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“Healing”

Stretching My Wings

Hello, dear brothers and sisters. Thank you for joining with me this evening as together we continue down the path of recovery. It has been several years since I last wrote in this blog, and that long stretch of time is something I am not proud of though it is also something of which I am no longer ashamed.  I send a warm and loving virtual hug to a couple of my beautiful recovery sisters (you know who you are!) for helping me to see that shame and embarrassment is unnecessary and only of the ego; which is yet another example of spiritual gifts that are of abundance within the fellowship. Regardless I did, in fact, walk around for years feeling ashamed, and so ashamed did I feel that I up and stopped blogging about OA. In a literal span of about 5 seconds I went from feeling fairly confident about the OA program to feeling like I knew nothing – NOTHING – and immediately I had convinced myself that writing a blog might do more harm than good for others. Again, bear with me as I take a moment to recognize my OA brothers and sisters who were unyielding with their support and love during these past 3 years. Thank you for continuing on with me, even after all this time, with your support and love. I would not be abstinent today without each and every one of you who have supported this blog.

Why the shame? Why the embarrassment? The story is long and complicated but after spending much of the past 3 years working the steps and traditions (with a sponsor) on all of the events that transpired I am able to abbreviate without appearing scorned and heartbroken. For the longest time I wanted to post about what was happening but each time I went to blog I began crying. And crying. And crying. The blog never got written, and the simple act of not writing the blog exacerbated my shame and embarrassment. Until today when I was asked, “What happened with the blog?” and the answer I gave made sense and felt good to explain.

There were so many various events that happened, and kept happening…I just felt defeated. I felt absolutely defeated. To begin with, I ask that if you are reading this and we know each other from the rooms, please know that these reflections are infused with love and gratitude for you. Even if we had tension between us at some point, please know that I love you as either my brother or my sister and I will always support you in recovery. Second, those of you that I have had the privilege of meeting through this blog (especially those who privately reached out to me during this time), please know that I have the upmost respect and love for you and every single word is written with my deepest and most sincere gratitude.

Here is the quick break down of what happened:

Summer of 2011: Impactful death

Summer of 2011: I got dumped

Summer of 2011: We got back together

Spring of 2012: We got engaged

Spring of 2012: I got dumped

Spring of 2012: Impactful death

Fall of 2012 – Summer of 2013: Sudden and significant amount of weight gain while abstinent

Fall of 2013: Thyroid condition diagnosis

On the surface there is nothing listed that appears terrible, but believe me when I was in the thick of this forest it was terrible! I felt shame because I “got dumped”, I felt shame because a few people in the rooms questioned my abstinence since I had weight gain, and I felt shame that I felt so undone, just to name a few.

I’d like to reference a quote on page 48 of the OA 12 & 12 that reads, “Nothing in us can be changed until we first accept it.” I have meditated on that quote and on this general concept extensively. Why? Because I want to change. I need to change. More important, if I want to continue recovery then I HAVE TO CHANGE. Like most of us, I sought change with a thirst. And for a long time I thought that I needed to accept that I felt shame in order to change, but that was not getting me anywhere. As it turned out, shame was the result and not the cause.

“Change” is a funny little word in recovery because while change is what we ultimately are doing, it isn’t descriptive enough at times for me. Let’s re-visit and “change” that sentence from page 48 real quick, “Nothing in us can be healed until we first accept it.”

The truth is that my heart hurt, my soul hurt, and not only did it hurt for valid spiritual matters but it also hurt because I had somehow become involved with a sliding scale of harsh judgements toward myself. In that quote the word “changed” elicits a sense of inherent wrongfulness, as if some part of me is horrid or ugly, because nothing is actually wrong with that part of me other than it is naturally grotesque. The word “healed” implies a basic sense of reverence for the part of me that is broken or sick, and gentleness and kindness are required for complete restoration, because it is beautiful even if it is unwell.

So that’s what happened. That’s it!

Brothers and sisters, we are beautiful even when we are hurting. I love all of you very much, and I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting!

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Fun Acronyms!

