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We Are All Made of Stardust

And yet my worries are so important...

And yet my worries are so important…

The picture above is from NASA and you can read about it here if you would like.

It is a picture of the galaxy Messier 63, though it is also affectionately called the Sunflower Galaxy. NASA took this photo just a few weeks ago.

In other news I am literally writing this at 4AM Eastern and I am just completely unable to sleep. I keep thinking about how irritated I became today – angry, really. I became upset over (more…)

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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!

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!

 

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!)

My Cankles

This post is going to open with a very important quote from our literature because if not I’ll never write it…

“Honesty is a key factor in our recovery from compulsive eating, and so we will want to develop this trait.” OA 12&12 p. 51

With that being said…

I have cankles.

Yes, my lovey friends out there in blog-land, I have natural-born cankles.  I’ve always had cankles and I will always have them.  It does not matter how skinny I get…my cankles are a part of my body that will never go away.  They were a genetic gift from one side of my family and they did not come with a return receipt.  Oye vey!!

I used to be ashamed of my cankles.  I hated everything about them!  Sometimes I would squeeze them and try to make them smaller.  Other times I would beg God to let me wake up cankle-free.  I only wore pants – never shorts – for fear that my cankles would be exposed.  I even listed my cankles as one of my resentments on my 4th Step!

Recovery has taught me that my cankles are not my character defect, rather my self-loathing of my cankles is my real character defect.    The OA 12&12 says it best, “In fact, poor self-image keeps us in bondage to self and thus makes it impossible for us to find true humility.” –OA 12&12 p. 59

So…I have cankles.  So what?  Recovery teaches me that cankles or no cankles, I am a beautiful person where it counts…inside.  And whether or not I have cankles isn’t any of my business until I have something nice to say about them.  I have to give my obsession for not having a perfect body to God.  If I don’t, I could relapse.  And it’s just not worth it.

So…I have cankles.

And that’s okay today.

Phew!  Thank you for my recovery!  I love all of you!  See you at the next meeting!

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!

A Skewed Self-Image

Step 7:  “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

In the OA Workbook (which is suggested to be used while working the OA Steps along with a sponsor) several questions are presented in Step 7.   Two are

1)      What is my self-image?

2)      How does my self-image keep me from finding true humility?

OH-SWEET-GOD-LORD-JESUS-HOLY-HECK-WTF-YOU-HAVE-TO-BE-KIDDING-THAT-I-HAVE-TO-ANSWER-THIS-RIGHT?!?  Ugh.

…they say that the people who come into the rooms of OA are either homicidal or suicidal.  They say that the people who find themselves in OA have usually tried every single option to control the food by way of decades of yo-yo dieting, muscle-crushing exercise, binging and purging, restricting, and self-made promise after promise that “this time it will be different”.  Thus, by the time people walk into the rooms of OA they are literally in emotional shreds.  And I can attest to that!

When I first went to OA I did not want to be there.  I had just left a 5 month stretch of Weight Watchers and had begun Atkins.  WW PointsPlus program was what I had tried.  Counting was a nightmare and I constantly picked sugary foods to count my points with.  Worse, because I couldn’t leave sugary stuff alone, I had begun to really hate myself.  Atkins – I hadn’t given Atkins enough time to declare if it works or not but, by day 4, I was not feeling right and I knew that I was going to crack and eat something other than protein very shortly.  I shared with the OA group what I was doing and how confused and hopeless I felt.  “When I look in the mirror,” I said, “I cringe and I just hate myself.”

Everyone just nodded, and several suggested to me, “Keep coming back.”  After the meeting I spoke with one of the women and she advised that what I felt was normal for a newcomer.  She said, “As compulsive eaters, we have a very warped perception of our bodies.  I’m free from self-loathing today and you can be free, too.”

See, I don’t know about you, but my problem goes way beyond a little dieting.  I have to get into RECOVERY to feel (and see) results.  Losing some weight (for me) is not enough because  I have a completely warped sense of reality.  Food is but a symptom of my real problem and my real problem is ME.  The 12 Steps focus on my recovering and, when closely examined, we see that the word ‘food’ is only used one time – in the first step – and the rest is focused on my emotional and spiritual recovery.

Steps 6 & 7 are the meat and potatoes of recovery.  “If you think you are a compulsive overeater, give yourself a chance for recovery by trying the OA program. Our way of life, based on these twelve steps and twelve traditions, has brought us physical, emotional, and spiritual healing that we don’t hesitate to call miraculous.  What works for us will work for you, too.”  -OA 12 &12, Intro

See you at the next meeting and if nobody has told you today that you are loved…then hear this, “YOU ARE LOVED!”