The Recovery Group

A Personal Recovery

Nov. 23

Hi all,

It's been a while since my last entry here. Life has been busy, tumultuous, hectic, and the days of idleness are farther apart now. I just finished my first year back in the work force after a decade of living in my recliner, or more accurately "existing" in my recliner. Looking back over my life it has been quite a ride. A young rebel, hopeful and arrogant, to the middle aged man who lost his hope, disillusioned by the dull existence that fear and anger and the spiraling decay of hope caused by the insistent and progressive nature of this disease - this addiction of escaping reality. I am coming to believe more and more that the disease is not so much the food, it is the mental faculties in me that insist this life should go the way I want it to go, and the food in my case is just the substance that altered me enough to keep me functioning.

We identify ourselves by our addictive substance, but the disease is something even more basic, it is the self-centered, self-absorbed part of my character that makes me think my way is best, my view is right. Someone asked once what people want more, to be happy, or to be right... it was an eye-opener for me, because every time I was in a position to "accept" someone else's decision about something, every time I could choose to go with the flow instead of insisting on doing it my way, I always had a "but" to add to it. You know, it sounds like this, "Well, I certainly see your point and agree with you for the most part, but, how about if we look at it this way......." even if I didn't think their view was valid, I have learned this technique as a social nicety as a way to not antagonize everyone who doesn't share my view. Granted we each have to be true to ourselves, but in our addictive personalities, if "the group" we are a part of decides our way wasn't the best, what is our response? Mine was to eat to make myself feel better and to tell myself that these people just didn't get it, couldn't see the obvious truths and benefits of what I had shared, and would spend the next weeks thinking how stupid, totally beneath me they were, and stuffing my face to force the artificial high that my substance produces in me in order not to say anything out loud that would be offensive. Eating was my social buffer, the lubricant that kept things running smooth, at least to outside appearances. Inside was another matter.

Excess food produces fat on my body, and I ate most often when I was angry. My fat is the layers of anger that a lifetime of covering up my feelings produced on my body. I have heard it said and have said it many times myself that I eat for "any" reason, if I'm happy I eat to add to that feeling, if I'm sad, I eat to alleviate that feeling, if I'm angry I eat to cover up that feeling, to hold myself in check so I could continue to function in this world. I was angry most of the time and it showed on me like a billboard in the massive amount of fat I carried around with me. I was always depressed, and depression has been defined as anger turned inward. I had a therapist tell me once after a long time of sharing with her these feelings of anger and what I thought about doing in a particular situation, and she pointed out to me that all my solutions for "getting back" at the person I was angry at were self destructive, I just needed to find ways of expressing the anger without hurting myself. An interesting notion, and it got me thinking a lot about my reactions to things, and in the most part she was right, my solutions always did more harm to me than to the person I was angry at.

My spouse of course is one of the primary people who fall into this category.. it's always someone close isn't it? If they weren't, what they were doing wouldn't really matter that much would it? I used to get angry at her, usually when she would say something about what I was eating, or how much I was eating, and I thought, "well, I'll show her!", and I'd order even more, get another pizza, order an extra of anything and then "eat AT her".... self-destructive to be sure, and those thoughts still pop into my head today... the difference is I choose not to act on those thoughts today.

Yes, there are physical causes and consequences too, but the mental state is the focal point for me... I've often said, that I didn't choose the addiction I have, I discovered it. As the alcoholic discovered what substance gave him relief, I discovered that food in general, and some specific foods, gave me the relief from the turmoil, and that I had developed no other skills to cope with. When I found food, I stopped looking for other ways to deal. Why would I keep looking, I found what worked! When it stopped working, I was lost, and the only solution then was to increase the dose, after all, if it worked before it would work again wouldn't it? Nothing else had worked, this just HAD to work, so I continued to try to "make it work"... When in my substance, growth stops! I am speaking of emotional growth, so when the food was removed as a crutch to my life's problems, I found I was not much more than a child emotionally. I had no skills for handling all these feelings, I had covered them up, dismissed them for so long, I had no idea what to do with them, how to make them go away.. I had to realize that they didn't have to go away, I just had to learn to live "with" them. A real revelation!

This program teaches me how to live without my substance. It gives me the opportunity to learn new skills in order to deal with the uncertainties of life, and to accept all the rest. The dream of the hope and wonder of my childhood is still alive in me today, brought back from the dark place it had been pushed to... A dream without a time table is just a wish, planning on doing it all "someday" is wishing it will happen. I have to plan my days, keep moving towards my dream if I am ever to achieve it, and as with anything in this life, nothing is for certain, so I have to be willing to work even if I never reach where I'm striving for, the journey will be a better one with that attitude. I used to hear that it's better to be an optimist because even though in the end the pessimist may be proved to be right, the optimist would have a more enjoyable journey. Life is the journey. How we travel it does matter.

A quote from a show I was watching recently said it very well, This life-form had reached it's sacred burial ground in preparation to die there, but had decided to help someone else on their journey instead and it would take them away from this area, and when the person says, "but it was your dream to die here", the response was, "No dream is guaranteed, the grace of age is that we learn to accept."

I looked up "grace" and it is defined as, "Free and unmerited favor or beneficence". It is only by the grace of my Higher Power that I am here today. It was a gift freely given. How I live is my gift in return.

I wish to be a positive force to those whose lives I touch. I wish to give hope to those who are traveling a similar path to the one I have traveled. I can speak words and extol in writing these ideas, but what will do it the best is for my life to be an example, and THAT is my best contribution to the dream, to the hope, to the wonder of living sanely and with purpose. If I speak of how wonderful this program is but fail to live it, then I do not really believe it.

"Walk the walk" is how we put it. The moments of commitment have come and gone over the years, the doubts have filled me at times, and have been swept away at others.. I am progressing and am more able today to consistently walk the walk of this program. Perfection will never happen, but by reaching higher and being willing to continue doing the next right thing, I keep moving in the right direction.

Happiness is a byproduct of this way of living, it happens as we learn to handle life, to accept what comes our way and move on through. To get up one more time and begin again, to continue doing the things that brought us success before, and recognize when we have stepped off the path and be willing to get back on. It's simple but not easy... two distinct and different things.

Keep coming back!

Expect a miracle.

Stay Strong!

love and hugs,

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