Posted by: innerpilgrimage | July 26, 2010

Two Addictions, Two Journals

      As I delve into the SLAA stuff, I am realizing that this isn’t the place for me to put all of that out. This, after all, is primarily an OA journal, focused on my OA recovery and the associated difficulties that come with managing a food addiction.

      It should also be a life journal, though I find that the life I lead between spiritual and mental discovery is dull. Don’t get me wrong, however. It’s a life like any other American life, filled with errands and bills and general life.
      Today, I handled the stuff for the motor vehicle people. They have my insurance information, and it’s done. It appeared more threatening than it was, which I find frustrating at best. I’m not a fan of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to get things done, though I understand why sometimes it’s used. But I react negatively to it–though honestly, this time I just did what I could as I could do it. There was nothing more I could do. I had to take this one day at a time and deal with it in a timely manner. It’s dealt with, and it’s over. And I went out of my home instead of hiding from it.
      Relating to the SLAA, I have found that I’ve been reaching my maximum caloric intake in my food plan a lot recently. I’ve also been giving in to some compulsive behaviors, though none has made me break my definition of abstinence. But I am seeing it, and I relate it to working two programs at the same time. It’s a challenge to work two programs, even when they are both part of an overarching 12-Step recovery plan.
      It wasn’t unexpected, so at least there’s that. However, I find that I am in a position where the personal development through the social anorexia really should not be here in this very public journal. While I enjoy some anonymity, I am finding that I need more to deal with my new program. Therefore, the SLAA stuff is going to be hand-written and set down in a notebook, far from this public venue.
      So, as I am challenged in OA, I hope that it will help those people who are working dual recovery. I always accepted I might lose abstinence, and that’s something I am very aware of. Abstinence means more than that to me.
      Current challenges include:

(1) A desire to eat things which exceed the discretionary calories of my food plan;
(2) Standing in the kitchen to eat (I’ve gotten into eating over the sink again);
(3) Tasting and not recording the calories (despite giving myself small buffers in my discretionary calories);
(4) Choosing foods that have “comfort” value over nutritional value (I’ve eaten a lot less whole grain food and have been eating a lot more chocolate, even in small amounts, as a a near-daily staple);
(5) Annoyance at the boundaries of my food plan;
(6) Eating when I’m not hungry, aka grazing.

