I was thinking about the greatest change in me in the past four years, that point when I became willing to do whatever it took, the bottom, standing at death's door and deciding to step away instead of through. Still that small, almost extinguished, piece of Hope that wouldn't let me leave just yet.
It was in that moment of desperation, that gift to me, that I said, okay, my way hasn't worked, it has brought me to the abyss, I've heard the promises and I hope they are true, so I'm giving it up to you, I will do whatever it takes to work this program, and for me that meant the first step was getting honest and abstinent in relation to my food.
I setup a food plan, three meals a day, a snack at night to help stabilize the blood sugar as I was diabetic at the time, probably still am, though tests no longer show it is present, or that it ever was.. a miracle in my mind... and I ate whatever that plan called for. Foods I hated and foods I liked well enough. I ate them, I didn't complain, because it just didn't matter anymore. The foods I was eating were for nutrition, not for emotional relief, for that I learned new skills, meditation, using the tools of the program to divert my thoughts long enough for the cravings and desires to go away, until now after four years, the food doesn't even present itself in any type of conscious situation as an option - another miracle.
Part of my abstinence in the very beginning was "no fast food restaurants", and it just became for me no restaurants period. After a year of so, my food plan evolved into a workable, healthy, and sustainable part of my life.
Another part of my abstinence was an exercise program, for me that was walking. It's about all I could do. I was terribly worried about falling and so I used a walking stick for almost 2 years, working up from a broom stick with a rubber foot to a nice casterbean stick my wife bought me at an artist Fair, I put it down Dec. 17, 2003 and have not used it since.
The "walk" has become a metaphor for my life. I walk no matter how I am feeling, no matter what the thoughts are that are racing through my head, no matter how insistent the thoughts are that I don't need to do this today, I'm too busy, I've worked so hard - I deserve a day off, I just don't want to go today, etc. I go. I do it no matter what. It is the discipline that comes from the desperation I started with, the willingness to do, and to continue to do, the things necessary for me to remain in recovery.
Of late and because of circumstances which are now beyond my control more often, (I am working again), there have been times when the food plan and schedules have had to be altered. This has been difficult for me as I have always been a "black and white" kind of guy. I used to drive an hour out of my way to go home and have "MY MEAL" many times, or taken the food with me when I knew I would be unable to get back in time. These happened rarely, and I simply made a point of planning my day so it would not be an issue. Now, however, working regularly for someone, I've had to alter the meal times slightly, and most times it's not a problem, but once in a while now things happen and I could be several hours "late" eating if I insisted on going home and have not brought something with me. I have had to "make do" with foods that are available a few times.. it is not something I do often, perhaps only 3 or 4 times since beginning working in October, and honestly it feels odd to have to do it, but I know my food plan well, I know how much starch and protein and fat and fruit, etc. that I should have, so I am able to rationally, calmly, and with forethought alter my meal once in a while. So far it has proven okay to do so.
I still try very hard to stick to my planned meals and mealtimes, but on that rare occasion, it is no longer such an ordeal for me. I wouldn't say I'm getting "normal" but I'm coping with life in a much calmer manner these days, keeping in mind my limitations, my disease, and my tendencies to get lax. On days I have to alter my plans, I make sure to remind myself of my disease with extra readings, extra calls, extra writing, etc. I keep my disease a conscious part of my day, I feel if I let it slip into that partially unconscious state of being I would be in real danger.
I have a healthy fear of this disease, and I thank my Higher Power everyday for that gift of desperation, it allowed me to cling to the hope that this program offers. The discipline that comes as a result of working this program is the lifesaver for me, to keep doing what I have to, when I have to.. - that next right thing - has been the saving grace for me for almost 4 years now.
A strong spiritual connection is the key for me, it is the source from which all other things occur. It is in me, and outside of me, it is all-encompassing and the guiding force in my life. It's my own, not part of a religion necessarily, but a personal relationship, that voice or feeling inside me that creates the calm when faced with choices. Learning to trust that has taken time, but the more I rely on it, the more things go smoothly. Another miracle. ;-)
Desperation - Hope - Willingness - Discipline - Trust - Faith: These are the steps I've taken to get where I am today, I'm looking forward to seeing what else is going to happen, and that is the best miracle of all, anticipation instead of dread.
love and hugs,
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