I want to share my thoughts for the past few days. It concerns remembering what it was like to be starting on my recovery. I recently responded to someone asking how to get out of the funk of hopelessness and/or relapse and one of my suggestions was to make a gratitude list. While this works quite well for me now, it got me thinking back to when I couldn't think of anything to put on a list like that, and I began thinking that though this is wonderful for me to be able to do, it's really not much help to anyone who's having a challenge coming up with something to "really" be grateful for.
I thought back to the 10 years it took me going to meetings, and not quite "getting" this program into me, how the hope I had never actually became a part of me and the helplessness I felt at not being able to grasp this simple program. I knew it was my fault because everywhere in the literature and in the meetings I heard all the time how simple this plan was, oh they offered also that it was not easy, but I kind of slid over that part.. and just thought "simple" equates to "easy" and I "should" be able to do that. I'm a fairly intelligent guy, but the commitment to this program kept eluding me and I just didn't ever feel all that grateful about my life. I tried to list the things that I was "suppose" to be grateful for, but it was just a faint hope and not "real" at the time.
I could not/would not put down the food as a source of comfort. I continually gave in to the desire to soothe my anxiety with my drug of choice, all the while trying to kinda work through the 12 steps, but of course being unwilling to put down the food, I was constantly doing the "OA three step"... a popular dance that insures continued pain and fuels the feelings of failure and hopelessness, at least it did in my case. I'd start my day trying to give up control, but almost immediately take it back at the first sign of stress, and that stress began the instant I tried to give it up because "that" was stressful, that's why I say that everything I've given up has had claw marks all over it.
well, over 10 years I spiraled myself to a bottom that I almost didn't come back from, and the first step to my recovery was "really" giving up control of the food, making the decision, finally, that I could not do it any longer my way, and that I wanted to recovery, I wanted to live, at that moment, food became NOT an issue for me. I became abstinent at that instant, and from there, was now able to actually "work" this program, I got a food plan, I followed it, I said no to the desires to eat that would cross my mind occasionally and I was able, now that my mind was clear, to finish my 4th and 5th steps, and the fears I had about doing them were changed into concerned interest in what it was that made me tick, it was like a mystery novel to figure out what my good points were and what needed to be let go. The fear of actually verbalizing/writing my faults down on paper and sharing them with someone else became an exercise in evaluation and not one of judgement, it was the single most freeing thing I've done in this program to date.
The main thing that happened to give me the courage to actually begin working on my 4th step happened when in group therapy, I was able to share THE most intimate happening of my life, THE incident that was the cause of my desire to cover-up the real me, THE feeling of inadequacy and THE reason that I knew I was unlovable and unforgivable, and when I shared it the response was not what I expected. I thought perhaps they would all recoil and verify that I truly was a rotten person and really didn't belong in this world, but what I got was, "so, that's it??, that's not so bad, lots of people feel that way, that's just the way teenagers are"... I didn't quite believe it... but now that I actually said it out loud, it was easier to share it again, and over lunch one day at the treatment center, someone new sat at my table and I was sharing this again, and one of other people said, "oh now, he's expecting you to be shocked and tell him how lousy he is"... and everyone smiled and laughed a bit... and it became clear to me that this THING I had been so concerned about all my life, had eaten mountains of food to cover up just wasn't all that much to anyone but me... I also found it interesting that when confronting their own personal demons, everyone else had the same feelings, that their particular feelings were true and justified. A valuable lesson in tolerance and empathy, cause when they shared their challenges, it just didn't seem all the serious "to me"..... it's like when I used to wish I was an alcoholic instead of an food addict - :-) cause I don't have a problem with alcohol, so it would seem to me to be easy to put it down. :-)
I have much to be grateful for today, and thoughts of food just don't last too long in my head anymore, for this I am truly grateful. When they do come, I immediately start to evaluate why I am thinking about that now, what is going on that I am wanting some comfort, and the awareness of that helps me to simply dismiss those thoughts now and work on the real emotional challenge that I'm feeling.
My strong desire is that expressed in the Big Book, where they say, "With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start."
We all have to face our own demons, and there is no way for anyone to do it for us, only to show by example what is possible once they've been overcome.
I have been given a great gift from my Higher Power, I have been given my life back, I say thanks every day.
Stay Strong! Never give up!
love and hugs,
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