Posted by: innerpilgrimage | July 14, 2010

Don’t Quit Before the Miracle Happens

      The miracle happened.

      I want to laugh and cry and I am dazed and amazed and I am so humbly grateful for the two huge miracles I got today.
      Today is my ninth month of abstinence. That means I trotted out the scale after fighting thirty days of compulsion, trying not to get onto it. And oh, the gift I received for surrendering to my Higher Power!
      First of all, I have lost enough weight that I have gotten back to my height of 5′ 11′ and 3/4 inches, I suppose because I don’t have so much weight compacting my spine any more. I mean, I thought I was 5′ 11.5 inches a few months ago. I may have been. But today I am 5′ 11.75″. Why is this important?

      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.
      July 14, 2010: 181.4 lbs. by the scale I currently use.

      I have a normal BMI.

      The second miracle is that somehow I found enough mental recovery to accept this is enough. While I won’t be delighted if I go up 5 pounds next month, I’ve reached a weight I am content with and can stand to gain 5 lbs. if it happened. The most important part is that I don’t need to lose more weight. I don’t need 175 lbs. or 165 lbs. or 150 lbs. or the deadly, elusive 125 lbs.! I am at peace with this amount of physical recovery. What happens next is all up to my Higher Power.

      This brings me to the gist of today’s entry: surrender. A lovely woman, Robyn, left a comment about advice I can give about it. While I cannot give advice, I can give experience (as I remember it . . . the day to day is actually tucked into the history of this journal).
      When I started, I had the newcomer packet and hope. I read everything in that newcomer packet, trying to understand what I was looking at. I desperately wanted to be here by October 1, 2009 (I walked into my first meeting at the end of September 2009), knowing that wasn’t going to happen. But I also had that sane part in my head that knew it took years to put it on. I wanted to feel sane, though, even more than feeling thin.
      I got my OA 12&12 soon after. That really was the beginning of it all. That book opened up the 12 Steps to me, even though I got mentally stuck on the Step 2 chapter. Really bogged down. I was stuck on having a Higher Power at all. Oh, and I fought Step Three because of what I strongly believed were its Christian overtones. I stalled, I feared OA couldn’t succeed where everything else had failed, I could not believe a power greater than myself could actually make me stronger. It was all about my personal lack of willpower, right? I had to be responsible completely for what I’d done to myself, right? I mean, if God (though I didn’t believe) allowed me to be morbidly obese, how could I rely on God to bring me here . . . to a healthy BMI?
      Well, it came down to grabbing hold of what I did believe in. I believed, at the time, in the Universe. That I am merely a part of it. That it was infinite and that anything was possible in it. And for the first few weeks of abstinence, I would simply meditate on releasing the negative energy of those horrible cravings to the void of the Universe, willing it to be changed into neutral energy (ah, physics, bless your lessons on entropy!), which I believe could be converted into positive and healing energy if drawn from again. It worked.
      Something I overheard at group a few months back: “I don’t know why it works. It just does.”
      For a person who always needed to know why anything ever happens, surrendering to never knowing why was a really hard-won lesson. Things happen in our lives for which we will never understand the motives. I know when I was deep in compulsion (and sometimes when I give in to my compulsive thoughts), the chase for facts and truth was an obsession. As I slowly open myself to a spiritual journey, aided by the religions from around the world I’ve been exposed to and immersed in over my lifetime (Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Sufism, Wicca), I find myself finding truths I cannot often explain. To me, it means that I am succeeding in my spiritual journey. I don’t really need to know why X person hurt me or how Y person thinks I look. Does it really matter? I can’t change anything but me. At the core of it, the serenity prayer is a firm reminder that I can muster the strength to change how I interact with the world and I must gather the serenity to accept that I cannot control how others interact with the world and me in it. That’s the wisdom I was happy to receive recently from my daily reader, Voices of Recovery.

