Posted by: innerpilgrimage | December 31, 2011

Time Keeps on Slippin’: On The Future, Welcoming 2012

Holiday Eating Season Countdown: 2 Days

      I rarely blog-whore, but I intuitively clicked on one of those “Exciting WordPress Articles You Ought to Read” on the welcome page a few days ago. It inspired me enough to send it out to a friend who’s actively changing her life. And, for me, it’s gotten me thinking a lot about when I chose a vibrant future over rehashing the past and hoping for a rescue.

      The post, Five Ways to Find Your Future, is amazingly insightful in its very simple (but none too easy!) truths about living today with a mind toward a different tomorrow. The author, Dan Rockwell, goes by the handle Leadership Freak for his WordPress blog, which has quick, 300-word-or-less entries about realism-based life skills in the land of delusion. This entry made me think, and I appreciate the bluntness of the article. Clarity in abrupt doses is often our best teacher, yanking us around.
      So, if you read the article, it talks about how we often try to create a future from the past. That’s just, it’s the antithesis of creating a future, if you think about it. I mean, we are consistently being pulled into the future (because the people, time, places, energy, and whatnot change) yet we still put the same energy into our life and seem to rehash the same old dramas–but with new twists. The one thing we aren’t doing is actually halting the manifestation of the same-old, same-old. Those ruts we get into–when life seems to blaze by without us noticing and when the days bleed into each other–seem to leave us hoping for an external power to jolt us into a better tomorrow with the desperation of, well, addicts. Of course, not an HP, though. That would mean we were powerless over an unmanageable life and that we could not control life, itself. After all, an addict is the center of everyone’s Universe–according to the addict.
      Well, according to me, anyway. Though I suspect if I polled people in program, those who were honest, open, and willing would admit the same.
      Dan Rockwell begins with caveats of living in the past. One can’t create a new future persevering at tried-and-untrue methodology. Talking about yesterday isn’t acting on tomorrow–it’s trying to rehash yesterday with a load of wishful thinking to try and make it not have happened. “Glory days” cheat us from a future of miracles–his italicized warning, “Memories without dreams are anchors,” can be understood in so many ways, but its warning is the same: Living in yesterday without that energy of hope (dreams) will drag you down, stop you from living a full life. Face forward, not backward; yesterday is filled with lessons. Choices which evolved us once should encourage us to remember the lesson that we tried something new and our life went in a new direction; choices which held us back should encourage us to remember the lesson that we chose to say no to an opportunity and our life went in its predictable spiral downward yet forward. Whether we made our first five-course French dinner for a friend we still talk to or burned our hands on the stove, those are simply teaching moments. Saying yes to discomfort in order to embrace life; rejecting the desire to keep doing the same thing and exhausting one’s self by trying harder to do the same thing.
      Then, we get five recommendations to finding our futures, now that we’ve accepted that living in yesterday (which doesn’t exist except in our minds) is futile. Defining ourselves by yesterday is dangerous–our past accomplishments will limit our future accomplishments. I think I understand this: If I choose to define myself by yesterday as “The best I can do,” then I’m locked into a right/wrong battle, judging my abilities, making assumptions about what skills I possess (instead of experimenting to find what else I can do wholly unrelated to those past skills). That is a future-killer right there, looking over our shoulders for rules to guide us into tomorrow. If we don’t walk into a lamp post or brick wall? That is just sheer luck.
      I love this one, so I hope Mr. Rockwell will forgive me quoting it: “Your future is about people not projects or accomplishments.” Wow. This deserves getting repeated, simply because it’s so intensely core to program:
     
      Your future is about people not projects or accomplishments.
     
