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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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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…)

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!

All Good

We, at Promise of Recovery, have been jam packed with life over the past several weeks.  We apologize for the delay…

And that is going to be the topic of my post today!  My life ROCKS!!!  I’m so grateful for the OA program.  Well, I guess I’m grateful for the gift of all 12 Step programs.  It is only through recovery that I have found myself back in college (GO USF BULLS!!), hanging out with a wonderful set of friends (I ❤ Tampa OA!), love is knocking on my door, and Petunya’s asthma is finally getting under control.  But, more important, I feel a connection with my Higher Power that is nearly indescribable.  And I love that.

Before I began working a 12 Step program I felt lost and unlovable.  No longer is that the case!  I have a purpose in life today.

And real quick, before I wrap this up, if you ever think that the promises of recovery can’t come true for you, please be advised that everyone is ENTITLED to all of the promises…so long as we remain in recovery and are willing.

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

Reflection

At the close of this wonderful Mother’s Day, I sit in contemplation of my day and its events.  This is the time of my day when I work my 10th Step, which suggests

Step 10:  “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

Where and when have I been selfish?  Did I lie to anyone?  Did I intentionally people-please, or say something to cover-up my real feelings?  Have I been present and willing to experience closeness with my family and friends?  Have I sought the place where I am able to be of use to my fellows?  Did I thank my Higher Power for my abstinence today?  Am I grateful?

Of course, on a special day like Mother’s Day, I ask myself even more direct questions:     How are my living amends to my mother going?  Do I listen to her?  Do my actions show her that I love her?  Am I emotionally available for and to her?  Have I thought of her needs and wants today, instead of just my own?

The miracle of recovery is that I can answer those questions in a way that I was unable to for many years prior to working the 12 Steps.  My relationship with my mother, which was once rocky and unstable, is now filled with love, honor, and acceptance.  The co-dependent rope has been broken.  We are both free to be ourselves and to accept each other – the good and the bad.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!   The promises of recovery are real and true.  See you at the next meeting!

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!

A Bunch ‘A Pucky

Sometimes newcomers exclaim, “God?!  What does that S.O.B have to do with my compulsive eating?!”  This freak-out moment, which almost all of us have had, occurs only when the first two steps have not been completed by the upset new OA member.  And I put this out there because Step 3 is actually really simple once we have taken 1 and 2.

Once we are on Step 3 a couple things should have happened.  The first is that we have fully realized that we have an abnormal reaction to food that will never leave us and we have stopped trying to fight that reality.  The second is that we realize that fighting our compulsive food behaviors is completely nuts-o and that only something greater than ourselves (and greater than food) can bring us peace.  If these two things have occurred within the soul of a food addict, then Step 3 is a very simple task.

The OA 12&12 keeps it real for us by saying, “Note that we have said the step is simple; we have not said it is easy.” –OA 12&12 p. 19

I love that our literature keeps it real and totally on the up-and-up.  Step 3 is very simple, yet it isn’t easy.  Isn’t that the truth!  Suddenly, I am living on a spiritual basis…and no longer trying to manipulate and control things so that I get my way.  Step 3 asks something of me…something that for some reason is very difficult to do…and that is to be nice to other people, be honest, and love others.

Yes!!  It is that easy to work Step 3!  My first sponsor, Ms. Angel, said it best, “Lauren L, the way to work Step 3 is to stop acting like an a**hole.”

So, what does God have to do with my compulsive eating?

“Once we compulsive overeaters truly take the third step, we cannot fail to recover.”  OA 12&12 p.27

Thank you for my recovery!  I love all of you!!  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!  

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