Auds here, sober and abstinent just for today, by the Grace of God, these fellowships and my own effort.
Today we start to think about step two: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Sanity/Insanity — strong words, and we often rebel against the thought that we were insane. Well, here is the reason that it is so important to do step one thoroughly. To illustrate insanity in my life, I will share what my life was like.
I trained thoroughbred race horses, I went to work at four-thirty every morning of my life for more than forty years. I had times when I was thin and in control of my life but as soon as the first bite of something that triggered my overeating was eaten, I lost it. I would think "everyone binges on occasion, I am not as heavy as that person over there who is eating way more than I am". I would think "if you had to put up with all the negative stuff in your life that I put up with in mine you would indulge in a binge to 'feel better too.'" I had cases of the "how dare theys" resentments that in saner thinking were recognized as being fueled by my self-dislike.
As soon as I succumbed to overeating I started to feel "less than" which fueled my lack of self-worth. Lack of self-worth led to being demanding of unreasonable respect from others. I became impossible to please. My work place became full of tension. I believed this atmosphere to be the fault of my employees. They of course saw the change in me when I overate and were nervous and resentful of my lack of trust in them. They felt they had proved their trust-worthiness time after time, and they had.
So what is the insanity here? I believe that my behavior when in the throes of a binge was insane behavior.
When returning to binge eating I would think "this time I will control it. I will only eat this today and only a little of it." Then I would sliver the item to death or spoon it to death and surprise, surprise it disappeared and I went to the grocery store to buy more. So much for those good intentions. So much for Everyone has a "treat" now and then. Maybe so, but thousands of calories today which grew into thousands of calories tomorrow.
I continued to think "I need this to heal my wounds", or to get through all I had to do. Of course as soon as I was into the eating, nothing got done. I refused to recognize the sugar stupor as evidence of unmanageability.
I refused to admit that my binge was not a half hour thing it was continued day after day.
I lost the ability to see myself as I truly was. Therefore I never accepted the fact that I gave others plenty of ammunition to think I was an undisciplined, dirty, mean spirited, often obscene person. I saw myself as the victim of unfair thinking people.
I made childish excuses for my behavior and stupid alibis which I thought people believed.
My life became miserable, I thought of suicide. I knew that being 308 pounds could kill me. I had phlebitis three times as a direct result of being overweight and yet I refused to admit the danger I was putting myself in. Actually I embraced the danger. God didn't exist, I reasoned, but if he did exist he wouldn't condemn me for committing suicide if I died of a blood clot.
Aside from the physical danger I also put myself in danger of financial ruin. I spent large amounts of money to "buy love." I treated everyone to everything so that they would spend time with me. I bought things that I couldn't afford and had no idea how I would pay for them. I wanted to look good or impress others. I spent thousands on presents that didn't solve my relationship problems they only made others feel uncomfortable. I didn't see this. I only saw ingratitude where an apology acted on would have meant more to those I tried assuage with presents. I also had to duck creditors so the phone stayed off the hook and led to missed appointments, and isolation.
Resentments towards those I perceived to be in the wrong clogged my mind and made me unable to see my own responsibility in my actions. I often thought "I'll show you I'll eat myself into oblivion" and as a the result I only became more and more dependent on sugar and alcohol to blot out pain and truth.
So in Step One I admitted that my life had become unmanageable. In Step Two I started to recognize my part in my pain. In recognizing my insane behavior I started to recognize that I was not a victim.
So now I called my sponsor (of one day) and belligerently asked how I could stop overeating. She made many suggestions. Firstly she asked me what I was going to eat for breakfast. I never ate breakfast, once started eating I couldn't stop. She told me that I would eat breakfast today. I argued with her, she was kind but firm, I ate what she told me to eat. Then she told me to look at the "just for today" card and pick one thing to do today. Then she asked how long I could go without eating and I yelled ten minutes. She was firm but kind. Great she said. Of course I had wanted her to say I was too far gone to help. "Call me in ten minutes then and choose what 'just for today' you are going to try to do today."
I had been living in isolation, when I became worried about dying I had started going to church for human contact. I didn't believe in God, but I sat in the back and said "if you were there you would do something for me" all I wanted was for others to leave me alone. No more phone calls telling me what I had done the night before. At my first meeting someone told my story, I thought I had been set up. I asked this woman to be my sponsor expecting rejection. How did I do that? I never risked rejection. I never did anything I thought I couldn't do I might look bad. I assumed that the speaker for that meeting was so popular that she would reject me. Who gave me the courage to approach her. hmmmm. She told me to call her. I knew I would make her reject me by calling too early so I told her I had to call at four a.m. She said fine she was sitting up with a sick child most of the night. I called her expecting her to be angry at the early hour. She answered brightly. Who inspired her sponsoring methods? Hmmmm.
