Posted by: innerpilgrimage | September 14, 2011

23 Months: Will You Still Love Me if I Gain Weight?

      This? A miracle. I have had struggles with wanting to binge and wanting to restrict, but that’s just how it rolls with abstinence. The title of this post is significant, because I think most of us (or possibly all of us) face this at some point, when we reach a goal-weight range and slide in and out of ego on body image issues.

      Here are the numbers:
      October 27, 2009: 267 lbs, by a doctor’s scale.
      November 30, 2009: 253 lbs. by a scale at a store.
      December 21, 2009: 246 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      January 14, 2010: 232 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      February 14, 2010: 221 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      March 14, 2010: 214.4 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      April 14, 2010: 201.8 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      May 14, 2010: 195.6 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      June 14, 2010: 191.8 lbs. by the scale I currently use. Confirmed by the doctor’s scale.
      July 14, 2010: 181.4 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      August 14, 2010: 178.0 lbs. by the scale I currently use. I am at “goal weight”, within 5 lbs. up or down of 175 lbs.
      September 14, 2010: 180.0 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      October 14, 2010: 170.6 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      November 14, 2010: 164.8. lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      December 14, 2010: 164 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      January 14, 2011: 159.0 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      February 14, 2011: 160.6 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      March 14, 2011: 156.2 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      April 14, 2011: 158.4 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      May 14, 2011: 160.4 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      June 14, 2011: 162.6 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      July 14, 2011: 159.0 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      August 14, 2011: 155.4 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      September 14, 2011: 160.2 lbs. by the scale I currently use.
      Weight fluctuates. I honestly expect to be back down to 158 or so by this time next month. I sincerely believe my goal weight range is 153-163, with a median of about 158. A 10-lb. fluctuation from a core goal weight of that 158 seems to be how it’s manifested from my HP. If I gain to 165 lbs., I am still in that “normal” range, though a lot of sites say I’m underweight (not by the frame-adjusted BMI, however). My weight range, by the BMI tables (normal BMI x 0.9, to accommodate my larger frame) puts me at 150-198 lbs for a normal BMI range (at 5′ 11.5″). So, I have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to weight.
      Unfortunately, I am still a product of my culture. Even 11 lbs. away from being underweight, I don’t have a flat stomach. That desire to go underweight to “earn” a flat stomach (by showing enough personal self-will to get to that “Eat a sandwich” level of thin) is part of the addiction. I wrote the sentence above like that to point it out:
      (1) Flat stomach = culturally acceptable in physical form. This means I am identifying myself as a body, not as the Higher Self inside. If I am my body, a physical manifestation, I am focused on the physical and not the spiritual. In other words, it’s a diet at that point–not abstinence. After all, abstinence is the spiritual perseverance of maintaining a food plan in order to get enough mental clarity to pursue a spiritual path.
      When I undereat, I am dopey, sort of drugged out in how I deal with stuff. Definitely not all mentally there because I am generally dealing with all four HALT issues: I am hungry because my body is screaming for nutrition, I am irritable (angry) because I am feeling emotionally raw, I am lonely because I feel like the world can’t love me if I don’t have the self-will to be underweight, and I am physically tired because I get bad sleep underweight and I am weak because my body is not fueled to perform optimally. To pursue this means I am actively in anorexic mode, which means I am in addict-mode, which means I am out of recovery-mode. Happily, it’s so quick and easy to identify that I can get to surrendering pretty quick, so I can get back into recovery-mode simply by talking to HP and asking for the obsession with what my body looks like to be taken away just for today.
      (2) Showing personal self-will means that I am both seeking the approval of external sources (and therefore am trying to control how others perceive me), and I am thinking that I can do it without a Higher Power. Taking credit for miracles is really a huge addict thing for me. I surrender this simply by doing the Stepwork Waltz (1, 2, 3 . . .). I admit and accept that I am powerless over the addiction, because I am. If I’m suffering because I am trying to control the things I cannot, then I am trying to swim against the current of the Universe. “Going with the flow” means I am in surrender, observing more than trying to force emotional and mental ducks into a neat little line. Next, I relax into the relief I have a Higher Power which can relieve me of this obsession to control the Universe and become G-d, myself. Last, I give it over. The weight loss came from HP for a purpose I do not understand. It was a gift, not something I personally earned. Yes, I did the footwork and I persevered one day at a time, but this ain’t me (as I say regularly here). Me is 300+ lbs., wishing I was this weight and whining that I cannot do it. This is probably the one true thing I told myself in addiction: I cannot do it. However, by allowing myself to be a conduit of an unlimited source of willpower (by loving myself to accept that gift of Love which manifests itself as life and health), it gets done. All I have to do is surrender and follow the Universe’s plan for me and this body that my spiritual self is temporarily occupying (which I hope will occupy for the next 50 years, so I can progress one day at a time for over 50% of my life and be able to serve others who will be born over the next 30 or so years and who will enter OA and break the chain of addiction in their own families). I definitely hope to be around for the 100th anniversary of OA, like I was in OA for the 50th anniversary. It felt good to be part of it, and I surrender to whatever is coming in terms of the length of this body’s life. I could die tomorrow, 23 months and one day abstinent (HP willing that I be abstinent on the last day this body-soul-mind combination is on the planet). That would be okay with me, because I really just want to be abstinent the 24 hours before my spirit departs for whatever-comes-next.
