Monday, October 25, 2010

Miracles: A Guest Post from G. Rabanon

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

Today I have the great privilege of presenting a guest post by my friend G. Rabanon. You've heard me mention her name before. She was one of the people God used in a powerful way to bring me back into recovery and to begin this period of abstinence and growth in my life for which I am so, so grateful. Enjoy her writing, and please check out her blog and follow her on Twitter!

Hi, my name is G. and I am a recovering bulimic.



Hm. I guess that only works for Charlie.

::Hi Charlie!::


Um… okay.

Anyway, today, it turns out, I am 300 days abstinent from disordered eating. Charlie asked me a while ago if I'd like to write a guest post. And I was just thinking about him tonight and I figured, eh, no time like 11:22 at night. Sorry, 11:23.

Tonight I want to talk about miracles.

Bulimia is not the beginning of my story, as it is not the beginning of anyone's story. In fact, I came to bulimic behaviors relatively late in life, at least in comparison with a lot of the stories I've heard… though I know comparisons are irrelevant, and I know that in most respects 18 is really quite young… hell, almost 11 years younger than I am now…

I've been bulimic for almost 11 years. Huh.

Well, the other big elements of my story are depression and child abuse. Both go back as far as I can remember. I don't want to make it sound like there were never times when I experienced joy, because that would be a lie… but I have never in my life been happy. Never. Not until now. Not until the age of 28 did I learn what it could mean to be happy. And I could be extremely bitter about that.
Which brings me to the first miracle: I am not bitter.

I was. Oh, believe me, I was plenty plenty bitter for a long long time. I realized when I was 14 that the reason I always felt like there was something wrong with the way Dad hit us was because he wasn't supposed to be hitting us. I realized that probably a big part of why I was always so sad was because of the things that were said and done to me and my mother and my brother and sister in my home. When I left, when I got out and went to college, got a job, went abroad, went to graduate school, the pain followed. The pain never let go. And I was bitter. And I was angry. And I thought that it would never leave me and that I would never be able to have a life that was not torturous. Less than 6 months ago, I had given up. I didn't want to kill myself necessarily, but I said to myself, to my friends, to my teachers, to my therapist, to people in OA meetings, to God, ESPECIALLY to God, that if this was life, then I really really did not want to play anymore. I didn't want to die, to be dead, I just wanted it to stop hurting.

Miracle number two: I am alive.

Here's how it happened… God sent me an angel. I don't mean the cliche winged angel that you see in movies or illustrated Bibles and stained glass windows. I mean angel in the literal, original sense of the word. The word angel, and the Hebrew word מלאך mean "messenger." And that is what God sent me.

He was a teacher of mine. An alcoholic recovering in AA who will, God willing, have 18 years of sobriety this Christmas Eve. I had failed his Talmud class, largely because I had a great deal of difficulty getting out of bed in the morning to get to his class, let alone doing assignments. I spent a great deal of my time sitting or lying in my room with tears streaming down my face for no immediate reason other than the fact that I was in agonizing pain on the inside of my head and heart and nothing seemed to give any relief. I'd already started in OA by then, was abstinent almost 5 months, and so was no longer dulling the pain with food. I'd not intentionally injured myself in about a year and 6 months, had not purged in about 2 years and 2 months, had begun to cut down on my drinking (which had been getting heavier and heavier) and was left with very little in the way of coping mechanisms. I was therefore not coping. This was to be the point of reckoning. This was it. Either I would figure out how to live without hurting myself to get by, or I was going to die. Maybe now, maybe later, but it was going to happen. And I was not optimistic.

I came to speak to my teacher. He had an inkling of what was going on. So he proceeded to tell me a story. There was a time when he was suicidal, he told me. He'd been hospitalized for his alcoholism and suicidal depression. He wanted to speak to a chaplain, but didn't want a rabbi, fearing for his anonymity. All rabbis know each other, you see, one way or another. So he was seen by a priest. The priest listened to him, and then told him "You know, this is all going to make you a better rabbi."

This was the bell that began to wake me. You see, I've heard that line countless times in my life. And I hated… no, really… HATED hearing it. Hated it so so much. Maybe I don't WANT to be a better rabbi! Maybe I would rather be a mediocre rabbi, or even a TERRIBLE rabbi if it meant I could be happy and sane and not want to die!

But suddenly, the words were true. I knew they were. Because the better rabbi was sitting in front of me, looking into my eyes and telling me his story. Because of what he'd been through, he was a better rabbi… indeed, the ONLY rabbi for me in that moment. Because there he was, having been where I'd been, worse places even, and he was sitting exactly where I wanted to end up sitting. Doing just what I wanted to be doing. He'd come through the hell I was in and had not only survived, but had gone on to be what I want to be. He had what I wanted. He'd been able to get there.

Miracle: I was given hope.

No one had ever EVER been able to give me that before. People had always said encouraging things to me, hoping to snap me out of the pit of despair in which I was so accustomed to wallowing. People had said all sorts of things to me, but none had been able to speak to me from a place of understanding, of experience and recovery, who had gotten to where I wanted to be.

A month later, as I was pulling myself together, I had a realization one night. I was sitting alone at home. It was late, just about bedtime. I was online, trying desperately to soothe the gnawing ache of loneliness I was feeling. Nobody loves you, I kept hearing in my head. Nobody wants to hang out with you, no one wants to talk to you, you're alone and nobody loves you. Suddenly, God spoke to me/my rational brain kicked in. However you want to call it. "Ok G," it said. "What is this? Seriously? It's 11:30 at night. There's nowhere you want to go, no one you really want to talk to, and you know for a FACT that there are scores if not hundreds of people who like you, lots of whom really really like you, and a bunch of whom even adore you! So where is this coming from?"

I answered myself.

I hate myself. I'm sitting here and I feel lonely because I am sitting with someone who hates me. If you sit 24 hours every day 7 days every week with someone who hates you, of course you are going to feel lonely, of course you are going to feel like nobody loves you!

It occurred to me that night, for the first time, out of nowhere, that there was this person named G, this person who was well liked and well respected by many, who was someone of whom people said to each other "this is someone you really want to get to know," and here I was closer to her than anybody, and I had no idea who she was. I had the opportunity to be her friend, just like all the cool people, and I'd decided that I didn't like her without even getting to know her.

That was ridiculous.

Miracle: I decided to be friends with me.

I would never willfully treat another person the way I treated myself. And realizing suddenly that I was the only person who was ever going to have to be with me every moment of every day of my life, I HAD to be my own best friend… not because nobody else would, but because I was always going to be there if no one else was at the moment. It just suddenly made sense.

Life has been amazing ever since.
And those are the big miracles of the last six months of my life. I didn't talk very much about the food, but let's face it… it's never really about the food. The food is the door to everything else. The food is, in many ways, the simplest part of this.

I thank God for every moment of every day. The world is full of miracles and beauty. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. When you do the work, miracles, REAL miracles, do actually happen.

Don't give up five minutes before the miracle happens. You miss out on the good stuff that way.

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