Posted by: innerpilgrimage | November 1, 2012

I’m Not Just a Crastinator, I’m a Pro

Holiday Eating Season Countdown: 62 Days

      I have been fortunate to have had some really good momentum since August. This morning, I’m having trouble getting into the groove. I’m definitely the T from HALT. Very tired. However, it doesn’t mean I can’t be mindful of what has been processed so far, right?

      Well, let’s see if I can’t make that CoDA one-month coin coming in three-or-so weeks one which has meaning physically, mentally, and spiritually. And, well, not all progress is connected to bursts of activity. Honestly, I keep reading and hearing and experiencing that choosing the March of the Human Doing instead of the Tao of the Human Being gets in the way of recovery. This may meander, but my mind is blurry. Perhaps I’ll get some self-awareness as I leave the beaten path and take in the world of recovery around me.
      I keep reading and hearing that it takes 28 days to form a habit–good or bad. Having been in OA so long, I have to admit that the surrender and effort of that first 24-hour chip is much, much harder than the surrender and effort the 24 hours which bring the 30-day chip. At three years, my abstinence (when I surrender to it and remember it is a combination of surrender and effort, ie. it isn’t me even though I am taking the effort to surrender daily to it) is not so hard to maintain. So, as a message of Experience, Strength, and Hope? The worst of abstinence is the first week, as one learns to change. It’s easier to surrender when it’s treated as a positive (“I am making healthy and self-nurturing changes in my life, whatever the physical-body outcome”) instead of as a negative (“I am denying myself food because I am sick of being fat”). It also is easier to surrender when abstinence is tailored to me, like my recovery. It took effort and surrender to find a food plan that was realistic for my recovery and for my recovery goal of being healthy. That was another choice of recovery–to decide that wanting to lose weight never worked because I am a diet rebel. When I sat down and took the effort to consider what I wanted out of a recovered life, building a surrendered food plan was not so hard. I considered what I knew about me, what I knew about nutrition, and I put them together. I reduced my caloric intake by monitoring it, and I began to lose weight and gain mental clarity. I also learned that since this is about one day at a time, I accepted that once I took my first bite of the day, that day’s food plan was set. Before I eat anything, I choose how I am going to implement it. Then? I do it and I accept it won’t be perfectly worked, but it will be worked within the boundaries of that day.
      So, I have a handful of new 28-day practices to work on. The first is to choose the day’s affirmation and record it in some way. Today, I think I will choose one from CoDA literature, the handbook: Making Choices.
      I am exactly where I need to be and when I am ready, I have the ability to move on.
      So, what does that mean to me? Well, it’s progress, not perfection. It’s acceptance and patience. It’s trusting that although I will never be normal, I am recovered (freed from the bondage of addiction) and I am recovering (healing) every day. It’s being grateful that though I did not choose to be raised in a dysfunctional household which was traumatic enough to me that I turned to addiction to survive, I can choose a life which helps me and others. If I were normally adjusted, how would I react to addiction in others? Would I be sympathetic, or would I simply misunderstand because I had no point of reference? Well, those questions get to go unanswered eternally because I can’t think normally just as a normal person can’t think like an addict.
      I know how I’d react in denial, since I did that for decades. I still do for the things I haven’t brought up out of the darkness yet. Even things I did not deny in words, I denied in action. For example, I’ve accepted I am codependent since I was in college twenty-five years ago . . . yet it took all of that time to get me into a CoDA meeting. I am relieved I went through OA and SLAA first, because I am getting traction in recovery much faster than I did in both programs. Honestly, I never really got traction in SLAA, and I look at my bottom lines and wonder about them. I sometimes think I don’t belong in SLAA because I am an anorexic. That said, if I had acted out anorexia instead of compulsive overeating OA, I would have swung wide of the OA program. Without entering OA, I would not have entered SLAA; without entering SLAA, I would not have entered CoDA. I’ve needed to be in CoDA since the beginning, but it took easing into program life and recovery to get to where I am today.
      Where I belong.
      The second practice is to write a gratitude list. I’m not sure I can get to twelve (the “magic” program number), but I will try. Some gratitudes are small; some are huge. That’s the best part of a gratitude list: The small gratitudes, the ones we take for granted, often can be the biggest awareness tools.
      (1) I am grateful I woke up today. It seems small, but every day I wake up is a new twenty-four hours I get to live as an evolving human being. I am a creative, passionate, learning human being. Heh. Good thing to be grateful for, come to think of it.
      (2) I am grateful that I am a creative, passionate, learning human being.
      (3) I am grateful for surrendering to walking into OA in September of 2009. Without surrendering in OA, I would not have lost enough weight to see that I have problems with toxic love. I never would have met the woman who inspired me to attend my first SLAA meeting.
      (4) I am grateful for surrendering to walking into SLAA in July of 2010. Without surrendering in SLAA in the beginning of October (I battled with bottom lines this whole time), I would not have realized my SLAA behaviors were sourced in codependency. I never would have met the women who inspired me to attend my first CoDA meeting.
