Posted by: innerpilgrimage | January 20, 2011

Mirror, Mirror and The Tipping Point

      Two short subjects today.

      First, the tipping point. After a week of feeling like I have too much time, I have hit a point when I feel like my time is cramped. I think this happens every trip I plan to take–I want to leave early, then when the real time approaches, I scramble to make sure everything is okay.
      What a piece of irony, right there. This time, however, I have been packed for a couple of days save for my program literature. Made sure my family has supplies. Got a couple of small things for my older kid as part of his childhood–good things from it that I considered special about his youth that he can share in the future with family. And I got two copies of a living-away-from-home cookbook and “living as a responsible adult” guide entitled Where’s Mom Now that I Need Her? Copy number two is saved for kid number two, who really wants it. Definitely need to phone sponsors to let them know everything is going okay. And this trip? It’s generally planned because I am going to work program on the trip. That means I am working in HP’s time, not mine.
      Yesterday was as HP a day as I could get. I got in contact with someone from my past, which broke the euphoric recall portion of the SLAA stuff and brought me to terms with a reality: Where I am is where I should be, and no one but who is in my life could have traveled with me from addiction to recovery. The person I am back in contact with and I got along well, but we both needed the people we have in our lives now to be able to reach our potentials. We are both in progress, and that’s wonderful. This person has goals and dreams I admire very much. That almost 2-decade break was necessary, however. Until 2010, I was not ready to manage the reality that I have a break in my life as of September 23, 2009, when I first walked into a room and considered my future in recovery. Before that day, life was only addiction. Though it took a few months to really kick on my recovery mind and about a year to get myself used to living in that duality which allows for self-correction these days (I often question “Is this recovery or is this addict-thinking?”), that time was necessary for the growth I needed in order to get me here. I am not sure if rock-bottom could have been achieved before 50 without my life being as it is now. And I am so grateful, humbly grateful, that my life path went how it did. At this point, I don’t consider I have too much to handle. I consider that I could have had many more issues, many more pains I would need to work recovery over. Many more decisions in addiction which I possibly could not handle. But I am here, alive, and I am working recovery. I have no excuse to turn toward the addiction any more–as much as I want to sometimes. It’s that ratty security blanket I turn toward because it was there when I needed it once. Well, the addiction served its purpose to get me to survive to a place I could find recovery, and now I have recovery to turn to. If I am committed to the footwork of spiritual, mental, and physical evolution and growth, then I am evolving and growing simply by not accepting what was as my life today.
      The mirror analogy came to me last night. As a child, I felt like a reflection of my parents’ sense of personal success. I felt like I was being punished when I didn’t simply drop into life some sort of prodigy. I could be a prodigy in something, but it wasn’t nurtured back then. Today, I can nurture it. It’s not too late.
      So, I came up with a statement, one I considered a recovered one: “I am not a mirror”. I am not a mirror of others’ successes or failures. My successes belong to me, and I will not let others take credit for them any more. Others’ failures do not belong to me, and I will not let others blame me for them any more. This relates to the Serenity Prayer, in that everything outside of me is not mine to control or manage and everything inside of me is mine to do the footwork on to grow and change so I can be part of reality–the ever-changing Universe. So if people, for example, my parents, decide that what I look like today (at 125 lbs. less than when they last saw me) is because they successfully pressured me into losing weight? That’s their problem, not mine. I lost the weight because I needed the food out of the way to work my recovery. This was for me; this was my footwork. This was my journey through the program. Not even the people in the rooms did this, though their support and messages of hope and empathy did inspire me many, many times. No, the changes I have experienced within were all me . . . working the program with a Higher Power to give me strength as I admitted my powerlessness over my food control addiction (and approval addiction which made me reject the world at times) and accept my weakness. In accepting my weakness, I could turn toward a source of strength beyond me. And, when I took on a Higher Power, I had an infinite source of power and will I could access from within me. So, no I am not a mirror of others.
      I am a mirror, however. So, how can I be a mirror and not be a mirror at the same time? Because, in OA, I am given the chance to sit and listen. To not advise and be Miss OA. To let people look at me and tell me the words they need to hear from their own mouths. I am a mirror they see themselves in. I reflect that part of themselves which wants to survive, which wants to see how the addict has torn through them, which wants to know there is hope for tomorrow.
      Being a mirror of honesty to one’s self is really wonderful service. Others have done it for me; serving like that for others is a wonderful opportunity. I am imperfect. I still love to hear myself talk, and I still sometimes want to run others’ lives in order to not have to make progress on my own recovery. Yes, it can be exhausting. Growth is built of challenges. Things which push us outside of our comfort zones do tire us out–well, they tire me out. However, practicing recovered action by shutting up and listening actively is good service. We are asked to extend the heart and hand of OA at meeting close. We are asked to keep in contact with each others and newcomers. We are asked to be an oasis for others who struggle like we do. And we find a strength of purpose when we do that–well, I do, anyway. And when I serve others’ needs, when I am available, when I treat a human being like a human being and give freely the 5 A’s (attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing), I am doing for others what was done for me. I am growing that ability to love through doing loving acts. I am being a friend, not an advisor. I am being true to myself, honest. And, in honesty, I find recovery.
      So, yes, I both am not a mirror and am a mirror. I do not reflect the successes and failures of other people. I cannot carry their internal burdens because I can’t get in. Besides, whenever I am given that power? People rebel and resent and generally try to involve me in drama I simply don’t have the energy for any more. But I can reflect what people already know about themselves as they begin to reveal the truths. I can keep anonymity by holding those sometimes-hard truths and not gossiping with them. I can honestly share my experience, strength, and hope so they can feel like they’re not alone in their thoughts and feelings. I can reflect the little voice within which speaks quietly in the storm of addiction, saying, “I am lovable, I am worth being loved.” I had a little voice heard over the storm of addiction, and I stopped feeling alone.
      I haven’t put this up in a long time, but I really want to because it distills the purpose of my service at this time in OA. I am not yet ready to sponsor, but I am ready to be a co-member who makes themselves available and has my hand ready to slap into anyone else’s. Isolation is addiction’s strength; fellowship, recovery’s.

