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.


Annette said...

Just for today my friend. Just for today you can nurture your abstinence.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous_OA here -- Sorry to hear about the slip, but the honesty about how you've been working your program is appreciated. If I can be of any help by just listening, send me a msg on twitter. Happy to share my experience, strength, and hope with you. In Overeaters Anonymous, on finances and debt (I'm a Ramsey fan myself), and with life in general. Get back to it... you know you want to. :)

Down in Sunny San Diego said...

So glad to see you post, even with pain. I recently broke 5 years of continuous abstinence and it was the best thing to bring me to my knees. I don't recommend it, but it brought me to a level of vulnerability and willingness I've never had before.

Kelly said...

Just stumbled across your blog.

I love the middle of 'Relentless'.

Funny how the serenity prayer shows up when we need it. I was shopping with someone who I allow to cause me much pain and confusion, and I look down into a basket of discards and there was a framed serenity prayer.