Posted by: innerpilgrimage | October 13, 2012

Three Years Since My Relapse

      Three years ago today, I was abstinent until about 7 p.m.–maybe 8. I had started out the day in ego, self-assured this would be, well, a piece of cake. Irony of ironies, it was cake which led to relapse at 20 hours of abstinence (counting, as I generally do, midnight to midnight, with some sliding room if minimums couldn’t be met until just after midnight because I had no opportunity to eat fruit, of all things, while traveling). It’s an imperfect abstinence, but the perfection without progress is a diet mentality thing.

      Right now, I am in my living room, considering how grateful I am just for today. This twenty-four hours is deeply significant, not only because it is the third anniversary of my relapse. If I respect the cunning, baffling, powerful, and persistent nature of addiction and surrender to program and the abstinent food plan which has kept me around 160 lbs. for almost two years just for today? Tomorrow morning, I can put on the three-year abstinence coin. So, today is a day of contemplation and new awareness. I have walked a long, long road in the past three years–and I am sure of one thing: The addiction is always there, always beating against the shore of recovery. And when I build castles in the sand then fret over the addiction being able to destroy them? I forget that I have a world of recovery I have to wander. Some nearer and some farther than the tidal zone between addiction and recovery, but I have the recovery anyway.
      First things first, however. I am fretful about something that is not whatsoever real. I am fretful that I am where I was once-upon-a-time, and that is either a cause or a symptom of something far deeper in my psyche than just food and how I compulsively turn toward it or turn away from it. So, this is as much for me as for anyone else out there:
      October 27, 2009 — 267 lbs. by a doctor’s scale
      This was my first weigh-in in months, after I gave up when I saw I either weighed 283 or 293 in June of 2009. I recall it was so close to 300 lbs., because I remember the despair. The hopelessness. What I do not recall is if I was 17 or 7 pounds shy of feeling wholly and utterly defeated. Those first three months were scattered at best. I only started the monthly recording on the 14th of each month in January of 2010. I know I weighed more, because I had two weeks of abstinence already. This is something I need to let go, because I am so hungry to say, “I lost 110 (or 115 or 125) pounds in program.” That isn’t the point of OA. I am supposed to gain 12 Promises of Recovery in program. Definitely something to remember.
      October 14, 2010 — 170.6 lbs.
      I remember when that was in my weight goal range. It’s even part of the August 2010 comment, that my weight goal was 175 lbs. plus-or-minus five pounds. Well, I’ve sat below that since November 2010, yet I am still not happy! I am frustrated by the need for approval, and I connect it with my weight. Mind you, the weight of a personality has more value than the weight of their body–as long as it isn’t me. That has 100% to do with the SLAA approval addiction and the lack of sense of safety in self which drives it. I suppose that’s part of the next year of recovery for me, as I surrender to recovery in the toxic love addiction and social/emotional anorexia and the cross-addiction that is compulsive binge-arexia. It hurts that reaching the dream of 170 lbs. isn’t enough any more. Hell, the dream of 200 lbs. when I was almost 300 was impossible. Being under 165 lbs. since November 2010 (with my last in-journal weigh-in December 14, 2011) isn’t enough. I have 100 lbs. of recovery in program. Why is this not good enough?
      Perhaps because I don’t feel like I am good enough.
      October 14, 2011 — 162.8 lbs.
      This morning, I stepped on the scale, and I weighed 161.4 lbs., which isn’t my official abstinence weigh in (that’s for tomorrow if I eat between the lines today), but this is one of those recovery miracles to me. Less than one pound of variance over one freaking year of abstinence? That is worth a lot of gratitude, especially since I used to gain over the span of a year. Unfortunately, I am irritable because my 30x34s are snug, and I want them to be loose. I want a 28-inch waist, damn it. Of course, then I would want the Brick House measurement of 36-24-36. Never freaking ending, people. The self-abuse that is addiction is never-freaking-ending.
      Well, I have admissions. Haven’t been in an OA meeting in months. The atheist issue is a problem for me. I’m not particularly sure if it is a problem for others, but I just feel on the outside looking in for now. Doesn’t mean I can’t use program outside of group, but I question whether or not I am abstinent. Well, question no more, Jess. From the actual OA website comes this FAQ:

How does OA define abstinence and recovery?

WSBC Policy 1988b, Amended 2002, 2009 and 2011) “Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight.

