My name is Linda and I am a real compulsive overeater/food addict.Pray about everything. Pray as if it all depends on HP and work as if it all depends on me.
"Abstaining today only by the grace of God"
Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from compulsive eating/food addiction as intensive work with other compulsive overeaters/food addicts. pg. 89 AA Big Book.
Intensive: highly concentrated, tending to strengthen or increase, existing in an extreme degree, large, considerable, to make more acute, strained or straining to the utmost.
Indifference: no importance or value, unconcerned, detached, apathetic,
Hi everyone! Shall we move from that bottom porch step we had settled on last week as we contemplated our "bottom" and move up into the porch swing today so we can chat about "HOPE" instead of despair?
I was so blessed by your responses and work on step one. It's such a difficult step to face. It reminds me of sitting in a medical office all alone and having the Doctor tell you that you have an incurable illness that will require a very intensive treatment plan just to put it into remission, and even then, an ongoing relationship with the Doctor with lots of check ups, tests, and painful procedures will be required to keep it in remission. A whole new approach to life and health will have to be followed in order to just keep your head above water. Intensive ongoing therapy will be required. In addition to all the physical issues involved there will be mental health issues and lots of changes in close relationships needed because you can no longer live the way you have always lived. Attendance and service in a support group will be necessary because of the intensity of the illness.
Such is our disesase/addiction of compulsive overeating. It is a corroding thread through every fabric of our lives.
Sitting here in the porch swing, I remember back to the old days when I could while away the hours doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. (Food in hand I might add! I was always a multitasker!) Today "TIME" has become such a gift. When I mentioned I would like you to record how much "TIME" it required to do your reading assignments I had an ulterior motive! My guess is that in a week's TIME, that it probably didn't take anyone more than two hours to read 67 pages. That is the "TIME" to watch one movie.
We are powerless over food but we are not powerless over footwork, which requires quality "TIME"! I believe I have to place myself in the best possible position to receive the gifts of the program. Because I am very progressed in the illness I have had to do a great deal of footwork. Most of it has been in working with sponsors and in service to those still suffering or those who want to work the steps, because I like the promise that goes with this particular footwork. I hope you will consider this as well, because the fellowship is here today only because of this particular cornerstone. Great sacrifice has gone into this way of life we know and love. May we do our part to preserve it!
Hope. What a beautiful word. What is required to gain this hope? It is my belief that the 1) honesty of admitting who we really are and 2) the openmindedness to contemplate who Higher Power truly is or even "might be" will be the key to hope. Remember those old fashioned teeter totters? Well, I am that kid on the end that just crashed to the ground because I wouldn't let anyone else sit on my teeter totter! I was always pushing people away claiming "I could doit myself!" just like a two year old! When I let Higher Power become the fulcrum my teeter totter rested upon and I allowed OA (the whole program and the fellowship) to sit on the other end of the teeter totter, I began to experience hope. To experience HOPE is the beginning of a spiritual experience!
So the promise of hope helps us be willing to look at our insanity and the conditions we must meet to "place ourselves in the best possible position" to experience a spiritual awakening that will enable us to recover from this hopeless state of mind and body.
I mentioned last week that the insanity of the strange mental blank spot the Big Book talks about in Fred's story (More About Alcoholism) (p.42, 4th edition) has come to mean so much to me. I have spent alot of time trying to understand what this means to me. I want to share today my experience with this "blank spot" because I believe it is the exact reason for the two binges I have had in the last 4 years. Most of this information regarding this blank spot has come to me through prayer and meditation, journaling, talking it over with sponsors, and from reading both program literature and other spiritual texts.
The first time I went into a binge after over two years of abstinence was on a day when I was experiencing alot of inner turmoil. I was at work and suddenly, I had to leave the office. I could not take it another minute. I was feeling like I have felt so many times in my life--overwhelmed, uncomfortable, miserable, and in drug seeking mode. Driven, a feeling of frenzied restlessness, and irritable. There were a million and one reasons and yet, nothing had changed on the outside as far as I knew. I had eaten a very light lunch and planned to go to the store to get an item I had at that point eaten many times abstinently and it was permitted on my plan of eating for that meal. I remember taking the elevator down to the ground floor and it was moving so slowly but I was in almost a fog anyway so it didn't really matter. I walked down the long hallways to the parking lot, to my car, barely knowing where I was. I drove to the store almost thoughtless, so it seemed. I entered the store and searched high and low for the "item" in a single serving package. This reminds me of Jim and the whiskey and the milk experiment because I can remember I knew it would not be smart to buy a larger package. But, since there were no single serving packages, surely I would be ok, since I had done this so many times before. As I shared in my story earlier, I was definitely not OK. I ate the whole thing.
