Posted by: innerpilgrimage | September 20, 2010

A Year in the Life, Part One

      I considered a few months back that I ought to read over the last year and see what had changed.

      I have not read my posts from beginning to end yet, a task I have set out for myself today. With just under 300 entries, it should take a while, considering many are 2,000 words or more. A year in the life–my life.
      My body has changed, and even my mind has gone through some alteration. I am seeing in full clarity that some days were better than others, even in the midst of the changes. Some things I’m not sure I want to read because I recall that I have been harsh and judgmental many times. I also recall I had epiphanies and lessons about my recovery so far.
      I know, for instance, I am quite susceptible to starches in my diet plan, and removing chips has been pretty difficult. I see that I may have to begin again, as if I am living that year over but with a little more understanding of who I am and where I am going.
      I assumed I would have arrived at something altogether new. Not entirely true, but this is a good thing for my recovery. A realistic view of the process is giving me an understanding of the lifelong process of growing as a person and of growing in recovery and abstinence.
      As I near a year’s worth of OA meetings and OA abstinence, I find that I am still in my infancy in the program. This is a relief, because I once saw that first year as an endpoint. Now I see it as a first birthday, a celebration that although I am still dependent and still learning, if I hold to the program I have accepted as the only solution, I will find the promises outlined in the Big Book will come true:
      “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
      Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
      What promises have I seen already? Well, I still regret my past, but I don’t want to shut it out. I want to understand it so I can have a foundation from which to work. I understand serenity; I have known peace. My experience has benefitted others, especially in that I have a year’s worth of stumbling and imperfect recovery recorded for others to review. I feel useless a lot of the time, but that’s because I am still isolating. During the times I indulge the character defect of isolation, I do feel some self-pity. Though when I am out, I don’t feel it. And when I am in meeting, I don’t feel it. When I share and listen, I feel I am absorbing a better understanding of my addiction and its sources. I am being as honest as I can when I share my difficulties, for it has been said and I sincerely believe that sometimes the act of hearing our own voice saying the truths about our addictive selves allows us the awareness necessary to advance in our recovery. For me, it keeps me aware of where I come from, and it is necessary for me NOT to deny where I came from. If I deny my past, then I am denying the source of my addiction. Denial of the source of my addiction feeds that same addiction. If I don’t want to return to the delusion that the addicted life is pain-free and that I can cover over my past with bliss-from-a-box. I have never been trapped in a place darker than my addiction, and living a year above-surface–even with the struggles and pain–has been better than pretending people can’t see what I am doing to myself.
      The self-service of the addiction still has a pretty strong grip on me, still. But even yesterday, I committed to listening openly at meeting. After all, if I want the right to share with others, I have the responsibility to listen attentively to their shares. The reward for taking on that responsibility, however, is that I learn more about my own addiction in the process. I guess that’s what Year Two will be about . . . learning to walk.
      Fear of people I still have. Because my boundaries are not entirely established (but hey, they are being defined, and that is progress!), I still worry about people getting in and looking like an idiot to people who don’t really want to get in farther than “normal”. Basically, I fear both the predators and the “norms”. The predators see my lack of boundaries and get deep under my skin and into my psyche; the “norms” expect me to be able to both understand and convey the boundaries of a well-adjusted person through body language and tone of voice. Because the body language, and tone of voice were erratic in my family, I did not get understanding. Not to mention, being a shadow of a person–not seen, not heard–was the only way to stay safe. To survive, hide. To hide, put doors and darkness between me and them. If they did not know I was there, I couldn’t be punished for something I might not have done or asked to do something I could be punished for when I did not attain that authority figure’s definition of “perfect”. So, I have a book, now on how to act normal. I kid you not. The 12-Step program for Adult Children actually has a guide, and I bought it because I need a manual on how to live as a non-addicted person. I mean, if I plan to live in reality and I plan to seek safe and sane people to interact with, I should learn the language of safety and sanity. If all I can speak is addict, I will seek addicts out. And if I seek addicts out, I will become an addict again because that life will be normative. While I am enjoying the benefit of living in the transitional recovery state, it’s a halfway house of behavior and language. To be able to immerse myself in the real, I need to know what is expected of me.
      In other words, I’m becoming trilingial and “tri-behavioral”–addict, recovered, and normal. By being able to communicate with addicts, I can follow the 12th Step. By being able to communicate with people in recovery, I find fellowship and friendship with people who are transitioning. By being able to communicate with normal people, I will be able to fulfill my purpose in the real world.
      To be honest, I was thinking at first that I wanted to abandon my addict language. But I don’t. The only way to approach the still-suffering addict is to communicate that I am deeply intimate with it. With recovery language, I can show an active addict who wants out of Hell that there is a door out.
      As for economic insecurity, I’m not so worried about that. I’ve learned that I can live with what I need and don’t have to chase more than that to be happy. Not to mention, the grocery bills have gone down since I’m not buying the junk food I want to eat and the food I should be eating yet let rot in my refrigerator.
      I am starting to handle things in my life that would make me freeze completely or run the other direction. And I am seeing that when I release control to my Higher Power, good things happen in my life. Even the worst of things is manageable, as opposed to the unmanageability of even the everyday things.
      I wanted an overnight success, but I am seeing that my lessons have to come slowly. It’s okay, though. I’ll just chalk it up to the need for me to have slow progress so the changes can stick. And one year isn’t enough to really make the kind of dramatic changes I had hoped for a year ago. But . . . progress not perfection, and I have indeed made progress.
      So, with that knowledge, I have hope for the next year in recovery. As long as I make progress, I am not lost to my addiction. That’s a good thing.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict. A year in the life of a child of recovery–what some old-timers in OA call “babies”. I feel like one sometimes. But babies grow and learn. And with the nurturing I can offer myself, I can actually do it all over again . . . faster than the first time, but I can actually grow into a life where addiction will play a smaller and smaller part. No, it will never go away, but it ill get smaller. That’s a good thought.


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