Posted by: innerpilgrimage | October 10, 2010

10:10 on 10-10-10 is 42 in Binary

      At 10:10 a.m., I took pictures and a little video with my phone. Not really the biggest phenomenon considering the point of this post is what I learned from Chapter Three in the Big Book, but 1010101010 apparently is binary for 42. For those geeky enough to have read Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker series, that is the answer to the question of life, the Universe, and everything.

      I suppose I should be talking about something else 10-related, like Step Ten, which basically tells us to maintain, on a daily basis, the steps which come before it:

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

      I am already trying to live that step. On a daily basis, I try to live a life which makes amends less necessary. And I have started recognizing within the same day when I am acting in compulsion. I try to make corrections as I recognize them, apologizing when I see that I either caused or was on the way to causing harm.
      Well, back to Chapter Three. I’ve been reading it for my OA sponsor, and I have been writing a lot of marginalia. What I got out of the chapter was pretty poignant to my own recovery, and I wanted to share it here.

      1. We want to be “temporarily insane”; we do not want to be thrust into hopelessness by the realization we are permanently not normal. If there was no 12-Step recovery, we would be right.

      2. Attempts to be cured of my compulsive eating have failed. Diets do not work. No diet works permanently. Each attempt to cure myself with a diet makes each relapse worse, and it saps my hope and will to fight.

3. My addiction may have started as a coping mechanism but it developed into a habit. At some point, the habit turned into an addiction.

4. Holding to a diet long-term does not equal being able to eat normally once I reach the goal of my diet. If I get off my food plan, I will relapse. Whatever my food plan is, I need one for life.

5. In youth, I learned to eat what I want when I wanted it to deal with life. I always assumed I would magically gain self-control as an adult. Instead, it developed into an addiction.

6. A nice, “normal”, successful, admirable, and kind person can be an addict.

7. Even with awareness and a sincere desire to halt the compulsive behavior for the people I love, I will relapse if I do not have spiritual growth.

8. In the example given on pages 36 and 37, a sane “normal” drinker would think it was nuts to put whiskey into milk for any reason. As a non-alcoholic, I think it’s nuts. However, I have food behavior an alcoholic would think is nuts.

9. The addict mind is as committed to the addiction as a 12-Step mind is committed to recovery. One slip in progress throws this out of balance, allowing the addict mind the upper hand. At that point, a slip can happen.

10. It is insanity to know something will kill me yet do it anyway.

11. I am not alone. There are people out there who understand my insane thoughts and behaviors about food because they have either had them or they would consider them valid reasons for a slip if in the same place. These people are my OA fellowship, and I cannot recover without them.

12. Reason is not enough versus insanity. Reason requires emotion, which comes and goes on its own, to be in check. When emotions are accepted, then the mind can be clear. Insanity requires a desire to avoid or flee emotions, causing more turmoil and a clouded mind. If my mind is clouded, then I am at the mercy of my addiction–which is merciless.

13. I can be in control of other parts of my life, but I am powerless when it comes to my addictive substance. A “dry drunk” episode is just like a diet, where I am able to eat within reason until I finally find any reason to stop. That reason is always trivial.

14. When I relapse, there is no fight because I have no willpower against my addiction. When I succumb to ego, my addict mind wins. I need an all-powerful Higher Power on my side to maintain my recovery from addiction.

15. Ego-based willpower plus self-knowledge cannot combat the insanity of addiction.

16. Rock bottom is different for everyone. Some people may never reach rock bottom and will sacrifice even their lives to the disease; some reach it before they lose anything consequential in their lives. Knowing what’s coming if one does not seek a solution may be enough to convince a person to seek recovery.

      In summary, I learned that my first compulsive bite will lead to relapse–period. I cannot mount a defense on my own because my ego built and lives in the addiction. The addiction once helped me escape a childhood of complete misery by distracting me from the knowledge that I was at the mercy of two adults who were sick with the disease of addiction. As an adult, that addiction keeps me from living my life.
      A life in recovery restores me to sanity on a daily basis. To live in recovery, I need spiritual growth. I need a Higher Power.

      At the head of the next chapter, I also put a note down there during the Big Book study that one of my OA literature groups is doing:

      “Am I asking my Higher Power for help, or am I asking for its opinion? Asking for then accepting the help offered requires that I work with my Higher Power to solve my problem.”

