Monday, August 30, 2010

Spiritual and Emotional Recovery

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I'm up early, writing on the concept of dependence for my sponsor. I need to call her in 10 minutes or so, but I thought I'd take a moment and post.

Today marks Day 21. I can't believe it. Thank You, God, for three weeks' abstinence in this program. I absolutely could not be doing this in my own strength.

I know it's not about the weight. Really, I do. But I was happy last night when my wife came home from being with some friends and mentioned that they were all noticing and asking about my weight loss. I haven't been on a scale in a while, so I don't even know how much I've lost, but it must be starting to show. I'm up in front of people a lot, so they have a lot of opportunities to notice.


Just got off the phone with my sponsor; she and I talked about this weight loss comment and how to react to it. We've talked a lot about focusing on the emotional and spiritual recovery rather than the physical. But how does the average person notice that in my life? It would have been amazing last night if those women had said, "Charlie seems so serene and purposeful these days... What's different?" But that's not likely to happen. Society focuses on the outside.

I'm reminded of 1 Samuel 16:7. God is guiding his prophet, Samuel, as Samuel discerns Israel's next king. God says to Samuel: "Do not consider his appearance or his height.... The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I'm going to ask some people who are close to me - my wife, in particular, but also some program friends who never see me at meetings - to help me in this regard. To help me stay focused on my spiritual and emotional recovery. I will have plenty of help staying focused on the weight.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alive and Well

My name is Charlie, and a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I haven't posted in a while. Just busy. Nothing's wrong, thank God! I am still abstinent. Almost three weeks in the H.O.W. regimen now.

I don't really have a lot to say tonight, so I'll keep it short. I just wanted to check in and let you know I'm alive and well.

Goodnight. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy, Joyous and Free

My name is Charlie. I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I feel pretty good today. I woke up at 5:30, read the AA Big Book and wrote on Step 2. I called my sponsor at 6:00, committed today's food to her and read her my writing. I have gotten in two program calls so far, and I have eaten two abstinent meals. I have been more present at work, and I feel good here at the end of my workday... Like I've been worth the money they pay me.

You know something else? My shirt feels looser today. It's the same one I wore Saturday night, and it seemed a little tight then. But today it feels comfortable. Am I slimming down? I haven't been on a scale this week (and I won't weigh again until September 19), but I think I've lost a little weight.

It is at this stage of the game that I normally start to rationalize sneaking food, cheating "just a little" on my food plan, larger portions, etc. I have a tendency to sabotage the work that my Higher Power wants to do in and for me.

Not today. For today, I continue to surrender. I will follow the steps laid out for me to follow. With the Holy Spirit of God as my guide, comforter and strength, I will stay abstinent today. And more than that, I will recover. And more than that, I will live as I was created to live: Happy, joyous and free.

Monday, August 23, 2010


My name is Charlie, and I'm a recovering compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I'm feeling angry today. I am calling people left and right. For a week now I've been making 3+ live outreach calls a day. Sometimes it's awkward. Sometimes I don't know what to say. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes I can just be there for a friend in need, and sometimes people are there for me. Sometimes it's more like "Hello? Just checking in. How are you doing today? OK. Bye." Check. One down, two to go.

I guess my frustration is toward those people in program who don't call back! I have only received calls from two people out of all the people I've tried to call. I have some long-distance recovery friends. They call (THANK YOU!), but the local ones never do. Am I that scary? Do you not make outreach calls?

I think that's it. The phone is one of the tools which is rarely used. I know from experience how hard it is to call. I'm facing it every day, and honestly I'm probably only making some of these calls because I have to. But come on, people. A little reciprocation would make my day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"I find sometimes it's easy to be myself..."

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I sing with a local cover band. Tonight we played for four hot, exhausting hours (outdoor stage, middle America, middle of August) at a Mexican restaurant. I *do* love singing with this band, because I really love to sing/perform and I also really need the cash.

(Aside: I was recently accused of singing with this band "just for the money" by someone in my church who was concerned I was losing my focus on God. Does this person have any idea how little money local musicians gigging in restaurants actually make? Please.)

Anyway, I knew tonight would be a set-up on a couple different levels. First of all, they always give us lots of free food and drinks. Now I love a good beer as much as the next guy, but - at least for today - alcohol is not in my food plan because of its sugar content. And oh, the tacos and nachos and burritos! It's like the Holy Trinity of food!

