Friday, November 12, 2010

Just a sip

I became aware at last night's meeting that I was trying to control everyone and everything around me. I was telling someone else to lead the meeting, then taking over by telling that person everything they needed to do. One member suggested to me that we cut the reading short to accommodate more shares. I said no, then changed MY mind and told the leader to cut the reading short. Some of the men in the meeting were acting silly and I was feeling so chaotic ... I just was ill at ease with myself.
One of the things I am working on in my recovery is humility. A part of that is stepping back from being "the leader." With the help of working the Steps and the revelations of my Higher Power, I discovered I always put myself in positions of authority or leadership so that I can be in control of the outcome of most any situation. In doing this, I also separate myself from other people. I can cause others to feel intimidated. I can appear busy and inaccessible thus leaving me alone. And, oh how my addicted self loves the misery, loneliness and self-pity it finds in isolation. For it is in that isolation where I long for just a small foray into my diseased behavior. I rarely feel any desire to really get fully involved in my disease, but there are times on a regular basis that I feel so uncomfortable in my skin that I just want some release from the discomfort and pain of feelings and emotions -- simple ones even -- that I don't seem able to deal with.
Unfortunately, in sex and love addiction, like all other addictions, there is no such thing as "just a sip." If I go on to one of my old websites "just to see" what people are looking for or engaging in, I am participating in middle circle behaviors that will no doubt -- NO DOUBT -- lead to acting out. It's like an alcoholic sniffing the bottle of whiskey. I cannot begin conversations with past lovers or potential new lovers pretending to just want someone to talk to -- the equivalent of taking a sip of whiskey from a completely full bottle -- without finding myself fully involved, making plans, and eventually feeling deep regret and being forced to start all over again searching for some semblance of peace and serenity in an otherwise chaotic world.
Because of the cyclical nature of addiction, I have to be hypervigilant about maintaining my spiritual condition, identifying those moments when I'm feeling that life is spinning out of control and compelled to stop it by grasping anything and everything that can cause me to feel in control. It's important that I'm fully aware of those impulses, so that I can remind myself to give the reigns to my Higher Power. In order to do that, I need to get quiet and humble and prayerful and let the storm pass. It won't last forever. If I give in to that voice that says ... "Take just a sip, it will relieve the pressure. It's not going to hurt anything," I lose all access to my Higher Power, all access to manageability, and I find myself taking a sip that might never end.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and thank you for the wisdom to know the difference. May thy will, not mine be done.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Goals, Smoals

Forgive me a moment while I express some emotions that aren't really that positive, but should be expressed nonetheless.
I've heard all the theories that we are what we think, the things we focus on are the things we manifest, negative thoughts yield negative results, blah, blah, blah. The variations of the same message are endless. They even include the story of the Cherokee elder, which I love.
One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. 

He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The other is Good - It is peace, love, hope, humility, compassion, and faith. ”

The grandson thought about this for a while and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

