~ Abstinence ~

Dear Friends on our Journey ~

When I first joined OA and heard the word "abstinence" I was puzzled. Actually I was annoyed. It bothered me that people were using that word for food. How can one be abstinent from food? Alcohol? Yes. Sex? Yes. But food? I quickly learned that to an OA member, the word "abstinence" is the most beautiful word in the English language. It means to "abstain from compulsive overeating."

"Abstinence is as easy for me
as temperance is difficult."

Samuel Johnson

These are just about the truest words ever spoken. As a compulsive overeater, there is no way that I can just have one binge. To stay away completely from a trigger food is far, far easier than to try to eat just a little bit of something I like. Or to say .... "I'll go ahead and eat this today ... and tomorrow I won't." For addicts like us, that just is not going to work.

There will be food mentioned in the next part of what I write. If this can trigger you to begin a binge, I urge you to stop reading this now, put it away and go about your day. If not ..... read on.

One of the sayings that has helped me the most was one I heard the very first week I came to OA. There was a time I ate doughnuts. Those yeast, sugary, soft, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts. I was talking about those ... and how easy it was to eat an entire box of them. One of the first members I ever met on AOL in the meeting room was a man called Richard. An old-timer in OA, he said to me ... "That's someone else's food." Those words had a huge impact on me and I quickly learned which foods to say that about.

It wasn't just the doughnuts. It was chocolate chip cookies that I would binge on. Peanut butter and Ritz crackers. Ice cream. Pizza. Potato Chips. Fast Food hamburgers. French fries. All of these "trigger" foods became "Someone else's food." To this day they are that. I can no longer eat them. It is not worth it to me to eat them. And if I succumb and DO eat them, I pay for it dearly.

I am an addict. You've heard it said that "One drink is too many and a thousand is not enough." It's the same way with certain foods. One of those doughnuts is too many .... and the whole box is never enough. The binge doesn't stop with just that one binge. It carries over until the next day .... and the day after that ... and the day after that. It sets up a craving for more. More of those trigger foods. More of those foods that caused the weight that caused the pain that caused the quality of a lot of my life less to be less than it could have been.

There is nothing in the world that tastes as good as abstinence feels. To awaken in the morning knowing that one has the entire new day to continue abstinence is the greatest feeling in the world. And to go to bed each night after having a day of abstinence makes one sleep better.

At least it does me.

A lot better.

Dear God,
Abstinence is the most
important thing in my life right now.
Help me to do what is necessary to do
to get it. And help me to do what
is necessary to keep it.

The Recovery Group

Copyright © 1998, The RECOVERY Group