"Once again a time of change|
O the change makes music
And the children will dance"
I have been blessed to be living in recovery now for the past four years, One Day at a Time. There are no words to express my gratitude but I will attempt to share some of the events and changes that have happened over that time and to try to share the "dance" I feel inside me, the exaltation, the exuberance, the joy, the awe.
This phrase used to define my existence:
"Life is a swirling, sucking eddy of despair. The only illumination in our ever-blackening universe is from fleeting glimpses of false hope, that fade and disappear as you're dashed to the rocks."
I dreaded waking up and having to face yet another day of hopelessness, another day of pain, another day of self induced isolation, another day of the same old thing. I medicated with food to make it bearable. I ate myself into a coma so I wouldn't have to acknowledge my own existence. It was a dark time. I spent years in dark, curtained drawn houses, listening to music of lost loves, hopelessness, and despair. I was withered up and dying inside, hated interacting with people, because it was such a chore. I felt I had to put on the happy face, be charming, gregarious, "up"... it was a lot of work, work which I did well, but it just got to be too much, and I retreated further and further into my "cave" (which is what friends would call my house as it was always dark). It felt cozy to me though, I loved it cause in it I was safe, and cuddled, and it felt good when I was there. Over the course of about 10 years I gained in excess of 250 lbs. putting my weight at about 525 lbs. when I went for professional psychological help. I spent 18 months in therapy, figuring if I could find out the root causes of why I was using food in this manner, I could stop. I could not!
I discovered many of the things that drive me, but was unable to translate that into the ability to "control" my eating. The one thing that came from this therapist was that part of her requirement for treating me was that I MUST attend at least six OA meetings.
I was desperate enough at that time to have gone looking for help, knowing I needed it, really wanting to get this under control, but immediately balked at what she told me to do in order for me to effect a recovery in myself. I went to my first OA meeting with the thought that I would just sit in the back of the room with a bucket of chicken and munch my way through it. No one would notice me back there, and I would do my six meetings, fulfilling my obligation, and then get on with the therapy. ;) sick, sick, sick! Looking back now, how could I even have thought that a room full of food addicts wouldn't notice me sitting back there with food??? ;) but of course I wasn't thinking of them, only of myself.
I went to the first meeting, dreading it, thinking I would have nothing in common with these people, just "doing my time" to appease my therapist and my wife who was the driving force behind going into therapy in the first place, but I felt such a warmth, such peace in that room, and I got hugs from strangers - that felt good, and I felt accepted, and welcomed, and I looked forward to returning the following week. The first miracle. I was looking forward to "something".
I stumbled around this program for almost 10 more years, trying to rewrite the Big Book, trying to do it my way, unsuccessfully of course. I had a couple of sponsors over that time, which I would not use, not listen to, not call, not do the work that was suggested, and after all this, felt that this program just wasn't working for me, and with further deteriorating health and physical ability caused by gaining even more weight, I fell into an even deeper depression than before.
I sat in my recliner, and ate. I ordered food that was delivered directly to my chair, and ate. I was at the end of my rope. I had decided to simply commit suicide by food. I spent money I did not have in order to fulfill this desire. I charged amazing amounts of money on food, in anticipation of not having to pay it back, knowing that my insurance would erase the debt upon my death, and I ate. I was now about 700+ lbs. unable to stand for more than a couple of minutes. Getting out of my chair twice a day to use the bathroom, and once every three days or so, to take what amounted to a two hour shower, and then spend three hours recovering from the exertion. I had begun teaching my daughter to call 911 for the day she would find me dead in my chair, and to be sure to tell them to send two units as "your daddy is really big". I was looking forward to that day, knowing it HAD to be better than what I was living. This was my life.
My wife had stood before me and told me as lovingly as she could that she couldn't stay and watch me kill myself any longer, that she loved me but it was too painful to watch me continue in this manner. I agreed to get help again, to go into a treatment facility, but this was in the fall of 2000 and our insurance wouldn't cover such a stay, so we agreed that she would change her insurance in January to a plan that would cover it, and I would go the following year. Nothing more was said about it. I continued eating my way through the days. My daughter asked me one day, "Daddy, why do you want to leave us?" It hit me like a ton of bricks.. how do you explain despair to a nine year old? How could I justify giving up when I was always telling her to keep trying, to work through, never give up, etc. Caught in my own hypocrisy!!