 To which the old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I was listening to an audio presentation by Brian Tracy called "Goals" this morning. His basic premise, which is not a new one, is that without goals we are directionless. You know, the old adage, "If you don't know where you are going, you're going nowhere."
So as Tracy goes on and on about the process of getting clarity about what you want from life and doing one small thing every day to work toward those goals in all areas of your life, all I can think is, "What's the point?" I can set goals until the sun rises in the west, and tell myself I am going to work toward them every day, but in the end I know I will just give up. It will require more effort than I want to give or I will be more inclined to sleep than to exercise or go to class. I will get to work at my dream job and the computer will be sitting there, drawing my attention away from the things I want to achieve and before I know it, I'll be right back to square one -- feeling like absolute shit.
Clearly, I'm having an issue with self-confidence at the moment. It's been quite a battle for a long time. The disparity between the confident, ambitious, dependable, capable person and the person who simply feels like the only thing left to do is to give up is growing wider and wider, as my ass does the same. It is so frustrating. That higher self KNOWS that setting goals and achieving them and getting recognition for them builds self esteem, but the lower self asks herself again, "What's the point?" I suppose I believe that no matter what I work for, no matter what I achieve, it will never last, it will always be stolen from me and in the end, like all things, it will never, ever be enough.
Inside me somewhere right now is a voice crying out, "Challenge those negative thoughts! Ask them what right they have to be in your life? They aren't true and they sure aren't helpful." And when I "hear" that faint voice, still fighting for life, right now at this moment, all I can feel is tired. I just want to close my eyes and forget about these struggles, to slip into the nothingness that doesn't include goals or ambitions, the place where there is no fight left. I am sad to say that at this moment, that is the place that feels safe.
Truth is, I know that in that place I go much deeper into darkness, into the place where the attempts to feel alive become desperate and more risky. Risk is the only thing that brings a spark of life in those moments. Then comes incredible regret, that insatiable desire to just be "normal," the resurfacing of the struggle, even stronger and more insistent than before. The addictive cycle, the clinicians call it.
As I sit here, I struggle with a dozen things: whether to go to a meeting or stay home with my husband who I am sure will be too tired to deal with me once he gets home, but not too tired to be irritated that I chose something else over him. I struggle with my lack of desire to fix a healthy meal and my guilt in ordering some overpriced takeout that is not healthy. I struggle with the need to go to the gym, fix dinner, get ready for the meeting, take care of my pets, return program calls, and again, the desire to just lay down and say fuck it all.
I know I won't feel these things in an hour or two, but I do know they will be back. I suppose my true desire is that I live at peace with myself and my decisions and that I be happy with life no matter how much effort it takes. I'm not there today and the best I can do is acknowledge that and get up and do the next right thing and realize that nothing is going to go wrong today that is going to kill me and if something does kill me, the struggle will be over and I can quit bitching.
Grateful to be alive one more day. Grateful to be honest with myself and others. Grateful that my life is filled with all kinds of feelings, and I can experience them as they come without overreacting.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Searching for me

As I read Bernadine's letter to her trauma recovery therapy (TRT) group at Et tu husband? I thought how good it was to witness someone come out on the other side of the struggles of a recovery cycle.

Bernadette wrote in her departing letter to her TRT group,"I had known about (my husband's) addiction for a year and a few months when I started the group.
By then, the person I had been -- was gone."

Later in her letter she wrote, "I realized, just this last weekend, that I’m back to me now."

Oh how I long to be "back to me."

I had occasion recently to correspond with several people from a life before the one in which I've found myself for the past seven years. They know someone I once was -- a confident, testy, fun, hard-working, competent and talented leader and fellow employee. They know the person I long to be again, and would be so surprised to know this depressed, fearful, struggling individual that sometimes loses sight of hope.

By the time I came here to write my confessions in May 2004, the person they knew was long gone. I had no idea where she had gone or how she got lost, but OMG was she gone.

It occurs to me almost fleetingly here that perhaps the fact that I am pursuing a lost dream rather than a brighter future messes with my ability, at times, to be satisfied with the present and encouraged by the journey.I idolize that upwardly mobile young professional that I once was, and see myself today as a mere shadow of what I once was. I literally fucked myself into a feeling of worthlessness and self-pity that I grow so tired of, so restless with, and at times so attached to, I don't now how to move on.

I was talking yesterday afternoon with a recovery friend about this issue, about the fact that I felt a whole lot better before my recovery began than I have felt during its process. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that I am in recovery, that I am trusting the process, that I am experiencing a "balancing out" of life. Without the tools of recovery to guide me as I have worked with (and at times against) my Higher Power and support system to put my life back together again, I have no doubt I would not be alive. No doubt. I feel grateful that I am alive even with the recovery process and support to lift me up.

Through a whole series of metaphors, my friend helped me connect to the fact that I am not recovering from a series of bad choices and behaviors -- I am recovering from a system of values and beliefs that have been my means of coping with deep-seated underlying realities that were too painful to bear at some earlier time in my life.

My friend asked me "If you were to vow to never let anything pass your lips again that would prevent you from achieving and maintaining your healthy weight, would that be hard or easy to achieve?" Silly me took a while to think about that question. As usual, I was trying to find the "right" answer. But, of course, it would be as hard as hell. I love food. I love sweets. I love sharing food with friends and sharing the pleasures of new restaurants and new tastes. Throw in all the factors associated with my attachment to myself as a fat person, and you've got a complete revamping of my entire life. There is no way that is going to be easy. No way. And my skewed relationship with food and fatness barely even scratches the surface of the massive jumble of misguided, disproportional, and damaged thoughts, feelings and forces that I have absorbed and incorporated into my life over the years. There is so much more.