      If you follow the spiritual concepts of our souls being sourced from a single pure energy, we are meant to unite. The illusion of separateness is just that, generated by body and brain. It’s why we seek clarity of mind in OA through a food plan which removes our poisonous triggers (and often “white foods”, which many people find cause serious problems with irritability and mental chaos). So, to make people our focus is to connect as equals, to practice humility and service. To better the world by connecting the individuals within it through honesty, vulnerability, and love.
      So, part of our future is making connections with people who can use energy to create futures–just like we can. Uniting with others empowers us; fighting others weakens us. Vulnerability toward people, however, can be excruciating. Projects and accomplishments are measurable and logical. People aren’t, and their actions and imperfections can devastate us. Well, they can if we give authority over our lives to them and make them our Higher Powers. Of course, if we make them a magically empowered deity through our delusional thinking about them as a savior entity? We’re doing a spiritual being having human experiences a disservice by saying, “I worship you, so you have to be perfect–by my definition of perfect.
      There’s no win-win in a relationship like that. It’s all lose-lose: Two people get enmeshed as all-or-nothing thinking exhausts then drowns them. It’s an insidious battle for control, in that the object of deification (magical thinking) is hemmed in by our perceptions of what a deity should be. When we’re dissatisfied with that person, they have our worship withdrawn and we are resentful of their natural evolution and their inability to be our definition of perfect. It’s like the French Apache–a dance of absolute abuse in the name of passion. And we dare call it love.
      The next recommendation is to spread our social circles and network. This is beyond logical. I mean, how are we supposed to even know about opportunities if we’re not out there around people who find opportunities and realize we’re the right person for it? He recommends we get into groups where people are succeeding where we want to succeed.
      This, for me, is best managed in strong OA and SLAA meetings–which I am preparing to surrender to going to more and different ones. I had my strongest recovery attending 2 OA meetings and my one SLAA meeting weekly. Three 12-Step meetings where I feel I’m with people committed to recovery–including newcomers–makes a difference. I’ve been to OA bitch sessions, where people despair because the diet isn’t working. Well, it’s not a diet to me. It’s a miracle which is supported by the people who have experience, strength, and hope–newcomers and old timers alike. As long as we have something to share and are mindful that we are all in the same addicted boat, we all can recover. Our stories may be different, but we are united in one truth: Tradition Three, which states that the only requirement for membership to a 12-Step group is the desire to stop the compulsive acting-out of the addiction.
      Recovery still is changing my life, and going into the rooms keeps me on that path of success–because of the people who show up and share their experience, strength, and hope with honesty, openness, and willingness.
      Take small steps to overcome fear. This, for me, has been rejecting procrastination and acting today instead of pushing up to the deadline and rushing it all. It’s a character defect which is hard to turn around sometimes, yet it is a blessing. Why a blessing? It’s a red flag that I’m acting in addiction, not recovery. To shift gears into recovery? All I have to do is take a small action, accepting I can’t do it all in one day. Often, surrendering to that small action can energize me to complete it. Otherwise, I have put in motion a new energy in the world. I am facing forward, looking for opportunities to keep the momentum going. Surrendering to courage by accepting the willpower sourced from a power greater than myself is the result of overcoming the paralyzing fear. If I practice courage, then courage becomes my today–just like practicing a healthy and reasonable food plan has brought me to the longest period ever at a non-yo-yoing weight. Five pounds up or down over a month isn’t an issue, because it doesn’t really affect my current (Year-old! Glee!) wardrobe. If I’m shifting between sizes aggressively? Something’s up, and I’m actively choosing yesterday’s addicted messages about anorexia and binge eating being how I can maintain a “healthy” body. That’s insanity, bouncing up and down the scale like that. Take the steps, not the elevator, in all things. After all, small steps make for long journeys filled with amazing experiences we don’t miss when we’re trying to fast-track to our goals.
      I like his next recommendation, to build the future alongside the “old present”. Change isn’t abrupt. When I started my abstinence on October 14, 2009, I wanted to be thin on October 15, 2009. My weight, however, drifted down as I changed how I dealt with food and made food choices which encouraged a healthier lifestyle. Ten months later, I was at a normal BMI. Twelve months later, I was at goal weight. Fifteen months later, I was at the midpoint for what I consider to be my current weight. While I’ve had a quick stint down to 152 (which was my rock bottom on the anorexia, where I feared and longed to reach “underweight”) that made me change my food plan, the monthly weigh-ins held to a consistent 10-lb. range with a 158-lb. base. For a year. While my holiday food choices have been a little more holiday-themed (okay, more sweets), I haven’t been straining last year’s clothes. Therefore, I’ve had a year living at the weight my HP placed me. How does this relate? I changed how I ate, and now I think that way. I actually cannot binge, and I am very aware when I get hungry and know I need to eat pronto to avoid anorexia. I have a minimum and a maximum of reasonable calories over a broad-ranged food plan. I seek out whole grains more often (well, not so much recently, but getting back to post-holiday eating is something I look forward to), and I definitely work to get fruit and vegetables in daily. I sometimes would spend days looking askance at fruits and veg before meandering to sweet-salty-fatty when I was in active addiction. While it was a process as I changed (the struggles are recorded here) from preferring a sweet-salt-fat diet to a healthy one with whole grains, vegetables, and fruit? I have changed. My future was a preference for food that makes my body feel healthy and my brain feel clear. It took time, but a lifestyle of nutritional eating, overall, is preferable. Consider this: I never ate oatmeal once-upon-a-time. Hated the stuff, even drowned in hundreds of calories of fat and sugar and milk. I could eat a half-dozen pieces of cinnamon toast, loaded down with butter and cinnamon sugar without blinking an eye and often went back for more; that’s how I ate–three-to-five thousand of calories of starch-fat-and-sweet. Today, my favorite breakfast is oatmeal with salt, an eighth-cup of dried fruit (generally raisins, but cranberries, dates, and other dried fruit works), and an eighth-cup of nuts. I traded 3,000 calories for less than 350, and I feel sated and physically well all morning. I also eat my salads with salt and pepper, now–evolving from a five-hundred calorie dousing of creamy dressing to non-fat cottage cheese and pepper sauce (or Nopalitos, yum!) to salt and pepper. If I ate salads, which I didn’t. Usually, it was french fries with that dressing to dip in. And yes . . . today the idea of creamy dressing makes me queasy. Adding french fries to it? Well, it triggers the anorexia because of the intense nausea that puts me off the idea of eating; therefore, I’m moving on to the point. Growing a new life takes time, and small changes do end up making big differences.
      Well, now that we’re finding our future, it deserves a bit of stability. Just like having a keel on a sailboat stabilizes the forward motion, having what we know to return to stabilizes our forward motion. Shocks to systems can get us running back to what doesn’t work just to feel safe; easing into it can make for a brighter future.
     