These are some acronyms that are commonly used in 12 Step programs as endearing mottos about recovery.  I’ve changed them a little to fit OA…so I hope you like them!  A special “thank you” goes out to Anner-Bananer for helping me!

F.I.N.E.

[I’m] Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional

F.E.A.R.

Face Everything And Recover

N.U.T.S.

Not Using Tools/Steps

E.G.O.

Edging God Out

D.E.N.I.A.L.

Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying

H.A.L.T.

[Don’t get too] Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.O.P.E.

Happy Our Program Exists

H.O.W.

Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness

A.  S.P.O.N.S.O.R.

Abstinent Smiling Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery

G.O.D.

Good Orderly Direction

B.I.G.  B.O.O.K.

Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge

S.L.I.P.

Steps Losing Its Priority

A.C.T.I.O.N.

Any Change To Improve Our Nature

P.R.O.G.R.A.M.

Person Relying On God Respecting Abstinent Meals  

A.  S.T.E.P.

Abstinent Solutions To Every Problem

K.I.S.S.

Keep It Simple, Shnookie

Thank you for my recovery!  See you at the next meeting!  I love you all so much!

Bringing Sexy Back

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(This is my uncle, getting ready to fly a little plane. He’s bringing sexy back!)

Woah! Who is bringing sexy back and where can I get some for me?!

I used to think “sexy” was everything except for myself. I saw my friends hanging out, partying, enjoying the night-life and social events, acting all flirty, as if they were having the time of their life…and I smiled and laughed, too, but secretly I was lonely and miserable inside. Worse, I felt ugly and unattractive. My body was no vessel for communication. It was a hindrance. I felt trapped in my body.

The 12 Steps offer me a new perspective on life, especially how I relate to food, people, places, things, memories, regrets, dreams…well, about everything!

Freedom from my emotional bondage gives me the opportunity to live in my own skin without self-loathing. I am finally able to participate in life and enjoy it. I can go to parties and be involved with the people there (instead of worrying what they think about me). No longer am I stuck in self-hate…I get to be present for life. I get to be me.

Today, I don’t have to be a certain weight or size to love myself. I’m not bound to sugary foods in my thoughts and daily behaviors. By living in recovery I am bringing sexy back!

See you at the next meeting! Thank you for my recovery!

The Weight of Meetings

Meetings are a very important part of recovery in OA.  It is a tool that members use to connect with other members.  Usually, I make 2 meetings a week.  The other days I spend at my AA groups.  This week I wasn’t able to make my 2 OA meetings…and I can really feel the difference.

I’ve received some emails from people asking what, exactly, my reasons for being in OA are.  I’ve been asked, “Are you bulimic?  Anorexic?  Are you morbidly obese?  What ARE you?”

Well, lucky for me, the 3rd Tradition of OA states that, “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.”

No, I am not bulimic.  Nor am I anorexic.  Nor am I obese.  Seriously, folks, I got to the rooms of OA because I am an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In 12 Step groups, the 10th Step is a daily personal inventory.  By doing my personal inventory in AA, I realized that I was exhibiting some abnormal and unhealthy behaviors revolving around sugary foods.  So, I stopped doing all the diets I was trying and I went to OA.

In the rooms of OA I learned that my obsession to try different diets to lose about 20 pounds wasn’t normal.  It was compulsive behavior.  I realized that once I ate sugary food, I always went back, even if I was trying to avoid eating more of it.

Therefore, I went to OA.  Since then I have been abstinent from those sugary foods.  For the record, my abstinence is truly a gift from my Higher Power, the Fellowship, and the rooms of OA.

So, to answer the question of weight loss:  Yes!  I have lost weight!  But, weight is only a symptom of wellness or sickness.  My weight, though lower, is not what OA suggests I focus on.  OA suggests that I look at whether or not I am in right relations with my Higher Power.  Do I love me?  Yes.

Thank you, OA, for helping me learn how to love myself!  See you at the next meeting!     

Loving Myself

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(I found this cool picture here.)

