Posted by: innerpilgrimage | November 30, 2010

Sabotage: Fear vs. Faith

Holiday Eating Season Countdown: 33 Days

      Ugh. Thank HP I have the recovery I have so far. I’ve been putting busy-ness between me and doing a fearless Fourth Step Inventory. I hoped that I would get into it, having listed names of people I resent–even if I feel I have no reason to resent them any longer.

      Fear is a motivating factor of addiction, just as faith is a motivating factor of recovery. Fear stops me; faith sends me forward. Right now, fear is winning, and I am going to lose abstinence if I don’t turn toward my Higher Power now.
      What do I fear? That the choices I made during addiction will have consequences. That I will lose the things I want. That I will have to pay the piper for the choices I made when I was in addiction, despite making recovered choices now.
      The addiction’s gripping my shoulders, telling me that I might as well give up. I’m going to lose it all, so I might as well throw in the towel and act out. In other words, my self-will wants to sabotage my potential serenity. It wants to tear me apart using the fear of losing the most precious things to me.
      I know I am supposed to relax about it, not look forward to the Eighth and Ninth Steps. Again, I think that’s addiction, since recovery keeps me in today. I guess that’s probably one of the strongest indicators something is based in recovery or addiction–Am I focused on today, or am I focused on the past or fearing the future.
      My Higher Power has given me many messages from people in recovery. I want, for my sanity and self-care, to move forward in recovery. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the fear, though. After facing down the pain of yesterday, I worry about what comes next. I am actually not fearing my Fifth Step . . . I think I have someone who can listen to my Fifth Step empathetically. My Higher Power has set someone in my path who would listen well, who just recently asked for my number and wants to do coffee with me. This person has experiences like my own, and I admitted the hardest secrets to this person. The worst of it has been lain at the feet of this person and it was received with the serenity of recovery this person has achieved in program.
      This person encouraged me today to focus on faith instead of fear–a message handed down from this person’s own sponsor. Instead of fighting fear, I should be letting it go and turning toward faith.
      My Higher Power has consistently brought me good things, and I want to live an honest life. I am starting to stretch my addict wings, and I feel it. I turn to my Higher Power like a child, clutching at its proverbial waist as it wraps its proverbial arms around me and comforts me. I learned to do this when I first started my food abstinence. I had no idea what waited in the future for me, and the practice of turning toward my Higher Power in this emotional crisis mode has allowed me to live recovered days, where my head may turn toward thoughts of acting out and my heart turns me away because all I feel is pain. The thrill of addiction is gone. Recovery is not about getting thrills but about enjoying life. I play more, laugh more, hope more. When I give over to my Higher Power, I receive such bits and pieces of grace and joy that the habit of turning things over is one I am drawn to.
      Drawn to. Not fighting against. That, I think, is the answer, here. I am drawn toward a life of recovery because there is so much natural joy to be had. Once I do my first Fourth Step, I will have exposed the ugliest of the ugly secrets to myself. Why would I not want to do it. I am like a cow at a mega-dairy, standing on tippy-top my giant pile of poop, thinking I am “King of the World”. That’s really the image I need to remember about addiction. Beneath me, in my history, is a great and grotesque pile of waste. There’s no glory in being able to meander to the top and pretend to enjoy the view. I’d rather be in the fields, not the paddock. I’d rather be dealing with the rolling hills of freedom from obsession (food, love, approval).
      I really like being able to see my approval addiction. I can call myself on a lot of euphoric recall and fantasy when I break that down into its component parts. See, how it works in my head is that I feel something uncomfortable–fear, usually. Then, I build the sets for an obsession in my head, creating a repeatable fantasy–be it approval, food, or love. I cycle that fantasy in my head. Then my addict self takes control and starts to plan based on the feelings. It takes a lot of faith not to just be swept along, to react instead of step back.
      Recovered thinking starts when I realize I am being frenetic and fretful and upset and under stress. I have enough recovered messages in my head which have replaced addict messages that I can hit a wall the minute the anxiety increases and I start extrapolating fantasies into tomorrow. Or I sit in the past and Monday-morning quarterback my decisions . . . replacing them with self-willed, addict decisions. My wanderlust, my restlessness, and all of the things that get me wanting to have a “change of scenery” or to “get it over with” sends me into the past or future, depending. The other thing is that any addict obsession requires someone else to follow my lead instead of have their own self-wills. Another huge red flag that it’s self-will run riot.
