Monthly Archives: August 2009

My continuing saga with chewing gum

I have been struggling so desperately with gum in the past few weeks, and it has escalated to incredibly painful levels. Today at lunchtime I emailed my sponsor in absolute agony and self-hatred, having already gone out of control with gum in the morning. I felt absolute despair, so demoralised when I sent that email, after days and weeks of picking up, putting down, picking up, putting down – I have never struggled with the food like this. With abstinence, when I wanted to be abstinent I was able to be. With the gum, I keep taking my will back… it’s like I want to put it down, but there comes a time when something in me WANTS to pick it up again and I feel powerless… and I can’t see why I could do it with the food and why I cannot do it with the gum!

I felt such condemnation. And trying to do it on my own, sort this out without reaching out for help, I was only getting more pain. Another lesson in recovery, my need for others, my need to reach out before it becomes so unbearable. I’m reaching out now because it has become unbearable. I’ve been in touch with another Greysheeter with many years of abstinence and she was telling me how she has committed herself to doing 90 in 90 because she felt her abstinence was in jeopardy because of various pressures she is facing at the moment. I have such respect for that: she knows herself so well that she took remedial action before the pain got too bad.

I WANT to say no. I WANT it down!! From right now – not from tomorrow on. I don’t have to finish today off with as much gum as I can because tomorrow “I’ll put it down”. I’ve fallen for that lie so many times. Then I do well for much of the day and then the afternoon comes and there’s no good reason… I just pick it up. So from right now, from this moment, that’s it – although I’ve already “blown it” for today (already had by lunchtime) – this is it, right now marks the moment and I will not wait until tomorrow.

I have prayed… and will continue to pray. I’ll pray when I go to bed tonight and I’ll pray tomorrow morning, on my knees, for abstinence not just from food but from gum, on a no-matter-what basis. I need God to do this, that much is for sure!

I’m so glad that I have a sponsor who shares invaluable ESH… and I need others, I need people who have successfully put the gum down after struggles, I need to hear that it is possible. If I had struggled like this with the food itself I don’t know if I had ever been able to get abstinent. My abstinence was a true gift from God, I could not have done it myself, but it was given to me. This thing, abstinence from gum, is just NOT like that!!

I feel so much more hopeful now, after having prayed and reached out and after putting all this down in writing.

Thank you all for being here.


Writing Group Topic: Emotional Independence

A very timely topic for me, this. I don’t have a marriage relationship to look into but my visit to Austria in a few weeks’ time looms heavily on the horizon and I know there will be many days when I need to retain (or reclaim?) my emotional independence.

In our family, we didn’t argue. My solution has always been to “check out” – emotionally at first because that was the only way I could, and later on of course, physically by moving away as far as possible. Now when I go I still check out emotionally. It’s what I want to do. But the problem is that I’m only able to check out superficially: I don’t really become emotionally independent from my environment, despite having worked on this for the biggest part of my life! To be honest, apart from being away at a distance, I still don’t know how to do it and that’s why a week with them drains me so much. I can do a week per year, but I come back needing lots and lots of healing every time.

When I get together with my father’s side of the family, there isn’t open conflict so much as there is underlying seething resentment. After less than a day with all of them together last year at our birthday celebration I was literally unable to smile for the photo. I could not do it. I had a pokerface on so firmly that I couldn’t even break it for the photo. I don’t know how to describe the emotion, the list of words in Paul’s book doesn’t seem to list an adequate word – I think hatred is the best word, although it’s not a fiery angry kind but a cold one, and not just in myself but underlying every interaction within that family. They resent, undermine, disrespect, and hate one another with a cold detachment disguised as civility. And I can’t seem to isolate my emotions effectively enough.

How do I become emotionally independent in such a situation? I don’t participate in the needling of hurtful comments that fly around, in fact if anything I will defend the person attacked; I say good things about others; I refuse to engage in character assassination behind someone’s back – all of these are completely counter to their ways. I do this, but it’s not enough. It’s not like I can take my stand once and for all; the same person will continue to try, and try, and try to draw me out just a little, to get just a tiny slip, chipping and chipping away at me. That’s what is wearing me down.

I hate it all. I have chosen to abandon my family (my father’s side, anyway) by moving away and it was the best decision ever, and I’m emotionally healthy enough to take the drain for a week. But it’s not easy and I don’t look forward to it.

Writing Group Topic: My right to do badly

I have a right not to do well: this is something I need to remind myself of because it’s a revolutionary concept to my way of thinking.

For me, it’s not that I have to keep anyone else in check to see that they are respecting my rights – it’s myself who is taking those rights away from me. I don’t have to continually improve? I have a right to be wrong? I can let myself off the hook occasionally?

These are dangerous thoughts because they make me fear that once I open up the door for one of them, I’ll lose control and totally go down the wrong way. Like taking the first bite in my perfect abstinence. Part of what keeps me abstinent is the fear of what would happen if I let go of that control. I have to learn that abstinence is a special case, whereas “doing well” (doing the right things, performing, etc.) is not a 100% black/white issue.

Case in point – just yesterday I picked up gum again. (I am tired of this, and I’m sure you are tired of reading about it, but I have to get this out there). I had every intention of having “just one”. Needless to say, I consumed all I had and hated it! Somehow I’d managed to convince myself that I don’t have to be abstinent from gum because that doesn’t mean losing my abstinence, so I can be “imperfect” and have just one. The problem is, I lost all control. That’s exactly what I’m afraid of when it comes to letting go of *any* of the things I hold myself accountable to!

Exercise is an example where I kind-of have a balance now, but not really. I want to exercise, but right now I’m “allowing” myself off the hook and to be imperfect by trading my requirement to exercise for walking to and from work (a total of 40 mins. brisk walking per day). So I don’t do nearly as well as I want to, or think I ought to, but I am doing something and that is some sort of success. Except that each week, I have this urge to do better the next week and add to what I’m doing. No matter how much exercise I do, I get this urge each week to add to it. More, more, more – better, better, better. Then, if one week I don’t do more or improve, I feel like I’ve lost it all. Then it’s so easy to just let it all go.

It’s a pointless roundabout and I can see my thinking patterns here. With exercise I’m sort of getting there mentally (content with just walking, and recognising / refuting the inner self-talk to HAVE TO do more/better next week), with gum I’m not (I’m OFF it now), and with many other things I haven’t even recognised these patterns yet. Sigh. I’m my worst enemy and critic.