“I wish I had a coat of silk the color of the sky.
I wish I had a lady fair, and then a butterfly.
I wish I had a house of stone that looked down on the sea.
But most of all I wish that I was someone else but me.”
– Wishing Song, performed by Ralph the Dog on his album Ol’ Brown Ears is Back!

At one point in my life I longed for things that I didn’t have, both material and spiritual. Regardless of how fortunate I actually was, I wasn’t happy with my life. I had a nice car, but I wanted a nicer one. I had a beautiful home, but I wanted a bigger and better one. I had a good paying job, but I always looked at other people who had creative and interesting jobs and I found myself envious. I even remember sitting in church and in the middle of prayer I would look around at everyone and wonder who was happy and who was not. I would see those people who looked serene and wish that I had a relationship with God like that. But, I was pretty sure that God just wasn’t that interested in me. For a long time I thought I was the only person in the world that felt that way. How wonderful to learn that I am not alone and that my Higher Power loves me!

The promises of the OA program are read at the end of each meeting to remind me of what is possible if I just put forth a little bit of willingness to connect with the group. “I put my hand in yours and together we can do what we could never do alone. No longer is there a sense of hopelessness. No longer must we depend upon our own unsteady willpower. We are all together now, reaching out for power and strength greater than ours. And as we join together, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.” – The OA Promise

OA gives me the freedom to be myself and to love myself, no matter what other people have or don’t have. I don’t wish I were someone else today! This is a gift from the OA program. Thank you, my dear fellow compulsive eaters, who have given me recovery when I thought I was alone.

Keep coming back! It works if you work it, so work it ’cause you’re worth it! See you at the next meeting!

I Love My Sponsor!

“In this Fellowship we begin to learn right relations with people who understand us; we don’t have to be alone anymore.” – AA 12 & 12 Pg 116-117

Those in our Fellowship who work with a sponsor know exactly what I mean when I say, “I love my sponsor!”  …and no, she hasn’t slipped me $20 to write that.

This evening I spent about two hours with my sponsor.  We laughed, cringed, drank coffee, and talked about really important and interesting stuff…ME!  Ha!

Yes, folks, it is true that my sponsor will sit across from me, all peaceful and patient, listening to my insanity as I go on and on about myself.  She nods, smiles, sips her coffee, and then says something really brilliant and sane that I could never think of, like, “That belongs to God.”  Or, “Nobody gets to be the rooster in OA because we are all equal.”  Or, “Try praying for him for two weeks and see if that helps you with your resentment.”  And most importantly, “I did that, too.”

Working with another food addict brings me to a spiritual place that I hadn’t ever ventured while outside of the rooms of OA.  During the time I was stuck in my disease I felt alone.  I was certain nobody would or could understand.  Go figure how surprised I became when I first began working with my sponsor and she identified with me!

My sponsor has an excellent grasp of the OA program.  She lives, breathes, and walks the principles and spirituality of OA.  If I honestly tell her what is going on inside of me, she can relate and share with me her experience, strength, and hope.  Instead of my one (and usually warped) perception of my drama, I can hear a suggestion for a solution that will actually work.

Are you new to OA?  Sponsorship is a great tool to use.  Look for someone who has a recovery program that you like and ask them to help you!  See you at the next meeting! 

On Writing

We have 9 Tools available to use for OA and one of them is writing.  Why is this such an important tool and when is best for me to use it?

Writing (and not just writing inventories) is a great way to better understand stressful situations and events that occur in our life.  Through the process of writing about topics like situations, feelings, or possible outcomes to life drama, we are better able to resolve inside of ourselves what is happening and why it affects us.

I write about good things, bad things, fun things, and even those things that are buried deep inside of me that I don’t ever want to disclose.  By putting on paper my feelings/actions I begin a process of healing and self-learning that I wouldn’t if I buried them deep inside of me.

In my past, compulsive actions with food or exercise have ruled my emotions.  OA gives me the choice to try a different approach to dealing with life on life’s terms.  I haven’t ever found a food to cure my woes long term.  It is only through engaging in the steps of OA and using the tools offered to me that I am able to find lasting serenity.

