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