      In noveling news, I finished the book I had been editing last week for publication. Copies are currently being shipped so I can view the proofs and make changes. I also prepared the third book in the series so it could be printed. Unfortunately, it’s over 700 pages.
      As I work toward my HP’s goal of completion by doing some work on a project daily, I know that I need to walk away from that book for a month or more so I can see it with fresh eyes. If I tried to frantically do the edit, I might remove something integral to the story and leave in something unimportant. My goal is to cut 50 pages from the book, something I believe I can do with a little effort and a lot of willingness to get rid of unnecessary (and boring) dialogue. I think I can close up 50 pages by making events more concise and sentences punchier in the action sequences. But I need the time away to remove the parts which drag effectively.
      So, that book gets put aside until after November is over. The reason it’s not getting touched during November is because of National Novel Writing Month. Throughout the end of October and into November (since I write prolifically in November), I have crochet projects and cross-stitch projects I can complete for the holidays in December.
      I think my goal this year for NaNoWriMo is to write no more than 2,000 words per day. That’s about two hours. I worry if I can withdraw from the book I plan to write this year, to be able to only commit two hours per day to the writing process then set it down. My hope is that, with my Higher Power, I can do it.
      Last, but certainly not least, I am nearing the first anniversary of my first 24 hours in abstinence. Between then and now, I have been graced with successful adherence to my food plan. For some reason, after a turbulent few weeks, I’ve started to get a calmness about me. I feel pleasure that this is the beginning of my life in recovery, that I am celebrating my infancy and survival to my first birthday in recovery. Each day I learn more about the program (thanks to my OA sponsor having me do an in-depth Big Book study), I am learning how the sometimes-rocky path to this moment has played out regarding my progress.
      I am able to look at the program differently than a year ago. I finally have that open mind to understand the point of even working a program which encourages me to find spiritual growth. No, I am not a monotheist–I still believe the Universe in its infinite capacity can cause the most unlikely and improbable of circumstances to align into something I can only describe as “a miracle”. Yes, I am a product of my upbringing, but I am not that child trapped by others’ insanity. I have free will to choose the addiction or recovery. I have free will to choose my ego (which set up my addiction to protect me once) or a Higher Power through the 12 Steps (which set up my recovery to protect me now). I am not a child any longer. If I submit to the memories and self-loathing I was taught, I choose not to honor the act of growing older as time passes. My body is in the real; it is 40, at midlife. If my mind is in the past, as me at 6 or 12 or even 16, I cannot hope to reconcile the two and live sanely. To respect the past, I need to let it stay there. To respect the here and now, when my body occupies, I need to live in the here and now. To respect the future, I need to let it stay unknowable as opposed to trying to manipulate it into giving me its secrets. The sane place is to be here, now. Recovery helps me do that by not only giving me permission to be imperfect (as long as I am making some progress), but by giving me the strength to make that progress. That spirit of strength, hope, unending willpower, and unconditional love is called my Higher Power. It gives me the gifts of the inexplicable beauty of the world when I stay in the moment instead of reaching backward to feel a resentment or reaching forward to try to control something that honestly needs to be accepted as out of my control.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict. Things are getting done, and I don’t feel crazed by the decisions I am making to set things aside only long enough to do the best job possible later. I am not putting my life on hold to obsess over it until I start up early or abandon the project altogether in a huff. I did that in addiction, and it sucked. I know that acting rashly won’t help; I know that waiting will allow me to perform the necessary tasks without emotion clouding me as it is right now.
      I guess I’ll just give it to my HP, and if I’m suppose to work on it this week, I will be drawn to work on it this week. If not, I have a lot of other things I can be finishing up, now that completion of finite tasks has become an integral part of my recovery. My addiction, like my own mind, is infinite; my recovery, because of how I define my HP, is the same. The difference is that my addiction doesn’t benefit me because I don’t have a need to hide any more. It’s time for me to face toward the sun and appreciate having survived this long. Oh, and to be thankful that my rock bottom was somewhere in between that first realization decades ago that something was wrong and death because of my addiction. That gift of respite, of sanity in a moment of sheer insanity, has been given to me freely throughout my life. I guess at this time last year, I was finally willing to accept that this thing had me beat completely. And it did.
      I am so thankful that divine inspiration has chained itself together so that when I needed it most, I had a solution.


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