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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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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!

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!

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!