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Afloat but abstinent

I feel a bit afloat today. Last week I lost my sponsor and I have since been committing my food to other qualified persons, having now found someone who is willing to take my food every day on a temporary basis until I have found a new sponsor – this helps because it means I don’t have to call around several people until I reach someone who can take my food just for today. What is REALLY irking me is that this is the second day I have missed my call to this generous temp sponsor… I used to call my food in around mid-day and now it’s in the morning and I have forgotten until the time had passed, twice now. This doesn’t reflect AT ALL how important abstinence is to me – it’s the most important thing, so I cannot understand how I could possibly have missed the calls. All I can think is that in the morning I work on routine, on autopilot, and that’s how that happened. Argh.

I hope to find a sponsor soon. The GS community here is lovely, but small; plus, I will likely move to Dallas, TX within the next year or so (will know more by the end of November) and ideally I’d like to find a sponsor to work with long-term… hence, someone in the States, better yet, in TX. Or perhaps not – I’m praying that HP will show me the right person to approach, I’ve sent out a number of emails but no positive responses yet.

In any case – I would like this to be a positive pitch about GS abstinence. The fact is, I am still abstinent even in between sponsors; I love the fact that there is a community almost anywhere I go, and if I didn’t have abstinence I would not be facing the exciting opportunity to move to the States again. I’d be hiding in my house eating in secret shame. So, I’m incredibly grateful for this fellowship and the Greysheet.

The daily tools

I’m struggling with using the daily tools we are told to use in the programme. I had a great conversation yesterday with a fellow GS’er who related to that, and we have decided to have a daily phone call at the same time each day, to connect, to reach out. I find it hard to pick up the phone to three people each day. What do I say to them? I find it hard to make it to phone meetings because in UK time they are either during working hours or at 10pm, at which time I would normally be about to get to bed.

I find it less hard to write to Greynet, thank goodness for this invaluable tool. I love going to live meetings but the only one I have nearby is in London on a Saturday morning and sometimes I have to work at this time. When I can, I go.

Can anybody relate? I want to stay in the “middle of the herd” but I’m beginning to feel that familiar resistance to all this “extracurricular work” I need to do in addition to committing, weighing and measuring my food. I want to work a strong programme, but I also want to live a full life in the world I’m in. Would appreciate your thoughts if you have any wisdom, experience and hope to share.

Day 99, can’t choose one’s family

I’ve just returned from holiday – or rather, from the annual obligatory visit to see my family. To be fair, my family has two separate parts that do not interact, and one of those I do love dearly and enjoy spending time with. It’s the other side that makes me very aware of my need to practice self-care and the Steps, and of the fact that I didn’t choose my family.

There were a few NMW’s that happened during my vacation, and I thought I’d share what I have learned in the hope that it may help someone else…

  • I arrived on a Saturday afternoon. I had packed backup, but also made a quick trip to a supermarket to make sure I had good, fresh food for dinner and breakfast at least. All shops are closed on Sundays in Austria. Arriving at my grandmother’s I discovered she had NOTHING AT ALL that I could eat. That presented a problem – I had dinner and used all of my backup cooked vegetable. Breakfast I had bought; I was then able to get a double portion at the restaurant we went to for Sunday lunch, so things were taken care of. However, for the future I have learned that I can’t assume that anyone has even got very basic food stuffs. The backup I had would have been plenty in any other situation, but since Sundays are completely shut days there, I should have packed at least two days’ worth of food.
  • For the first half of my stay I stayed at my grandmother’s, who’s part of the difficult side of the family. She’s the only one who lives in central Vienna, though, where I needed to be. She gets more forgetful and more quarrelsome by the year – meaning that we had to have the same arguments every day because she’d forget we’d already had it. Partly it was funny – for example, she somehow got it into her head that I wanted my coffee to be as weak as possible (WRONG!!), so every morning she greeted me with brown-ish hot water and beamed, happily, that she’d made me an “extra weak one” today. Thanks very much! Partly it was annoying; but overall, I simply took care of myself and let her talk. I figured she never has anyone else to talk to as she lives on her own; if I make her life a little better by providing a sounding board, let it be so.
  • My father’s first reaction was to look me up and down and comment, “definitely got fatter.” – thanks, dad. He’s another member of the difficult side. I neither ate nor stopped eating because of that.
  • There were no signs, either going out or coming back, about fresh produce/food any more. It used to be that you were not allowed to import or export any fresh produce or non-prepackaged food, but that rule seems to have relaxed.
  • Thankfully I moved over to my cousin’s house after the first three days, where I am accepted and catered for, and from then on there was no trouble any more.

I’m very grateful for my abstinence today. I’m grateful for all the abstinent experience I’ve had in the past, and starting over was and is humiliating and painful at times; but I did need to experiment, as they say. I needed to prove to myself that I could not eat normally. Having proved this, I hope and pray that I won’t need any more proof for the rest of my life… but be that as it may, I just won’t eat today, NMW.

