tomorrow easier if I keep my head in today and practice living out-of-compulsion from midnight to 11:59:59 p.m. every day.



  1. Congratulations on your amazing year. I found your blog a while ago and I’m desperately seeking answers. I am a COE in the middle of all the terrible food issues and people at my local meetings tell me that I need to surrender. I just don’t know how to DO that!! Do you have any advice for someone who ís just amazed that you can go through difficult situations and just not eat off your food plan? For me, when something terrible happens I immediately go back to the food.

    I really think this battle might kill me.. thanks for your insights.. Robyn xx

  2. Welcome, Robyn!

    I totally understand what you’re talking about. When I first started, I had trouble with surrender. It’s a hard concept to start with, and it’s the first action step (Step 3), to figure out what your Higher Power is.

    This evening, I had to scrape the frosting off of my slice of my son’s birthday cake because it would have made me break abstinence. I. Did. Not. Want. To. I wanted that frosting very much, even though I had had a small portion last night. It wasn’t very good. But I still wanted it.

    But . . . I want abstinence more. So, I scraped it off. That’s how I surrender on my food plan, knowing that Just For Today, I want abstinence more than I want to break my food plan and give up for the day. If I break my food plan, I fear the coming binge if I do. It’s like a storm on the horizon to me, that binge. But for now, for today, I trusted that the Universe (my Higher Power) could give me strength I don’t have within myself to survive today’s desire.

    And you know what? I didn’t miss the frosting, when all was said and done. That’s probably the most liberating thing of this whole mess.

    Tomorrow, I am going to write about surrender in more detail, and I hope it will help.

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