So, for today, I give myself, my recovery process and my God the time that is required, the patience that is needed to go through these fundamental changes.

Monday, October 25, 2010 Interview

In my last post I posted the answers to some interview questions that had been posed to me. The interview was conducted by Brandon Yu, managing editor of

Brandon has posted the interview on the AllTreatment site today. Check it out here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Answering questions

I was recently asked a series of questions by a recovery resource portal site. I thought my answers summarized my story quite well and decided I'd share them here. The interviewer's questions are in bold. Once the interview is published, I'll post a link.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Ironically, a lot of online conversations with potential acting out partners started with this very same question. I am a 43 year old woman living in the Midwest, married, college educated, out of work communications professional. I grew up in a higher-low class family and was sexually abused by my stepfather for 10 years of my life, beginning at age 3.
I am willing to answer specific questions, but that's "a bit" about me.

Do you feel like you have an addictive personality? I don't feel like I have an addictive personality, I know I do. Mosby's Medical Dictionary defines an addictive personality as: a personality marked by traits of compulsive and habitual use of a substance or practice in an attempt to cope with psychic pain engendered by conflict and anxiety.

When did your addiction start? Which one? I am a compulsive overeater, codependent, sex addict. I believe that I began eating for comfort (though I didn't recognize it then) when I was a small child. I have always had a fascination with food, as long as I can remember. My codependency began sometime in childhood as well, though I did not identify it until my 20s. I just thought I was trying to take care of others. I did not recognize it as an obsession that helped me feel safe. As for my sexual addiction, which I assume you are most interested in, I remember masturbating to numb myself as early as 10. As soon as I was introduced to the Internet at age 26, I began to use it to connect with others sexually -- usually for cybersex, phone sex and eventually face to face meetings. The behavior was limited to online contact after I met and married my husband -- until about six years into our marriage. That is when casual chatting with friends and family led me to begin to use online chat programs to connect with married men first to flirt, then to connect offline for physical encounters. What started as one affair quickly went out of control until I could no longer stop searching out men for offline and online sexual encounters.
The basic text of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous says, "At some time in our lives our behavior began to take on the compulsive hallmarks of addiction. The once rare liaisons became monthly, then weekly. They happened when inconvenient, or when they interfered with work or family obligations. The occasional pleasurable daydream grew into a constant obsession that destroyed our ability to concentrate on more ordinary and more important things. One by one such things as satisfaction in our work, friends and social activities dropped away as we found more and more of our time and our thoughts absorbed by (addictive obsessions)." This is what happened to me.

Was there a quick escalation or did you "dabble?" See the answer above.

What was living with your addiction like? It was like being on a runaway train moving so fast that the thrill and the fear were indistinguishable. I loved the high that came with the pursuit of a man and I had all sorts of tricks for getting him hooked, but once he was hooked and we reached the point of meeting, my high was already waning and I needed more. I once used a hotel three times in a single night and still felt empty, wishing there was someone else to call to help me get high again. At the same time, I wanted to stop more than anything in the world. I knew I was living a life that was incongruous with the person I really was. Before long the addiction became who I was and my real self, though still there, seemed impossible to reach. I promised myself time and time again that I would stop, that I wouldn't go online, that I wouldn't see a particular person again, that I would stop making plans to act out. Inevitably, I'd find myself driving to meet someone on the side of the road, in their office, at a hotel, in a park or anywhere we could be sexual.

How was your personal life affected? I was living one lie after another. I was constantly rushing to through my "real" life to either get back to acting out or to make up for time lost acting out. I would speed down the highway, I would rush through dinner. I was constantly trying to keep all the lies straight. I could hardly sleep. Eventually I reached a level of depression that caused me to want to end my life. I never actually attempted suicide, but I had ideations and longed for death to find me. I could not live with the disease of sex and love addiction and I felt completely empty without it.

How was your professional life affected? I had been a very competent professional, excelling above my peers and taking great pride in my work. Eventually work just became an interference and it wasn't long before I didn't have the concentration to complete any task without becoming irritated and careless. Though I never could understand how, I always seemed to keep one foot in front of the other. I missed a lot of deadlines and frequently missed appointments or canceled them. After some time, the work I had once done became impossible. My low concentration and depression made in-depth projects impossible to complete -- first on time and then at all.