Have a wonderful New Year and I look forward to seeing all of you, my brothers and sisters in OA, in 2012.  Keep coming back!      

Holy Partially Hydrogenated Corn Syrup, Batman!

Few but the members of OA know the depths of insanity that our thoughts can travel, especially when it comes to justifying one little morsel of our favorite trigger foods.  Our thoughts are often something like, “Well, I’ll only have one…and one won’t hurt me…I’ve eaten only one before…and I’ve been so good, not having any for so long…it’s not a big deal…I can start over tomorrow…no one will know…I can even workout for longer at the gym to make up for it…besides, it’s normal for someone to treat themselves…today has been so great/bad that I deserve it…jeez, it does look good…(sniff, sniff)hmmm, and it smells really good…what’s the harm in having just one…little…smidge…of a corner…of one…”

Talk to an OA and they will likely tell you what they told me, saying, “I had times when I could, literally, eat just one.  However, the times that I did that were few and far between.  I always, always intended to eat a normal amount of [insert preferred white flour or sugar based food here] but, as OA helped me understand, something inside of me clicked on – like a switch – and I was done.  I ate more than I intended to eat and what followed that event was guilt and remorse.  The cycle of eating would begin and I’d find myself feeling defeat, shock, and terror.”

For many OA members, these thoughts don’t totally just up and disappear while in recovery.  Many members report that they occasionally have temping thoughts over trigger foods (the foods they abstain from eating) even after a lengthy amount of continuous abstinence and working the OA program as suggested.  We, as a fellowship, are humbled and grateful to have 9 Tools at our disposal to assist us when these obsessive food-thoughts start driving us crazy!  And what is this particular tool?  The telephone!

At the onset of my insane thinking of justifying to myself the ingesting of foods that have a history of trouble for me, I pick up the phone and call someone in my network.  Talking to another person in recovery is an almost 100% guarantee that I will not eat the food that I am considering eating.  Why is this?  Because when I reach out to someone who is also in recovery I am telling on myself.  I am saying to my support group, “Please help me.”  And help is always there.

If I call my sponsor and say, “I’m thinking about eating one of my trigger foods,” then she can talk me through that bite.  The OA program leaves it up to me in the end.  Am I going to binge or am I going to abstain?  Am I going to try and be in control or am I going to give it to God?  Am I going to eat something to have a mood altering experience from the yummy taste or am I going to look at whatever is really going on with me?  Am I going to work the OA program or is my disease going to work me?

 

Thank you all for my recovery!  See you at the next meeting and just keep coming back! 

Meetings

If you follow my blog at Rainbow Recovery Club then you have already seen this picture of my two most precious angels…isn’t it awesome?! Fellowship is important to many creatures, not just OA members. On to the post…

Sometimes newcomers ask me, “How many meetings a week should I attend?”

I reply, “I try to attend as many meetings a week that I used to obsess over food, dieting, exercise, or my weight. Which days of the week were you active in your disease?”

This is the moment when jaws hit the floor and eyes bulge from heads. Often what is exclaimed by the newcomer is, “But, that’s EVERYDAY!”

Meetings are one of the 9 Tools that OA suggests as a way to remain abstinent. Abstinence is of top importance to me today because I know that once I ingest that sugary substance I will crave more and more and more. I won’t be able to stop. It is proven that quality long-term recovery is found inside the rooms of OA. Therefore, one of the best ways to ensure that I am going to be living my recovery is to attend the meetings.

I believe the saying, “Meeting-makers make it.” I believe this because people who attend meetings get to hear the message of hope that OA promises. They get to see the OA Promise work through people – our brothers and sisters who once suffered alongside the pained and hurting newcomer.

Every time I attend an OA meeting I am returning home. They all ‘get’ me. They all know who I am, what my disease feels and looks like, and they all care about me. It is the one place I am safe, for each person in that room only wants me to succeed in my recovery.

Thank you for my recovery! I love all of you – my brothers and sisters! Keep coming back! It works!

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