Not once did I think of calling my sponsor. Not once did I think of praying or journaling or any other tools. What I learned from this episode? Not much. I just blanked out, didn't know why, too bad, so sad. Start over.
At this point I would like to share that I am now aware that I literally "lived" in this mental blank spot when not in OA and committed to abstinence and this 12 step way of life. This is what it is like to try and "get" abstinent. It is like trying to force my way out of a coma. Maybe this will help some who are right now trying to become abstinent realize the monumental task they are facing and not feel so badly when it takes time and alot of support and action to stay conscious!
Fast forward exactly six months, same thing happened except this time I bought a whole can. So it was an even bigger binge. But this time was different. This time I was able to go backwards to the prior 48 hours before the binge and see what preceded the mental blank spot. Here is the story: On Saturday morning I was part of a committee in OA where an intense discussion took place. There were many different personalities and a sense of conflict pervaded the meeting. First mistake, I didn't pray before the meeting. Nor did I pray during the meeting. Nor did I pray after the meeting! I was disturbed all day long about this situation and I did not call my sponsor though I did discuss it with an OA friend who was pretty much as overwhelmed as I was. My abstinence intact by a thread, that evening, again without thought of praying, I called one of the members and asked for a special consideration due to a personal issue and was bluntly told no. I was pretty much wiped out emotionally from that conversation. It triggered alot of childhood abuse issues as well as some other issues and I spent alot of time grieving that night and the next day. Still abstinent, still hadn't called my sponsor. On Monday, I reluctantly got out of bed, went to work, dragged myself through the day, went to an appointment, and had eaten an entire can of xyz throughout the day. Still no thought of calling my sponsor.
The next morning sanity/consciousness returned. I was so soul sick that I could barely even stand myself. What had happened? I was soooo bewildered. So, I did finally call my sponsor. We went back over the prior 48 hours. She had me read the first 57 pages of the Big Book and write down all the things I had neglected to do to enlarge my spiritual life. Quite a list. She was kind. But she was firm. I remember to this day, that I was so insane that I was hoping she would tell me I hadn't broken my abstinence. But she did me a huge favor. She told me the truth. (By the way this binge cost me a trip to the World Business conference this year. I was asked to attend but it required a year of abstinence that I no longer had.)
Here are my safeguards to avoid this strange mental blank spot:
Read the Big Book faithfully.
Call my sponsor regularly.
Call my sponsor before I eat compulsively
Call my sponsor when I am troubled!
Call your sponsor when you aren't troubled.
Call my sponsor when I am happy. (Remember Fred's story)
Learn everything I can about my disease and what it means to have an addict's mind and personality.
Learn everything I can about recovery and especially the root of all our problems--the bondage of self.
Enlarge my spiritual life.
Did I mention prayer?
Be willing to work all 12 Steps for the rest of my life, one day at a time of course.
Care about those who still suffer, including myself. Do as much service as I possibly can. Go to any length and trust that I will be protected from this deadly illness.
READING ASSIGNMENTS FOR STEP TWO:
AA BIG BOOK
reread pages 34-43 in More About Alcoholism (9 pgs)
(come to know Jim, Jaywalker, and Fred a little better)
Read pages 44-57 We Agnostics (14 pgs)
AA 12x12 Step two summary on page 5 in Table of contents
Also read Step Two (9 pgs)
OA 12x12 Step two (9 pgs)
Only 41 pages! Less than a movie--what a bargain!
I will answer these questions later in the week. Please work with your sponsor regarding your insanity, your concept of higher power, the importance of openmindedness, what category of faith you feel most identification with, problems of self sufficiency and defiance, and how to develop a right relation to God.
AA Big Book Questions
from pages 34-43 More About Alcoholism
1. What mental state preceded Jim's lapse into drinking and how does that mental state affect your eating? (Reply according to whichever situation you are in a) trying to become abstinent b) early abstinence c) longer term abstinence.
2. How do you feel about this statement from page 37 (More About Alcoholism): . . . this kind of thinking has been characteristic of every single one of us. Can you "see" yourself in Jim's story?
3. Like Jaywalker, do you get a "thrill" out of trying to get by with compulsive eating? Are you smarter than the "average compulsive overeater"?
