Monthly Archives: March 2006

Working environments

I started a new job this week, and I’m loving it! It’s very different to anything I’ve ever done before though, and I have a few questions – I’m sure other Greysheeters have gone before me.

It’s sales in a retail environment for a VERY high-end product. This means a certain way of presenting myself, in order to sell to people who are able to afford these products. Now during normal work hours, that’s no problem with Greysheet: I take my lunch with me and eat it when I get a break around lunchtime.

What I’m worried about is the fact that we also go to customers’ (or potential customers’) homes, by invitation, to present the products, and this is after normal hours. I can always take my dinner, but invariably I will be offered food occasionally. Also, the company organizes small exclusive events, like wine-tastings, for select customers, where I’ll of course need to be present as well.

I’m not worried that I will lose my abstinence. What I’m worried about is projecting the sort of professionalism and impeccable image that is expected of me, that will be what determines my success in a sales environment like this. I don’t want to explain my problem to a customer, putting the spotlight on ME rather than on the products I’m selling. But I feel like some discussion, or explanation upon refusing offered food/drink, will be necessary.

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Physically weak

I feel really weak today, physically. Even lifting up my arms is effort. To be honest, this isn't just today – I've been feeling quite weak for the past few days, if not a week or two. Just chose to ignore it, but it keeps getting worse. I wonder why… I'm already making my meals as big as possible, keeping them simple and nutriciuos. Still I feel like I've just run out of fuel. I do exercise, but not too heavily: 20 minutes of cycling (to and from work), and 25 minutes of EASY running three times a week. I'm a healthy 25-year old, that can't be too much exercise!

Also, I haven't had my period in three months. Not worried about that, I could care less, but could this have a connection? Has anyone dealt with something similar? Should I ask my sponsor for more food? (I'm approaching goal, but have about 15 more lbs. to go)

Not everything’s about the food!

So I posted yesterday about how I’ve been feeling physically weak. After posting, I spoke with my sponsor, who suggested that I go see a doctor.

!!!

Now that’s an insightful idea! I honestly, sincerely didn’t even think of that possibility. To think that not everything in my body is caused by food, or can be medicated with food, is an entirely new concept.

Needless to say – thanks to those who reached out to me – I am going to see a doctor and get some bloodwork done next week.

Duh!

1 YEAR – my story (long)

FINALLY BEATEN INTO WILLINGNESS

My name is [Anonymous], and I am a compulsive overeater.  I am in recovery today by weighing my three daily meals off the Cambridge Greysheet, writing them down, and committing them to my sponsor.  I don’t eat anything I haven’t committed, and I eat what I have committed, no matter what – this is my #1 priority for today, and as a result, I have a life second to none today.

Today, March 21, 2006, I celebrate one year of Cambridge Greysheet abstinence.  I may still be a “baby” in this program, but when I started out a year seemed like a VERY long time, so I hope that I have a few things to share that will encourage the newcomer.  After all, they say that you never learn as much in your life as you do when you’re a baby.  I certainly learned a lot this year. During this year, I have:

  • travelled to two Greysheet events (NY & Chicago)
  • travelled to two week-long church conferences (Toronto & LA), staying in private households
  • weighed my food at weddings, parties, other people’s houses, hostels, hotels, and at home
  • held a job I disliked, then lost it
  • lost my visa to stay in the USA
  • gone through a two-month period of not knowing where in the world to go
  • moved to the UK, knowing nobody there personally
  • lost my sponsor, found a new sponsor
  • found a temp job here
  • made a decision that my new sponsor wasn’t working for me, and found another that does
  • found a permanent job here.

All of these can be done abstinently.  It’s only by the grace of God that I have been given the willingness, which was there from day 1 and has never left me.  I have done the footwork, to be sure, but the underlying willingness is a gift that I could not manufacture myself.  That’s why today I am full of gratitude for this continued gift of willingness to be abstinent.  Of course, today that my life has been turned around 180 degrees, it’s pretty easy to be willing to stay abstinent.  In the beginning, before I could see results, it wasn’t.

