Posted by: innerpilgrimage | July 15, 2011

If I Didn’t Have a Higher Power, I Would Be Going All Rabid Spider Monkey Right About Now

      HP, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
      courage to change the things I can,
      and the wisdom to remember going all monkeynuts clawing and scratching and biting the ever-livin’ hoo-ha out of everything doesn’t do anything but make my Eighth Step list that much longer.

      So, I’ve gotten to the core of the issue, my crazy anxiety which was so unmanageable (and still is unmanageable) that my addict-mind set up coping mechanisms to protect me from shuffling off the mortal coil for the pain of it all.
      I regret like a mofo, which tosses me back into the past too easily. I hope for the best and expect the worst, which sends me into the future. I seize up like a deer on a dark country road or I run like a rabbit in the underbrush until I break my back slamming into a tree and have to wait for a predator to enjoy a very rare hossenfeffer dinner.
      My very ill niece is sick on her birthday, which is sad and worrisome and slicked my eyes with tears. I keep hearing about doctors telling my sister that my niece won’t see her 13th birthday. I want to rage and scream, want the miracle to freaking happen already. I don’t want my sister mourning her daughter, and I hate that intense guilt that my son survived cancer and she might not live another two years. Damn it, I don’t want to have my sister endure the agony of burying her baby girl, the second of two wonderful lives which challenged my sister into becoming someone I admire, now. I’m selfish that way, I guess.
      I hate that I don’t start blubbering when I am hit with others’ suffering like that. I feel cold and heartless, having been trained for years to shut off that hypersensitivity. It’s the source of my anxiety as well as a compassion for people I do and don’t know. Be reasonable, logical, and sensible . . . right? Gotta shut down all that emotional content because I-do-not-know-why.
      I want to scream in rage at the Universe. Even before I knew about my niece being ill on her birthday, I was at the edge yesterday. Full admission–I indulged my shopping jones like a hedonist yet did it with the anorexic twist I’ve grown to know and loathe. I bought five skeins of clearance yarn (2/3 off, baby!) and I bought two of a full-priced kind with a 50% off and a 40% off coupon.
      I have real anger, a drive to act to change the things I cannot. Which is an irony, because my life is in a huge transitional lurch. My coast is being slammed by a life-hurricane, which is forecasted to last six months. If I ever, EVER needed recovery? Now. Is. It.
      I’m slowly ramping up to getting back to three meetings a week. I returned to my Monday night meeting, where I was held up as an example of “OA Success”. During my share? I told ’em that I found anorexia waiting for me when I left the 200-lbs. range. I’m being honest with myself, here. I became a raging anorexic when I broke 200 and realized this dookie was ON.
      Do you know what I hate most about being a weight a lot of people would consider “fat”, even at my frame (HP-knows I do, and of everything I’ve learned in my life? I learned I don’t think alone, even if my smorgee-plate of brain-spewing looks different than others’). I got this sick-assed urge to be 149 lbs. Why? Because, according to those rational, logical, sensible BMI mathematics? At my gonzo-large frame (with my pixie cut, I look like the friend-o’-Tinkerbelle who will mess a person up), that is the magic number where I become underweight.
      Problem is, I already have to sleep with a pillow between my knees because it hurts when they press against one another. The insides of my thighs don’t touch any more. Just because I am deluding myself that the extra skin is fat doesn’t mean it is. When I cock my head, I can see the hollow in my cheek. My knees and ankles are knobby (yet I think my knees are pudgy). And this morning I woke up to a rosy pressure spot where hip-met-mattress.
      Yes, folks. Skinny’s just another word for a crap tonne of different pain.
      Yet . . . I want to get bonier. Ten pounds, and I am a walking cry-for-help. Well, actually, people were starting to talk about it when I hit 155 lbs., that I was getting too skinny. But there is that longing to see 152 lbs. again. The kind of longing I once had for the quart-sized container of Nutella and a serving spoon just for me. And seeing 152 lbs. holds the promise of the psychotically sick-assed promised land of having a BMI under 18.5. Being three pounds away is like seeing the “Disneyland Next Exit” sign. It’s the promise that I will soon be living in someone else’s dreamland, where magic and princesses who got their weekend-relationships-with-a-happily-ever-after await.
      Yeah, that’s what it feels like. I long for that underweight status so much. The reasons whisper by my inner ear so I can barely hear them. “Acceptance”, “Beauty”, “Celebrity looks”, “Willpower”, “Perfection” all zing by like little freaking demonic fortune cookie slips–burning my mind with an unholy passion and searing my heart and soul as I consider making pacts which will kill me.
      And I don’t even freaking believe it is the essence of feminine beauty! It’s so I can be a good little mannequin and stand stock still in a window showing off someone’s clothes and pretend that I’m special because of it. Just like a mannequin, however, I am just a place for someone else to hang their art for a buck. I am sick to death.
      My battle with compulsion makes me sick to freaking death. Literally.
     
