Tag Archives: no-matter-what

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.

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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.

I’m F-I-N-E

A “red flag” happened yesterday with my sponsor.  She pointed it out, and I’m now thinking about it: I’ve had a stern warning about the stability of my abstinence.  Of course there’s a danger I’m aware of, in that I’ve had all this frustration with weight gain (although I have much more hope this month as my medication was changed), but I felt I needed to think about it more deeply and see if there’s anything below that.  I would have thought that apart from the weight gain I’m fine, but AA has a handy acronym for that word… fearful, insecure, neurotic, emotional.  Am I any of these?  All of these?

F – Fearful.  I’m fearful of… growing out of my clothes.  But what’s behind that, underneath?  I’m fearful of not looking good, of being the fat one in a crowd.  I’m fearful of my greed, to be honest: despite having been abstinent for a while (or, as another GS’er I know who has over 30 years would say, “for about 20 minutes”) I’m so aware that I want more than I get.  I want more food, always.  And I know that if I start, I don’t stop because I want more and more… the whole bag, the whole crate, the truckload.

I – Insecure.  Oh yes I’m insecure… with my weight gain, and parallel to that my coworker who I really don’t get along with has been on this crazy liquid diet and has lost so much she’s now thinner than I.  Never mind that she has stomach problems and is losing hair so much it’s become visible, I am insecure and feel threatened.  And envious!!!  There is no rationality about that.

N – Neurotic.  Am I?  I don’t know… I don’t even really know what the word means.

E – Emotional.  There’s been lots of emotion lately, with all that’s going on in my family; they are in a different country but I still care, and of course I visited only a couple of weeks ago.  I can’t expect that not to affect me.  Although I’m now much more hopeful about the situation as such, I know I’m involved and I’m emotional about it.

Here it is… there’s always more.  I work this programme to the best of my ability.

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.

Letting go of sweeteners, coffee, and gum

In America, when I was on vacation there a couple of weeks ago, I drank more Starbucks coffee in two weeks than I had in the year before that… and, with a “vacation mindset”, I ended up using flavoured syrups, sweeteners, and chewing gum to excess. I mean, with abandon. I didn’t feel very good when I got home – I really felt I had overdosed a bit and wanted to get rid of all the toxic chemicals I’d been putting into my body.

So, “for lent” I gave up coffee and sweeteners. (how many times have I given up sweeteners, you ask? Many, many times.)

It’s now been about a week and a half without these things, and it is actually quite shocking just how much better I feel without them – and just how hard it has been giving them up!! Now I sip on tea while sitting at my desk, rather than coffee; I have a glass of water with a teabag in it (just can’t stand plain water) rather than a diet soda. And at work I’m really fine with these replacements. But yesterday, it was the weekend and I had time to unwind and relax – that’s when it hit, a real urge, hit me like a freight train. I was SO close to going to the shop and buying multipacks of gum to binge out on them… which is exactly the kind of behaviour I used to have with food, never just one, always the whole hog…

And I can’t claim victory over this. My experience has always been that when I surrender, even if things get tough, God always provides me a way out; and that’s what happened yesterday. I somehow managed to procrastinate just enough for the shops to close (even the 24-hour grocery stores close at 4pm on Sundays here). And I did have four cups of tea with sweetener in them… I thought it’s the lesser evil… but now I have packed away the sweetener again and that’s that.

It just hit me how compulsive I have been with these things, and I didn’t even realise it! Only when it escalated. I depended on sweetness, I looked to food for excitement again… and with the amount of sweeteners I was using I didn’t even like food very much when it came, it seemed tame and bland. Now I’m beginning to discover more and more tastes in my beautiful, natural food! And, miracle of miracles, I have the experience of getting hungry in between meals much more rarely than I did when using sodas etc. between meals.

So I just wanted to share this – I don’t know whether I’ll stay away from sweeteners after lent. I definitely will stay away from gum. I had put down gum for months but then I went “on vacation” to the US and picked it up there. Once I got back again I didn’t pick it up here. But the sweeteners… I don’t know if I’ll completely get rid of them forever. Right now I have my eyes on the next four weeks and I want to really experience them… it’s so strange. Physically I feel ever so much better like this, without them; yet I still miss them. As for coffee, I do miss it especially after meals but I am finding it much easier than I thought it would be.

