Posted by: innerpilgrimage | November 20, 2010

Harmony and Recovery

Holiday Eating Season Countdown: 43 Days

      The patterns of my breakthroughs are pretty astounding. First, I am given initial awareness. Then I struggle with it, trying to understand what I’ve been offered. Next, I work to release it to my Higher Power. Sometimes that works; sometimes it gets tossed right back at me as I’m given more clues to solve the mystery. Last, what I’ve received sets into place, and I am given a greater understanding of the task at hand and some serenity that I can get there–even if not today.

      Yesterday was like that. I went to a bookstore and picked up three books: a crossword puzzle book (I do love my crosswords!), a book of inspirational thoughts, entitled, It’s Never Too Late . . ., and Adult Children of Abusive Parents.
      The Adult Children book was a little hard to put here, but it’s part of being rigorously honest. My family worked on secrets, this being one of the primary ones. I never suffered sexual abuse, which I am humbly thankful because I have seen the devastation that sexual abuse has caused the people I’ve met in program and read the stories of in program literature. What happened to me was no great party, but I don’t think I personally could have survived to adulthood had the abuse extended into the sexual realm. What happened to me emotionally and physically was enough to send me into therapy offices and seeking psychiatric prescriptive medical intervention for over a decade.
      I have deep admiration for people who have survived that kind of abuse and seek therapy and recovery to stop the cycle with them. It is unfathomable to me how anyone survives, and the people seeking recovery in the aftermath inspire me with their recovery.
      I’m going to present my We Care message then go on to what I got yesterday that finally brought me some peace in recovery last night after nearly a week of compulsive behaviors, including what I recently discovered is a pretty anorectic attitude about my eating habits.
     
     
HARMONY
     
      I think it’s happened to all of us at some point in our lives, when we stop and realize we’re part of something. Sometimes it happens on a walk in nature, when we are out and the world just amazes us with its combined simplicity and complexity. Sometimes it happens when we’re surrounded by people we care about, the family we create through the bonds of love over blood.
      In For Today, the process of one OA’s effortless abstinence is described. Instead of the insanity of compulsion, surrender brings a person into harmony with nature, becoming part of the rhythm of the Universe. That sense of being part of something instead of compulsively trying to be separate from it brings a level of serenity and belonging that transcends anything we can experience in addiction.
      In Voices of Recovery, we are told of the love of the Fellowship and its power to heal us. When we surrender to attending meeting, recovery is strengthened. We find spiritual God in prayer, meditation, and solitary reflection; we find “God with skin on” on Earth in meetings.
      I’m what I like to call, an “unrepentant” car singer. I love singing along to the over-loud music, trying to drown out my imperfect renditions of the songs. My voice isn’t perfect–it doesn’t need to be. I’m singing for the joy of it, for the fun, for the silliness. I’m singing for the laughter and the play.
      When I was in Middle School, I belonged to the vocal choir. We were separated into four parts, and each part sang a portion of the song. I was an alto, so I rarely got to sing the recognizable melody. What I sang didn’t sound right (just like the other three parts), but I learned my part anyway. When the groups of voices came together, what came out was richer than if we all tried to sing the melody. That harmony of voices took a simple song and brought a depth of richness to it that could not have been achieved without having the parts that seemed to work contrary to the initial sound. I sang harmony regularly with a friend of mine (“Tomorrow” from Annie, usually) through High School, and we really enjoyed making our two voices work together to bring a rich sound that two voices in perfect unison could not achieve. I joined a jazz choir in college, and the same thing happened–when my voice joined the music, it went from sounding like an atonal and flat performance of the melody to being part of many voices lifted up to create something not one of us could do alone.
      In meeting, it feels somewhat the same. I know when I’m alone, I can talk to my Higher Power imperfectly. But when I’m in group, and I am part of a whole, something amazing happens. My recovery is not the melody of OA, but I’m not sure any one of our voices is. However, when we all put our parts together–just like in those many vocal choirs–the richness of the full program is exposed. The steady and real love is there, built from the imperfect love of the individuals. Our stories combine and expose oldtimers and newcomers alike to the unity we achieve when we walk in the rooms. All we need to be are compulsive eaters to belong, according to Tradition Three–to be willing to learn our parts in recovery and perform them so we can be part of the harmony of nature and of the Fellowship.
     
