Sunday, January 3, 2016

Catching Up

I've been neglecting my writing lately, but I have been working a very, extremely imperfect program. Some updates:

  • My abstinence is no sugar, no alcohol, three meals a day (no more, no less), nothing in between and no seconds. I am not worrying too much about a food plan right now. I broke this abstinence on Christmas Day by snacking on Chex Mix between meals and then I broke it every day for nearly a week by skipping breakfast and then snacking in the afternoons and/or evenings. According to my own rules, I said that if I had a small slip, I would keep my abstinence date of 8/18/15 but that if I had a major slip or two or more days of slipping I would take a new abstinence date. 
  • 12/31/15 is my new abstinence date! When I stopped counting days, I found it easier to stay sane but also easier to overlook a slip. Should I count days or not? I'm not sure yet. 
  • I want to re-commit myself to working with my sponsor. I feel she has so much to teach me but I haven't been taking advantage of her experience strength and hope. I'm making too many decisions on my own and struggling too much. I'm relying too much on casual back and forth texting with another fellow who is in the trenches with me, and I need to seek more advice from people who have good, strong, long-term recovery.
  • I started working a Big Book Awakening program in mid-December. I'm excited and nervous--it's a lot of work, but I need to be doing a lot of work to recover. I have the time now, and I might not always have it. Because I'm doing that program, I might be writing here less, but part of recommitting to my sponsor is regular writing and regular contact. I also won't be working the steps in the same way, I'll be working the steps through BBA. I am currently on step 1!
  • I'm also writing a few lines a night in a journal just recapping the day as a practice to foster gratitude and living in the present.
  • I went to an amazing three-hour workshop yesterday on chronic slippers and the people that sponsor them. I have so many topics to write on from that presentation, but it gave me a lot to think about. 
  • Kids go back to school tomorrow! Praise the baby Jesus! It will be much easier to find structure and routine with the kids in school. 
  • Weigh in day tomorrow, and I'm anxious about it. I have been consistently weighing myself once a week for the last month or so. Sometimes refraining from weighing is harder than not eating. I have been up and down in the past few weeks, so I don't know what to expect. I think I may have to choose between having a food plan that makes me feel sane but doesn't get me that thin and a food plan that helps me lose weight but makes me obsessive. Sometimes the thinnest people in OA do NOT seem like the sanest people, and the sanest people are not the thinnest. Still struggling with what the right course of action is there, but for now my shitty first draft of abstinence is what I have in place. I am beginning to believe that if forced to choose between being sane and being thin, I would choose sane. Until I have to go to a high school reunion and then I'll choose skinniness over sanity any day. I feel like rolling my eyes at myself. 
Happy new year! I am beyond grateful that this is the first new year in at least 25 years that I haven't started out with resolutions, diets, gym memberships, and Biggest Loser marathons.Even during the week I was breaking abstinence pretty much every day, I had this small, quiet voice telling me that this is just the process and that I'm having the experience I need to be having. I feel lucky to be on this path. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday, 12/15/15

Imperfectly abstinent from sugar & alcohol since 8/18/15
Weight: 224.5 (down 29.2 lbs since 8/18)

Wow. I've lost almost 30 pounds in just under four months. I definitely don't feel like I look like I've lost 30 pounds or that it's showing up on my body--have I mentioned I am crazy? I think I tend to lose weight in my waist/stomach first, which means the two pair of pants I have that are non-elastic are not that loose in the hips yet. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and think I can see it, most times I feel like I can't. 30 pounds is a lot. It's more than 10% of my body weight. I feel like I should be down at least a size or more. 

I'm still really struggling with the habit of weighing...I've decided I'm going to weigh once a week on Mondays. Yesterday I was sure I would be up, but I was down about a pound from the previous week. 

I know weight doesn't matter, except it does. I'm not feeling the 30 pounds in my clothes as much as I think I should, so it's nice to have scale reinforcement. Of course I am constantly in danger of treating the scale as my higher power, and if it has the power to cheer me up when my body doesn't feel smaller, it has the power to knock me down when my body does feel smaller. 