Here’s my story…

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on how it was.  We all come from similar places.  My eating was out of control, my life unmanageable: eating controlled me.  I remember binges in college when I went to the store, buying everything I wanted because it would of course be the last binge, the mother of all binges, the one that was finally so bad that it would make me stop.  But today, I might as well eat all the best stuff I wanted, end it with a bang.  Back in my dorm, I would start eating – keeping the best for last, which of course meant that I had to eat through everything else to get to the best stuff – and sometimes I was so full that I physically really couldn’t take any more.  Then, I would eat over a garbage bin, chewing and spitting, only because there was physically no way I could stuff more into my body.  I remember hovering over toilet bowls and sinks for hours on end, wishing, praying, begging to be able to vomit.  Pounding my belly, shoving fingers and toothbrushes down my throat.  I could not.  Today, I humbly thank God for that.

When the urge to eat hit, I was absolutely powerless.  Sometimes, when dieting, I would delay the inevitable.  But that’s what it was in the end – inevitable.  A thought would enter my mind, a certain food, maybe because I saw an advert or for no reason at all.  It would consume my mind, my thoughts would circle around it for hours, drowning out everything else and making concentration impossible.  Eventually I would break down and buy that certain food, along with a great many others, because this would now be the very last binge – but today, I would eat like there was no tomorrow.  A few hours later, I would sit in my recliner or lay on my bed with a grossly bloated belly, breathing shallowly and sweating cold sweat, hating myself and hopelessly crying – quietly, only tears running down my face, because I didn’t have the energy to even sob. That’s how it was.  

What happened was that I was finally beaten, in the deepest part of my being understood that I had found my master, food.  I had tried every diet out there, from fat-free veganism to fat-fasting on Atkins, and I eventually understood that my eating had absolutely nothing to do with my physical needs.  I was mentally insane, and I knew it – all hope was finally gone.

Then I remembered that Greysheet I had stuck into my old diary.  In 2004, I had gone to Greysheet meetings for a few weeks, but eventually decided that these people were all a lot sicker than me, and I really didn’t need this.  But as a kind of souvenir, I glued the Greysheet into my diary, where it lay forgotten for a year.  In March 2005, I remembered it.  I was ready: I was totally beaten, and my illusions about self-control were smashed.  

I didn’t have any contact numbers, or emails, or a sponsor; just that Greysheet, and I went out and bought a scale that same day, and weighed my first meal.  Then I remembered the Greynet.  I posted a message seeking a sponsor, and grabbed the first person who replied. So I have been abstinent since March 21, 2005.  

How is life today?

It doesn’t even resemble my old life, so it’s a bit difficult to pinpoint the changes. Today…  I don’t question my need to weigh and measure.  I have made that decision and I don’t revisit it.  I do the footwork – I pray, do service, stay close to the group – and as a result, my life doesn’t even resemble the one I had before.  

First and foremost, I now have a spiritual connection to my Higher Power, whom I call God.  I believed in God before, but I couldn’t have a relationship, because food took up too much headspace.  I have heard that you can tell what your priorities are by how much time you spend on them.  Well, food was way beyond “a priority” for me it was my 24/7 thought, my obsession, my god.  No spiritual connection with a Higher Power other than food was possible.  Only when I surrendered.

I have structure in my days now.  At first, all I did was weigh and measure my food, and that was OK.  I still have days today when I do little else, and it’s OK.  In the beginning, I had to learn the routines, learn how to do things abstinently, go through every life routine abstinently for the first time a new experience.  There was little time for other pursuits, and for the first few weeks I actually passed a lot of time between meals sleeping (as good a way as any to make sure I didn’t eat).  Now, I have other interests, but I’m very careful to keep their importance below that of weighing my food.  Why? Because I’m conscious of the fact that all of my other pursuits are possible only with abstinence, so if I lose my abstinence, I lose them as well.  

This way, by putting abstinence first, I can and do have a full life. My food is sexy.  Breakfast is what gets me out of bed in the morning, because I WANT IT.  My meals are generally repetitive because I like it that way.  I try new things occasionally, and I’m happy with that.  I eat the best of the best, all the time: what my former sponsor calls “the golden food”.  I never make a choice to consciously deprive myself of what I love most, and because of that when it does happen (in travel, for example) it’s no big deal.  

That said, my meals are very simple to begin with because I don’t want to spend lots of time in the kitchen.  Simple, but gloriously GOOD.  And large: I keep my portions big I love to eat, I love the act of eating, and I love every bite of it.  The beauty of Greysheet is that there is nothing wrong with that! Things that have kept me abstinent when I had “weak” days:

  • looking forward to my next awesome meal
  • the thought of my sponsees, that I’d lose them
  • the thought of losing my service opportunities
  • the community: outreach calls, emails
  • staying close to the community!! Especially as an outpost, which I was for the first 9 months of my abstinence.