But I was OK. I knew I would be... but I checked in with a program friend, texting between sets, just to make sure. I drank my free Diet Cokes with gusto and said a polite "no thanks" whenever the server came around with food.

The other challenge to me in a setting like that is far more insidious. I tend to start thinking about what I look like vs. what I think a lead singer in a band should look like. I don't really measure up. I can sing, let me tell you, and I'm pretty good at the "performing" part of it too... Saying the right things, getting the crowd up and dancing, etc. But that's where I get tripped up too. When I'm performing, I don't know how to just be myself. What is this elusive "myself" anyway?

I texted the aforementioned program friend, who assured me, "A lead singer of a band looks like YOU!" That was cool. And, apparently it's true. Because tonight the lead singer of our band looked an awful lot like me.

The title of tonight's post comes from a Dave Matthews Band song that I sang tonight, "So Much To Say." I had just read my friend's text when I sang these lyrics:

I find sometimes it's easy to be myself.
Sometimes I find it's better to be somebody else..

I don't know if I found it easy tonight, but I was at least reminded that I'm OK the way I am, that my body isn't out of place on the stage. That no one is distracted by my 50 pounds of excess weight. Well, at least not distracted like I am.

And the whole "better to be somebody else" thing... Well, part of that is my job as a performer. I have to be bigger than life and move around and at least TRY to look comfortable, even when I'm not. It's a fine line.

I didn't like my shirt tonight. It was a little too snug for my comfort... I want to be able to move freely and dance, and I do... but tonight I felt a little constricted. Note to self: Find a comfortable shirt to wear tomorrow. (We have another gig tomorrow afternoon.)

I'm up way too late. I have to be up at 5:30 (in just five hours!) to prepare for church. I've already packed a snack for tomorrow mid-morning, since I'm going to have a long stretch between my breakfast at 5:30 and my lunch at noon. Then I'll dash home, make lunch, put on clothes for the show, then get to the gig and play for three hours... Then at 4:00, I'll pack up and head to the church again, where I'll do reading and writing to prepare for my phone call with my sponsor at 5:30. Then another church meeting at 6. Then I'll go home and crash.

I'll try to sneak in three program calls in the midst of all that chaos. Think anyone will pick up?

(Aside: That three-calls-a-day requirement actually brings more anxiety into my life than the food plan! Especially if people are not picking up their phones... I'm grateful for the three who picked up today after I called probably eight people and left messages. When I *do* get on the phone, I'm always thankful... It's just the weight of having to make the calls that brings the anxiety.)

I am so grateful for you, my program friends, who love me and support me. I am grateful for a Higher Power who created me, loves me and desires the best for me. I am grateful that I get to partner with God to bring about His will on this earth. I am grateful for a voice to sing and opportunities to use it, both vocationally and recreationally.

I am grateful for a home (my very own home!), a loving wife and four amazing kids. I get a lump in my throat when I think of this sweet family, all sleeping soundly under this roof in the silence at 12:38am.

I will rest tonight, knowing that I am in the loving hands of God. Goodnight!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm So Beautiful

Hi, I'm Charlie, a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I don't know how "beautiful" I feel today, but maybe it's time to announce to the world that I am the humbled and grateful recipient of the "Beautiful Blogger Award" from The Binge Diary.

Now, the rules of the award are as follows:

1. I must tell you 7 things about myself that you do not already know.
2. I get to pass on this award to 7 beautiful bloggers that I follow regularly.

So, without any further ado:

1. I have recently switched my favorite soda/pop. For decades, I've been a Diet Coke man. Now, inexplicably, I'm drinking a lot of Diet A&W Root Beer. Love it. And no caffeine, right? It's practically a health drink. :)

2. In my house, I'm responsible for the dishes. My wife does the laundry. We share the rest. It makes things a lot simpler.

3. We have two pets in our house... a Bearded Dragon and a Holland Lop. One of my sons is allergic to dogs and cats.

4. I have a brother and a sister. I'm the oldest at 38. My sister is 35, and my brother is 30.

5. I love grammar, and I almost pursued a degree in English. In fact, I was an English major for a year before a music professor convinced me to change my major to Music Education. I graduated from college in 1995 with a Music Ed. degree, voice emphasis.

