Posted by: innerpilgrimage | February 26, 2011

Unity

      Today is Unity Day in OA.

      I didn’t pause to consider the power of putting my hand in others’ today at 11:30 am PST (about an hour and 15 minutes ago), but that’s not so much a big deal to me. I’m thinking about it now, that without the strength of program, I would have never even considered to reach to here.
      Unity is the antidote to my isolation. When I consider the nature of unity, of the many hands which are outstretched to those who are in the rooms even now, to those who will be in the rooms over the coming weeks, to those who have left the rooms and are back in the disease, and to those who have yet to walk into the rooms . . . I am humbled by the nature of the disease which takes so much and gives so little.
      For example, I recently heard that McDonald’s did its thing to one of the healthiest meals on the planet–oatmeal. NY Times blogger, Mark Bittman, looked into this panacea of whole grains, fruit, and wholesome dairy goodness and found startlingly more than expected. (“How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong”, Feb 22., 2011, New York Times)
      But don’t we understand this? It’s our responsibility to choose to live abstinently, to take responsibility for our footwork instead of give over our footwork responsibility to other people then be disappointed when their best interests don’t align with ours. Food corporations thrive on our insanity. On us taking that first compulsive bite in order to seek the perfect bite. On the fantasy of the billboard and picture menu rather than what’s slid over the counter to us when the contractual transaction is ended.
      Why eat what you are served yet do not want? Is it the money just spent on it? The embarrassment of returning an inferior product? Is it because it’s there and you’re hungry anyway and in a rush and . . . and . . . and? Is it even perhaps the inability to fight disappointment yet again? Or perhaps . . . is it that the super-sweet concoction hits all of those addict buttons and sails you yet again to that place of comfortable numbness?
      It’s okay to like McDonald’s oatmeal. It really is. Heck, I wanted to try it so much while I was on the road that when I returned home, I wanted oatmeal. I considered my past experiences with the company’s food (Oh, they hit the sweet-salt-fat buttons. Every. Single. Time.), decided that McDonald’s really isn’t part of my abstinence (I feel sluggish and out-of-sorts and have a chemical aftertaste in my mouth when I eat national-chain fast food–not just Mickey D’s), and let it go. And I do thank them for bringing oatmeal to the menu. Because of them, I ended up having a warm-to-my-toes, filling breakfast two days in a row this week which made abstinence easier those days. And my oatmeal, because I did the footwork, looked like the picture and tasted not-too-sweet (since abstinence, I don’t crave tons of sweet things unless something emotionally big is going down). So, yes, even though I’m not going to pass through McDonald’s for their rendition of a classic breakfast, I appreciate that they inspired me to do it on my own.
      So, how does this connect with unity? Well, this story is part of my abstinence. This is part of how I take a daily look at my food and decide that part of my food plan’s footwork is to eat in more often than dine out. I know my ingredients better (not perfectly, but that’s part of our gratification-through-food-and-sex culture). I think of how many commercials for candy imply that I deserve a mini-vacation from life through their product. That I deserve it because I am special.
      I don’t deserve a damned thing; I earned my weight loss through staying the course through OA, through believing that this was the answer to my eating disorder. For me? It is. And for the people in program who are in meetings today, for people who are working abstinence for their first day, week, month, and even year, for the people who are hitting rock bottom today and in the coming weeks. It is for them, too. If I decided I deserved something, I consider I deserve a healthy body and a healthier mind and a healthy dose of spiritual progress. But if I want what I deserve? I have to earn it.
      I stand alongside people who will eat at a fast-food joint today and alongside people who have turned from “white foods” (processed and bleached starches and sugars). My food plan fits me because I took the time to tailor it to me. Unity doesn’t mean I work the program precisely like other people; it means, to me, that I am not alone when I do it. It means that when I walk into a room, or a chat room, or pick up a telephone, to attend a meeting . . . my words will resonate with people there. My experiences are shared. My strength is shared. My hope is shared. What I do might make someone sit up and have an epiphany; it might make someone nod in understanding because they’ve done the same thing for decades; it might make another person shrug because the face of my eating disorder isn’t theirs–though the reasons we eat might be shared. Individuals coming together, being inspired, reaching out to people who are broken by this disease and who are recovered from it (though still know it is incurable) is the point of OA. How we acted out the play of our disease during the years of affliction makes no difference. How we learn about the cunning and baffling and powerful nature of the disease in our lives takes a different path. But we are all together. We are not alone. And we are welcoming anyone who wants to see if this path is the one for them.
      Though Tradition One addresses unity (“Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.”) I think Tradition Three probably supports my concept of OA unity best: “The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.” We all share that one desire in OA–to stop the madness of our eating disorder, to wake up from the disease. Yes, my personal physical recovery does inspire others, though I regret to say I often resent it more than appreciate it for the miracle it is. I am struggling with the step work by tossing distractions in my way, like I once struggled with the eating by tossing sweet-salt-fat trigger foods in my way. I say I want this, but I’m not giving it the intense commitment I give following and growing with my food plan. I can do it; I’ve seen the results of physical recovery. If I treated my step work with the same respect, I would be living the maintenance steps today instead of fretting over my second Step Four. I wanted the weight loss, and when I gave control to my HP on the food? I got it. The times I gain weight are when I am trying to control it . . . to treat it like a diet. Yes, on the same calorie-based food plan–as I have admitted before. The path is clear. Now I just have to walk it.
      And I feel better knowing that all I have to do is reach out and tell someone this. Tell someone that I am struggling with the step work and that it does affect how I am eating. And I know that the person will hear my words and understand them because they were probably once their own words.
      I guess the point is that I don’t miss out on the fast food because I like how I feel when I pass it by for other food choices. The convenience I once assured myself of (making my own food is more convenient and more satisfying, sorry) has no draw any more. So yes, I see some pretty good mental recovery present in the life I live today. And that’s progress that I am deeply pleased with and intensely humbled by because so many people come together and support my choice to live this way–even if their journey of recovery looks different than mine.
     
      Still Jess, still a compulsive eater and compulsive approval addict. And I am still humbly thankful that McDonald’s inspired me with the fantasy they tossed up onto billboards and the reality of my past experiences with their product–enough so that I have added oatmeal to my cold-weather repertoire. My Higher Power uses anything and everything to get its point across, even things which once inspired me to eat compulsively. Oh, and I am under 160 lbs. again–159.6 lbs. as of this morning–so that worry about gaining weight really is all in my head. I’ve arrived at the weight my HP wants me to be, and I am going to relax and be humbled by the miracle of a body size that I never though I could reach. Clearly there is a purpose I do not understand connected to my current size and weight. But I have faith it’s got reasons, and I’ll just keep going until I get that revelation. Or not.

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