It was February and I still hadn't begun looking for that treatment center I promised, but NOW I felt obligated to do so.. calls were made, a facility was found, but there was a challenge getting medically cleared to be able to go. I found my heart was the problem, and after a week on medication it was "good enough" but just marginally, to have the doctor OK me to go. He told me straight up, he was leery, but that I really needed to go and I seemed motivated so he did clear me. I am forever grateful for his doing so, cause it saved my life.
I was so physically deteriorated by this time, that I was unable to fully participate in all the programs and activities of the facility I went to, but it was "enough" to get me started on this path of recovery. I will be forever grateful to the therapist I had there for helping me see the things inside me were just thoughts, and not the reality of who I am. I was plagued with violent fantasies, directed at women mostly, and for that reason I thought I was a terrible person, that I would be some kind of mass murderer if left unchecked, and I feared expressing anger because of this. I feared not being able to control it, so I medicated it, I did not allow myself to show anger, at least as much as possible. I felt always on the verge of exploding, but had no history of violence, so to the outside world I was not who I felt I was on the inside. This is a terrible burden to carry, and it's the main reason I felt the need to medicate myself. That feeling of "if they really knew me, they could never like me, I'm just too despicable."
Facing those demons was the most freeing and it was in the bubble of the treatment center that I was able to do so. I also discovered that once let out, these "secrets" lose their power. The hardest thing I did while "in group" therapy there was admit these secrets, and the response taught me one major thing - that these "big deals" in my mind were only big deals to me. When I shared these gut wrenching things the response was, "yeah, so that's it?"... amazing... it was such an eye opener, because someone shared one of "their things" with me shortly after that, and my response was, "ok, so that's it?" I found that these things we hold so precious are generally only precious to us, to everyone else, it's just not that big a deal. I was able to put them into a more proper perspective, and the healing began.
I learned the underlying reason for using food, so I thought well, now it will be easy to quit eating compulsively, and frankly it was easier, but it still was too much for me to handle. this is a cunning and baffling disease, and though I had now faced down these demons, I still wanted to eat all the time.. the call of the food was still too much a part of my thinking. I adopted the same food plan I was on in treatment, I attended f2f meetings, I continued to use my online email groups, I continued to do service on this website, I called my sponsor every day, I called other people everyday, I prayed everyday, I planned my meals everyday, I read everyday, I began walking to recovery my health, I made this program, and my abstinence THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in my day, and One Day at a Time, I began to live in recovery. I began to have hope that things would get better, I began to see miracles everywhere, in the calm of my reaction to life, in the acceptance of things as they are, in seeing what things I could change and those that I could not. I began seeing results in lower body mass, ease of getting around, having more energy, smiling more without thought, seeking out people more, putting up the blinds and letting sunshine in, finding a real peace to living, and slowly I began to look forward to waking up and seeing what new things would be delivered to me today by my Higher Power.
I found the "Steps" are where the recovery is, being "abstinent" is the preparation for being "able" to more effectively work those steps. I had heard it for a long time, but now it really made sense to me.
My walk increased from a few hundred feet to the 2.5 miles now that I walk 3 days a week, and the 1.5 miles I walk on the alternating days. I take one day off each week to rest. I have been able to take on a part time job now after years of inactivity and am becoming more able to handle this without the fatigue that I had at first. I have been working since Nov. of last year and I love going to work everyday, it is another miracle to me. I am slowly regaining my health and my mental outlook is one of joyful anticipation.
I haven't been on a scale in about a year, but will get a weight the end of this month. At my f2f meeting the other night a person came in late, and there was a place on the couch I was on and she sat down next to me, patted my knee and said, "now that you're skinny, you can't take this up all by yourself anymore".. ;-) Well, I'm far from skinny, but I'm farther away from the FAT I used to be.. and lately I've been "feeling" skinny. I just bought new clothes last week, 5 new pair of pants, and I'm still getting used to not swimming in my clothes. My wife had been buying me shirts for the past 6 months, so I basically have a new wardrobe and actually threw out most of the old larger sizes the other day. They were pretty thread bare and should have been gone LONG ago... sometimes it takes time for the image in our heads to catch up to the reality of our bodies. It does happen though... and for that I am grateful also.
I know this is long, but it's four years of recovery and there's so much more to say, that I've actually started writing a history of my life and recovery and it is proving a real cathartic endeavor. When I'm done perhaps it'll be a book, who knows?
I just wanted to share my 4th Anniversary of sanity. Know that if it's possible for me, it's possible for anyone. I feel so blessed.
Thank you all for being a part of my recovery, for inspiring me with your shares and comments over the last four years here.
love and hugs,
Table of Contents