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.