Monthly Archives: April 2008

Materialism

I have experienced both sides of materialism… my mother’s first priority was music, and as an “emancipated woman”, she did not clean, cook, or care for children.  We used to get our clothes from the 3rd-World collection bins in the street, or handed down from relatives.  I don’t remember minding too much, except that my cousins always used to have nice toys and I didn’t.

When my sister and I moved to my aunt’s after our mom’s death, the first thing our aunt did for us was go out to get us an entire new wardrobe… all our old clothes went and for the first time, we looked well-kept.  She used to give us lavish gifts at Christmas, and always ensured that all children (us and her own) got an equal amount of money spent on them.  So, financially, she was very giving.  But living there was hell, for other reasons – psychological terror – yet we did have all we needed.

Now, I find that I tend to be rather stingy with money most of the time, wanting to save up (because it gives me a feeling of safety to have a little money for “a rainy day”).  I don’t go into debt, and God willing, I never will – that’s been drilled into me from the youngest of ages and I believe it’s good advice.  Buying a home is one thing, that’s an investment, but going into credit card debt or things like that, I would not do that.

I did say, “most of the time” I’m stingy.  What’s difficult for me is the little things, which add up.  I will think endlessly about buying an expensive thing, procrastinate forever, and shop around, while at the same time wasting money on cheap non-essentials that I really don’t NEED.  I’ve got to learn to be “faithful with the little”.

Am I attached to money?  Well, I get a lot of security out of knowing I have a little (and little is a very relevant word here) reserve.  Money is freedom, in many ways.  But I also know that the most important security I have is in my relationship with God, no matter what happens or what I have or don’t have… but that’s almost more of a head knowledge than subconscious.  Down there, I still do trust in money.

No shortcuts

I’ve got to remember that my priorities fall in line behind the Greysheet.  Even when pressure mounts.  When my deadline approaches, work is hectic and responsibility increases, when people everywhere need me to do something I promised and I feel I have no time.  I am still doing Greysheet first.

  • This means that I contact my sponsor as agreed.  I commit my food to her.  I follow her instructions.
  • It means I don’t weigh myself except when my sponsor tells me to.
  • It also means I do service, by sponsoring, even if it sometimes feels like another pressure added.  It isn’t, in fact – it grounds me in reality and I badly need that.
  • I even continue the “extracurricular” Greysheet activities I have committed to (i.e. AWOL).
  • Above all, I do what I have committed… I eat what I have committed… I don’t do shortcuts.  Shortcuts get me off the straight path.

I need to tell myself these things, because doing it all is absolutely worth it.  Why is it worth it?

  • Food is no longer my central, 24/7 focus!  That means, all the extra pressure I’m feeling is because I now have a life.  And I WANT that life!
  • I live in a normal-size body
  • I learn what the word “integrity” means in practice: it means doing what you said you’d do, even when no one’s watching.
  • I get to have a relationship with my higher power and with other people
  • FREEDOM.

I need a no-matter-what message

I have been thinking over something I talked with a sponsee about… the need for a no-matter-what message. When I first found Greysheet, the first message I heard was, “we don’t eat, no matter what.”

We don’t eat when:

  • we are hospitalized
  • we are bored
  • we are sad
  • we are hungry in between meals
  • we are depressed
  • we have a bad day
  • we have PMS
  • our dad dies
  • money is short

I look at people with multiple years of back-to-back solid abstinence and they show me that it can be done, no matter what, at all times. My situations are not unique – somebody else has probably already done it, abstinently. There are certain meetings, like the OA ones I have been to, that keep saying, “just keep coming back.” – I need to hear NO MATTER WHAT, first.

The way I see it, until I found out about Greysheet I was in active addiction and had lost the power to choose. Now that this incredible, awesome gift has been dropped in my lap, I will do everything in my power to keep it because now I DO have a choice. I’m not powerless any more. I have the power to choose whether I want to pick up or not, and I keep close to long-term Greysheeters who show me that there is never a need to pick up, and I also keep close to desperate newcomers who are willing to grab on to this lifeline with all they’ve
got.

For me, this fellowship works because it tells me, WE DON’T EAT, NO MATTER WHAT, JUST FOR TODAY.

Thank you for telling me that I don’t have to eat. I needed to hear this, because I didn’t know it.

Keeping it real

I’ve found it really interesting to read this particular passage just as I’m doing my 5th Step.  What shouted out at me from the reading was the bit about “be-ing”.  I’m a “do-er”.  I do things to show myself capable, to be liked, to be approved.  I know that God loves and accepts me, but I always thought that he can only do that because he is God (and therefore, he is love); no human being could see me for what I am and still accept/love me.

Part of this comes out of the fact that I always used to have to earn my mother’s love.  It wasn’t given.  I was accepted conditionally, i.e. when I was being good.  When I was doing well.  Not for “being” a daughter in the house.

So, doing my 4th Step and then sharing it with someone else in the 5th has been transformational.  I talked and unloaded all the stuff I’d been carrying, hiding, that I’d thought I’d take with me to the grave.  Afterwards, the person who took it offered to keep my bicycle in her garage so I could come over and ride it when I want to, and she’d love to go out cycling with me.  Mundane, but what an incredible gift: she still wants to know me!  She didn’t desperately try to get me out of her house as quickly as possible!

I later said to her that I really appreciated her offer because it was made even after I’d shared all that ugliness.  She replied, saying I had simply shared human-ness.

I suppose that is what spirituality, be-ing, comes down to for me – the fact that I am in my imperfect being, my character flaws and all, still an acceptable human being and no worse than anyone else.  Or better.