What was rock bottom like? What happened? I would like to think that rock bottom for me was when in the midst of a relapse into my love addiction I became pregnant with another man's child. The man was a raging alcoholic and at one point I had to put black curtains on all my windows out of fear of what he would do to me and that he would out me to my husband. I ended up spending thousands of dollars on him out of codependency and fear. I would love to think that was my rock bottom ... but the scary thing is ... I'm not sure if I have hit rock bottom. I came into recovery within a few months of my first acting out episode. I knew something was terribly wrong and I needed to change. I continued to act out even in recovery, but I continued to attend SLAA meetings and try to apply the principles of the program to my life. Unfortunately, trying to work the Steps while you are still "high" doesn't work so well -- so I had periods of sobriety, sometimes long ones, but they always resulted in an eventual slip or relapse. I have had a tremendous time maintaining sobriety in this program -- and some would say that it is because I have a tremendous difficulty surrendering control.

When did realize you needed to be rid of your problem? As soon as things started to get out of control about six years into my marriage. I never ever thought I'd have one affair, much less be unable to stop having affairs.

What recovery process did you find? I entered therapy and even though I saw a lot of therapists who knew NOTHING about sex addiction, I did learn a lot about myself. Luckily my first therapist suggested I might be a sex addict and though I poo-pooed her idea, I made a decision to go to my first Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting. As soon as I heard the stories of the others there, I knew I was in the right place. And, though, as I said, it has been diffcult to maintain sobriety -- I believe the program is the only thing that has kept me sane. I continue to be active in the program and was thankful to eventually find a certified sex addiction therapist who was able to help me in ways no other professional had been able to up to that point.

Have you ever tried to quit before, how, how long did you last, what was it like, did you start again? I believe I've answered this question -- if not please let me know. I've tried a million times to quit and failed. I just have to keep getting back up and trying again. Most recently I have been using a mantra that is working. I remind myself that I cannot try to not act out. I'm either acting out or I'm not. I say that to myself again and again. It helps keep me sober, as does calling upon the God of my understanding to help me accept the things I cannot change and give the courage to change the things I can.

How are you coping with recovery today? They say that recovery is like peeling away the layers of an onion and that is how it has been for me. While at one point, the focus of my recovery was simply to stop acting out -- today I realize that the disease of sex and love addiction is far more deep rooted than just anonymous liasons. I have had to look at the fact that relationships of all kinds are difficult for me. I avoid intimacy at all costs, but constantly want to get as close as possible to people in my life -- only to push them away. I have had to look at my very identity and worth -- since I inherently believed that I was less than everyone else around me and the only thing that gave me value to men was my sexuality.

What advice do you have for people currently suffering from addiction? Begin to seek out resources for help. If you are in an area where are are meetings, go to meetings, find a sponsor, find a therapist, and most of all KEEP COMING BACK. If you are not in a location where there are meetings -- there are dozens of online resources, phone meetings, online meetings and more.

You don't have to be perfect, just keep coming to meetings and working on healing. You did not get to where you are overnight and you won't heal overnight. Don't give up and don't expect perfection. This is not like giving up alcohol or cocaine. Sex is a natural process, which in those of us who are addicts, has become a drug.

For female sex addicts -- sex addiction programs (there are several including SLAA, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous and likely some I'm not aware of) are dominated by males. I spent most of my time in recovery sitting in a room of men. It has made it difficult if not impossible at times to find a sponsor and female support. My advice to women who live in an area where there are no women in the meetings -- keep going, sharing, and taking your seat at the table. You deserve to recover just like the men who are sitting there and you deserve to do it without being objectified. Learning to take this stand is a part of learning to take care of yourself. I also encourage women to use online and phone meetings to connect with other women in the program.

And last but not least, I will say that there is a solution, it is a spiritual solution. It is not easy, but it works, not all at once, but one day at a time. Just keep coming back and you will see I am telling you the truth.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A program of action

"Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for
the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his
spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could
not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not
work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely
die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that."

~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill's Story, pg. 14

There are a couple of sayings in SLAA that support the message that Bill W. was conveying in this passage. One is "My best thinking got me here." Another is "My sick brain can't fix my sick brain." I have to DO certain things, new things, things that don't feel comfortable all the time in order to change my perception, and as a result change my thinking and ultimately my behavior.

