“I put my hand in yours…”
With Thanksgiving approaching I am already pondering the strategies and tools I intend to use and/or apply to keep my focus on the reason for the holiday and not the food around this holiday. As anxiety about the day envelops me, I can remind myself that it is weakness, not strength, that binds me to my fellow OAers and it is my intention to wallow in that weakness! Our very wise founder has provided for me powerful words to keep accessible on Thanksgiving Day. (I also intend to have my cell phone accessible too!)
“I put my hand in yours and together we can do what we could never do alone!
No longer is there a sense of hopelessness,
no longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady willpower.
We are all together now, reaching out our hands for power and strength greater than ours,
and as we join hands, we find love and understanding
beyond our wildest dreams.”
– Rosanne’s Promise
Have a joyous, serene, and satisfying abstinent Thanksgiving!
“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice means progress.”
I continue to release and then reclaim my character defect of perfection. When I identify it is back again, it is a Step 4 moment. I shine a light on it and share it’s presence with my sponsor as a Step 5 action and then release it to my Higher Power as a Step 6. If only it would stay released! Maybe next time Perfection is creeping back into my life, I need to remind myself of the quote above and redefine what “perfection” actually means to me. A definition that would be attractive is – doing the best I can and being satisfied with progress. Instead of trying to get rid of perfection, yet again, I use my Higher Power to modify it!
“One is too many and ten-thousand is never enough.”
This phrase refers to bites of binge foods…foods that trigger the obsession and the inability to stop eating. Another one of those pithy trueisms! It reminds me of the old Lays potato chip commercial: Bet you can’t eat just one! I could eat just one…one bag… Today just being aware of this deadly trigger I am much more capable of drawing upon the power greater than myself to prevent the first bite. And if (when?) I do take one bite and the fireworks go off in my head luring me to eat more, I am also able to take action to prevent any further free fall into a compulsive binge.
If I pass One, before I reach Ten-thousand, I have Nine Tools and Twelve Steps and Hundreds of OA Friends. I am SO grateful for a set of instructions to follow that keep me in sanity.
“Choose the LIFESTYLE that fits your LIFE’S DESIRE.”
What do I desire my life to look like? I desire a life free from food obsession in which food does not play the central role. I desire a life where I am present – and want to be present – to fully enjoy. I desire a life where I do the next right thing instead of wallowing in sloth or gluttony. I desire a life of balance and serenity.
The lifestyle that will get me there is one where I follow the Steps of OA using the Tools of OA to the best of my ability. So…what am I waiting for?! Program tells me to Act as If and this is what I strive to do each day. I choose to set aside my destructive habits and attitude and I choose to follow the lifestyle that fits my life’s desire. Recovery.
“Your family knows which buttons to push because they installed them!”
“Another name for Thanksgiving is Thursday.”
Thanksgiving seems to bring around the perfect storm for compulsive eating. Foods not normally eaten and family drama and high expectations and resentments. Wow.
Here is how I am handling Thanksgiving this year using program.
First: I will have a food plan that I will commit it to my sponsor and I will follow using the OA tools. I am anticipating enjoying my abstinent food. Yes – enjoying. Free from guilt, shame, and remorse from the foods that bring me pain, I can truly relish the foods I do eat! I feel lighter just in anticipation.
Second: I have separated my Thanksgiving meal from the visit with my family. When I visit my family, I want that to be the focus…not the food. How lovely to immerse myself in conversation with family members without the distraction of the Thanksgiving feast. I never could do either well, visit with my family or enjoy my Thanksgiving meal, when they were done simultaneously.
Third: Remember to give thanks. OA has taught me to focus on life instead of food. I intend to do a “gratitude an hour” on Thanksgiving. I will write them into my journal to reference when I am in need of a positive perspective in the future.
Fourth: I will keep the Serenity Prayer handy and go with the flow. When I am most comfortable in my recovery I feel like I am simply bobbing along on the waves of life. Instead of allowing the waves to break over me, I simply float along on top. Awareness, acceptance, and action will be my go-to verbs for the day! There is nothing that life can throw at me that I cannot handle with program.
Fifth: I am going to the Thursday night recovery meeting: Grace Presbyterian Church 5:30pm. Come join me! We can celebrate together!!
“Expectations are pre-planned resentments…be careful!”
When I am giving my 10th Step inventory to my sponsor each night, I go over with her my plans for what I anticipate the following day will bring. Both a food plan and a plan of action. However, I KNOW that what I anticipate rarely is what happens because life is messy and unpredictable! So I stay away from expectations about tomorrow. When life doesn’t play out according to my expectations then my emotions take control. It is a nuanced approach to life that I have begun to fully appreciate: anticipate and plan for tomorrow but don’t harbor expectations about tomorrow. I must have a plan to deal with life but my plan must be flexible enough to deal with life!
“I have an emotional problem with a physical manifestation which requires a spiritual solution.”
This phrase sure encapsulates my disease. I was stuck in a demented merry-go-round before recovery. I would eat something ‘bad’…feel regretful…so eat more…which would make me frustrated…so eat even more…which would make me feel depressed…which I thought food would help. Crazy! I was physically manifesting all over myself!
Luckily I found OA and a power greater than myself. When I have an emotional problem today, I have tools to use, people to connect with, and most importantly a power beyond what I ever had before. So nice to finally get off of that merry-go-round. Huzzah!
Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better.
How unrealistic of me to expect perfection in myself. No matter how hard I tried, it was never good enough. Never perfect. Today in recovery, I am satisfied with doing the best that I can and leaving the results up to HP. I cannot expect more of myself than the best that I can give. It is so wonderfully freeing to release myself from the struggle to achieve perfection. I am free to be who I am and to be ok with who I am just as I am. Isn’t that perfect? It most certainly is better!
Food can fill “hungry.” Food cannot fill “empty.”
I spent years and so much energy trying to fill empty with food. No matter how much I ate, it was NEVER ENOUGH. I would eat and eat and eat and get overfull and then take Tums and wait a bit and then eat even more and still Not Be Satisfied. Crazy.
What I have learned through program is that I was trying to use food to do something food cannot do – fill the empty spot within myself. What I have found does fill empty is a new spirituality. A connection with a power greater than myself and connectedness within the program with other compulsive overeaters. I now turn to them when I am feeling a hole within myself.
“The message of OA is not ‘You can be Thin’ but the message is ‘You can be Free!'”
I recently got a new picture ID for work and found the drawer where I had stashed all my old IDs. It was interesting to go through the stack and see my various hair styles, eye glasses (or not), and the changing thickness to my face. What was most remarkable to me as I went through them was that even though today I am as thin as I ever was…there are a couple where I am obviously thinner…but I am the happiest I have ever been. Even when I was my thinnest I had a conflicted soul and was still in bondage to my disease. I thank HP that I am not that person today. Program has shown me a new way of living. And while my ID today might not show the thinnest me, it shows the most free me!