      Ow. I just moved to a different chair, plopped my fanny into it, and pelvic bones met wire-framed chair with a slim pad underneath. I still make assumptions that I got padding back there. I see myself as that woman of two years ago, still. Denial, denial, denial, and my betraying eyes are really starting to piss me off, because I can feel my bones pressed hard to my skin, meeting chair frame with bone in a symphony of aches that are totally different than what I had before.
      I traded the weight-related aches for pressure-pain. My body’s telling me I’m not padded any more, but I think it’s a liar. Lovely that I believe my eyes over the nerves that cover the largest organ in my body. Guh-reeat.
      Here’s where the fear of surrender comes in. If I surrendered to my Higher Power, I worry I will lose abstinence. I want my damned abstinence. Damn. It. I don’t want to start over, because I want that stupid two-year chip. Somehow I lose sight of that “Longest Sobriety is 24 hours” saying when it comes to those tokens. My ego wants to wear that two-year chip like a badge of honor, like a neener-neener that I freaking chained 730 days of abstinence. Yeah, you see that relapse coming too, like a car coming down a dark road right at my rabbit self or my deer self. Freeze or run blindly until I break my back.
      Why am I busting with this anger, and why am I busting it out here? Because this is where the hope comes into the story.
      My experience is that I am thin and teetering on a dangerous addict-mind precipice. My strength is that I am aware of the truth: If I don’t accept that my anorexia is very real, I will die of compulsive undereating. Now, here is the hope.
      I have gone to OA meetings for almost two years, now. I even just got the email with the regional meeting list today. I have dozens of meetings I can go to. I could get in my car right now and sit in front of people and tell my story of progress in recovery and the pursuit of perfection in addiction. I am living and breathing proof that one can lose a dramatic amount of weight in OA; I lost more than 100 lbs. because of program. I’ve taken on a spiritual journey which has strengthened me so that I can stare down my hypersensitivity and see it as a strength if I surrender to its power.
      See, the high anxiety is a gift. It’s a gift because it’s a manifestation of a core power–my ability to feel in vivid technicolor. Sure, I can be touchy as Hell, but I also can extend an intense compassion and kindness. The freak-outs I have in conflict have a flip side; I care when tragedies happen. When I was a kid, I used to see the statistics of plane crashes, life-ending earthquakes, and wars which created mass destruction of life as more. Instead of 273 here or 10,000 there, each number got extrapolated to a human being. A person with a family and friends who loved them was gone. A person with thoughts and hopes and dreams. A person whose life just . . . stopped. Now, when I was younger, I felt intense guilt. I wanted to have stopped the death, to have given these people a new lease on life. I wanted to have the power to turn back time and keep the plane grounded or warn of the earthquake or help warring powers see eye-to-eye.
      It’s not in my power, and that’s the whole point of finding the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Death is inevitable, no matter what the cause. But . . . having compassion and feeling the loss of those people from this world is not a weakness.
      As we near the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I think of a paper I have from a 1-year memorial my sons, husband, and I attended at a local firehouse. This beautifully folded page has the list of every last firefighter who died on it. My grandfather was a career firefighter, making deputy fire chief (he refused to become fire chief because it was political) in his career. When he retired, he became a fire investigator, determining causes of fires in the private sector. He inspired the men and women he worked with, and he even inspired one of my mother’s cousins to become a firefighter. So, I have a particularly soft place in my heart for those brave men and women who run toward their death as a career, who do so in order to save lives . . . even at the price of their own. And, on the 10th anniversary, I hope that I and my little memorial card will be at the local fire station. I should probably see if they’re doing a memorial this year at the fire station. Me and my little card, walking in a few months before, to ask if I can stand outside with other like-minded people to honor those people who died just trying to save lives. Whose whole purpose of existence was to show their commitment to the power of life, itself, even as they risked their own. No wonder they’re associated with red . . . it takes a really big heart to be a firefighter.
      I’m rambling, and I know it. But there is hope in the reality that there is no pot of gold at the end of the weight loss. I am an addict, still. I am not cured. In fact, I have been blessed with anorexia-awareness, and it has opened my eyes to how I approach the world, how I treat everything so black-and-white, so yes-and-no, so right-and-wrong. There’s something between it all, a place of color and beauty. It’s like working with a color-scale in an art program on a computer. Roll the RGB sliders all the way to one side, and there’s white; roll them to the other side, and there’s black. And in-between? Millions upon millions of possible combinations. The millions of possible combinations is where recovery lies for me. Both of my addictions–the approval and the food–are about extremes. My ego is about extremes because it seems logic and reason and sensible attitude are all about extremes. Hard facts, cold truths, seeing it in black-and-white . . . there’s something very death-like in the axioms of logic. A corpse is cold and hard, without color and warmth. But a living human being is filled with every nuance in creation, from blues-filled sadness to green envy to rage-filled red to cowardly yellow to hopeful rose-colored-glasses. The words associated with life are in full-color, from soft pastels to super-saturated jewel tones.
      I guess this doesn’t mean anything right now, but I feel like I’m on the right path on this one. I just have no idea where it’s taking me.
      I guess I surrender and trust my Higher Power will keep my desire to eat healthy in check. It did before. I always felt well and good when I surrendered to once-forgotten hunger pangs (a pain that was a joy to feel again) and ate with a mind toward a more-balanced diet while also respecting my enjoyment of sweets . . . in moderation.
      And I am thankful that the little woes of yesterday have flown away in the dust. I’m facing the monoliths of addiction; I’ve arrived at a vista where I get to see the castle I am to enter. It’s looming, it’s dark, it’s creepy, and it’s scary. I want to freeze or run-rabbit-run right now.
      But if I do either? It will still be there, and I will have to come back eventually and get back on the path toward the castle. It will loom bigger as I near it. It will appear darker as I near it. The creepy sight will have creepy sounds and smells as I near it. But I know as long as I take even one small step toward it today, I am walking through the fear of this scary place.
      It may be a fortress, but my mind is creating the story around it. In reality, it’s my home. It doesn’t have to loom, or be dark, or be creepy, or be scary. It can be a refuge, a place to start from as I go out and live a life of compassion and kindness. Not all castles held tyrants; my inner castle doesn’t have to, either.
      And now I am rambling. But it’s out there, and I expect some day it will make sense to me. And possibly it just made sense to someone else.
     
      My name is Jess, and I am a food/approval binger/anorexic. I’m trying to escape that duality, I think. Hm. Some day, I hope to say I’m a recovering addict. That’ll probably be more accurate, since it doesn’t seem to matter what substance I turn to . . . as long as I think I’m in control when I use it.

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