     
      Okay, so back to my biggest fear, and I believe the foundation of my addiction. Why I became an addict? Not really sure, but I do see patterns in my behavior which return to the same core fear: Fear of Rejection and (Purposeful) Abandonment.
      When I was born, my parents had a nanny for my sisters and me. I remember being told that during the time she cared for me, my parents would travel with my sisters and leave me there. This nanny believed that babies should be roly-poly, and the slim infant who nearly died of rubella in the first weeks of life was–by one year old–a plump little Butterball Turkey of a baby. I see the pictures through my early childhood, and I was always an overweight child. Not obese, just overweight. I was promised I would lose my “baby fat” at puberty. Didn’t happen. It took going to a weight camp to get me from nearly 190 lbs. at 5’9″ to 160 lbs.–and I did that in 4 weeks. I lost 10 more pounds over the following few months then put on 25 lbs. over the next 2 years and stayed there until college, when I popped up to 200 and sat there for years . . . until I got married. By the time I went to my son’s second Christmas at my parents’ home, I had reached my 320-lb. lifetime high weight and was straining a stretchy 26/28.
      Anyway, I realized that perhaps my Invisible Child behavior (along with my obsessive caretaking behavior) came from that. I bonded with that woman, and I think the fantasy of having another family waiting for me which I’ve held fast to since childhood is perhaps at the core of bonding with someone who wasn’t my parents.
      I also remembered something that bothered me immensely. When I was very young, my parents went to Europe for several weeks and I stayed with my grandparents. While they were gone, I forgot what they looked like. I mean, I forgot their faces. I felt intense guilt over it because I felt like a horrible person. What kind of loving child forgets what their parents look like?
      My parents traveled a lot when I was a kid, being gone two weeks to a month quite regularly. I wanted to go, and I remember asking to go. I was told I was too young. What I heard was that I was being abandoned yet again, that they didn’t want me.
      The regular disappearance of my parents throughout my childhood, sometimes overnighting when they went to the symphony or the opera, was a regular occurrence in my life. Life was more peaceful with them not there. Perhaps that was another place I felt guilt.
      I have the seeds of a perfectionist within; I am a failure overachiever. When I fail, I do it dramatically. I felt entitled to so many things, assuming that my intent to do it perfectly yet not doing it at all somehow merited acknowledgement.
      So, as I walk through recovery, it almost feels like I’m going crazy as I go “sane”. I’m learning not to need acceptance from others, which will alleviate the symptom of being willing to barter for it–or at least manipulate my way into it. I don’t have to eat away the guilt of barter and manipulation because I have identified these character defects. Barter has a positive–compromise. Manipulation has a positive–standing firm to my beliefs and accepting some people won’t approve of my beliefs. But those things are realistic, achievable. Just like growth instead of perfection, I am not stagnating in what I know. Recovery is at hand.
      I know these things are normal. Normal people stand firm for their beliefs yet can also compromise. Recovery will help me learn when to compromise and when to hold fast. That involves being true to my natural self, the part of me that is in harmony with the world around me. I am part of this world, even if I am not surrounded by people. Normalcy emulation through recovery–or a recovered life– means I accept I have the addiction, but I don’t have to suffer from the affliction.
      It’s a good way to live.
      Oh, and I started making hats again, using up the yarn I was entrusted to use. I may have another year of making hats, but the yarn I was given will end up back at the charity which entrusted me with it. I will not stop until the last of the yarn is used up and that part of my life doesn’t have someone else’s yarn in storage.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict and love addict. I have redefined acceptance and approval, since acceptance is that serene understanding of reality as it is to me. Approval means I am seeking to release my will to other people, trusting they know better than I do. That’s no way to live. I’ve done that for decades and I have finally learned (accepted) it does not work. While I may not know what is best for me at any given moment, I trust that program and my Higher Power will bring me an answer. That’s how I want to live. It is completely different than what I’m used to, and it feels crazy sometimes. But the moment I turn that over for approval by consensus, I’m not being true to myself–a person seeking recovery from the affliction of a compulsive need for approval from unsafe people.

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