I used to think I just had to stop acting out. But isn't that a Step 1 issue? I'm powerless over my addiction and if I COULD just stop acting out, then what's the point of all the rest of this? Why do I need faith if I can just stop my behavior? My addictive mind is a spiritually and emotionally barren land. My acting out behaviors erode my spirit and cause me to feel hopeless, depressed and worthless. Sure, I may be able to make myself feel good for a little while, but deep down, I can't live with myself. Living in a world that is so out of control, so consumed with thoughts of another person, another sex act, another rendezvous -- it simply causes me to feel and act insane. And how can I possibly hope to fix that insanity?

After trying to "think" my way through Steps 2 and 3, I finally started "doing" what the program asked me to do -- go to meetings, make phone calls, do service as a way of life and sobriety, read the literature, write, do an inventory, identify my primary defects of character and ask that they be removed, make amends, practice prayer and meditation, be rigorously honest with myself, refrain from acting out one day at a time. By doing those things, I came to believe in a power greater than myself, because I saw a power greater than me at work in my life. And the more I did these things, the more willing I was to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood God.

I believe because of the order of the Steps, many of us (I did it too) spend a lot of time trying to argue with ourselves and others about the whole "God thing" ... when if we just "make a decision" to WORK the program, that's enough to get us started.

The more I help another addict, the more I reach out for help, the more I look at my own feelings, behaviors and actions and let go of what others think, say or do, the more I go to meetings and hear other addicts share their stories and share my own, the more I study the literature and search out my questions in it and with others who have studied it -- the more richly I am blessed, the more hopeful I become, the more sure I am that there is something bigger than me at work here. I am not comfortable with my old way of life anymore. It is far less intriguing to think of hurting someone else with my sickness. I am willing to say I am sorry, and let go of blaming the whole damn world for my problems.

If I get away from my program, if I let up on PRACTICING these principles in all areas of my life, if I think I can take a day's vacation or a week's vacation from DOING what the program tells me to do, I lose ground. I am not cured. I have accepted I never will be. I simply get a daily reprieve from the deep emotional and spiritual pain that living in my disease gave me.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The 11th Tradition

I was recently honored by a request from a student journalist to submit written answers to questions about my sexual addiction and recovery. Upon sharing this news with a long-time member of the "Alpha" 12-step fellowship -- AA -- I was quickly reminded of the 11th Tradition, which says: "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, TV, film, and other public media. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all fellow S.L.A.A. members."

With the help of this friend, I was also able to recognize that I might not be respecting the 11th Tradition as it relates to my own personal blog either. So, I went out in search of AA's stance on how the 11th Tradition relates to today's technologically connected world.

Here's what I found:
MySpace, Facebook and other social networking Web sites are public in
nature. Though users create accounts and utilize usernames and passwords,
once on the site, it is a public medium where A.A. members and
non-A.A.s mingle.
As long as individuals do not identify themselves as A.A. members, there
is no conflict of interest. However, someone using their full name and/
or a likeness, such as a full-face photograph, would be contrary to the
spirit of the Eleventh Tradition, which states in the Long Form that, “…
our [last] names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast,
filmed or publicly printed.”
Experience suggests that it is in keeping with the Eleventh Tradition not
to disclose A.A. membership on social networking sites as well as on any
other Web site, blog, electronic bulletin board, etc., that is not composed
solely of A.A. members, is not password protected or is accessible to the public.

That said, I will take the advice of some other bloggers who have addressed this issue and continue to talk about my recovery, about meetings, about the 12 Steps, but I will not make mention of any particular fellowship to which I belong on this blog, as I attempt to honor the 11th Tradition.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Learning humility

"Another great dividend we may expect from confiding our defects to another human being is humility...a word often misunderstood. To those who have made progress in AA, it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. Therefore, our first practical move toward humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies. No defect can be corrected unless we clearly see what it is. But we shall have to do more than see. The objective look at ourselves we achieved in Step Four was, after all, only a look. All of us saw, for example, that we lacked honesty and tolerance, that we were beset at times by attacks of self-pity or delusions of personal grandeur. But while this was a humiliating experience, it didn't necessarily mean that we had yet acquired much actual humility. Though now recognized, our defects were still there. Something had to be done about them. And we soon found that we could not wish or will them away by ourselves." (Twelve and Twelve, Step Five, pg. 58)

Humility was the subject of both of my daily readings today. I like the concept that humility is a "clear recognition of who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be."