Eventually I will be so freaking evolved that I won't care about my body or the scale, I will just care about my behavior. It seems like a distant dream, honestly, but I am trying to act as it I believe it is possible.

I'm struggling with some resentments this morning. Christmas is coming up and the kids are out of school, and my husband is working long days every day before the holiday. I know it's not entirely his fault, but he doesn't make a ton of money and I'm just irritated that he didn't ask for more time off ages ago, like I asked him to. Him working means that I will be alone with the kids while they're off school, it will be hard for me to make my meetings, we won't have much family time, and he will be scrambling to find his last-minute gifts AFTER work, because I know he won't plan ahead. I'm just frustrated. 

I have downloaded a PDF on how to 12-step a problem and I realize that 90% of my problems aren't really problems, they are just my interpretation of something. It is my reaction to it that makes it a problem. That feels like good news and bad news, because it's easier to control myself than anything else BUT I don't have a great track record of managing my feelings.

Monday, December 14, 2015


I don't really know how to pray. So I am printing out these prayers to carry in my purse for when I need them. I also plan to read them every morning as part of my new morning ritual of prayer, reading, writing, and meditation.

I did everything on my list for day 1 of my 8-day spiritual program challenge. I'm also signing up for a Big Book Awakening (BBA) course, which I find totally overwhelming and intimidating and exciting.

Abstinence Prayer
God, Today is a new day for me and with your help it can be a day of abstinence. I ask for your protection in case sometime during the day my desire to overeat is greater than my desire to abstain. I ask also for your protection from anyone and anything that may interfere with my abstinence. I know that I am powerless over food. I believe you will relieve my compulsion and restore me to sanity. Please help me to know your will for me today and give me the willingness to carry that out. I turn my will and my life over to you. 

Morning Prayer
Show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindness and love, Your will be done, not mine.

Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to
Accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as you did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it:
Trusting that you will make all things
right if I surrender to your Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen


11th Step Prayer/Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me a channel of your peace
that where there is hatred, I may bring love
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony
that where there is error, I may bring truth
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith
that where there is despair, I may bring hope
that where there are shadows, I may bring light
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted
to understand, than to be understood
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.

3rd Step Prayer—page 63
God, I offer myself to you-to build with me and to do with me as you will.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do your will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of your Power, your Love, and your Way of life.
May I do your will always.


4th Step Prayer (Resentments)—page 67
God, help me to show tolerance, pity and patience. This is a sick person. How can I be helpful to them? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.


Fear Prayer—page 68
God, I ask that you remove my fear and direct my attention to what you would have me be.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Starting 8 Consecutive Days of Program Work

Wow, time is flying and I am a little embarrassed at how little step work I've been doing. I've been struggling a little since Thanksgiving, remaining abstinent technically (no sugar, no alcohol) until last night but eating way off food plan. It's no surprise that I had my worst slip in awhile last night, breaking both my abstinence and my food plan, while also bingeing. We'd spent a day with my in-laws, which I don't normally find stressful because I'm normally numbed out and totally self-medicating. Turns out they are slightly more stressful when I'm aware. I ended the day by inhaling two packages of cheese/peanut butter crackers which have sugar as the third ingredient. It's interesting, I haven't had sweets or candy since August, but have broken my abstinence maybe 3 times in 4 months on things like pretzels and crackers that have sugar in the first four ingredients. I know that my slips would be far worse and far longer lasting if they involved recreational sugar like candy, donuts, ice cream, or cookies. Still, I struggle to define exactly what my abstinence and avoidance foods should be.

I had a great meeting with my sponsor last Monday, almost a week ago, where we agreed I would get back on track with program work and step work. She reminds me constantly to be patient and kind to myself, which is a useful reminder. Unfortunately, I haven't done a great job with that this week, and my food hasn't been great either. I spoke to a program friend tonight and we made an agreement to spend 30 minutes a day (ideally in the morning) on reading, writing, prayer, and meditation. This is day 1, and I'm doing it now, at almost 10 p.m. We're going to do it every day through next Sunday. 

If I'm not working a strong program, and I'm not, then I'm just trying to follow another diet. So this week is all about staying on plan and doing my 30 minutes of program work every day. 

