Posted by: innerpilgrimage | January 2, 2014

Daily Reader

      I have six daily readers, the little books from program and from other sources to support recovery by addressing the challenges I face as a recovering, and layered food addict.

      My layered addictions have compulsive eating (binge-arexia) as the topmost addiction, followed by social and emotional anorexia and romantic obsession (relationships with potential life/sex partners), followed by codependency anorexia and enmeshment obsession (relationships with anybody), followed by the core issue of denying or resenting the childhood trauma I faced in a dysfunctional family setting. This is generational, from what I’ve seen from the family members I’ve spent time around–grandparents, parents, and siblings. I could point out which each family member, living or dead, possessed or possesses. Of course, pointing out which twelve-step I have personally decided each belongs is harmful to my recovery, in that I am trying to “work their recovery”. It’s an indication I’m unwilling to work my own, that I am trying to avoid my personal recovery journey by deciding I am the arbiter of their lives. My recovery footwork is to break the chain for my generation and show my children that seeking help for what I did to create another  dysfunctional generation is okay–if they want or need to do that. I only got into program in 2009, and it’s been a rocky path since then. However, since I have, I have tried hard to let them know that it was me, not them, and that I regret what I’ve done to make their lives harder in my efforts to try to control and micromanage my life (and theirs) in the pursuit of a perfect life–always measured from the outside looking in. A person who grew up in a supportive environment would see it for what it is, however. And I’m not sure I was completely horrible, because I did spend a lot of time letting them know that it was never them but their behaviors I was having trouble with. I don’t hate them; since recovery, I admire them for the choices they’ve made for themselves. I admire how hard they work to achieve their goals. I let them know that they are great young men, and how they express themselves and how they’re growing and learning as individuals is fantastic. So, I am trying to break that chain even as I am in bondage, personally. I definitely would sit still for one or both telling me how certain events when I was critical or insulting was inappropriate. It was. I appreciate that my boys can say to me what I said to them: I may not like your behavior, but I love you.
      That’s a relief to know, and it’s been a relief to hear more than once.
      So, back to my daily readers collection. I have these six mini-books, which have a page’s worth of experience, strength, and program hope (the experience which I can apply today to my life, not wish for an external source to create an instantaneous magical change within me) for every day of the year–including leap year. I stopped reading them last year, except when I was feeling despair and wanted something positive to focus on for that day. I read them yesterday, and I read them today. While I am not going to make a resolution to read them every day, I aspire to choose in the morning to read and perhaps find inspiration and comfort from the words of real people who have experienced these in their own lives.
      The program readers have experience, strength, and hope sourced from people in program, whose “I” messages are conversational–like a snippet of a meeting share followed by a line or two about something to consider or recovery practice for the day. Those readers are Voices of Recovery (OA), For Today (OA), and In This Moment Daily Meditation Book (CoDA). I got all three at meeting which had literature tables. As an aside, Kindle users can purchase these and other program books in electronic format for Amazon.com. I don’t own a Kindle, but if someone does? They’re available. For Nook readers, the OA books are available for purchase through the Barnes and Nobles NOOK e-book store.
      The other daily readers I have are an assortment of books which address my primary recovery challenges: balance (I’m a black-and-white thinker), living “just for today”, and real forgiveness. Meditations for Living in Balance, by Anne Wilson Schaef, presents a daily subject meant to guide the reader to contemplate and practice mental and spiritual health. It’s more instructional, like talking to a therapist who gives advisement. At the end of each reading, a suggestion on how to practice the day’s subject is written in italics. It’s simple and straightforward common sense, which sometimes leaves me–as a codependent who thinks in all-or-nothing terms–surprised at how I never considered such sensible actions and behaviors. I may not be able to practice it at the time, but reading the entry at least gets it into my mind that I can make this part of my reality. As an addict, I find the supposedly simplest things often insurmountable. If I have a mental brick wall up, that means I’ve got some serious footwork to do. My mind is filled with a lot of erroneous thinking regarding living a sane and serene life.
      The second non-program daily reader is The Promise of a New Day. Written by Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg, this little book is a Hazelden Foundation book. Hazelden is, for me, a real go-to for twelve-step recovery books not published by the programs. When I see Hazelden on the spine or cover, I know I’m getting something I can use. Its language is “we” focused, instructive and inclusive. It’s reminiscent of meeting format, and the fellowship language is followed by affirmations instead of advice. Affirmations are always nice, because it helps break down the self-abuse tapes from childhood and put recovered alternatives in my mind. Having an option to turn toward means I can make a choice between addicted or recovered thinking. Practicing choosing recovery on a daily basis, even through affirmations, changes my mind and can change my outlook in time.
      The third non-program daily reader is probably the most important one for me: Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On by Tian Dayton. Published by Health Communications, Inc., this little daily reader is probably best read aloud because it is a page of affirming recovery followed by a quick affirmation which can be used like a program slogan or CoDA affirmation to center and balance an individual. It isn’t a book 100%-focused daily on the subject of forgiveness. This book guides one toward many factors necessary to reach real forgiveness and that new way of acting on life rather than reacting to it presented in the program promises. It can be terrifying, because some of the entries are very hard to internalize. For me, they go against everything I was taught about myself–especially the fear-based addict need to get (and sometimes hoard) what I personally think I need to survive without relying on anyone else. This book recognizes that hunger for control and tries to ease a healthier option by making it personal. “I” can do this. “I” will do this. “I” allow this to happen. It’s hard to let go and move on, to stop “drinking the poison and expecting the other person to die”. It is insane to wallow in resentment and expect the person we resent to respond with an apology to us after suffering some horrible karmic retribution we wish on them for the affront. It’s my stomach that hurts when I resent; it’s my breath which can’t be caught when I resent. It’s my clenched jaw. It’s my aching neck and back. Forgiving and moving on allows me to recover and thrive and live MY imperfect life instead of choose to telepathically force people to grovel before me.
     
