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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…)

“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!

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!)

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!

Living Amends

“Only by permanently changing our harmful attitudes and actions can we make it up to ourselves and our loved ones.”  OA 12 & 12 p. 79

Step Nine begins my path of reconstruction; a path that begins a long time before the literal act of making a direct amends to those I have harmed even occurs.  The AA Big Book blatantly states that Step 9 is reconstruction, saying, “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead.”  It goes on to state, “We must take the lead.”

The word used – reconstruction – is of vital importance to note when discussing the 9th Step.  While we are in our active disease of compulsive eating we ‘construct’ a particular frame of a life.  But this frame is structurally damaged.  It is filled with mishaps, resentment, guilt, and an overall sense of self-loathing.  This disease is not limited to only the one who suffers from compulsive food behaviors, for every person who has contact with an active food addict experiences the thunderous tornado through with life we pass.

The permanent change that recovery asks of us is unlike any intention of dieting, exercise programs, or (for our bulimic and anorexic members) avoidance of compulsive eating behaviors like purging and restriction.  Our permanent change is simply a willingness to continue on in working our steps.  Each day we permanently change by writing a moral inventory, promptly admitting our wrongs, developing our spiritual life, and passing the message of recovery to newcomers.

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

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!

Group Purpose

“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscious.  Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”  – OA Tradition 2

The first time I ever entered a 12 Step meeting I learned all about Tradition 2.  I went to the restroom only to find it had no toilet paper.  I returned to the common area of the club house in search of toilet paper and asked, “Who’s in charge around here?”

The stranger I asked literally said, “A loving God.”

WHAT???

Ha!  True story!  Don’t worry, though.  I did find the toilet paper and all was right in the world again.

The 2nd Tradition of OA is all about the “group purpose”…and in all reality the group purpose is simply to pass the message of recovery.  That’s it!   So, whoever is collecting the donation basket, or ordering literature, or replacing the toilet paper is doing so voluntarily and in a role of a “trusted servant”.  That sounds like utopia, right?  Eh…

The sticky part is the “group conscious” area of this step.  Sometimes people want the meeting run this way and not that way, or at this time and not that time, or whatever.  For this situation I would like to refer to the OA 12&12 because it does a great job of breaking down how the collective individual needs come into being the consciousness – or awareness – of what is best for the group as a whole.

“The group conscious is not the same as majority rule.  This conscious is an expression of the group unity spoken of in the first tradition, a common bond which grows among us as we each let go of self-will.” –OA 12&12 p. 120

The Traditions found in 12 Step Recovery is the method of WHY the groups work so well.  Tradition 2 asks each of us to put aside our selfishness and remember that OA gives us a chance to recover from compulsive food behaviors.  And with something like that in my mind, why wouldn’t I want to seek for answers that would benefit everyone there?

I love you all so much!  Thank you for giving me recovery.  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!