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A Flower Simply Blossoms

A flower simply blossoms, never once concerned with its appearance.

A flower simply blossoms, not once concerned with its appearance.  Who am I to question mine?

My program has changed a lot over the years, and that change is something that I don’t discuss much.  Mainly because I receive such varying responses when I do share the truth about how my program has evolved over the years and no longer do I seek approval from fellow OA members regarding my program.  In the beginning I kept my food plan very strict, and extremely ridged.  I ate food that was weighed and measured at every meal with absolutely nothing in between.  I kept to a specific portion of specific foods and the truth was that….I loved it!  I did!  It was great!  I felt great and I had what I considered an easy food plan in OA.  But then, about 2 and ½ years into my OA program, I became very ill.  And I was forced to change my food plan.  This was very scary for me because I felt so safe in eating my food plan exactly how I was eating it.  Boom…then came hospitalization, major surgery, and I was pushed out my comfort zone and into the OA program I have now.

One of the saddest things about my life (and when  (more…)

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Reflection on the Reflection

 

Weigh and measure the fishes, too!

This little guy is not on my food plan.

Good morning, brothers and sisters in recovery!  Shame on ME for not having blogged in such a long time.  Thank you for continuing to support my recovery blog.  All of your emails and especially Murphy giving me that little push has gotten me back here typing this morning.  Thank you!

I’ll do most of the “catch-up” part later and fill you in on all the mysteries and gloriousness (good and bad) that stem from program promises coming true in my life on another blog.  Now let’s take a moment to honor those of us who have returned to their HP, our shared disease having taken them from us. 

The light in them is neither dimmed nor extinguished, for they shine brighter today than ever when captured behind our fleshy masks.

Today’s Voices of Recovery was AWESOME!  Has anyone else read it yet?  I know Murphy did (who gets up at 6am EVERY morning???)!!  “Denial of the truth leads to destruction” from pg 6 in the OA 12&12 is a GREAT reality check for me to read in the morning.  Right after reading the reflections I looked up this sentence in the 12&12 and the next line reads, “Only an honest admission to ourselves of the reality of our condition can save us from our destructive eating.”

Most newcomers don’t realize that Step 1 sets us up for the “searching and fearless moral inventory” found in Step 4, the “asked Him to remove all our shortcomings” in Step 7, and the “continued to take personal inventory” found in Step 10.  These four steps are known as the “honesty” steps.  If we take the HOW (honesty, openmindedness, willingness) and assign them to the Steps – literally in the HOW order – then what you see is something like…

Step 1 – Honesty

Step 2 – Openmindedness

Step 3 – Willingness

Step 4 – Honesty

Step 5 – Openmindedness

Step 6 – Willingness

Step 7 – Honesty

…and so on until 12!       

If I am to be translucent and work the “To Thine Own Self Be True” part of recovery, I have to live in my Truth as best I can.  Just because I have a little bit or a lot of abstinent time under my belt does not mean that I am cured or better than admitting my struggles to my fellows in OA. 

Thank you all for my continued abstinence.  I’m grateful to be writing this blog today and I love all of you – my brothers and sister in recovery.  See you at the next meeting!

 

Guest Post

I asked a recovery sister of mine, Megan (pronounced Meegan) H., to write a guest post for Promise of Recovery.  I am honored and humbled by the magnificent words that came forth from her pen.  Thank you, Megan H., for writing a wonderful guest post to share with our recovery family.  You are very special to the Tampa OA community and we love you very much.

Am I recovering?

Perfectionism is a demon that I only recently thought I may want to dispose of.  In so many ways, it has served me well—pushing me ahead in many things I’ve tried which lead to external praise yet internal conflict, even hatred.  A year ago I started this program by enrolling in a treatment center and then realizing what I’d done once I got there!  No more hot French bread??  Ever??  Seriously??!!  Well, actually, no more just for today.  See…I’ve got the lingo.  But I also have the fear.  Mostly the fear that I’m not good enough.  That because I have not had 365 days of perfect abstinence, I have failed.  People outside this program may roll their eyes at this idea because I’ve truly lost a lot of weight.  They think, fine, now have a slice of pizza.  You’ve earned it.