      Hunh.
     
      Some of this stuff I write in order to expose the insanity of a life outside of recovery is pretty scary when I drag it out. I mean, I won’t admit I do that when I’m doing it. Part of addict-mindedness, for me, is being crazy while trying to convince myself that I’m the sane one and everyone else is delusional. However, when I drop an “extreme” in this journal to point out that addiction is not comforting and not safe and definitely not sane, I look at what I wrote and find myself as shocked that I have thought that way or sometimes still do think that way when I’m having a really bad day. I am faced with yet one more reason to do footwork, to attend meetings, to keep working toward practicing recovery every day. It’s hard, because I cannot pretend that my past doesn’t affect my present choices. I would love to wake up and have no history even as I would hate to do it: A clean slate may wipe away all of the bad, but it also wipes away times in my life when I knew real happiness. A clean slate would also mean I was open to experiencing the same mistakes and failures I’ve already learned from without a guarantee the happy times will follow. In fact, a lot of those happy moments required me to be a child or a young woman or even a woman in my 20s or 30s.
     
      I guess the nature of a well-lived life is one filled with lessons of self-awareness. I definitely would not have entered any 12-Step program or sought intervention had I not been faced so often with the question: “Why did I do that?” I have a sense of ethics which aligns with recovery, yet I will throw it aside for a quick-fix addict delusion. In the name of getting a drama fix, I will upend the peaceful times. I will point at them and judge them as stagnation instead of an opportunity for repose and contemplation. Life has enough chaos without me manufacturing more. And every time I stand in the middle and see the devastation, I am left wanting that repose and contemplation I consciously chose to reject in order to get my drama junkie high. When I am in the quiet after the destruction, I am left miserable and powerless.
     
      Being aware of this is definitely something to feel deep gratitude over as this new year begins. I have a year of unknown, of mystery, or possibilities which will be filed on January 1, 2015 as 2014: My Life at 44. The more awareness I have of the choices I can make (To live aligned to my ethics or to live to feed my inner drama junkie), the more I can sit in repose and contemplation and consider fully the actions I can take to live aligned to both reality and my inner child/true self–part of ACA recovery language and practice.
     
      I want the pain to go away, but I have to go through it. Last night, I read a good portion of the ACA book and was frustrated and pained by it. I want to dive into that core and have everything change from the inside out. Recovery appears to be archaology, to remove layers carefully and record and understand what’s there on the previous layer before digging deeper. I just want to stop chasing the drama today. However, because recovery is a practice less than a goal, I would do better to begin at the beginning and return to OA. Yes, I am aware it goes far, far deeper, but the ACA book recommends to get solid recovery in cross-addictions before going after the core. Since OA did reveal those layers one-by-one, I think it’s time to get real and solid OA recovery, especially getting through the twelve steps through it–with an OA sponsor. It may take years, and I could perhaps benefit from sitting in CoDA and ACA meetings and listening to the recovery and letting what I am unwilling to even look at get exposed and written down for future use as I expose layer after layer until I can take a lantern of recovery into the places which are so frightening that I can’t even remember them. I have a lot I’ve repressed from childhood, a lot which I’m sure has a source but which is hidden from sight because it’s so terrifying to face right now.
      One day at a time. It’s one day at a time, and with four years of food abstinence, it’s time to get into the OA rooms and really get through the stepwork to the best of my ability. To get a solid sense of a Higher Power as I understand it, so I can journey to the next level with the OA toolbox as part of my daily life. Will it work? I’m not sure. However, for today? It’s recovery. Focusing on a strongly-worked OA recovery by working the OA program and getting myself a solid foundation of OA recovery before moving to the next layer. CoDA/SLAA can be worked in CoDA because I am a social and emotional anorexic more than a sex addict. Actually, I took the sex addiction test, and I didn’t answer yes to even one self-assessment. That said, I answer yes to most of the SLAA questions; I’m definitely a love addict who both manipulates others using sexuality and beats myself up for that sexuality using food to put a wall between me and that potential for acting out in order to manipulate someone into giving me a sense of personal security. That’s not going to happen, because no external source can instill personal security. I only grow the fear that I can lose more if I manipulate someone into giving me more, and people who hunt manipulators like me tend to be extremely clever and can manipulate me into doing for them using only a handful of promises and a thick slathering of flattery. I am codependent and manipulative toward all people, however, so whoever I think can push back my insecurity gets my obsessive attention–man or woman, potential-sex/life-partner or bestest-friend-fohevah.
     
      Addiction ain’t pretty, and recovery is the hard journey through those ugly places. It’ll be okay, though. I have a choice to practice recovery by acknowledging then accepting that not all choices are all or nothing.

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