I have been so busy in life trying to be what I thought would make other people like and accept me, that I have had very little idea of who I truly am. Any concept of who I am was met with the idea that I surely wasn't enough -- I wasn't good enough, not polished enough, not comfortable enough, not attractive enough -- just simply not enough.

Today I recognize that I am an imperfect part of the universe and that what I am is not all I can be, but it is enough today to love myself and share love with others.

My character defects, as is suggested in the 12&12 reading above, don't just go away because I want them to. Despite doing my step work, I sometimes am dishonest and have the propensity to "hide" because I am concerned about what others think of me. That's not humility. Humility is accepting who I am and being willing to share that authentic self with others as a means of practicing healthy, honest behavior. Still, I am afraid of being weak and vulnerable, and the truth is that by my own willpower, I cannot give up that fear. I have to do the action of the 12 steps to help me work through those fears and then let go of the outcome. I may still cling to isolation and dishonesty 10 years from now. If that is the case, there is still more work to do and the defect is still serving me in some way.

I am grateful today to be learning about humility and its true definition.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Feeling the grit

I've been abstinent from sugar, drive through food, Diet Coke and graze eating for three months and 14 days. I'm feeling more feelings than I ever have. It is allowing me a deeper level of honesty with myself. Other than Solitaire, there is nothing really to soothe the emotions I don't know how to handle.

I've been cranky, resentful and overall just not in the best of moods. I'm like the recovering alcoholic whose wife says, "Would you just take a drink for God's sake? You were a lot easier to live with as a drunk." How easily we forget.

I've been fortunate that I haven't really felt much of a compulsion for sugar -- despite the fact that before I became abstinent, I was eating as many as two king sized candy bars a day, plus other kinds of desserts every chance I got. I thought it would be impossible to give it up. But one day at a time, I have simply been able to refrain from eating those things. The one binge food that has called me is Diet Coke. It's not that I drank 10 cans a day or something. But when I used to get a taste for it, I couldn't deny it -- and when I drank it, I couldn't stop drinking it, and wanted more and more to eat especially salty foods, which sparked the craving for sweets.

Recently though after taking my husband to work I saw a boy eating some candy that I really liked to binge on. For two days I couldn't stop thinking about the taste of that food, the sound those crunchy shells made in my mouth, the sound of them pouring like buttons out of the bag. I have eaten full sized bags of this candy -- intended to last an entire family a whole week -- in one setting and mourned the fact that I was at the end. On that day last week, the old call of "opportunity" to eat myself into oblivion was there unlike it had been in three months. But I was grateful that there was a new call for an opportunity to do something else -- be with myself and my God and reach out to others for help.

I went to an open meeting this morning and the speaker said she was addicted to excess. That is me. If I like something, I want it in excess. I can't get enough of it. There's never enough of anything -- whether it's food or sexual highs or romantic euphoria or attention or wins at the game of Solitaire. I'm always left feeling depressed and even emptier than when I started. The only thing that fills the need is a relationship with a power greater than myself, and if I'm honest, I never feel like I do that good enough, so I just have to keep trying, one day at a time, to deepen the relationship, and learn to rely on my Higher Power rather than my own willpower. And when I say up and Higher Power says down, I have to accept that with humility ... IF I am to feel whole.

I asked my Higher Power this morning to help me focus so I could work on my Fourth Step in my recovery from compulsive overeating. I haven't done a bit of work on it yet. I also asked if there was someone I could help, to reveal them to me and give me the willingness to help. Two opportunities presented themselves over the next hour. I did what I could and I thank my Higher Power for answering that prayer.

Sometimes living life one day at a time feels like waking up to a losing battle one more day. Other days I can look back and know that I've made more progress than I can imagine. Today I have no desire to use this computer to find some horny man who wants to meet at a coffee shop and then go to my car for a little action. I am having a little bit of obsession over a friend and know that the thoughts are obsessive in nature. Still, I'm able to reach toward recovery and know there is something more meaningful there. For that I am grateful. I don't like the way I feel today ... but I don't have to try to numb it. I know my feelings won't kill me, especially if I share them with someone else. That's enough for today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The God of my understanding

My addiction will use any emotion I have to take over my life and send me into a world so out of control I can't breathe. If I feel sadness or confusion, my dear addict friend, is always there to offer a solution. The problem is the solutions that the addict offers are sick solutions that perhaps ONCE worked for me, but are now my worst enemy as I try to heal from a lifetime of pain.