In the meantime, I’m working on steps 10-12 every night with my sponsor where I’m admitting things like purchasing and eating an entire bag of mozzarella cheese sticks.  How compulsive is that?  Or binging on raisins because they are the only sweet thing I can find and I’m dying for some sugar?  To me, this is really, really shameful.  Bad, embarrassing, offensive.  I’m a failure in my own mind. 

But thank God for sponsors!  Mine is an amazing example of recovery and there she is to redirect me to the solution in the Big Book along with loving and accepting the wild food beast I am.  She points out all that  has changed by being in this program.  Of course, the major weight loss, but along with that, a new freedom.  More health, confidence, less medication, more friends and support, and a new spiritual connection that I’ve clogged up in the past.  These things are here for me!  When I slip and slide, it does not automatically negate the hours of service, reading, praying, meditating, meetings and sharing that I’ve done.  I remind myself of this as I learn to love and accept who I am right now.  “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.”   

-Megan H.

Thanks again, Megan H., for sharing your experience, strength, and hope with Promise of Recovery!  See you at the next meeting!

Beautiful Paradoxes

If you can’t read the text, this busted car says, “Life is beautiful.” 

The longer I am abstinent, attending OA meetings, and work my steps…the more I realize that I will never ‘graduate’ from 12 Step programs.  This is one of the many paradoxes uncovered in recovery.  Some of the other paradoxes are

  • I must pass along the message of recovery to keep the message of recovery.
  • By abstaining from certain foods and eating behaviors I free myself from the bondage of food.
  • Although a feeling, serenity is not birthed from my emotions but from my actions.
  • Surrendering will win the war.

That last one used to drive me up the wall!  For such a long time I battled with diets, food, working out, body image, restricting, you name it and I have probably tried it.  Luckily, I learned at my first meeting that I wasn’t the only person who had such terribly perplexing emotional turmoil when it came to fighting the good fight.  Every single person in that meeting knew exactly what I was talking about when I described my compulsive behavior, emotional discontentment, and spiritual emptiness.

 I love my meetings…and I love all my sisters and brothers who make OA the wonderful family that it is!  Thank you for my recovery!  See you at the next meeting!

 (And a quick shout-out to Murphy for turning 33 today AND being sober and abstinent!  You are a miracle!)

A New Light

“[Newcomers] need to understand that food is not our problem – the compulsive behavior is.”  – Abstinence p. 27

I remember my first time in OA, hearing that my compulsive behavior/eating was my problem.  I wanted to blame particular foods, spices, sauces…well, basically anything edible.  Somewhere inside of me, I wanted someone to tell me to remove a particular food or ingredient and then I would be forever cured!

That was not the case.  It was far from the truth.  I grieved the knowledge that I ate for one simple reason:  COMPULSIVE EATING WAS MY DRUG.  This concept does not negate the other truth that, for many compulsive eaters, particular foods causes an allergic reaction that propels them to overeat.  In fact, it completely supports the notion that compulsive eaters have a disease that is manifested within the body of a compulsive eater.

The A.A. Big Book describes “the phenomenon of craving” in the chapter The Doctor’s Opinion as, “the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity.”

I would like to take a moment to expound on this idea because something happened to me last Wednesday that scared me.  I met up with some friends in OA for dinner.  I drank two glasses of diet soda…only to find out later that the restaurant had accidently used regular soda instead of diet.

At first I didn’t care.  It really wasn’t a big deal…I got some diet soda and went about my business.  My friends and I ate dinner and continued on being merry and serene.  But then…about fifteen minutes later…I felt a sugar high come over me.  It felt kinda good and I began to fret.  Did this mean I was going to binge?  Had I accidently lost my abstinence?  Was I bound to an evening of massive sugar consumption?  Was all hope lost for me?  I sat in my chair and worried that my stint in OA was over…for good…and I was destined for relapse…I saw my tombstone read, “An OA at heart, though from sugar she never did part.”

OH SH*T!

Hey – I never said I wasn’t dramatic!

Anyway, I happen to be sitting directly across from my step sponsor and my food sponsor.  I told them how I was feeling.  Soon enough my body felt alright…it was my mind that kept obsessing.