Spiritual, emotional and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.”
      There it is. I am abstinent. I refrain from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors (imperfectly, but I eat between the lines of my food plan daily) associated with compulsive binge eating and anorexia. I avoid food I immediately identify as being unable to eat reasonably–the “one package equals one serving” kinds of foods. Do I eat sweets? Yes. I would be 300 lbs. if I had cut them out entirely, because a life of abject misery is stupid. I have, however, put limits on them in general. Seeing as I am a huge fan of chocolate? I limit my chocolate to Fair Trade and Organic. That alone keeps me away from binges, because it not only tastes like it’s supposed to, it doesn’t come in bulk quantity, and also isn’t made using slave labor. I measure chocolate consumption in grams, not pounds. I measure my baked goods in individual cookies, not full boxes. I still don’t eat the top three trigger foods: salted peanuts in the shell, Halvah, and Wheat Thins. I also don’t eat potato chips because I think of them as “bulk food”, whereas I can eat corn tortilla chips because I can eat one corn tortilla’s worth of them in a day and walk away without wanting more because I can take or leave them in general. So, in general, I leave them.
      Yet that diet mentality is scoring me with a cat-o’-nine-tails of guilt and self-loathing. How dare I eat anything with a naughty fat in it! How dare I eat sugar! How dare I! How dare I! How dare I! Ugh, that’s so freaking frustrating to face off with. It is exhausting. Addiction is exhausting and it is relentless and it is a constant dialogue in my head about how my skin hasn’t firmed up to Photoshopped standards.
      My inner addict is a liar, and it is a jerk. It is mean, spiteful, callous, punitive, and desperate. It is the constant voice telling me to stop trying and just numb out, already. But that life never made me happy. In fact, it made me miserable. It still does, when I look in the mirror and I don’t have the body of an 18-year-old runway model. I am not freaking supposed to. However, I am thin enough my thighs don’t rub when I walk. My hip bones are the reason I have trouble with my jeans. Though my spine isn’t as visible as it was, the bones in my shoulders are defined. And I am weak. I have a weak body with little muscle, an atrophied form because the food was never the problem. It was the snake oil cure to my problems.
      Today, I am grateful for quite a few things. I am grateful that by my food plan, I was abstinent for quite a lot of one-day-at-a-times. Yes, there were times when I saw that I was off somewhat on what I believed was the right serving amount. However, once I am aware? I use that awareness immediately when I make food choices and I use that awareness every one-day-at-a-time after that. I just want to beat myself up and treat abstinence like a diet. I forget so easily that four years ago, I faced Halloween with the same previous Halloween’s promise I had given myself for over a decade–that I would be able to lose weight and wear a fun costume. I never lost the weight (or the height, which has been the only clothing issue in the last 2 years). I am grateful that I don’t have diabetes. I am grateful that the food addiction revealed the approval addiction and its related anorexia. I am grateful that despite struggling without a sponsor, I am still food abstinent. I am grateful that abstinence isn’t about the meetings but the relief from compulsive eating. I am grateful for everything I have learned so far, and I am grateful for everything I will learn. I am most grateful that I woke up this morning abstinent. I am grateful that I have the ability to take conscious action to wake up abstinent tomorrow morning. And I am grateful that I feel hunger pangs, which means it’s time for me to go eat lunch instead of play anorexic chicken with my recovery.
      I’m Jess, and I am recovered. Cured? Never. I have been recovered from a sea of addiction into the lifeboat of program. So, uh, not recover-ING. I am recovered, like every person who walks into a room or reads the literature and decides that Tradition Three applies to them. I am recovering from addiction, but I am recovered like anything lost. I made myself findable, and now it’s time to learn my real value as I surrender to SLAA recovery through the 12-Step Program of SLAA–to not seek external validation and to not change myself in order to please other people. That’s really hard, but I see directly how the binge-arexia relates to it. There was a time in OA when I was getting physically and mentally and spiritually healthy for myself.
      About eighty pounds ago, before I had even gotten a 90-day chip.



  1. You have been on my mind. Thank you for your wonderful words. I feel so lost in this stupid addiction. Your words offered me hope. I am floundering on the OA thing. I am fighting and unsure which way to go. Thanks for your insights. It’s not easy and I’m fighting like hell.

    • Words spoken none truer than these when recovery and the wall of non-acceptance of something meet. And I definitely empathize, because I am floundering on the CoDA thing, myself. Well, and the atheist recovery, which has been, until today, like saddling and riding a tornado. And your words and comments offer me hope so much. I appreciate that others empathize that this is flipping hard to do. Trust me, I ain’t cured. I nearly lost three years of abstinence a couple of days ago because I was in deep non-acceptance that I don’t get to be the special snowflake in program and take the elevator instead of the steps. Actually, I’m realizing I think my own words here sussed me: Three years. It’s not about the three years I lived in abstinence yesterday, but the twenty-four hours I am living today. Definitely a mindfulness moment. Thanks!

      • I think you are doing wonderfully because you have such a reality on what got you where it did. Me….I know what I do and sometimes why I do it. But there seems to be a disconnect for that. I am hopefully going to be slowing down at work and I may try OA online or something.

  2. Please keep coming back.

    • I may be down some days, but I’m definitely not out. Just getting into compulsive snittiness at times that I am an addict at all, that I am qualified by Tradition Three to be a member of multiple 12-Step groups, and that I was given awareness through program that I am an atheist. My addict-self is having a field day with the cunning, baffling powerful, and persistent beating I’m getting to my recovery. However, I am not going to let go. Recovery is sanity, and even if I am fussy and out-of-acceptance that I can’t be or have all things granted me right here and right now? I am still working program for the sheer adventure of progressing toward answering the question: “Who am I?” Pretty groovy to consider, that three years ago, I would have run weeping (or cursing) from the OA rooms if I had faced off with all of this on Day One.

      Patience in program is definitely a character asset I need to remind myself is a gift. Recovery is a growth process, and when I feel the growing pains? I know it’s working.

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