      (5) I am grateful for surrendering to walking into CoDA in October of this year. I am feeling real traction whenever I have a breakthrough in CoDA. It’s deeper than even the OA and SLAA stuff (though I am seeing I need to re-examine my acting-out behaviors which I don’t act out; the desire to act them out is causing me to act in). When I make progress in CoDA, it feels like a firm step forward in recovery, not a tentative step. A strongly placed footfall toward lasting recovery in program.
      (6) I am grateful I didn’t give up on program. I still feel the sheer terror (which I am feeling precisely in this moment) that others will tell me that I am disqualified from program because of my atheism. I keep repeating that program brought me to atheism (which it did) to try to justify to people that I deserve to be here. And I just got an enlightenment hit. Those people who would tell me I am doing it wrong are not named Tradition Three. Their names are not in the Big Book as the authorities on program and recovery. Therefore, since I am a member of OA, SLAA, and CoDA according to Tradition Three, and because we accept in program we are a fellowship of equals according to Tradition Two (no authority but that God as we understand God, which I understand as non-sentient, non-transcendent reality)? It doesn’t matter what they say. And, I suppose my first boundary would be to set a firm boundary: “Please refrain from working my recovery.” While I want to add more (particularly placating and groveling), no more needs to be said. I want them to not work my recovery, period. If it turns into a dialogue or discussion or argument, I get a chance to practice heart listening and reflective listening–speaking from my authentic self after listening for theirs in the silence between their words. And I see this is one of those “Surrender to my Higher Oatmeal Box” issues, because I feel fear of rejection and abandonment.
      (7) I am grateful for my family of choice. They are supportive of my recovery in every way, encouraging. Though my family of origin seems all right with me being in OA and probably would be fine with me being in CoDA, if I ever revealed I was in SLAA or if I returned to ACoA? That would bring up such terrible troubles in my life . . . precisely as it did twenty-five years ago.
      (8) I am grateful for the hard work of so many people, so that I can find solutions for recovery in and out of program. From listening to self-care to boundary work to spirituality, I have been given many opportunities from literature outside of program. The approved literature is excellent for understanding how to lay a foundation within the fellowship. I ask, however, “How is it self-care to ignore the vast quantity of books out there which are not conference-approved yet can help us recover?” Now, I accept that discussing only conference literature in meeting is a good meeting boundary, since our recoveries are all tailored to us–just like our addiction patterns are. However, after meeting? It can help people, if mindfully presented. Meeting is about the program we share; fellowship outside of meeting is about connecting to people. If we are mindful that no one addiction or recovery is identical? We can respectfully present the outside literature which has affected us.
      (9) I am grateful that I have two years of consistent weight as of November 14, 2012. That’s . . . well, to use a transcendent spirituality term, it’s a miracle. I have never maintained a consistent weight for six months, much less two years. Proof to me that recovery–even atheist recovery–works.
      (10) I am grateful for the opportunity to embrace change in my life. My family is moving in a few months. This is huge, and before program? I was both excited and terrified of huge change like this. I was terrified because I hated change. I was excited because I always lied to myself that a geographic change would solve all of my problems. I would magically become thin and loved and glib and perfect. I’m laughing as I write this piece of grim humor–the freedom from that addict-minded “magic cure” thinking is replaced with a realistic understanding that change is inevitable and the only way I can become the recovered woman who lives the promises on a day-to-day basis.
      (11) I am grateful for the service so many people perform in order to keep the face-to-face meetings I need open. I’m a social anorexic, and having any kind of wall between me and others indulges my inner addict. On phone meetings, I would be doing dishes or laundry and simply “clock time”. And, well, internet chat rooms were once a big SLAA acting-out tool. I am worried I would be triggered to Thirteenth Step someone to get my thrill-of-the-hunt with the social anorexic wall of distance. So, I am grateful for face-to-face meetings, since being face-to-face with people helps me learn how to interact respectfully and responsibly in social settings.
      (12) I am grateful for the promises of AA/OA, SLAA, and CoDA. The promises of recovery are sometimes the only hope I can hold onto when I’m in a period of recovery being over doing. I feel uncomfortable when I am not making leaping progress, and I feel like time is being wasted when the recovery is being processed behind the scenes. Returning to the foundation to strengthen it isn’t backsliding as much as maintenance and preparation for a major life change. That said? I still trigger when I feel like I am wasting my recovery time. I get angry that I have been in any program for three years and I haven’t reached it. However, I can take hope. The CoDA progress is setting up a more solid foundation for the SLAA and the OA progress built on it. The promises give me hope, especially when a few apply to my life when I go down the lists. They don’t have to even apply for more than a few minutes in any given day. That I experience the promises at all means that recovery is working in my life and living the promises is possible.
      Those are the two big morning recovery practices I can use to self-care for the next 28 days, despite the difficulty changing how I live my life on a daily basis.
      With those two specific morning rituals explained (they are a CoDA staple, which is why they got so much focus this morning) and worked in this journal, I have habits I want to practice for 28 days, based off of the recovery tools I presented yesterday in the Halloween post.