This taught me a very valuable lesson in my recovery.  IT REALLY ISN’T EVER ABOUT THE FOOD.  I know for a fact that for me sugar is a trigger to my compulsive eating behavior.  However, ingesting sugar or not ingesting sugar is NOT the end-all-be-all of my recovery.   Life happens and, if I continue to live free from the bondage of food, life will continue to happen and something as scary as accidently drinking a bunch of sugar in soda might happen again.  That’s living life on life’s terms.  And that is okay today.  It’s not about the food…it’s about my willingness to surrender, trust God, and clean house (and I don’t mean my apartment).

I’m still abstinent, folks!  I did not go home and eat a bunch of sugar!  Thank you for my recovery!  I love all of you so much.  See you at the next meeting!

Dis-Ease

Woah!  Disease…Dis-ease…

I did not come up with that, however, it is awesome and so I thought I would write a little about dis-ease.

When I first came into recovery I was filled with dis-ease.  I felt nervous, fearful, and angry.  If I wasn’t busy crying, I was screaming and yelling and carrying on.  A part of me had awoken; and a part of me had died.  There is no internal pain known to mankind as that of the [insert mood-altering substance here] addict who is coming off the sauce…and I ain’t talkin’ alfredo sauce…although for some us food addicts…it could very well be that, too…

We all come in hurting.  If we didn’t hurt so badly then we wouldn’t seek recovery.  The OA 12&12 really drives it home in the quote

“We ate to sate the fears, the anxieties, the angers, the disappointments.  We ate to escape the pressures of our problems or the boredom of everyday life.” –OA 12&12 p. 5

Okay, I’m taking a quick second to mention that the next sentence is just unbelievably hardcore.  It reads

“We procrastinated, we hid, and we ate.”  -OA 12&12 p. 5

This translates to, “We were dis-eased in our disease.”

The second part of Step 1 is all about my dis-ease.  For those of us who are unsure of what I mean by the second part of Step 1, I am referring to “that our lives had become unmanageable”.  Unmanageability is an open word that incorporates all the feelings of dis-ease that we have when we are newcomers.

The reality is that once the food is removed all the emotions are left there…which is why it’s important to go to meetings, get a sponsor, and works the steps.  The promises are real and they come true every day for people.  If you are struggling with compulsive eating, just keep coming back.  The promises can come true for you, too.

I love me some Tampa OA!  Come check out the new ‘Monday Keep Comin’ Back’ @ 6:30 PM over at Rainbow Recovery Club!

“Must”

“Clearly, if we are to live free of the bondage of compulsive eating we must abstain from all foods and eating behaviors which cause us problems.”  OA 12&12 p.2-3

It’s easy for me to declare that I am powerless over some things…like XM playing “Moon River” about three times this last hour – hey!  I am not the DJ!  I’m also able to quickly accept my powerlessness over stubbing my toe on my treadmill – hey!  Life happens!  And also if one of my preciouses has a hairball and relieves it on my carpet – hey!  That’s what kitties do!  So, I’m powerless and that is that, right?

Kinda…because I can always change the channel, pay more attention to where I’m walking, and give my cats whatever that fur-ball juice is that helps them to excrete hair.  And what that means is that I’m powerless over everything except that which lands on my side of the street.

This concept is also true regarding my powerlessness over food.  Abstention is of utmost importance because without it I have no foundation for recovery.  The above quote from the OA 12&12 is talking about my side of the street when it comes to compulsive eating.  It declares (and I mean that it STATES AS FACT) that to get peace I MUST stop the chaos.

BLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH to that!  (Just kidding, sponsor Erin!)

Here is the real deal…and I’m not making any of this up.  It comes right from our literature that was written by people who have tried everything to not be compulsive about food.  “As long as we refuse to recognize that we have this debilitating and ultimately fatal disease, we are not motivated to get the daily treatment for it which brings about our recovery.” –OA 12&12 p. 6

Yikes!  But, what’s the “daily treatment”?

12 step recovery!  Yay!

Thank you for reading my blog!  I love all of you!  Shout-out to Tampa Bay OA!  See you at the next meeting!