6. I have over 18,000 songs on my iPod. I know, I know... No, I didn't purchase all of them. Many are ripped from my vast CD collection, many are legit purchases, many are special freebies I found online, also legit, and many are plain old, flat-out illegal downloads or ripped from friends or the library. I suppose I'll have to deal with that in my stepwork.

7. I have read the Harry Potter series many times. I've read books 1-4 four times, book 5 two-and-a-half times, book 6 twice and book 7 once. Why? I discovered the series myself after book 4 had come out, so I read them all to myself. Then I read them aloud to my oldest son. He and I read book 5 together. Then I read books 1-5 aloud to my middle son. While I was doing that, book 6 came out, and I read it aloud to my oldest son. Then I read it again to my middle son, then book 7 came out, so I read it aloud to my two older sons. Now I'm reading the whole series to my twins, and we're on book five. ::Whew::

And here are some beautiful bloggers you should follow too...

1. My Brain, Anonymous
2. Recovering Anorexic
3. A 40-Something Fool's Journey
4. Confessions of a (Recovering) Compulsive Overeater
5. Down in Sunny San Diego
6. Thank God It's Lunch Time
7. RecoveryDiscovery

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day Ten - Structure, Structure, Structure

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

I keep trying to start this post, but I don't have much to say. And I have so, so much to say.

I'm ten days into this new abstinence, and I feel so overwhelmed by the demands of the H.O.W. structure. Every day I read program literature and do stepwork, plan my food in advance, talk to my sponsor for 15-30 minutes every day at 6:00am and talk to three additional program friends.

Yes, that's a lot. But I feel so grateful, too, because - one day at a time - I'm doing it. With the help of my sponsor, my program friends, my online recovery community, my F2F meetings, my supportive wife and kids, I'm doing it. In the love and grace and strength and power of my Higher Power, I'm doing it.

Today when I talked to my sponsor and other people on the phone, our conversations centered on the scale. My sponsor reminded me that in H.O.W. we only weigh once a month. I think I might die, but I've committed to that as another requirement of my sponsoring relationship, and if I weigh again before September 19, I've lost my abstinence. So how do you focus on recovery - spiritual, emotional AND physical - instead of weight loss? I'm starting to catch glimpses of how to do this. But I know it will be a challenge.

Time to read more Harry Potter to my kids... I have 8-year-old twins, and we're getting close to the end of The Order of the Phoenix. Love these books! Then tuck them in, plan my food for tomorrow and hit the hay. Oh, and try to connect with one more person on the phone before tomorrow morning.

This getting up at 5:30 EVERY MORNING is killing me. And it's so good for me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And Away We Go

Hi, Everyone. Charlie here, a grateful recovering compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

Well, I did it. I called my sponsor this morning at 6:00. We talked for about 30 minutes. I gave her my food for the day and we talked about my writing. Perhaps even more incredible, I was up at 5:30.

And I'm planning to do it again tomorrow. And the next day too.

OK, friends. Now I have to do something that is hard for me. I need to call my old sponsor and let her know 1) I'm still alive, 2) I am back in OA and 3) I have a new sponsor. I want her to know that she didn't do anything wrong, and I'm grateful for her. But I think it's important to close that loop.

I think I'll go do it now... Just get it over with. OK, I'm gonna go call, then I'll come back and tell you how it went.


OK, I'm back. I left a message on her phone. I thanked her for her service to me, her example and her abstinence, and I told her I'm back and working with a new sponsor. I think it was fine to leave it on her voicemail. I'll email her too, and I'll follow up live next time I see her in a meeting.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Terrified and Relieved

Hi, I'm Charlie, a recovering compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

It's been a big week. I posted last Monday, so full of resentment and hopelessness. Then the miracles started to happen.

A recovery friend from Twitter reached out and really encouraged me. And then I got a call from a woman in our local OA Saturday morning meeting. Miracles? Felt like it to me. Those glimpses of sanity and friendship were enough to get me to a meeting on Saturday morning.

I arrived a few minutes late, so I had to ring the doorbell for the building where we meet. Who should come around the corner to let me in? The woman who had called on Friday. Of course.