      He then goes on to give some of the greatest working advice to keep that forward motion stable. It’s all about simplicity, about keeping a handful of guiding ideals to keep us acting toward that new lifestyle. Being in program, I’m fortunate that I’ve already got not only my three, but a handly slogan meme to remember it by–HOW. If I filter my actions through Honesty, Openness, and Willingness? I am moving toward an authentic life. I choose honesty because secrets stress me out and I act out in order to numb out from the grating agitation. Openness is also vulnerability. It’s the choice to trust people while understanding they are also spiritual beings having human experiences. Humility is a side effect of this, ever reminding me that we are all evolving together, even if our individual experiences are different. Mistakes and failures are only lessons–they don’t define us. Being open to making mistakes and failing allows me to change direction with a positive attitude and deep gratitude. Willingness is about saying yes to the nuances of life. Opportunities arise all of the time; being willing to explore where I have not personally gone before allows me to grow in ways I never imagined. A willingness to surrender to reality (my Higher Power) means I can assess whether or not it’s a construct in my head or something that is happening with my input. Willingness is the essence of that “Leap of Faith” we take to even enter a room for the first time. Willingness is returning to a meeting or finding a new one which fits us better. Willingness is accepting we are evolving, part of the life process, and we should live as living people looking forward to the opportunities to grow instead of hiding within and making up stories based on the illusions we know don’t work.
     
      He then goes on to ask questions of us, to challenge us to tell the truth about who we are and how we can start, today, to create a different tomorrow. Each of our choices has an effect on the world. Every. Last. One. If we stay in, someone who may benefit from our presence out in the world won’t get it. We won’t make connections to people who need us as they begin their trek into a new life. From giving a hug to a suffering newcomer to sharing our experience, strength, and hope in a room, we can affect the world. We can create win-win situations, be grateful for our lives (even the seemingly bad!), and appreciate that we woke up this morning to a brand new day of practicing a recovered life.
      Lastly, Dan Rockwell reminds us that we don’t get an easy journey into this. We addicts know the blame game all too well: This is the foundation of Step Four. It’s easy to blame others for our choices. Owning our part in our pasts allows us to create a future of authenticity and acceptance. No one chooses for us, ever. We may align with a person in order to deceive ourselves into thinking they’re calling the shots, but the act of choosing to find a person to blame if things go bad is a conscious choice we make. Taking responsibility for every action we make is a powerful choice. After all, we have arrived at rock bottom because no one else but we can save ourselves from ourselves.
     
      My name is Jess, and I am a food binge-arexic, toxic love addict, and real love avoidant. I have less than ten minutes to 2012, and I am feeling hopeful and grateful. I was abstinent today (even though I had a few challenges which I turned over to HP because I certainly couldn’t muster the willpower to do it!), and I was affectionate and appreciative of my family today, and I was active today in my recovery. Will I make New Year’s resolutions as the minutes tick away? Nope.
      I’m getting my New Year’s Gratitides together, so I can walk into 2012 with my head high and a smile on my face, knowing that I was given the gift of the miracle of recovery and all of the extras that go along with it.
     
      HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012!

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