I have managed not to weigh myself for a week, per sponsor instruction. I think it's going to be a shit show tomorrow. I expect to be up a few pounds and that is going to suck. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Step 3-- Location 265

This is my first step work in more than two weeks. I basically haven't done any since I've been on the new food plan. I've been so worried about whether it was right or wrong, whether I would stick with it forever or not at all that I haven't felt like I had the mental space. But since my revelation (passed on to me by B, who gives all the credit to my HP speaking through her), I want to get back to step work. Also, my program friend M is working her way through her amends and amazing things are happening for her.

Step 3: Location 265 in my Kindle 12&12
"All of this experience, help, and knowledge is augmented by a source of wisdom inside us that becomes more powerful as we recover from compulsive eating and develop our relationship with our HP through prayer and meditation."
I finally feel like I'm hearing it a little! The inner wisdom! Since hearing from B that the inner wisdom speaks in a quiet, calm voice and the disease yells, it is easier to distinguish. Interesting that I am getting more in touch after 3 weeks on a stricter food plan, even as I have railed against it.
"Knowledge about ourselves and our nutritional needs is useless without the kind of help we find in OA, because we remain powerless to apply it."
This is so true. I have been struggling with this eating plan over the last few weeks because without prayer, surrender, willingness, it's just another diet. Just because I got it from a nutritionist and am attending OA meetings does not mean I have been working a good program. I haven't. But I guess this was all part of my process.
"As we become aware of what our eating guidelines should be, we ask God for the willingness and the ability to live within them each day. We ask and we receive, first the willingness, and then the ability. We can count on this without fail." 
I don't count on much without fail, and that last line makes me bristle, even though the preceding bit sounds exactly right to me. I was with them until they said I could really count on it. I guess that's the faith part. I think when I defined my imperfect abstinence in the last post, I forgot the part where I need to pray for willingness. I think it's ok to eat off my food plan on occasion if I don't break my abstinence, but maybe if I pray about it, over time I will want to go off my food plan less and less.

Shitty First Drafts

I'm trying a new way of tracking my abstinence. I decided awhile back that I don't want to track days because it makes me crazy when I slip. But I came into the rooms for the first time on 8/14/15  and gave up sugar and alcohol on 8/18/15 and since then have been imperfectly abstinent and have lost 24.2 pounds. Even keeping track that loosely might not work for me, but maybe I'll update every week or so with a weight and see if it makes me crazy. Also, because I am not counting days, I'm going to define imperfect abstinence for myself as small slips that last less than one meal. If I ever slip for multiple days, I will consider a new imperfect abstinence date. Does that make sense?

Imperfectly abstinent from sugar & alcohol since 8/18/15
Weight: 229.5.4 (down 24.2 lbs since 8/18, down about 9 lbs since I've been on the new food plan for 2.5 weeks)

Now onto the real stuff.

What a difference a week makes.

Last Saturday night, I was so tired and worried and hungry. I called people all weekend and complained, and they listened patiently. I wrote and wrote, and at the end of the weekend, it was clear that all I was supposed to do was the next indicated right thing. For me, that was following the food plan until I saw the nutritionist again. So that's what I did.

I saw the nutritionist on Thursday. She is very smart and a lot more sympathetic to the OA world than most, but she is not one of us. She doesn't get it. It's not her fault. She told me to stop weighing and just weigh with her. I told her I was obsessed with weighing and she said I shouldn't be. Gee, thanks.
I told her I thought the new food plan was making me more obsessive about food, and she said, "it isn't the new food plan, it's your brain." I KNOW THAT. But the point is that I wasn't obsessing about food a month ago when I was eating basically what I wanted (except for sugar and alcohol). I also wasn't losing any weight. Once I started weighing and measuring and eating the exact perfect amounts of protein, fat, and starch, well, it makes me obsessed with perfection.

I also figured out that losing weight in and of itself is a trigger for me. I am crazy when I'm losing weight and crazy when I'm gaining weight. It's very, very hard for me not to think that having less is better, that skipping a meal is virtuous. I start to want to weigh myself after I pee to see if my weight is lower. I chose not to wear jeans to the nutritionist because I know they're heavier. All my crazy pre-OA weight loss behaviors.