After the meeting I was ready to ask her to sponsor me. I knew she has what I so desperately need. Funny thing: She offered to work with me before I even had to ask. Wow.

So we sat and talked for an hour. We're on our way. We have identified that one of the most important things for me right now is routine. Discipline. Keeping my word to myself and others. Finishing what I start.

So tomorrow morning I'm going to start calling her every morning. At 6:00am. I will read my writing assignments to her and commit my food to her. I've never had such a structured sponsor relationship. I have tons of reading and writing to do. I'm terrified and relieved at the same time. Relieved that I am turning over the reins of my life to my higher power... literally... putting my food decisions into another's hand (I will follow the HOW plan initially) and being accountable to reading, writing and sharing every day. It feels good and right to surrender, to let go. Terrified that I won't be able to let go. That I'll screw things up. That I'll try to control everything. That I won't be completely honest.

I get crazy about things like this. I start feeling panicky: How will I tell her what I'm going to eat tomorrow night for dinner? I never know until I start to look in the fridge! How will I possibly be able to call her consistently at 6 every morning? What about THIS SUNDAY, when I have a BBQ/Pool Party that I myself am hosting? What will I eat? How will I survive this?

My sponsor says that this craziness is exactly why I need this program. Why I need - especially to start - some serious routine and some lack of freedom. Look what freedom has given me to this point in my life.

Praying that I can breathe deep, take this one day at a time and find physical, emotional and spiritual recovery.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The 4th Step, Accidentally.

My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.

::Hi, Charlie!::

My disease has broken through again, after nearly forty days of abstinence, and I'm feeling pretty miserable.

Seriously. I'm angry, I'm exhausted, I'm resentful, I'm jealous, I'm lethargic, I'm willful. I feel like I'm not seeing things clearly. Like I'm seeing everything right now through a dirty lens.

I'm distracted. Seriously. I keep toggling through my windows and programs. Twitter, MSN, email, work stuff, iTunes. I can't even focus enough to type this.

I've been reading fiction like a madman. I've read three novels in two weeks. I mean BIG novels. 1,000+ pages of Stephen King, 400 pages of Dean Koontz and 400+ of Dan Brown. None of it great, but I've been obsessed with turning the pages. I'm done now. I feel empty. Nothing to distract me.

So it's on to my new favorite TV show. When LOST ended, I needed a new show to care about, so I found Dexter. I've devoured three seasons so far. Season 4 is not out on DVD yet, so I am seeking it out on those shady streaming TV sites... Why can't I just wait? Seriously, what it going to happen to me if I don't have a book to read or a next episode to watch? It's like I don't want to find out. And the problem is not Dexter. I think it's a really well-made show, and it's totally worth my time. The problem is me and how I use the show.

Here's something you don't know about me, Dear Reader. I'm in ANOTHER 12-Step program. That's right. I'm a "double winner." (As I type this, I am rolling my eyes and thinking, "What a pathetic euphamism for a 'double fuck-up.'" You see what kind of mood I'm in?)

So anyway, I'm doing well in that program. (No, I'm not going to tell you what program it is. You'll have to find my OTHER super-secret anonymous blog for that juicy tidbit of information!) I have several months of sobriety. I go to two meetings a week. And I have a great sponsor.

And it's given me an excuse to really coast in THIS program. I haven't been to a meeting in months. I haven't emailed or talked to my OA sponsor in at least that long. As you may or may not have noticed, I haven't posted anything here in a LONG time. Twitter is about my only real contact with the world of OA recovery. Who has the time?

But, honestly, I'm grateful for you who keep up with me and care about me, especially via Twitter. Thank you, @RecoveringinOA, @anonymousnet, @woteva2010, @SeveGolf, @anonymous_oa and anyone else who's read my tweets and encouraged me.

I need a meeting, but I don't want to go. You know what, I should try an online meeting. I've done one or two in the past. Anyone have experience with those?

OK, what else? Resentment and jealousy/envy seem to be going hand in hand right now. I work as a pastor in a congregation full of wealthy people. Seriously, my family is way below most of the other families on the socio-economic scale. It's hard sometimes. And it's especially hard NOW for some reason. My wife is working full time, and I'm working full time, and we're making more money now than we ever have in our lives, but we're still living paycheck to paycheck. We're still overwhelmed by debt. We have four kids who eat a lot and do a lot of activities. Our lives are expensive! We scrimp and save - and we've been very decidedly NOT using the credit card for a few months now. But man is it hard to live this way.