      I know I talk about dying probably more than people are comfortable with, but the loss of fear of death really is another gift of program. I’m not scared to die any more, because I now firmly believe that I am a spiritual being having human experiences. From the soulwork I’ve done in (and out of) program, I’ve come to personal truths about being part of the eternal outside of this lifetime. This isn’t a new concept for me–I have believed in reincarnation for my whole adulthood. Reincarnation requires a belief that a soul enters a body, occupies it, then moves on to a new body after an in-between period. That in-between period (which involves a non-corporeal existence), is when the spiritual self becomes non-local. It is where Heaven (the Light, as it were) exists. The many reports of NDEs confirm this for me. Whether or not a person stays in the Light (ie. “goes to Heaven”) is not for me to determine or understand. However, when the haploid cells came together to create a diploid cell which eventually made a food addict who would end up in recovery at 39 years old and toxic love addiction recovery at 40 years old, that’s when the first miracle happened. The life I have had pre-existing conditions, challenges I selected for this lifetime. Yes, it may sound odd, but (1) it’s not a unique perspective–I learned the concept of choosing my parents before I was born from Dr. Wayne Dyer, and (2) it kind-of makes what I’ve dealt with make sense. I have almost 4 decades of addiction-related empathy to give others when they walk into a room. Elements of my life-as-an-addict story is shared with every last person who walks in an OA room. The details of my personal experience are shared with a few here-and-there, but the overall feelings of “not being enough” are shared by all.
      Plus, I have experienced some very strange things over the lifetime I’ve had so far. I’ve had moments when I’ve been open and my HP got in–long before I started surrendering on a near-daily basis (sometimes the ego stuff has snuck in surreptitiously and stayed for days–these days, when I feel off-kilter, I surrender same-day, so it’s daily now). I can look backward and see the bright stars illuminating the void that I thought my life was. I feel comforted that even though I wasn’t turning to a Higher Power, it was there the whole time. It’s like being Dorothy in Oz, where I have the ability to go home from the moment I arrive and put the ruby slippers on. It just took surrendering to realize I had access the whole time.
      So, back to the title: Will You Love Me if I Gain Weight? The recovered answer I have found is, “My abstinence is between my Higher Power and me.” This is a personal journey, one of imperfection and mistakes and learning. I am human, and just because I am in program doesn’t mean I became a saint the moment I put aside the food. I’ve had a few really wretched temper tantrums in the past month over expectations and attachment to the outcome. I am not attached to the outcome of many things, but I still have enough attachments which kick in emotional triggers. I act out my character defect of reacting with a toddler-style tantrum (yelling, pouting, flailing arms . . . everything just short of falling to the ground and rolling around wailing). Just afterward, I regret reacting instead of being mindful. However, this is a learning process, and the tantrums are at the core. The original memory is buried (I don’t go back to the memory source of betrayal-related rage and despair, it just happens), but it is definitely part of that childhood hurt. Also, I am seeing it’s what I am to be progressing on. The stand-out quality of those moments when I shut off completely and go autopilot monkeynuts is letting me know that I keep getting pop-quizzes on how to be mindful when the sense of betrayal strikes. We are trusting souls at our sources, and the ego hates that innocent getting harmed yet again. Well, it does for me. My ego built walls to protect that bright and childlike soul. I have walls up, coping mechanisms which I seek to enforce in order to create invulnerability to hurt.
      The ego, for example, judges a person who betrays my trust as being inferior. It forgets that I hurt people, that I even hurt people with intent in order to make them personally feel what I am feeling. Sort of a share-the-misery program established by my ego. I decide to be judge, jury, and executioner of a sentence. This, of course, is ego doing harm. To release that avenging ego-self is something I realize should be part of my morning connect-up with my Higher Power. Since it’s being brought up regularly as a “test”, I’m seeing that the Universe has (1) given me the tools necessary to act non-harmfully and use recovered behavior and (2) it’s what I am working on right now. I can hit that kind of surrender, so it’s practice, practice, practice with the easier surrendering to the sense of minor betrayal until I am able to surrender to the big betrayals.