Eating Dreams

Dreaming of Whiskas and Catnip...

Sometimes when Petunya dreams she twitches her sweet little toes.  Other times she clinches up her beautiful legs, as if she is chasing something.  Often she makes mumbled cat sounds, cracking open her lips and popping her voice box, communicating something through her subconscious.

Such a natural state to reside!  REM, where the dream is reality and the body literally functions as if awake.  Everything is the same, for our breathing and our heart-rate is consistent with that of when we are wide awake…yet we are not, and we snooze in a world parallel to reality.  Sounds fun, huh?

Sure!  But not when I wake up in a cold sweat, wondering if I was just where I swore I was…see, I remember last night’s dream all started because I was walking through the International Mall.  I suddenly stopped at the candy store in the International Mall and debated for a while whether or not I was a compulsive eater.  I thought, “Am I really addicted to food?  I mean, I’ve gone a little while now without eating sugar products, like candy and dessert foods, so I should be good, right?  If I were really addicted then I wouldn’t have made it abstinent for any length of time, right?  But then, I am obsessing over eating candy or not eating candy right now…oh, Jesus!  Maybe I am addicted to sugar!  If so, what’s the point in fighting it, anyway?  Hmm…”

And then suddenly I was at the register, buying a bag of those blue-and-white-shark-gummies.  I recall feeling anxious and fretful, yet determined, and I specifically remember thinking that because I never liked eating blue-and-white-shark-gummies, why would I not consider them an abstinent food?  I mean, hey – I abstained from eating them because I didn’t ever like them so they don’t count in my non-abstinent foods, right?  I took a deep breath and decided that surely they didn’t count.  If I never binged on a specific food because I didn’t like the taste then even if it was candy it didn’t count, right?  The clerk interrupted my rationalization by telling me the cost – something like $6.29 – and I looked up and there before me was my OA pal, Anner-Bananer!

“OMG,” I muttered, “Ann, it’s not what you think.”  I still handed her my card, though, and she smiled as she swiped it.  Oddly, she didn’t seem to notice I was buying candy!  Then she asked, “Will you be at the meeting Wednesday night?”  I think I said yes, but I can’t remember what happened with Ann after that.

My memory rekindles later as I am again walking through the mall.  I saw the Coach store and thought, “Oh, I certainly should go in!  I have a Coach bag, after all.”  And so I went in, with my bag of gummies, and I looked at bags and chewed and, while relishing the flavor, pondered honesty and abstinence.  I kept thinking about the gummies, and how they tasted great.  I constantly was worried about running out of them, and if they violated my abstinence, and why mentioning it to my OA sponsor was a probably bad idea.  I thought, “She’s busy anyway, right?  Yeah, it’s not a big deal.”

And then, right as I decided that I would NOT tell my OA sponsor, I looked up AND THERE SHE STOOD!  She said, “Hey, Lauren!”  Guilt and shame and terror engulfed me.  I felt such despair.  How could I have ever convinced myself that blue-and-white-shark-gummies don’t violate my abstinence?  It’s candy!  It’s all sugar!  My disease had won – I was lost and alone and destroyed.  I fell before my sponsor, handed her the bag of gummies, and begged her not to fire me.

My sponsor was so kind and loving to me in my dream.  Truthfully, she is always like that.  My sponsor loves me.  And not just in my dreams, but also in real life.  So, I’m not quite sure why I was so convinced that she would reject me in my dream.  Anyway, for some reason I feared she would cast me aside and hate my guts.  But, she didn’t.  She hugged me and told me that she loved me and asked me if I was ready to surrender.

And this was the moment when I woke up.  I jolted upright and thought, “Am I ready to surrender?”

Eating dreams are normal.  Scary, but normal.  Some say they keep us on our toes and in-check with our program.

But for the grace of God I am not at the International Mall today, debating gummies and abstinence.

Thank you, my brothers and sisters in recovery, for passing the message to me!  I love you all so much!  

