Posted by: innerpilgrimage | September 24, 2012

A New Way of Acting on Life, Rather Than Reacting To It

      I’ve got a laundry list of things I want to complete by midnight tonight and no magic wand to complete them. I keep adding to the list, too, scattering my mind to the things I feel I need to complete in order to have a fulfilled and productive life at the end of the day.

      The unrealistic part–much like being in a 12-Step program–is assuming there is a finish line to any of it.

      I have a long list of things I feel I ought to be doing. Things I feel I should have accomplished already. I want to play catch-up with my life, shake off that procrastination. I want to feel I have made forward progress which is quantifiable in some manner–be it creating physical world objects or healing emotionally and mentally to the point I can see the results of that effort in everyday life.
      I have 25 novels I want to edit and publish by the end of 2012. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the time, because editing is a gruelling process. It took nearly a decade to get two of three books in a trilogy out into the public, from first draft to what I was willing to put out as a finished work. These novels hang over my head like a sword of Damocles. I can’t feel the progress I’m making. It’s like pushing a boulder out of the way of a wide trail. I may be making headway, but I don’t feel it.
      I have yards upon yards of yarn which I want to turn into projects, but with the novels? I often don’t feel the many, many hours of effort it would take to complete those projects (and the concentration I need in order to do it properly) is worth the finished project. I started making hats and scarves in May of 2011 and completed over three dozen sets. In the beginning, it took three days. In the end? Three hours. I worry that if I begin a large project like clothing, I won’t be happy with the end result. I would have to find some way to give it away, and my difficulty is that those hundreds of hours of my life will be pointlessly wasted on something someone does not want.
      I have letters I want to mindfully write, but my mind is either exhausted or my fear-based anxiety is racing so much that I can’t compose cohesive thoughts. I’m not particularly good here doing more than a free flow of ideas.
      I want to read the two dozen library books sitting near my bookshelves, but the same problem applies to reading as it does to writing–and very probably editing those 25 books.
      I want to complete my first run through the 12 Steps. Imperfectly is okay. I just really need someone to hold my hand and tell me it’s okay while I do it imperfectly. That I will have a measurable success in program, even if I know it’s merely an oval track where I go around again to get more released. I’m also worried I will forget. I do forget a lot, even though I feel the strong resentments when an event occurs which brings up a trauma from my youth which I re-live emotionally. Whether or not I remember the trauma, those sucking wounds I may or may not acknowledge even to me are doing something. Similar situations elicit totally different responses. Sometimes I feel under fire and threatened. In the almost-precisely-the-same situation on a different day with different events leading up to it? I feel relaxed, can laugh, can listen, can empathize. I feel horrible being so completely and utterly discordant and disorganized with how I express myself.
      Often, it’s the chaotic emotions which make my brain shut down and send me into fight, flight, or freeze mode. I don’t know how to deal with people–so I rarely do. And I am scared to trust people. I really am, even as I know I need people to survive. When I take myself out of social situations out of fear, there is no chance for success whatsoever. No chance for learning how to deal with people in a healthy and measured manner. Under that kind of stress, those negative messages can drive me to acts with consequences I cannot live with. It’s then I realize the benefits of recovery. I don’t delude myself into feeding fantasies to unrealistic endings. In unflinching honesty, I find who I am at my core, I suppose. When I extrapolate the real instead of fantasy consequences? I want to avoid the negative feelings I sense I will experience. I suspect that’s where those sucking wounds help–the jolt of anger, grief, or fear reminds me that all of those castles in the air are simply water vapor and my imagination creating patterns out of light and shadow.
      I want to see measurable success in something. Real, palpable, and measurable success. I’m not sure what I want to see it in, of these many things I have on this list. I consider last year’s Do by 42 list–which I did not complete. I consider that I completed many of the tasks I wanted to complete and wrote them down. Perhaps that’s something I can consider doing next year. Give myself reasonable tasks to complete in reasonable time frames, yet also challenge myself to reach farther than I have before now. What do I want to complete? Where do I want to go? Perhaps it’s time to look at what I can do in my 43rd year to feel like I have measurable accomplishments again. Challenge myself weekly. Monthly. Don’t let the days flow like a thick, polluted river–as they have since I abandoned that Do by 42 List. One year, where I challenge myself. Even if I don’t complete everything on those lists, I will have completed tasks set down for me. I can do this realistically, if I am willing to open myself up to the possibility of success.
      My thoughts are often racing, and I can be stopped in my tracks by them. Right now, flowing through my head, are so many thoughts that I can’t keep track. I promise myself to write them, but I rarely do. Here are a few:
      * How do I express to a person that I was deeply hurt when I trusted a friendship yet had an unwanted intimate advance made toward me, followed by being disrespected when I made my beliefs known–and was made to feel guilt because I resolved I wasn’t meant for organized religion?
      * How do I contact my family when I don’t know how to talk to them?
      * How do I interact with people when I have no idea how to respond to social cues?
      * Can I ever learn the social cues necessary not to feel then act in a deeply awkward manner?
      * How do I start to feel a full range of emotions instead of only anxiety?
      * How can I learn to mourn in an efficient and logical manner?
      * How can I stay strong when people pressure me to think like them and terrify me into thinking they will harm me if I do not submit to their will for me?
      * How do I interact with the people who do consistently show their love for me? How do I express to them that I have no doubts of their love and sincerity toward me (because of their actions), even if I am afraid that there’s a big damned shoe ready to drop right on me when I’m most vulnerable (duality of addiction and recovery)?
      * How do I get back to that sense of serenity in recovery after the heartbreak of realizing I expected too much from the fellowships I’ve been in?
      * How do I get over the belief I can get approval if I lose 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 more pounds?
      * How do I get over the desire to get attention toward my suffering by being visibly anorectic in order to get sympathy and concern from other human beings?
      * How do I get over what I’ve done in my youth to harm other people in my “No Regrets” campaign?
      * How do I end the insomnia?
      * How do I stop being distracted by the stories to actually edit what I expect are nearly 2 1/2 million words needing to be cut down and woven into a tapestry which I tossed up as an abstract when I wrote each piece?
      * How do I get over the lack of desire to market myself, knowing that (as an artist) marketing one’s self a no-win game for 99% of writers? That I would feel I wasted years trying to convince people to buy something I created instead of used that time to create new things for people to read? (I have no problem showing up if people are already interested, but I am no salesperson–especially when it comes to what I create.)
      * How do I get back into bass playing, since I have that stupid custom bass sitting in its case not being used?
      * How do I get excited about going out into the world to hike, ride bikes, camp, and do things which I KNOW I like to do? (What stops me is that I feel I have so much to do and can’t enjoy life until I’ve completed the work-related tasks on my list.)
      I’m getting less frustrated by the God-word, but I am terrified of the religious who would attempt to pressure me into finding their God. We have people who are hardcore Big-Book thumpers. Twelve-step zealotry has sent me from the rooms; I don’t doubt newcomers get threatened by them and never take the chance to really consider whether program is right for them. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. If there was such a thing, we wouldn’t have national diet plans competing with different methods to gain the same final results: weight loss to a healthy weight and a happy and social life.
      I am frustrated that I’ve been in program three years and I never committed to getting to Step Nine. I’ve done a list of people I want to make amends to for my actions, but I never got to writing down what I wanted to make amends for. What I wanted to change about me in order to work toward a life where those things would not be repeated because I want a life beyond repeating what I’ve done before to brand new people. I want to live a life where I can make connections with people and use that empathy. Where boundaries and ideas work in concert to grow relationships.
      My names is Jess, and I am compulsive about food and toxic love–both as a binger and an anorexic. Still working on life as it comes. It’ll be okay, though. As long as I’m working toward clarity, I will be guided toward it. Just gotta keep facing forward and walking mindfully in the moment–just for today.



