Monthly Archives: September 2008

Back from family visit / grateful and fears

I got home from a week’s vacation in Vienna to visit my family. Much of that was an exhausting experience. I stayed at my grandmother’s, who gets crankier every passing year; next year when I visit I will not stay with her again. It’s just not worth the trouble. I had to argue over every single meal as I made it, as she derided my choices, as she told me off for eating too much / the wrong things / not what she wanted me to eat. I remained abstinent with the help of a wonderful temp sponsor and the knowledge that it was only a week, but I am exceedingly grateful to be back home.

Apart from my grandmother, the rest of the family has really been fine. They are used to my weighing and measuring by now and have managed to accommodate me so well that I ate like a queen when I ate with them. Eating out in Austrian restaurants was also very simple. So I am grateful for that.

With my temp sponsor this week, I have composed a list of gratitude and fears for today.

  1. I am grateful to be back home after a stressful week with family.
  2. I am grateful for my colleagues at work who are so loving and made me feel so welcome back this morning.
  3. I am grateful to have my own kitchen back and be able to make my own food without having to explain and argue at every meal.
  4. I am grateful I didn’t pick the gum back up while away even though I really struggled.
  5. I am grateful for the sunny weather and the fact that I will be able to enjoy some of it as I get to leave work early today.


  1. I am afraid of all the work that has accumulated while I was away – it feels like a mountain and it weighs heavily on me.
  2. I am afraid when my sponsor is away. I know it’s an irrational fear, but I still feel it. She is a secure rock in my abstinence.
  3. I am afraid because my finances are so tight this month.
  4. I am afraid I have too much protein at home to eat it all before it goes off. I have a fear/aversion to throwing food away.
  5. I am afraid to be alone with nothing to do tonight, but I need to rest.

I’m very grateful I got through this, it was really abstinence and the thought of the next meal that allowed me to remain present and somewhat sane throughout. I kept wanting to pick up gum but thank goodness I did not, and am incredibly grateful to have returned home clean and clear. It’s good to be back.


Just doing it – writing group topic

The topic of Doing It – as someone else has said, this is so important for me as well. To do things I don’t feel like doing, but do them anyway because I know better than to go by what I “feel like”. Otherwise I wouldn’t go to work consistently, I wouldn’t do Greysheet consistently… I don’t always feel like it. The key is to understand that I can do it anyway, and that I don’t need to talk myself into a better attitude or into wanting to do it *before*. I just do it, no negotiation. Certainly that’s the case with abstinence, I don’t negotiate or wonder or try to pep-talk myself into doing it. If I don’t feel like doing it one day I just do it anyway and the next day I’m happy I did.

That lesson doesn’t readily translate into other areas, though. I wish I could learn this once and for all and then that’s it. I always struggle with exercise – and it’s exactly that, going by feelings, I don’t “feel like it” and then I never get any consistency going. When I don’t feel like it my response is to try and make myself feel like it, instead of just doing it. Will it hurt me if I do it with a bad attitude? No! But nevertheless I struggle on, even though I know this. Why am I able to do abstinence no matter what, no negotiations, but not exercise? Or other things?

The other issue is the quote that others have also highlighted, that said, “How we speak shapes how we think, and therefore what we see, and then in turn what and how we experience”. I’m finding this to be very true. What I speak reflects what I think, and I can choose that. I can choose to think positively or negatively, I can choose to dwell on certain things and not others. In fact, I can choose my attitude by how I think and talk about things. I’m becoming more and more aware of the power of my words and I’m learning – slowly and imperfectly – to keep my tongue in check…

The (dis)comfort of food

Earlier this week, I had a very painful episode of the stomach pain I posted about a while ago. It was so bad I considered calling an ambulance (cold sweat, shaking, doubled over kind of pain), and my doctor’s finally taking me serious enough to have some tests done, blood and ultrasound. I already know the ultrasound results, which are all fine; waiting for blood results to come. In the meantime, I stay abstinent and don’t eat anything off the Greysheet, no matter what.

What’s interesting to me is how I’m able to observe my primary instincts in this – which are of course about food – and I’m immensely grateful that I don’t have to act on them.