Day 91, thank God

I’ll have to keep this brief because I’m in an Internet cafe in Vienna as I write this – but I need to write in to say that I have celebrated 90 days abstinent yesterday. I’m in Austria, visiting the family, and I’ve already faced a few challenges! Most notably, I had to use my cooked veg backup the day I arrived and the next day, being a Sunday, nothing was open (I mean, NOTHING) and I was worried. We went out for lunch and I ordered so many cooked vegetables they thought I was mad: but it meant I had enough for dinner, and the problem was solved. And I have learned to take more backup in the future. 😉

It’s wonderful to be here and be abstinent. I can feel the difference: last year when I was here, I felt heavy, unable to move much, weighed down and full all the time. I was crazy in the food, stealing it from the people I was staying with, buying it everywhere, eating in secret and quickly. I don’t have to do that today.

So I just wanted to thank you guys, the fellowship, for taking me back after my relapse and welcoming me the way you did. And I have a wonderful, brilliant, committed sponsor to thank too – NMW

Day 79, live meetings

I am away from home at the moment, due to work: staying at Bed & Breakfasts, eating food bought ready-made from the supermarket as I have no cooking equipment or fridge. So, breakfast each day is excellent (cooked), and lunch/dinner is less than stellar, but that’s OK. I’m keeping it simple. Tomorrow I go home for one day, then off to another exhibition away.

This week I have been going to live AA meetings for the first time since getting abstinent this time. I was so uncomfortable with the idea of going to AA again in my hometown, where people had seen me before I relapsed… so I lived in phone meetings. This week I took the opportunity to go to AA in a place where nobody knew me, and I feel like I’ve got hooked: the meetings I have gone to have been speaking to me so deeply, I have such a craving now to be part of that community again. Yesterday several people spoke about the importance of the fellowship, one chap had been sober for 18 years and said he was still doing five meetings a week because he LOVED it. That gave me such a tug – I WANT this! My sponsor has been abstinent for ages and still puts the fellowship first. That is what I had not done, and why I lost my abstinence.

My attitude has been that I have a commitment to doing those meetings, because I have to, because that is what keeps people abstinent in the long term; but it felt very much like chores, like brushing my teeth in the morning: not something I’m particularly excited or happy about, just something that needs to be done. I saw a kind of joyous fellowship, love of being together, in the meetings I went to this week and that attracted me more than anything. People shared so positively, and they just loved being there… that is how I want to approach the fellowship from now on. I get to be part of a world wide fellowship; wherever I go, there are people (AA or GSA) I can call on; what a privilege, and what a wonderful thing to be able to be part of!!!

So I’m definitely going to prioritise live meetings from now on. I’m hooked.

Day 70, community and commitment

My sponsor is challenging me. I don’t like to be treated like an addict, but she is quite right, I am one. She doesn’t expect me to tell the truth, so she checks and asks questions – which I don’t like as I feel like I’m not trusted. Then again, as an addict I am not to be trusted. Her treatment of me drives home to me the reality that I am not a rational person around food, and I do need to treat MYSELF as an addict who cannot be trusted. I have to build up a network of people because I need the accountability, not because I need a new set of friends.

When I was last abstinent, I reached 3 years, then I relapsed. (That I made a choice to quit Greysheet is completely irrelevant; it is a relapse) Why? Because I had not built up an adequate support network… and also, looking back now, because I looked at the support network as an optional extra, so long as I W/M’d my food I was abstinent so everything else was more of a chore, an intrusion into my busy life. The idea that it was vital and important wasn’t really there. There are many things I disagree with other GS’ers on, and many people in GS who I wouldn’t make close personal friends with. But, I know today that friendship is really beside the point: we are keeping each other from death; I don’t have to like you to save you from drowning… and vice versa.

Then again, there are lots of people in GS who I DO like and who I WOULD like to be friends with. But I often felt that I had so many commitments in my life already, the building of new friendships really wasn’t a priority. Again, with these people as well, the accountability / network is what counts, not the depth of any friendship. Friendships may develop, but they are not what outreach calls and phone meetings are about.

I have got to change my attitude. My sponsor makes me commit my community involvement when I give her my food – she wants to know which meetings I attend, and the outreach calls I make. She wants me to do as many F2F meetings as possible, which is difficult for me with many weekends taken up by work… which might mean I need to attend AA meetings in my town instead. Not something I like to do. But again, I have to adjust the attitude: this isn’t about socialising, meeting new people, having a good time: this is what I need to do to ensure I will never forget why I do GS. Because THAT, ultimately, is why I lost my abstinence after 3 years.

Day 67, hungry day

It’s 4:30pm and I am starving. I have been drinking much less water today than I normally do because I have decided to drink plain water (as opposed to calorie free soft drinks) and that may well have something to do with it. On the upside, I have just walked past a mirror and I could swear I can see a difference in my weight. Then again, it may be my eyes playing tricks on me (i.e. feel hungry = must be thinner!)

I have to remember I am not a normal eater. My friends all are normal eaters; they are thinner than me, and they eat foods we don’t eat without a problem. It makes me feel resentful and left out, and their carefree easygoing attitude to food makes me feel like I’m uptight and high maintenance and no one will ever put up with me. I do wish I was a normal eater…. but, today I have a solution that works. I know, after a year of experimentation until 67 days ago, that I will never be fixed and will never be sane around food the way others are; I have let go of the idea that I ever will be; but I’m not happy with that fact.

However, feelings are really neither here nor there: I’m abstinent today, no matter what.