My Higher Power is a quiet, still voice -- it is not panicked or judgmental or mean. Anytime I hear a voice like that causes me to feel ashamed or guilty -- I know it is NOT my true Higher Power. Instead, it is my addiction, trying to stir up even more negative emotions, to turn up the heat so to speak, in order to move me closer to chaos and acting out in one of the many manifestations of my disease. (food, sex, love, codependence)

My Higher Power is in the energy that flows between all living things. I can go outside (and often do to pray) and simply feel the gentle softness of the wind on my soft skin and know that is my Higher Power, whom I call God, because it's easier, not because it is the Christian God I grew up with. (How's that for a run-on sentence?) Now sometimes I go outside and the wind is cold and biting and not so gentle, I accept that it is a powerful force of energy that causes this and can still find amazement in the fact that there is this air moving around strongly, changing temperature drastically, without human hand and I can feel God in that. In the meow of a kitten, the tweet of a bird, just by taking note of the sheer genius of a tree -- how it takes roots and has a strong upward foundation that then goes out in thousands of directions, and when it is injured, heals itself and is constantly growing. In all these things I find manifestations of a power greater than myself. In that tree, I find hope that although my life may be currently out on a limb, it is attached to a really strong foundation. In the softness of the meow and the tweet of the bird, I recognize that not all messages are transferred between living beings in the same way they are transferred in my own narrow mind -- that the world is much bigger than I am, and that I am a small part, but that every move I make shifts the energy of the universe just a little and makes me an important part. When I smile and say hello to someone on the street, I pass positive energy from myself to another person who may have just needed that little boost. When I pet my dog, I am transferring my energy to her and helping her to feel loved. When I pray for you, I am shifting my energy into your world in hopes it will make a difference in your day.

So, why do bad things happen? Why are people devastated in Haiti right now? Why did someone commit suicide last night? It is my belief that the universe of energy is a balancing act and that we need perspective in order to grow. Without sadness, how would we know happiness? Without cold, how would we know the comfort of warmth? Without chaos, how would we truly understand calm? Nothing is good or bad, thinking makes it so, William Shakespeare said. I tend to agree. Though admittedly, I do enjoy some things more than others.

I also believe in the line from pg 417 of the AA Big Book that says, "There are no mistakes in God's world." Over my time of healing, I have come to learn that my addiction and my sexual abuse history and even my obesity have at times had an impact on the lives of others. They have all made me a more useful part of the universe and God's bigger plan of acheiving balance and promoting love as the pathway to peace. Let's say there was someone who really was struggling with lack of acceptance of others -- perhaps people who didn't look that great on the outside -- and they met me and found me to be a loving, gentle soul. Wasn't it useful that I was not a beauty queen? Or let's take the beautiful woman from Argentina I met at a retreat once who shared with me that she too had been sexually abused and that as a result she developed bulimia and it almost ruined her life. Didn't she have a message for me?

The God of my understanding is everywhere, and for that I am grateful.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Acknowledging the voices in my head

I have written before of the unsual appearance of a "voice" in my head that simply said "I love you, Rae." I never knew who the voice belonged to and it never came at a time when it made sense. For example, it wasn't that it appeared when I was feeling low or sad or even good. It just appeared out of the blue at indescript times.

Well, I have to say that I liked that voice better than the ones I've been "hearing" lately ... ones like the one that whispered into the night as I awoke just a few minutes ago, "In the black and white world where I'm either dead or alive, I choose death."

This is not the first time such a voice has appeared ... it's been more frequent lately. One recognizable one is "Please just let me die," and also "I don't want to live."

Before you go calling the cops or suicide watch line -- I don't connect to these voices any more than I did the voice that said "I love you." They just appear in my psyche and I have no idea where they come from.

Yes, it is true that I suffer from depression and those words certainly are comfortable in its darkness. Though I feel none of the emptiness that one might expect when these words dance through my head. Again, there is no emotional attachment to the thoughts, they just appear as "messages to self."

It's bizarre stuff that I will discuss with my therapist, not that my therapist had any answer when I said I got those "I love you" whispers.