4. What point must be "smashed home to us" and what does intelligence have to do with it?
5. In Fred's story, what two ideas did he refuse to accept and why do you think he would not accept them? How does this describe you?
6. How many of your food thoughts start with these words "It would be nice to have . . ."
What particular foods immediately come to mind without any forethought? Might these be binge foods?
7. Once Fred gave up, describe the process in detail suggested in the remainder of the chapter. What parts of this process do you find the least attractive?
AA Big Book "WE AGNOSTICS"
1. Do you honestly want to stop using and abusing food?
2. If not, should you want to?
3. If so, what is your only hope?
4. Are you willing to believe there is a power greater than yourself and are you willing to make a connection to this power? Would you like to share your concept of Higher Power?
5. What are some of your blocks or prejudices to faith in higher power? Are you willing to put these aside and just be openminded as the dying would be? (We may need a foxhole prayer here!)
6. Summarize and share the impact that pages 54-57 have on you. Do you sense a greater power in these pages? Are you inspired or do you feel resistance and prejudice? Could this mean you need to start at a much simpler level of faith such as seeing your higher power as a "power source" like a battery or even an energy within that energizes your higher Self? Are you willing to be willing to try this?
1. What issues in Step two are your major spiritual blocks (the things that keep you from a simple trust in higher power)?
2. Share your favorite sentence from this chapter.
3. Which prayer better suits you right now: "Grant me my wishes" or "Thy will be done"?
4. What will it take for the grace of God (or whatever experience would be equivalent in your faith) to expel the obsession with food?
5. Regardless of our faith or lack of faith at this time we can stand together on step two. What can then lead us to faith?
1. Why would step two begin again with describing our illness? Shouldn't we be talking about hope and faith and all that good stuff?
2. It is said this is a "we" program not a "me" program. At what point do we begin to open up to higher power? (p.. 13)
3. It is also said that first we "Came" and then we "Came to" and then we "Came to believe." At what stage of faith would you place yourself? What specific issues are you willing to "act as if" in order to move forward?
4. Are you experiencing the healing power of love in this program yet? Are you extending the healing power of love in this program yet? Are you afraid to love and be loved? What could another member offer you that would be helpful? What could you offer that might help another?
Well, gang if you stayed with me thus far, you are troopers! Thank you so much for being so willing to go to any length! You will find an optional journaling exercise below this closing prayer.
Here is what I can offer you and mean it from the bottom of my heart: (my version of the 11th step prayer)
May we be a channel of peace for Higher Power--where there is hatred, may we bring love. Where there is wrong may we bring a spirit of forgivenss. Where there is discord may we bring harmony. Where there is error may we bring truth. Where there is doubt may we bring faith. Where there is despair may we bring hope. Where there are shadows may we bring light. Where there is sadness may we bring joy.
Higher Power, grant us grace so we may seek to comfort rather than to be comforted--to understand rather than to be understood--to love than to be loved.
For it is by self forgetting that we find. It is by forgiving that we are forgiven. It is by dying to our old life that we awaken to new life. Amen
Optional Journaling exercise:
Transform your step one picture by including your higher power this week.
If you have difficulty with a concept of higher power, could you use the term sunlight of the spirit?
How could you "picture" HP either in drawing or a word picture that would feel inspiring to you?
I do alot of visual journaling to express my emotional issues. Many times I use the color yellow at the top of my pages to depict higher power watching over me and sending me warmth and protection. I sense HP both within and without throughout the world. I especially see God in nature and always have. When I see a breeze through the leaves of a tree it reminds me of spirit breezing through my life and giving me that "lift" I so often need. The sounds of water and birds, and insects, etc. just speak so much life and aliveness into me. And peace. I have a very personal experience of higher power and yet, I also love hearing about other people's faith and practices. I have gained so much from this fellowship because of people's freedom to share their faith and also, their humble willingness to carry the message of spiritual awakening..
The healing power of love is something I did not have when I returned to OA 4 years ago. It has just been really in the last year that I have really grasped and opened to love in a deep way. I hear from so many of you and know that trust is such an issue for so many of us. But I can tell you that there are many who know how to love us and will allow us to love them as well. That would be my highest prayer. That you will know love and that you will have peace of mind. And that you will be willing to love others and bring peace of mind to them as well.
We sat on step one.
We stand on step two together.
Who knows what step three will bring!
Blessings and love to you all,