      I accept I will have emotions related to betrayal that we all go through. Shock, anger/disappointment, grief for loss . . . the whole gamut is part of being human. We are meant to be vulnerable beings to each other, to connect. However, things get in the way and experiences set up rules to avoid that hurt entirely. Well, in life we get betrayed. That’s how it goes. In life, we get unintentionally hurt, and that’s also how it goes. To forgive out of empathy that spiritual beings having human experiences often choose to act out of the emotional memories of those pain-related experiences (and the desire to avoid future pain) is definitely footwork that the program encourages. After all, in Steps Four and Five, we air our resentments and fears and flaws to another human being in hopes we won’t be betrayed. It’s why choosing the right Step Five receiver/listener is such an important bit of footwork. It’s also why practicing being an empathetic Step Five receiver/listener is important, too. We prepare ourselves to hear things which will trigger us when we hear them. This isn’t bad, however. After all, every time the addiction is triggered, we receive an opportunity to recover. What a gift, to have a big neon sign of “TRIGGER!!!” giving us an opportunity to progress on our own spiritual journeys! It’s part of the reason I say that newcomers often bring some of the best recovery to the table when they arrive. They not only remind us that we are only one binge-starve-purge from relapse at any given time, newcomers also give us insights into sticking points into our own recoveries which we were having trouble with.
      A message from one’s Higher Power can come from anyone anywhere at any time–in program, out of program, or just arriving in program. To be surrendered to it is one of the biggest remembrances I hold. The teacher arrives when the student is ready, whether or not the student has a mental block up keeping it from getting in right then. The lesson will resurface. For me, it usually involves a slapped flat palm to the forehead when I realize I got that message before, but I was too deeply into my grandiose self-vision to listen to HP through the chosen conduit of Higher Knowledge.
      Also for me, I find that being intensely logic-minded (ie. “intellectual”) when it comes to everything I am and do gets in the way of recovery. I can be coasting surrender and serenity and the world can be peaceful . . . then that intellect chimes in. “Um, doesn’t this sound a little, well, crazy? I mean, I should face it: Landing inpatient in a mental facility for the rest of my life would suck out loud. I should just return to the fold, get back in the addict game, and I’ll be able to keep out of a padded room. ‘Fake it to make it’, those 12-Steppers say, right? So, I’ll just fake that my life is great, even if I’m bingeing and miserable. Because no one is happy, and that’s reality.”
      So, that’s when I generally land in ego. I turn from what I know (that I didn’t begin at conception and won’t end at death, that weird stuff happens around me because of a Universe of infinite possibility, that having a spiritual journey isn’t crazy), and I let the coping mechanisms I used to survive childhood take over. They don’t work in adulthood, as shown by the temper tantrums and intense shame and guilt and suffering which follows each tantrum. My intellect is a gift, and I understand it’s a gift. I’m just using it wrong . . . like trying to put my shoes on with a hammer. It, like a food plan I have been blessed to be following so far today (I just remembered the bowl-of-beads instead of strung necklace analogy I think I used last post), is merely a tool. The intellect is there so I can discern the difference between the stuff I cannot change and the stuff I should change. It is a great tool to have when I observe the Universe in all of its complicated order (which appears to be so chaotic sometimes from this localized vantage point), and it has helped me keep a food plan I can live with on a daily basis because my intellect did the research footwork to understand how my addict-self rebels when placed on a diet and how it acts when it’s starved for proper nutrition. This intellect which my addict-self uses to observe and make judgement calls based on past performance can also be used to practice mindfulness and surrender on a daily basis.
      After all, if a food plan can be a diet one day and abstinence the next, an intellect can be both a means to generate coping mechanisms (to keep me from “excruciating vulnerability” triggered by intentional harm and unintentional hurt) and a means to release the fear of vulnerability.
      Well, I’ve written quite a lot, and I’m not sure where to go with it. I know I haven’t journaled daily. I have had a life filled with doing recently, and the “doing” of this journal has been put on the back burner of my daily-life doings (and inconvenience of having to find a power source for a means to put this journal up, since my 3-or-4-year-old little netbook’s battery can’t hold a charge any more). Inconvenience, by the way, is part of that whole addict mindset. It’s a judgement which I cling to, since I don’t want to have to work harder than is necessary–since my internal messages say I’m going to fail anyway. Yeah, addiction sucks. Thank HP for recovery and the ability to have something like food abstinence and withdrawal from acting out my toxic love addiction (and withdrawal from the social and emotional anorexia by opening up to being vulnerable through mindfulness). My life is a series of gifts, and when I see that it’s all gifts instead of reimbursement for work done, I get humble at the Love expressed by the Universe, a Love that is accessible to every last one of us.
      My name is Jess, and I am compulsive about food and toxic love–both a binger and a restricter. Twenty-three months feels so close to twenty-four months that my ego wants to take over to get that 2-year coin. It wants to wear it proudly, a hearty, “I am an example of the superiority you can achieve through OA.” Yeah-heh-heh. That’s completely against the point, and it is the primrose path to relapse before I even get near that 2-year coin.
      No, this 23 months means only one thing . . . it is closer to 24 hours than 24 months. And that 24 hours is the most important thing–the sanity I wear when I am surrendered and doing the footwork of recovery, the daily-received gift no one can see will always, ALWAYS, be more important than the yearly-received reimbursement for working the program which I can set around my neck.