I put my hand in yours and together we can do what we could never do alone.
No longer is there a sense of hopelessness.
No longer must we depend upon our own unsteady willpower.
We are all together now, reaching out for power and strength
greater than ours.
And as we join together, we find love and understanding
Beyond our wildest dreams.

      Together, we get better. Together, we find abstinence and recovery. Together we share our secrets in safe rooms all over the world–in person, by phone, online. Together, we learn that what we have done while consumed by the addict has been done by someone else, as well. Together, we fulfill the promises of recovery, we welcome newcomers, we welcome members in relapse, we welcome people who binge eat and who purge and who restrict. Together, we work the program and we work our recoveries. Together, we learn that doing recovery for me is not selfish–it’s the path to become able to give of ourselves freely and not be exhausted by the hidden motivations behind doing for others while in addiction.
      Together we celebrate life’s joys and we comfort those who have had losses and setbacks. Together we sponsor, we email, we SMS and IM, we answer our phones when someone reaches out to a human being instead of a refrigerator or drive-thru. Together we share our experience, strength, and hope–especially the newcomer who has just found fresh hope that life can actually finally change. Newcomer shares are a great gift of service (in my opinion) because it reminds me that the hope of a newcomer is the same hope which feeds today’s recovery. The minute I rest on my laurels? The addiction gets in, and I am at risk of relapse. This 24 hours is the one that matters. This is the day I have to live, the place to practice recovery. The place to remind myself, “Hey, I’m being grandiose or martyring here . . . shift mental gears already, Jess, and join the rest of imperfect humanity and reality, already.” And no, I am not knocking myself when I state I am an imperfect human being. By admitting I am? I am saying I can grow and learn, I can become a person of integrity and honesty and capability as long as I remember that I am not better nor am I worse than anyone in the world–just different.
      My name is Jess, and I am a binge eater and anorexic food-restrictor, an approval addict willing to manipulate people to get the approval and a social anorexic because I don’t trust myself not to. In recovery do I get any relief from these. And to be in recovery, I need to make progress every day–even a shuffle forward. Not all progress is measured in great strides, but all progress is, well, progress.


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