Recovery Is Not A Diet

Today is a great day to reflect on the truth that no matter how much abstinent time I have acquired in OA, no matter how many steps I’ve worked, friends I’ve made, or weight I’ve lost (or, respectfully, gained), I will always have the compulsion to act out in my food allergy. Most days this concept baffles me. While my lingering compulsion is abstract and easily deniable, some things smack my face right back into reality. For example…

I couldn’t even believe my email ‘inbox’ this morning! It was the most perfect reminder that my life outside the rooms of OA is unmanageable and…well, crazy. It’s totally and perfectly nuts. Here is the list of emails in my inbox as of 1/9/12:

  • BIGGEST LOSER: Ashley lost 183 lbs! The next Biggest…
  • WeightWatchers.com: PointsPlus® 2012 is here! Come back…
  • Atkins Special Savings: Dear Lauren L, Where have you been l…
  • No-Diet Weight Loss: Loss 30+ pounds with no diet and no e…
  • The Dr. Oz Diet Plan: This week you can re-join for FREE and…
  • The ACAI BERRY Diet Works: An amazing little fruit that only grows…
  • JennyCraig.com: Mariah Carey lost weight with Jenny C…

I mumbled, “Wow.” That was all the response that I had for having an inbox filled with those emails. It made me sick to look at them. I felt a sensation that I hadn’t experienced in quite a long time. It was a blend of defeat, bitterness, loneliness, and desperation. Worse, those were all the feelings I often experienced when cycling through diet after diet, sometimes being successful and other times flunking right from the start. Regardless, the weight always seemed to come back and, no matter how skinny I got, I never once liked my body. I never could figure out why I was plagued by horrible nightmares of yo-yo diets and negative feelings – and I even hated myself for hating myself.

I started deleting the emails like a clicking maniac. One, after another, after another…click click click. And then, I saw one other email, right below all the diet advertisements that (for the record) I had voluntarily signed up to receive before I started working the OA program. And that email was from a woman who attended a meeting with me just last week. Hope and awe entered me and with a swiftly beating heart I opened that email. It read:

Lauren,

Hey, girl! How are you? Thanks for what you said at the meeting. I agree that my spiritual fitness is totally everything. It trips me out, like, when I think about all the dieting stuff I ever tried. I feel so free today. How cool is it that recovery is not a diet and yet, thanks to the program, I’m successful at losing weight and I’m happy? Haha! I love OA. Let’s get coffee soon.

Love,

[Anonymous]

Thank you, my brothers and sisters in OA! You keep me abstinent and teach me how to trust my Higher Power. I love you all so much! The promises of OA are true and real! Thank you for my recovery!!

A Fork in the Road

Too bad life can’t be as forward as literally seeing ‘a fork in the road’.  If that were the case, I probably would have ceased fighting my food allergy a long, long time ago.  Unfortunately, most of the times I could have taken a different path I wasn’t even aware that another option was available to me.  I was so absolutely stuck in my compulsive eating that it had become normal for me.  Thankfully, I’m not alone.  My story is basically the same as everyone else’s story.  Hence the fellowship that is OA.

Although we might have varying symptoms, every person in OA has the exact same disease.  Better yet, we have a common solution to our shared problem of compulsive eating.  Since becoming abstinent and working the steps with a sponsor, I have come to learn that each day I am offered a choice of which path to walk.  Will I enter into my disease of compulsive eating and surrender to a day filled with insanity of my food addiction or will I surrender my will and life to the care of God and live in abstinence?

The program focuses on progress, not perfection.  OA does not lift me into sainthood and let me fall straight into hell.  All I need is a wee bit of willingness to live the program to the best of my ability, and only for today.  If I do, indeed, begin my mornings how the OA program suggests, then I begin the day walking the path of recovery.  Once on this path, I find it much more difficult to jump onto the path of self-destruction.

The OA program is a fork in the road.  It is a program that is designed for recovery of mind, body, and spirit, based on a daily reprieve from compulsive eating, and all that is asked of me is to suit up, show up, and give up.  This method is gentler than I ever thought it would be.

“[OA is the] easier, softer way.” –AA Big Book Pg 58   

Today I asked my Higher Power to remove my obsession over food and to relieve me of my compulsive eating.  It worked for me and it can work for you, too.

Thanks for reading my blog!  See you at the next meeting! 

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