But the nutritionist did give me a little more flexibility. She said I can eat my starch at breakfast instead of lunch if I want. I can have move popcorn once in awhile as long as I limit it to a 3c serving and cut my starch and fat from one meal. She said I don't need to be obsessive about amounts and servings though she does want me to weigh and measure. Easy for her to say.

I continued to struggle with what I should do about eating through this week. It is clear to me that people who have what I want weigh and measure and either eliminate or severely limit certain foods. Most of them also call in their food or commit their food. I don't wanna do any of that. Is it my will talking or some deep, inner sureness that my path is going to be a little different?

After the meeting on Friday, I had a conversation with an amazing woman named B from which I gleaned two pieces of invaluable insight.

#1. I was sharing that I still have a hard time telling the difference between the voice of my disease and the voice of my higher power. She said in her experience, her disease yells and her HP has a calm, quiet voice. That immediately resonated with me, and it became clear to me that all of the chatter in my head about whether I should or shouldn't be on this food plan is my disease and not my HP, because the voice is definitely yelling.

#2. One of my favorite writers is Anne Lamott, who is not only a wonderful writer but also a gifted writer about writing. She has a concept she calls "the shitty first draft," and this is what she says about in Bird by Bird

Another thing Anne Lamott says is "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft."

So here's what B, my friend from program said to me. Think of my current abstinence as a shitty first draft. I have been in program 3 months. To try and achieve the habits and practices of people who have been in program for years is folly. So make my current abstinence a shitty first draft. 


This is a language I speak, and I have felt peace since thinking about my abstinence in this way. I don't have to be perfect, but I should try to do a little better. I don't have to follow other people's rules, but I should check out changes with someone else. 

So right now, today, here is my shitty first draft of abstinence. No alcohol. Nothing with sugar in the first four ingredients. That is my bottom line abstinence no matter what. If I slip up for less than a day, I'll consider it a slip, if I slip up for more than a day, I'll take a new abstinence date. I will tell my sponsor whenever I slip so she can keep me honest. My food plan is no white flour, no fake sugar, and healthful amounts of protein, fat, starch, and vegetables. But, I am not going to freak out if I'm at a friend's house and the serve meatloaf made with bread crumbs. That is not on my food plan but it is abstinent, and I will eat it. If I want to occasionally have movie popcorn, I will do it and eat less at other meals, If I forget to eat a meal, I will not beat myself up for restricting. If my husband makes rice and beans for dinner, I will eat it even though rice isn't on my food plan. But I will eat the proper serving size. I will not plan to weigh and measure every meal for now--it's making me crazy, and as long as I am losing weight and not using food to numb feelings. 

This is my shitty first draft at abstinence, and it feels very freeing and like a huge psychic load has been lifted. What I want is to be eating cleanly enough that the veil between me and my higher power is lifted without creating a new veil resulting from obsessive behaviors. What I want is to have enough mental energy to work the steps without spending it all wondering if I'm eating the right food. What I want is to have a flexible and changing abstinence that is dictated by what is best for me, not what my disease wants for me. 

I feel such a huge sense of relief, peace, and stillness for the first time since I saw the nutritionist 2.5 weeks ago. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lousy, Joyless, and Stuck

This is the tenth day of my food plan, and I do not feel happy, joyous and free. I feel hungry, obsessive, tired, and triggered to restrict. 

I'm weighing myself constantly, even though I know I shouldn't, because I'm not happy on this food plan so I might as well know that it is working and resulting in decent weight loss (it is--I'm down about 5 lbs in 10 days).

But I'm thinking about food a lot. I feel more "other" than ever at parties and even in my own house, while my husband, who does most of the cooking, tries to accommodate my latest food restrictions. 