  1. I have been thinking about you! For the thumpers just remind them that you don’t thump them so you’d appreciate the same consideration. Smile and move on! 🙂 I already know how kind and considerate you can be! Hope you are well my sweet friend!

    • Smiling because of the fellowship you bring, accepting your lesson that what the ‘thumpers say and do is about them and not me, and appreciating the compassion you offer whenever you swing through to remind me: “Together, we get better.” Even in compulsion, recovery is working. If I feel like things are not right, chances are I have an HP-message (a reality clue-by-four) waiting in my recovery inbox. I hope you are well, sweet friend, and I still enjoy reading your blogs for your experience, strength, hope and recipes I want to try out. Just because we’re abstinent doesn’t mean we have to forgo the pleasures of food. Thank you for keeping the stove burners lit, so we can remember that OA is about embracing abstinence from punitive food behaviors–not trudging through a miserable diet program.

      • Many thumpers like to hear their own voices and their pompous ideas. They usually aren’t promoting what is right and/or good in my opinion. I have been thumped so many times it isn’t funny. It is a wonder I didn’t turn my back on God because of the thumpers. I am grateful God knew how to reach me without them. If people want to discuss it, fine and if not, fine. There’s lots to discuss in this world. 🙂 Like great food which can be adjusted to make it healthier for my addiction so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I’m glad you still come by the blogs. I haven’t been writing as much recently because I have been working too much. More will be coming soon. Take care dear friend!

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