The Recovery Group

A Personal Recovery


Hi all,

The house is quiet this morning, my wife and kid are away visiting friends and spending the day at a recreational park. I just woke up, allowed myself to sleep in this morning, slept an extra hour, it felt good. Got up and took care of the animals, reflected a bit of the happenings of the past week, and planned for the activity today.

Had a few days of feeling just a bit off in relation to my cardiac stuff, just felt a bit weird, hard to explain in words, but will have to figure out some way I suppose, as I think I should probably let the doctor know what's been going on. Why I'm hesitating to go see him I don't quite know. I keep thinking it'll just get better by itself.. hmmm, this seems like old behavior to me.

What is the real fear here I wonder? Part of it is cost, part of it denial, part of it is being faced with my own fears of my perception of the medical field in general, the fact that they appear God-like, but are just basically "practicing" on us like lab rats, and are in fact quite fallible. Sounds like it's an issue of trust huh? I have very little when it comes to doctors it seems. This goes back to my sister spending a year in a hospital while they looked for what was wrong with her, my parents finally flew her down to a special cardiac hospital in Texas and in a short time, THEY found what was wrong. My sister had gone from a vivacious, athletic girl of 13 to a frail skin and bones girl or 14. My last memory of her was eating Thanksgiving dinner with her in her hospital room just prior to her leaving for Texas, and her forcing her dinner down because she somehow sensed it might be the last time the family was together and had the feeling it would be her last Thanksgiving. She ended up throwing it up anyway, but she said it was worth it.

Turned out she had a very rare (only 4 other cases in the world) heart tumor, (they said it was the size of a grapefruit) inside one of the chambers of her heart, basically choking off the blood supply to her body. They did open heart surgery the end of January 1969, on my mothers birthday, and when she went in to surgery, mom said she had smiled and told her that this would be her birthday present for her. It's so cliche, the operation was a success, but the patient died. I have tears running down my face right now, tears I've owed myself for quite a while. This was a life changing event for me. For the first time however, my thoughts at this moment have gone past the anger and the need to blame those involved and I have tried to put myself in their position and understand how bad they must have felt for this happening.

Hindsight is always 20/20 isn't it? My sister had been off the heart/lung machine for about half an hour, all was going well, she was in recovery, and the nurse stepped out for something, while she was out, my sister aspirated into her oxygen mask and choked to death, they were unable to revive her.

My brother was away in the Navy, I was staying in our home by myself, I was suppose to have been staying with a friend's family, but had just decided to remain alone in my house and there was really nothing anyone could do, I felt I was old enough anyway. I got a call towards the end of the day at high school and was asked to drop by my pastor's office afterward. I assumed it was to update me on my sister's operation, so I was expecting a good report, the doctors had been confident that all would be well. Well, the news obviously took me by surprise, I was numb, but I had things to do, pick up the car from the garage, etc. and I remember doing so and going home and trying to fathom that my sister was dead, and immediately blaming myself for all my shortcoming about being a "good" brother. All the feelings of jealousy toward her, and a quick thought that popped into my head and let me know at that moment how selfish and self-centered, and unlovable and unforgivable I was, I thought "now I'll be the favored child again". I was appalled at myself. I was disgusted for having this thought. I could not cry for my sister, I held those tears inside for more than 32 years, I tried burying my shame and pain with drugs, alcohol, sex, work, and finally and most successfully with food.

I had learned by the age of 8 that food held magical powers for me. It was used as reward, as comforter, as anesthetic, as a cure all for many years prior to this incident. Oddly enough at the moment of my initial pain I had no appetite, I don't remember eating for a few days after getting the news. It would be several days before my folks arrived back home with my sister, the funeral was huge, funny I didn't really think about that till just now, but there must have been hundreds of people that came to the funeral. My high school teachers, many people from our church, my high school buddies, but mostly I remember just our family, my brother had come home on emergency leave from the Navy, and my folks and me. I remember making the comment to my dad about my sister being in a better place, trying to be of some comfort to him I guess, he wasn't a very spiritual man, and his response was icy, he looked at me with what seemed like eyes that would burn right through me, and said, "That's a pretty hard way to look at things!".. I felt so small and insignificant, like I had been slapped to the ground because my feelings were just "wrong"... at that moment I hated this man more than I ever had before, and that was quite a bit cause I already hated him anyway. I hated myself even more for the feelings I was having and already knowing I was wrong and I was so flawed and so unforgivable it just fed my self-loathing even more.

It would be years before I had any thought of what my parents must have been going through, how unprepared they were for this too, how painful it is to lose a child. I can only see it now because of having my own children, and trying to imagine losing one of them regardless of the circumstances. It must have been devastating. My thoughts were only of myself though, how it affected me, and all the internal damning I was doing because of perceived shortcomings. Because of my dad's comment to me, I never discussed my sister's death anymore with my parents, or with anyone in fact till going into treatment center 2 and half years ago. This turned out to be, for me, the pivotal moment in MY life, to finally forgive myself for being human, to forgive myself for not being more than I was.

Boy, this is not what I had intended this morning, guess it was needed though. I had intended on talking about a realization about my being "normal", about this clinging hope in the back of my mind about being "renewed to normalcy" and having food be unimportant to me anymore and that I would not have to continue to weigh and measure meals now that food was in a more sane relationship to my life. But the fact is I AM a compulsive overeater, I DO have a problem with some foods, and though as long as I follow my food plan it is not much of an issue, I don't believe it will someday not be an issue any longer. That was a bit depressing at first because of this undying hope of mine, and I guess that triggered some of these feelings about who I am inside.

My disease was telling me that I can visualize a portion now, and you know what, I can, at least for the moment, but I can't afford the complacency to believe that I don't need to continue to monitor myself in that regard. It seemed like such a positive way of looking at things, to know that I can now "see" a proper portion and immediately feel the need to stop doing what has been successful for me up to now and believe I am "cured" to some extent. It is insane to believe I don't need this program anymore, or even parts of it.. I Do KNOW that I need it, I will always need it.

The food is just a symptom of my disease, the work that I must do now is on the ME of me, the inner spiritual being that resides in this corporeal state, to become the compassionate, loving person that my Higher Power has in mind for me. The purpose as I see it today is to become what my Higher Power would have me be, to be willing to be led instead of trying to lead, to listen and try to follow my spiritual guide instead of trying to work that spirit into my plans. It's a process and I have a long long way to go, but all I must do is the "next" right thing and I believe that THAT will take me where I need to go.

Stay Strong!

love and hugs,

Table of Contents

Part 68

The Recovery Group Links

Site Map
Recovery Home
Special Interest Loops
Twelve Steps of Recovery
Recovery Online Meetings
Serendipity Newsletter
Recovery Guidelines
Message Board