The first few days, I was going to be hungry, but I am almost always hungry the first few days on a new plan. I remember that every time I joined Weight Watchers, I was hungry the first week and it went away eventually. But by the middle of the first week, the hunger was making me feel powerful and noble and strong in a way that hearkens back to brief periods of restriction for me. Often in the morning when I first wake up, I'm not that hungry. I've been making green smoothies for breakfast, and if I eat one, fine, but a few mornings, I have waited to make my smoothie and then gotten busy with the day and forgotten to eat breakfast. Rather than considering this a slip that is just as dangerous as eating sugar, it feels like getting extra credit to skip a smallish meal here and there. I tend to add a bit more to lunch when I skip breakfast, but probably don't make up as many calories as I skip. 

So obviously I'm really struggling with my will and surrender. To longtime OA-ers, I know they would say I don't get to decide if I have a little less here, a little more there. That is part of turning your life and will over. 

One night last week, I was going to a movie with a friend, and I love movie popcorn. I decided to not eat any starches and fats at dinner and to "save" them for a small movie popcorn. And I decided not to tell anyone I was doing this. I had second thoughts about that, so texted a friend my plan. She asked if eating popcorn was breaking my abstinence--it is not. But it is eating off my food plan. She said I should just pray about it and see what comes up. 

Well I did. I prayed about it and what came up for me was that I probably shouldn't do it but that it isn't the end of the world. So I bought a small popcorn. I did not have soda or share my friend's dark chocolate raisinettes. I had planned to eat half of the small bag of popcorn but ended up eating about 3/4 of the bag. I just googled that and read that a small movie popcorn is 11 cups of popcorn, so I ate probably 8 or 9. That's too much. But it didn't bring me screaming into relapse the way sugar would. I don't know if I would do it again. I might. I don't know if I want to live in a world where I can't have movie popcorn six times a year. At the same time, I recognize that I cannot stop at a normal serving of popcorn (6 cups, according to the internet, so half of a small). Also at the same time, popcorn is not a food I eat until I'm sick, unlike sugar. That's why it's on my yellow light list, not my red light list. 

Meanwhile, I spent HOURS thinking about and obsessing over the popcorn and whether I would eat it before I had it. Once I decided to have it, I was okay. I saw the world didn't end, that I didn't spiral back into bingeing or eating sugar. I felt a little tired the next day, and hungrier than usual, and I wondered if that was related, so I made a mental note. 

I guess I'm just feeling down today. This is all part of step one--I am powerless over food. I have come to believe that the solution is OA, but I don't know what the food solution is for me. 

So far I think that when I get strict and weigh and measure, it triggers obsessive behaviors for me and I don't feel happy, joyous, and free. And when I don't, I don't lose weight but feel less obsessed with food. I feel like any kind of counting, tracking, or restricting is hugely triggering for me, but when I look at the people who have what I want, they all count, restrict, and limit. 

Almost everyone who has what I want weighs and measures or at the very least eats no flour or sugar. Is it possible that the weighing, measuring, anti flour approach just isn't right for me, or is that my will interfering? I don't know! I know I should pray on it, and I am, but I don't feel like I'm getting any clear answers. 

There are only two things that are clear to me right now amidst a swirling fog of confusion about everything: 1) I should not look so far ahead, but just take the next indicated right action, which is usually clear enough for me to do it 2) The next indicated right action is for me to do this food plan another week taking my will out of it--no messing around with moving the starch from lunch to breakfast, no skipping meals even if I'm not hungry, no going off food plan for one night because I'm going to the movies with a friend. 3) I have GOT to start working the steps again, because doing a new food plan in the absence of the steps is basically just another fucking diet, which even if given to me by an OA-friendly nutritionist will not work. 

So writing this has actually helped me come to a new place I couldn't see when I started writing. I don't have to decide what my abstinence will be in a month or a year. What I'm going to do TODAY is follow my FUCKING food plan that I HATE as indicated. I'm going to email the nutritionist and tell her I've been hungry and ask if I can move the lunch starch to breakfast, maybe add an evening snack, but I will let HER decide and not use my will. I will go back to working step three, which I had been working on but stopped a couple of weeks ago for no good reason. I will pray for willingness to follow this FUCKING food plan and for willingness to surrender my FUCKING food and my FUCKING weight to God. 

That starts with going to make myself a FUCKING green smoothie, because I've been awake for 4 hours and haven't eaten anything for breakfast yet, and I'm supposed to have breakfast whether I want it or not.