On to the "just for todays" I picked five, I said I was compulsive didn't I? Just for today I will do two things I don't want to do. I called my sponsor. I emptied a dishwasher and put away the dishes that had been in it for weeks and put the dishes that were in the sink and on the counter in the machine and turned it on. I felt this twinge of self approval. Just for today I will dress as becomingly as possible. My clothes I had on were dirty, and torn between the legs, I had worked and slept in them for days. I went and found the least rumpled but clean clothes I had that I could get on my swollen body. I felt a twinge of self worth and washed my face and brushed my teeth. Just for today I may have hurt feelings but I won't show it. hmmmm a departure from professional victimhood? Just for today I will be as happy as I have a mind to be. Happy was a choice? Okay I'll try. Just for today I will speak low, and not criticize. Oh boy I'll try.
I called Nellie and told her that I would try to implement the things I had chosen to do. "Easy does it" she said, "one step at a time." okay now I had the permission to be less than perfect. Who put that thought in my sponsors mind. Hmmm
I walked outside on the first of September 1975, the air was crisp, the sun was shining. I was late to work but I stopped and breathed in the smells of wet grass and sunshine kissed earth. I walked to the barn, I had not yelled at my dogs for running around barking. I had not acted as though my staff was late, because I was late. I went into the work place and said cheerily "Good Morning." Silence, shock, tentative smiles, turned into happy good mornings. I looked at the formerly tense employees who were looking at me as if I were a stranger. The thought occurred to me that just maybe I had something to do with the unpleasant work atmosphere. Now who put the idea into my head to be as happy as I could be, Who helped me to act as if my feelings weren't hurt when those employees that I had treated with "silent scorn" were stand offish. Hmmmm.
Could it be that God existed and was doing for me what I had asked? That was a scary thought. I had been kicking God in the teeth for years. Now he was reaching out to me. I had felt flutterings of self- worth not felt for a long time. I had started to do things that were self estimable acts.
Faith takes mileage and it took me a while to trust that God was doing for me what I could not do for myself. One day at a time I regained the trust of my employees and friends. One day at a time, twenty minutes at a time, I cleaned my house. One step at a time I began to believe that recovery was possible. Faith without works is dead they say. I heard "if your house is burning, it is great to pray but pick up the hose" I heard I should use the oars and let God man the tiller. One day at a time I trusted him to do that. One day at a time my behavior became more and more responsible. One day at a time I thought through the bite to the binge to the life I had been living. One day at a time I thanked God for doing for me what I can't do for myself. Keeping me sane. Giving me a reprieve from my disease dependent on my spiritual condition which improved one day at time as I did the things that were suggested to me as a path towards recovery.
Ask yourself: Do I use alibis and insane excuses to take that first bite?
Do I admit that the first bite is the only one I have control over?
And do I believe that my higher power will keep me from taking that first bite if I ask him to?
Do I refuse to see truth: I am overweight and I binge? Do I recognize the downwards spiral of overeating? When I binge I gain weight, when I gain weight I feel less-than, When I feel less-than I overeat.
Do I refuse to see my effect on others? When I feel less-than do I treat others as less-than to feel better about myself. Can I stop criticizing myself? If I stop criticizing myself will I stop criticizing others and vica versa? Judge not that ye be not judged makes sense when you try it. Is my higher power enabling me to become more tolerant of others so that I can be more tolerant of myself and so that I feel worthy of recovery?
Did I do things like overspending for the wrong reasons thereby fostering resentments that were unjustified? Did unjustified resentments get in the way of my recovery? Did I eat over them? Could I let God remove these resentments? Hmmm.
Most of all do I know I am a compulsive overeater who has a life directly affected by all of the above? Can I admit that there is a glimmer of hope that my own effort will bring results by the grace of my higher power. Am I willing to give it a try?
The steps say that if we are willing to try to believe we will open a door that opens easily. Chapter five in the AA big book tells how it works and points out these important facts.
When we eat compulsively we cannot manage our own lives.
That no human power has ever been able to relieve own disease.
That God could AND WOULD IF HE WERE SOUGHT.
Just for today I wish you the blessing of faith in your higher power no matter how fragile that belief is. Once started on the road to faith mine grew in spite of all my doubts. I pray each morning. Thank you God for my recovery that you gave me yesterday. Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief and if it be your will let me be abstinent and sober today.
Just for today take what you need and leave the rest. and know that your higher power loves you and so do I.