      Okay, back to how I learned to surrender. Well, that first month it was in tears and awareness. Actually, I think the first three months was filled with tears and awareness. It took me about a week or so to actually start “feeling it”, and that was terrifying. Today I embrace being able to feel, but I hated it. I wanted serenity right then! I didn’t want to have to do any footwork for it, I just wanted to go from numb state to numb state (though I have learned that serenity isn’t numbness at all).
      I craved. Hell, I still crave. Having any craving feeling reminds me that I am still a food addict. Practicing abstinence for nine months makes saying no easier because I am deeply aware of what can happen if I let it slip “just this once” (my current compulsion message, which is followed up with, “No one will know”, to which I respond: I will), and that strengthens me to say no. Ironic that a craving actually triggers the serenity to choose abstinence, now. But it does. How? I have no idea. It just does, and I am humbly grateful that’s part of my recovery.
      I live on OA slogans, too. My most recent is, “Progress, not perfection.” I used “Just for Today” for the longest time, because I learned I could maintain abstinence for 24 hours. It shifted because I had fallen into the trap of chasing a physical recovery (weight loss) to the detriment of my mental, my spiritual, and my physical well-being. I wanted to be here months ago, and I fought really hard. I focused on weight goals. In the middle of that misery, I found enlightenment. I was obsessively weighing and I was undereating. And I found “Progress, not perfection,” and it shifted my focus to the slow walk toward a mental and spiritual recovery, letting the physical recovery take care of itself, as it had for months.
      I also rely on my chip meeting. I carry my most recent OA chip with me in my wallet, and I see it daily. So when I am standing next to the impulse-buy checkout shelving of any grocery or department store, I see it. It reminds me that I have done the footwork to get here. My chip meeting uses AA chips to fill in the months between OA chips. It is certainly easier on me to know I just have to make it to the 14th of next month. My first two weeks coast on that most recent chip, and the following two to two-and-a-half weeks is helped by the reminder that another chip is waiting for me. While I recover one day at a time, knowing that another chip is coming soon keeps me going sometimes. It’s nice to have something to hold in my hand, a tangible reminder that I’ve come this far. Or rather, that I’ve turned over my abstinence to my Higher Power. Love2EatinPA has a recovery bracelet she wears, which she adds beads to every month. When she hit her second anniversary, she removed the eleven beads representing the eleven months of recovery she had achieved and replaced it with a second large bead representing her second year of abstinence and recovery. I think this is a fantastic idea. Sometimes we need tangible reminders of our surrender to our food plans to remind us that making it through this current 24 hours is worth the effort.
      A very hard-won lesson was understanding the difference between surrender and submission. Submission is becoming a slave to something greater than myself (the food); surrender is releasing something I cannot control on my own (my food addiction) to something greater than myself (my Higher Power). When I surrender something to my Higher Power, I accept that I cannot force change on anything or anyone. I just create friction and bad feelings. I cannot even force change on me! When I surrender, I accept that my omniscient, omnipotent, and infinitely loving Higher Power will take care of it for me. I’m fortunate that whenever I surrender, I am given nearly immediate results. Something happens in my life which answers a question I need answered or brings something good into my life. Even challenges have become good things–the lessons I learn from them strengthen my abstinence and encourage my spiritual and mental recovery. When I don’t fight it, I rarely get anything I cannot handle. When I do fight it, the problem grows out of control and I get emotional triggers which start binge cravings. I actually use those binge cravings sometimes to roll backwards and identify the spiritual challenges and mental compulsions I am having. Then I work on either releasing the problems for my Higher Power to work on for me or making progress fixing it.
      It took time. It took a lot of time.
      The one thing I could offer anyone starting the program is to get Steps One through Three solidly underfoot. That Higher Power has to be established. I think the three things a Higher Power needs to have are (1) omniscience, because we can take comfort in something at least knowing why this is happening to us, (2) omnipotence, because we need a reservoir of limitless strength which is stronger than the chaotic and uncontrolled urge to binge, and (3) infinitely loving, because we all have been betrayed in love and need an ultimate authority which can love us no matter how many times we lose abstinence or cringe in fear at the seemingly insurmountable steps we face in getting to Step Twelve. This Higher Power loves me how I always wanted my parents to love me. When I connect to it, I get a great reward: serenity.
      Serenity, for me, is a peace knowing that I have purpose. I feel emotions when I am serene. I can be sad or happy when I am serene. The biggest benefit is the calm wisdom to accept what I am feeling then embrace what I need to act on and release what my Higher Power can act on for me. When I let things go to my Higher Power, I am not exerting my own force on it and my Higher Power can take it and retool it into something I can manage. And, when I am not focused on hacking away at the problem, I am given such wonderful miracles and coincidences and opportunities. Like a welcome basket from the Universe. Each time this happens, I know I am cheating myself if I deny my intuitive messages from my Higher Power. Life is good when I relax and become part of the solution instead of the core of the problem.
      My name is Jess and I am a food addict who has been blessed with nine months of consecutive days of abstinence. I don’t feel the despair of “crossing the diet finish line”; instead, I feel wonderful that I have a lifetime of purpose to look forward to and a spiritual journey that I am excited to finally be on.



  1. Congrats on getting to under 190! I’ve been without internet connection for a couple weeks since I’ve been in Co, so I haven’t had a chance to sit back and read your post. I’ve been wondering though, I’m happy to hear you are doing well.

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