We took a "vacation" a few weeks back. Drove 5 hours in our minivan to a big city, where we crammed into one hotel room. We went to an amusement park one day, a water park the next. We paid cash for everything. As we were driving home, I thought to myself, "What was THAT?"
How is that a vacation? And I'm jealous and resentful of all the wealthy families in my church, taking their 2-week vacations to Hawaii, getting away weekend after weekend to their lake houses, not to mention the lavish spending on clothes, cars, homes, kids' programs.

I'm resentful about kids too. I love my kids like crazy. But with my wife working a very demanding, inflexible job, I'm the one who gets to do all the kid stuff this summer. We can't afford childcare, and I have a 15-year-old who can watch the others a lot of the time, but how fair is that to them? To spend a summer inside the house watching TV? It sucks. So we've tried to get them out, to enroll them in camps and programs here and there as we can afford it. But every night, my exhausted wife and her exhausted husband sit down and try to figure out what in the world we're going to do with their kids the next day.

I'm grateful school starts again on the 12th.

I suppose it's good, to get all this off of my chest. You certainly don't have to read it, so if it's bumming you out, go away. I can't be responsible for your feelings, right? I'm not even sure how to be responsible for my own feelings.

I'm trying to be grateful. I just worked it out, and I'm the 40,003,334th richest person in the world, putting me in the top 0.66%. (You can figure out your relative wealth here.) Insane. But sometimes it's hard to be grateful when I'm surrounded by wealth and I feel so poor.

Oh yeah, and then there's the teeny-tiny fact that I started "cheating" on my food plan while on vacation. It wasn't bad. I'd give myself a B+. But then that damned perfectionism starting gnawing at me. You know the voices: "If you can eat THAT and still call yourself abstinent, then why the hell can't you eat THIS?"

The rest is history. Last night I only had one bowl of ice cream. That's progress. When I fall, I fall hard.

I think I could bitch on and on. I could write all day. I'm having a grand pity party. Can't remember when I've been quite so angry and depressed. It's funny, I don't really take out my anger on anyone. I keep it all inside. Normally I would think I don't have any anger-management issues, but today as I was talking to my wife on the phone with my 8-year-old twins in the car, I almost yelled FUCK... I totally caught myself. How crazy is that? I don't talk like that around them ever!

Normally no one would be able to tell I'm in a mood. But today I'm trying to avoid people, because I think they can tell I'm grouchy.

And I'm tired. I have not been getting enough sleep, and it's my own damn fault. I stay up too late (watching Dexter, reading Dan Brown) and then I have to get up early.

And I haven't connected with God all summer. It's like I'm purposely avoiding Him. I'm willfully avoiding my Bible. Why? Why won't I surrender? Maybe I haven't authentically and honestly taken the 2nd and 3rd steps in my other program, even though I thought I did.

But all these resentments... Wow, that's 4th step stuff, huh? What I should be doing is writing. A lot. Huh. In a way, that's what I'm doing right now.

But I think the part I'm missing it MY part. What's MY part in all this? NOTHING. I'M COMPLETELY INNOCENT! I'M A VICTIM!

Just kidding.

OK fine. I chose to get married. I chose (with my wife) to have three kids. (That fourth one was a bonus. I couldn't choose twins.) I chose to go into ministry, which doesn't usually bring in a large salary. Every time I used my credit card, I had a choice. I have a choice every time I put a bite of food into my mouth. I have a choice to pick up my Bible or my journal. I have a choice to reach out for help or not. I have a choice to distract myself with books and TV or not. I have choices.

I'm reminded of Deuteronomy 30:15. God says, "Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster." (New Living Translation)

Funny. I just moved into a new office in my church. It's a lot bigger, and I like it a lot. But it's been very plain and boring. Just Saturday I finally bought a small couch and I started to think about stuff for the walls. This morning, as I was typing this entry, one of the administrative assistants brought in some very nice framed art... She said she wouldn't be hurt if I didn't want it, but she couldn't stand to see my walls so bare. Guess what one of them is.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

Coincidence? Or just what I need. Right now.