But – just let me make this clear – whether I have diet soda, coffee, gum, sweetener, or any other GS-approved substance or not – I am absolutely abstinent and anyone using those things is just as abstinent. This isn’t about my abstinence as such, it is about my contentment in abstinence. IDENMW.

Rocking the boat

Recently, I spoke to a friend in programme who pointed out, quite rightly, that I am not at all in touch with my emotions. She said that I may have anger, buried deep down, that I just don’t know about. Now, I don’t know about anger, but I have definitely become very aware recently of one emotion that I just don’t know what to do with. It’s a desire to “rock the boat” – make a change; whatever change.

To put this in context: I’m not talking about changing my food. I am GS abstinent and by the grace of God, as long as I have a mind to think with, I will stay abstinent. It’s pretty much everything else I itch to change!

The thing is, there is absolutely nothing wrong and in fact, any change I could make would be for the worse: and when I sit down to actually think it through, I honestly and genuinely do not want to change. I don’t want to change jobs… yet I’m surfing job sites. I don’t want to move (in fact I can’t, not until summer, because I’m housesitting)… yet I’m checking out the papers. I don’t want to move away from here… yet I’m looking at job sites in foreign countries. In the future I may well want to do some of this, especially to move abroad, but at the moment I need to stay at my own job because

  • I love it
  • I’m finally getting some continuity into my CV – I’d never before been at a job for more than 1.5 years, and I’ve been here for over 2 years now
  • I’m starting a Master’s study programme in May and the last thing I need is have a new job to come to grips with!

I really don’t understand myself, and that’s why I’m calling this an “emotion”. I’m not sure if it is one. But it simply makes no sense through reason. I have great people around me, friends, I have something to do almost every evening (unless I choose not to), my life is great and I’m happy. I look forward to the studies, to being able to complete them while working at a job I know well, and after those studies I know I can go wherever I like and do whatever I want. The irony is, I am doing what I want to do, right now! I’m not in the place I would choose to be, admittedly (don’t like the UK) but it’s not places but people that count, and those around me are wonderful. Besides, if I still feel the same way about the UK in two years’ time I can go wherever I like, with a good qualification!

Well, I don’t know. I really don’t. It may be that because the food is down, I recognise my pattern where before I just acted on it. But I thought that all this moving that I’ve done in the past, was certainly partly what AA’s call a “geographical” – trying to run away from my troubles. But I haven’t got any troubles now!

I just feel restless, locked in a routine, mediocre… however, I’m not eating.

Writing Group Topic: a recent NMW

Recent NMW’s, well, I had to think about that. I normally have a very settled routine and even when I’m travelling, I have learned to prepare, plan and protect to the point that I haven’t had any logistical troubles with food in a long time. Sometimes that’s just luck… such as today when I had my dinner in my suitcase, so I could eat it on the train journey home (if the suitcase didn’t arrive, I would have had the inconvenience of having to eat an hour later than I wanted to, but no problem) – technically it is not allowed to take fresh food from the EU into the UK, and could cost a fine. It was a risk I’m willing to take, though… they never check.

So any recent NMW’s I have faced have been internal, within myself. Two things come to mind… when two members of my family were here to visit me, I experienced for the first time (that I could identify) the strong urge to eat “at” them, to spite them, just because I let myself have “the dubious luxury of resentments” – they are who they are, but my reaction and attitude is mine to choose and I didn’t make a conscious choice until that desire, that urge to eat “at” them, came to the fore: and that shook me. Not because I might have been close to picking up, I really don’t think I was, but because I’d never experienced that before.

The second one that came to mind was and is my continuing frustration and my weight, which has jumped 5 lbs. this month – UP. I am frustrated, disappointed, angry… all of them are emotions that may make me want to eat… but at the end of the day I know I have nowhere else to run, it’s either this way or UP UP UP without stopping, and into misery. I don’t want to go there.

Well these NMW’s are why I need the fellowship… I’ve recently been connecting really well at my Sunday night AA group, which has been so helpful. Face-to-face meetings, there’s really no substitute.