      It’s hard to admit these things. However, as I am as sick as my secrets, putting them out for others to read makes those challenges very real to me. To respect my boundaries, I have to put them out there. I need to respect the food plan boundaries, and I am getting very close to disrespecting them.
      A plan of action, apparently, must now include going from my undereating high-density calorie foods to my earlier low-density calorie foods. When I am back into a place where I am facing off with undereating again, I’ll find a balance. So, there are many more salads in my life, beans instead of meats, and the grains I am seeing I am obligated to choose need to be focused on whole grains over processed flour.
      I know a lot of people would have broken their own abstinence with those admissions I put up there. I’m guessing there are people out there who consider I already broke my food plan. However, as OA is not a diet and calories club, I am finding the freedom within my plan is allowing me for these small-grade slides which alert me to potential issues. I am holding fast to the letter of the law of my food plan, despite the intent being compulsive. And as I recognize then admit that I am seeing a slow slide toward breaking abstinence, I am given the opportunity to shift my focus. This morning, for example, has been good. I had one piece of 12-grain bread with a tablespoon of low-fat hummus (maybe 25 calories’ worth) and nonfat feta cheese (which was 35 calories’ worth). It’s well within my food plan and did what it was supposed to do–sate my hunger without pushing plan limits too much. So, my food choices are becoming more abstinence-conscious (though not perfectly, since I did have a small square of chocolate–however that was only 30 discretionary calories for that one piece and well-within my restrictions).
      Progress, imperfection, as my wise sponsee has told me. Speaking of sponsees, I am in the position to take up another one locally. I am talking to her today after/before meeting about it. My whole goal is to make sure that we’re well-matched. While I am definitely in a position where my alternate addiction is compulsively keeping me from communicating daily with my current sponsee out of fear of “bothering her”–which I will be rectifying after I’m done here, I also know that I have a responsibility to my sponsee (and possibly sponsees, if this person decides they want me to be their sponsor–even for a short time).
      I’ve come to terms with some peoples’ need for hard-line sponsors. Accountability is very important to some people; it’s why some thrive in greysheet and some falter. For me, abstinence is the keystone to the spiritual program. While I am abstinent (and not this stumbling abstinence I am suffering through right now but the solid not-fretting-over it abstinence I’ve had on-and-off for months), my mental state becomes less fluid and less frenetic. When I eat from a place of power, the core of my addiction leaves my intense focus. Food becomes a side thing, not The Thing. And when that slides, my mind is free to function and my soul is open to my Higher Power’s messages. My mind reveals what is broken (my character defects) and my spiritual works to find Truths to adjust those defects and broken messages I have made into facts about me. Changes are happening, and those are showing in my personality. I am more outgoing when I go out. The irony is that the OA recovery is triggering the SLAA damage, and I curl in on myself in order to avoid the unsafe people (which is a broken fact, since unsafe people target people like me–no matter how depressed or obese I became over the last 20 years). I am looking at that fact and a Truth is revealed simply in understanding that looking-glass world applies here. While I am “acting as if” I am healthy, unsafe people don’t see me as a people-pleasing-for-attention-and-love target. Serenity is its own shield from people like that. And the healthy people who are safe (people who respect the boundaries of my marital vows, people who respect me enough not to push me to do everything for them then get mad at me when I do, people who respect me enough to establish sane boundaries instead of incite intrigue and passion) are more likely to come in as I begin to live a relationship-sane life.
      Hooray for OA! Without it, I would be bingeing and drowning in the confusion of SLAA (had I even considering going in the first place!) instead of getting some peace of mind and of soul learning about my addictions. I think I’m going to commit to solidifying the first run at both programs before I move forward. And now that I am addressing SLAA stuff, I am finding that perhaps my OA-related Eighth Step won’t be so daunting. How has my food addiction harmed people? Well, I’ve stolen food (and from my parents, money to buy food), I’ve possessively overeaten and denied others food, and I’ve been surly and isolating. The real damage was the SLAA stuff, which I covered over in a coat of binge eating to deny I even had love and relationship issues.
      It’s hard to see it, though, since I am pushing down those memories for fear they will tear me apart (like the four winds of Greek mythos) if I release them. I am truly afraid of the memories of my addictions bringing back the very real pain of addiction. And I am, like any good social and emotional anorexic, working to make myself busy to avoid the very real work of feeling very real feelings.
      My favorite part of the program is identifying behaviors in me that have been regularly repeated by so many others over time in the programs. This gives me so much hope, because people were able to identify and address these things in their 12-Step program development. Every time something which would once crush me is revealed, I have a bit of a mini-party in my heart and mind. Each roadblock I see is one that can be moved aside. Sure, I may still hit them, but discovering them at all is hopeful. I, personally, have to identify the problem before I can solve it. And these problems, like the algebra problems of my youth, can be deconstructed into answers. They may not be numbers, but they can be simplified formulas that I can use when I am confronted with a number that needs to be plugged into the initial complex formula. By streamlining my real life difficulties through simplification (ie., not letting my character defects bog me down by removing as many as possible so the formula for solving those difficulties is streamlined), I can make the everyday troubles into tasks to complete into precisely what they are: everyday tasks to complete. No emotion (since shopping or going to a government office or even picking up the mail should never be an existential crisis of life-changing proportion) needs be involved. Once it’s done, I can enter the zone of satisfaction. So what if it wasn’t done precisely when it was supposed to be done! It got done. It’s over. Time to move on.
      And moving on I shall. In fact, I’ve got a couple of things I want to do today on top of a couple more errands (which will make others’ lives better–like returning an in-demand book to the library so the next person on the list can read it), so I am off to do them.
      My name is Jess, and I am a compulsive overeater and social/emotional anorexic. The ties that bind these two addictions are knotted tightly, but with patience and slow and steady effort, I can pull the knots and not ruin the whole thing in the process. That, itself, gives me a lot of hope for a potential rest-of-lifetime filled with sanity and serenity.

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