      When I am exhausted (as the intense fear-based emotions tend to make me), I turn to my Higher Power, and I immediately slow down. I step out of it for just a minute, even if I am still fretful. Once I have sidestepped it and given it even slightly to my Higher Power, I can look at it and identify the behavior as being of my addict self. Then, I spend time considering the triggers, considering the source of creating that particular obsession. The peace of making pieces of the addict behavior is enough. Then I need to make a decision–faith or fear.
      Fear is easier but feels awful. I don’t need to do anything to slide into fear. It’s an ever-present default state of being for me. What a lovely gift that my addiction has left me–constant fear, uncertainty, and doubt about everything I am, need, and want.
      Faith is harder but feels peaceful. I need to release the fear to my Higher Power and enter the faith that whatever consequences of yesterday come up, I have my Higher Power to help me as I traverse reality. Faith is not a default state. It requires conscious effort to choose it. The gift of faith is being able to see the lessons in the seemingly bad and appreciating the coincidences and convergences. I have learned that, in faith, I am a naturally lucky person. I have no idea why, but I am. That desire to have more good things come my way encourages me to turn toward faith.
      Yet I have huge triggers. I have mara . . . the things of the material world I just don’t want to risk releasing. I struggle to hold on to them. And as I struggle, I despair. And then . . . oh, this is the best part! My addiction sneaks in and offers a quick-and-dirty solution, one which always would end up either creating more gut-churning secrets or cut me loose if I chose the honest path. This brings me to a very real truth: Only in recovery do I have the potential to keep the things I hold dear.
      Had I been in recovery over the last ten or twenty years? I wouldn’t be facing this. The potential loss is all addict-self thinking and behavior. In recovery, I consider harm and generally walk toward my Higher Power’s guidance the moment potential harm is even considered. In recovery, I consciously consider it. In recovery, I make choices based on not having to make life-altering amends. And I’ve found that when I don’t consider my feelings and decide to act like an addicted brat, I add yet one more amend to my list. One more thing I have to forgive myself over and ask forgiveness for. One more thing that I can hate myself over.
      The romantic notion of the addict life being exciting and fun is long gone. I only see a history of despair, secrets, and sadness. Of self-loathing for making knee-jerk choices in the moment instead of considering them. Of choosing to be mean instead of empathetic. Of a life where I go to bed with heavy regrets in my heart every night.
      Fear does this to me. It makes me think of the bright neon lights of a Las Vegas life, churning fantasy in loud music and sirens and the white noise of people talking to distract themselves from the despair of losing everything. It’s all about reaction. I live in Reaction Times when I live in fear.
      So, instead of fighting fear (like fighting addiction, it doesn’t work), I can choose to consciously walk toward a stronger relationship with my Higher Power. I want to live an honest-as-I-can life. One swept clean by my second imperfect Fourth Step Inventory. One revealed to a person who is accepting and empathetic of my past, who understands that my life of recovery is one which needs this house cleaning. One where I live today, where I work on my Fourth Step today and don’t worry about any after it. I have a list of people I have to write, people who I am potentially angry with for one reason or another. Does it matter if it was their fault? Not at all. Does it matter if it’s my fault? Not at all. Any perceived anger at an interaction, any perceived feeling of anger at a person when their name comes up should be addressed. And that’s where the list of names begins.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food, love, and approval addict. I choose faith just for today–faith that whatever happens because of self-willed choices I made when I “knew what I knew”, my Higher Power won’t abandon me. I have the potential of living an honest life in recovery.
      Time to go live it.



  1. When it comes to fourth steps we need to remember we already went through the pain, now we are not reliving it, we are just writing it down on a piece of paper and fourth steps aren’t just about our bad liabilities they’re about our good assetts to. It’s like taking a flashlight into our closet and deciding which clothes we want to keep and which ones we will trash. Other words what traits we want to keep and grow into and which traits we want to abandon, but we don’t know which traits we are looking at if we don’t write them down. Hope this helps.

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