I find myself drawn, not to non-Greysheet food (which is simply not an option), but to abstinent “crutches” to comfort me. Something within me is still looking for something to put in my mouth to make it all better. I am thinking especially of gum and chewable stomach tablets, which are medicines but are sweets, too. The fact is of course that the stomach tablets may even help with the pain, but I still know I can’t have them because I cannot have just one. If I need something for the pain, I’ll take a liquid that tastes terrible – no temptation there!

So gum and chewable tablets are calling to me. Ironic, because I suspect that gum is what brought this issue on in the first place; in the past months, before I cut out all sweeteners and gum, I had been overdosing on those in such severe ways that I remember one morning, arriving to work, when I got out of my car I literally doubled over with pain and water in the mouth and needed several minutes to get well enough to walk. This was the morning after a day filled with chewing gum, many many packs. It is over those months that the stomach pain began and gew worse and worse. Now I’m off the gum, of course, but the stomach pain remains. I’m paying for what I did. I really suspect it’ll be a stomach issue, that I’ve somehow damaged the natural balance in there with all that artificial, aggressive stuff.

I still seek comfort from things to put in my mouth. I wonder if that’ll ever go away… I know, rationally, that comfort isn’t to be found in anything I can put in my mouth, but that doesn’t prevent my subconscious to seek after it anyway. Whatever food I look to for comfort will only bring DIScomfort. These days I’m grateful that I am able to identify these tendencies and not act on them, but that isn’t to say that it’s easy. This isn’t plain sailing for me; this is a struggle. But today I choose not to eat.

Step 0: put down the food

I came to Greysheet in order to put down the food. When I came, I was so beaten by it that I didn’t try to negotiate, I didn’t try to do it my way – all I wanted was to be free from it, although I couldn’t even imagine freedom. So yes, Step 0 – put down the food – I did it, I was willing to. But the journey on GS could only continue because I then took Step 1 and admitted I was powerless. I had taken Step 0 many, many times! How many times in my dieting life had I put down the food? Only to find myself bingeing not much later? I took Step 0 all the time. But it’s the other Steps, in combination with the Greysheet food plan and my sponsor and all the tools we use, that KEPT me abstinent a day at a time.

Over time working with sponsees, I have however learned a valuable lesson. Not everyone is as willing and as beaten as I was. Not everyone who says they want to be abstinent actually wants it badly enough to follow through with the program. These are the people who pick up again and again, only to have to take Step 0 again. Other Greysheeters with many more years of abstinence than me, have told me not to waste too much energy and time on such people. Until and unless someone is ready, and has followed Step 0 with a thorough Step 1 – and 2 and 3 shortly after – we’re just wasting one another’s time and I could spend my time more fruitfully by helping another compulsive overeater who truly is ready.

Topic: the answers are not in the food

Thank you for this week’s topic. How very simple, yet profound, the fact is that the answers truly are not in the food… and I never knew! I looked to food for absolutely everything.

I truly believed – deep down, although not necessarily on thought-level:

  • eating the right things would make me thin (NOT eating was never an option for this COE!)
  • eating would give me something to do when bored
  • eating would take my mind off a nagging problem so I didn’t have to face it
  • eating was immediate, right here, taking my mind off the future and my fears for it
  • eating would cheer me up if I was unhappy
  • eating was my way to celebrate if I was happy
  • devising, tweaking, and analysing the perfect diet gave me a sense of purpose for my life
  • eating was a problem I thought I could tackle, so I didn’t have to look at the big issues in my life

Of course, as a compulsive overeater, I have an excessive focus on food and that has carried into abstinence. How often have I been amazed at my sponsor’s, or another qualified GSer’s, suggestion that my present problem may not have any relation to food! This is especially true when there’s a physical problem, like I have a flu or the stomach pain I’ve been experiencing: I immediately blame the food. No matter that it could be a virus – I look to the food first. I always thought food would fix me; even before I got abstinent, food was never just “the enemy”. It was also the comforter, the thing that would fix it all, the good guy. I just had to get it right! Thank God today I don’t have to tweak anything, get it right, or wonder if I got it wrong. I eat what the Greysheet tells me to eat, that’s all.

I had a laugh with a GS friend the other day, who shared about her fear of not being able to date while abstinent. I pointed out that a date doesn’t have to involve food – perfectly obvious to me, but a novel idea to her and she burst out laughing. Duh! But that’s the way I am, too. Often others will see something perfectly obvious that I have related to food for no good reason at all. That’s why this community is so great!