Nothing of this would have been possible for me without the tools of Greysheet and this community.  Thank you all for helping save my life and for sharing this journey with me.  A day at a time! No matter what

[Anonymous] in the UK

Got a job!

I'm so excited today – I just got a job offer! This is a job I wouldn't even have considered before I got abstinent. It's a job that actually requires me to *work*! (gasp!)… good rewards for working well.

I went for three interviews, the first one a week ago, the second one on VERY short notice yesterday, and today I met with the area manager. I thought I'd really enjoy working for them, people seemed very nice and friendly, and from our conversations I really heard that it is a team environment rather than a competitive one. After the meeting today they told me they'd make their decision today and get back to me tomorrow.

Well, they didn't wait – they just called and told me they'd like to offer me the job. YAY! Yay for abstinence, which is the foundation of all this. I look professional today because fat rolls aren't bulging out everywhere, I can actually LISTEN without planning my next 25 binges or beating myself up over the last one(s), and I can take the actions I need to take, one at a time, to do a good job at what I do.

Drawback: I will have to work on Saturdays. That's inconvenient, and it means I can't make my Saturday GS meeting any more. I'm sad to have to let go of this, but I'm glad that I am now well rooted in the Winchester AA community – and of course, I'm starting up a GSA meeting here beginning tonight! This program is portable, even around Saturdays.

A full day, a full life

Yesterday was interesting – interesting because it opened my eyes to how different I am now, almost a year into abstinence. A year ago, I would have termed yesterday as a disaster day. Today, I see lots of good things in it. Here’s what happened.

First of all, in the morning, I spilled coffee all over my clothes, at work. Fine – I don’t have to be dressed nicely at work, I can look “frumpy” on occasion, since I don’t work with clients. So I changed into my workout clothes that I had with me. THEN, I get a call from the place I interviewed with last week – could I please come by today after work? I said no, and explained the situation. They said I should come anyway, it was only to meet with the other salesman (for him to see whether he could work with me). I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t want to go in my workout clothes. To make matters worse, after that phone call, my cell phone died and would not charge. Bad situation: all my numbers are on that phone, any potential jobs have that number, and I’ve given this number as a Greysheet contact number. It just HAS TO work.

Then, I asked for help. (Would I have done this a year ago? Probably not.) The charity I work for collects donations to sell in their shops, and the warehouse is here on site. I asked the volunteers if there were any clothes I could possibly borrow. They looked, and an hour later came back to me with two outfits, both of which fit (! I’m no longer fat !) and one of which was absolutely perfect. Like tailor made.

Before going to the interview, I called the shop where I had bought my phone and told them about my problem. They told me to come in, and I did (without a receipt or the box). They checked it, tried it with a new battery and a new charger, and that worked. I would have been prepared to pay, but they actually just gave them both to me! Another question of asking for help. A year ago, I probably would have bought a new handset and fumed about the old one, maybe not even bothering to send it to the manufacturer for repair.

When I got home after the interview, it was time to leave for music practice. I hadn’t eaten. I needed to eat, and so couldn’t go to the practice. My housemate, who depends on me for a ride, was VERY irritated – had to call someone to come and pick her up, which meant they all had only about half of the music practice time left when they got there. Sorry… I had to eat. (this was 6:30pm and I wouldn’t have been home before 10pm)

My housemate is still upset. I’m still sorry for inconveniencing her. I would have called, but my phone didn’t work. I put my food first (not even a question), and of course she doesn’t understand. I wouldn’t expect her to. I have expressed that I’m sorry, and that’s all I can do. Thank Greysheet for teaching me not only to SET boundaries, but also to enforce them GRACIOUSLY. I don’t have to demand, I don’t have to be in-your-face militant. I can respectfully do what I need to do.

Thank you all for doing what I do, no matter what.

Fasting

I have a question for anyone who’s Christian or Jewish.

I know we don’t fast; I have no intention to. I honor the God of my understanding through the way I eat – fasting removes me from my HP, rather than bring me closer. So it’s not a question for me. But I wonder, is there any way to explain my position from Scripture when I explain to my pastor why I’m not going to fast?

I know there’s a verse somewhere that speaks about pregnant or nursing women as well as sick people being excluded from fasting. Can someone point me to it? I just want to be able to back up my position with authoritative Scripture – saying, in effect, that I have a deadly disease that the God of my understanding would not want me to trigger.