  1. Wow! This is an amazing post, with an also amazing insight into the depths of recovery. I found myself wanting to say “Amen to that” all the way through the reading of it.

    Thank you,

    • Thank you so much! I strongly believe in the HOW principle–Honesty, Openness, and Willingness. I sometimes do have to remind myself that what my ego throws up as “in my control” never is, and I am left humbly grateful for the gifts I’ve received so far.

      That it helps people . . . another gift I am humbly grateful for. When I am honest about my fears and feelings and awarenesses, when I am open about those things in order to show that the gift of recovery is not a perfect life but a life of possibility, and when I am willing to show that I am still not only an addict but can give in to my ego desires at any time, I am guided to surrender to that power greater than myself. Whatever we call this Higher Power–God, the Goddess, the Universe, Reality, Unity, Love, It, and even HP–the comfort that we are rewarded by not being alone brings the humility and serenity in surrender.

      I am humbled by sharing my failings in recovery, not humiliated by them so much I have to hide them. I surrender to sharing the good and the seemingly bad, not submit to making myself feel grandiose (or inferior, grandiosity through the martyr’s path) by saying “It was all me.” And I am grateful that so often, HP reminds me through the community of people whose own stories speak to mine in so many ways, that I am not alone. I used to feel so alone, and I know it’s now simply a means to know I’m in self-serving ego mode and should surrender.

      Thank you for commenting. Your words (and the words of others who also comment) remind me that a community of empathetic people is a reached-out hand away.

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