      Choose an affimation and contemplate how it supports my recovery. I am going to try one new affirmation a day, plus have one affirmation I carry through the whole month, to set in my head one recovered alternative to an addict message that derails me regularly and makes my life unmanageable. Repeating something twelve times supposedly locks it into the mind (there’s the “magic twelve” again). Twelve times daily for twenty-eight days (well, okay, for a month) will do quite a lot toward giving me a choice between recovery and addiction. Feeling trapped by my addicted mindset is something I still face–even three years food abstinent.
      A daily gratitude list in the morning changes my whole outlook. It’s humbling (not humiliating), and it shifts my mental focus toward looking for gratitude opportunities over looking for what’s wrong with the world and with my life. It’s a good mental practice that supports recovery and the promises. An attitude with latitude, gratitude keeps me appreciative and hopeful.
      Recovery 1: Stepwork
      I have the CoDA workbook, so I can make slow and steady progress by answering one question daily in the stepwork book, using the reflective listening techniques from that book to find my authentic self. I need to be accepting and patient as I go within for answers to the tough questions, but I trust that what will come up will heal, not harm, me–even if what I dig up that day triggers authentic feelings about past experiences.
      Recovery 2: Meditation
      I’ll be honest: I still believe that if anyone knew me, they would hate me. I believe I am unworthy, a manipulative monster who needs to be chained to a mental and spiritual wall to keep from doing harm to myself and others. This is a learned thought, an addicted explanation from a time when experimenting with self-expression to learn who I really am set me up for punishment. Crying was considered a manipulation in my family, a form of emotional terrorism. I didn’t want anything but relief from stress at the time. I learned to retreat to cry, hiding in my room or away from people outside in order to express my true emotions in a safe space. Eventually, there was no safe place to express my emotions–even I wasn’t a safe person, because I had it in my head that suicide was an option. Suicide is not, is never an option. It is a final solution to a transitory problem. Shutting down my emotions is a transitory solution to a transitory problem. Yes, I have practiced it for so long, extricating myself from that defensive behavior is very difficult. However, meditation is necessary to be open to trusting myself.
      Sitting in silence with myself is more painful than sitting in silence with others. Maybe I worry I’ll just disappear, having felt I was an invisible non-entity in the past.
      Recovery 3: Journaling
      Either here, in my personal journal, or both, I write something. Purging my agitation, writing about books I’m reading. Anything, as long as I write.
      Recovery 4: Fellowship (Meeting/Reaching Out)
      Daily fellowship is the acceptance of what OA taught me: “Together, we get better.” Email or phone or text someone in program on non-meeting days. I know I want to communicate with my family of origin, but I resist it. Something is holding me back. Not sure if it’s ego (addict) self-preservation or authentic (recovered) self-care. I guess since I have a safe place in the fellowship to learn to communicate respectfully with people who empathize with me, it may be safer then jumping into the fray with people who don’t empathize either because they’re in denial or normal. My family is generally in denial, and I am still resentful that I spent so long living in survival mode in thriving-life conditions. I chose to do that by walking away from my first contact with recovery. I was still in denial, still believed I could earn my way into approval and love. That was my choice, not to let that be my rock bottom. Hunh. Good fourth step awareness, there, to see my part in how I walked away from recovery at eighteen. That’s some great progress, right there, and I just journaled it.
      Authentic listening practice–to the silence, to myself, to others authentic-self-to-authentic-self. I expect it’s not going to be easy to begin, but this is also a means to practice patience with silence. This is the path to the answer to the question: “Who am I?” Even if it’s a causa sui ineffable answer? If I come back with a calm confidence of self, I have gained a good foundation for recovery.
      Physical Exercise
      Anything movement-based is self-care. I am hoping I can bring the trauma-sensitive yoga into my life and go from that into choosing activities in my life which strengthen my body.
      Creativity Exercise
      I love to create things, especially things which encourage laughter and play. Crochet is a great way for me to do that, and small projects are fun and often challenging to make. I love amigurumi toys. Little daily commitments. I also want to crochet clothing, despite being worried I will waste a lot of money in yarn. I want to not be so afraid, which means I really ought to relax, get my measurements, and make the necessary changes to the patterns for a longer waist and longer arms. Sketching, drawing, even fiction writing. Just create something, anything, that didn’t exist yesterday. Add to the world anything–even if it’s a few stitches on a crocheted hacky-sack for next Halloween.
      I think this is enough for now. I don’t want to overcommit myself and walk away resentful.
      My name is Jess, and I am a layered addict. I will put as many plans between me and getting progress as I can, in order to be too busy. Yes, I have other day-to-day responsibilities, but I also have a responsibility to myself to self-care my way to the promises. It doesn’t have to be perfectly worked, but I want to surrender to this so much. I hope I can, but–just like any relapse–the clock starts over and I get another chance every day to work recovery.


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