Friday, November 26, 2010


My name is Charlie. I'm a grateful, recovering compulsive overeater from Oklahoma and an OA-H.O.W. sponsor.

::Hi, Charlie!::

It's been a while since I posted, but I am still alive and well, working my program one day at a time. My back-to-back abstinence date is August 10, 2010, and - last I checked - I had lost 41.2 pounds from my most recent high of 232.2 pounds (June 5, 2010), 26.2 of that in the H.O.W. program.

I'm writing today from the Nashville area, where my family is staying with my wife's brother and his family. We drove here on Wednesday, and then yesterday, we drove up into western Kentucky for Thanksgiving dinner with my dad's extended family. Lots of cousins, aunts and uncles, and my parents. We drove back here to Nashville last night, and we'll head back to Oklahoma tomorrow or Sunday.

I want to write about Thanksgiving. Specifically, How I Survived Thanksgiving Dinner With The Family. I wrote this brief reflection in my journal this morning:

Grateful today for abstinence. Grateful for a clever and fun Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday. Grateful for a wife and kids who lovingly helped me “act as if” I were eating. Grateful no one noticed. Grateful for calls and for willingness to call. Grateful for a food plan that nourished me. Grateful for safety as I drove 6 hours in the pouring rain. Grateful to see family that I love and so grateful to leave them again.

It was a good day in so many way. Oh, there were triggers, let me tell you. There was my Aunt C.'s lemon meringue pie, for instance, a pie I have always binged on. I'm talking since childhood. To the point that she would bring it "just for me" because she knew how much I loved it. Oh how I love that pie.

And then there was the whole host of other Thanksgiving-type food... you know, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, turkey and ham, chicken and dumplings, etc. Nothing new here. But so tempting. And these are the types of foods and the kind of occasion that would have, in the past, caused me to decide to "just give myself a little treat" and "start over tomorrow." How many times did I do that?

Not this time. And I knew I wouldn't. As I told many of my program friends in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I wasn't worried about slipping, about losing my abstinence. I was worried about how to stay abstinent without drawing undue attention to it. I was worried about how to stay abstinent without hurting Aunt C.'s feelings when I refused her lemon meringue pie. I was worried about what to say when people asked why I wasn't eating.

Well, first of all, I was strategic. My wife and kids and I turned it into a game. First, location. We chose spots in the far corner, far away from the buffet tables. Next, "act as if." I grabbed a plate, got in line with my 9-year-old daughter, and filled a plate full of food for her, walking along as if it were mine. Then I started "taking orders" for my family... potatoes for J., ham for Z., macaroni and cheese for E.... and I walked through the line, amongst cousins, uncles and aunts, filling a plate with all these orders. I took it back to the table, offloaded a bunch of it onto their plates, and then sat with a very messy plate - remnants of the food I had brought back for them - in front of me. I got up many times, grabbing this and that for people, getting myself another cup of Diet Coke, grabbing napkins for people. 

And you know what? I won the game! Not one person noticed I wasn't eating. Not one.

As I drove away, I was talking with my wife about the day, and it occurred to me that not only did no one notice, no one cared. Not in a cruel or insensitive way, just as a matter of fact. There were nearly 40 people there, and everyone was into what they were into... No one was paying attention to the food I was or was not eating. In fact, only one person commented on the 40 pounds I've dropped since I was there last Thanksgiving. People were concerned with their own kids, their own situations, their own plates full (or not) of food.

I used to think I was the center of the universe. Yesterday was one of those ego reducing experiences this program talks about. I'm grateful today that I can humbly go about the business of remaining abstinent, I can do what's right for me and I can be of service to others.

God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always. Amen.


Steph said...

What a fantastic way to be supported by your family & bond in a trying situation! wow & congrats!

G. Rabanon said...

*hugs* You are fantastic Charlie, and it sounds like you have a fantastic family. I'm so proud of you for all the work you've done so far, for taking the ball and running with it and not letting go. And I am so so grateful for the support you give me, especially last night. You can, I think, with sufficient humility, feel really good about yourself right now.

Thank you so much. :)

Lisa said...

I'm glad you had a successful day! Your post reminded me of something I wrote on my facebook not too long ago about this exact thing. I'll copy it here, maybe it will help you thru the new year. You have a great weekend!

Lately in my blog reading I've seen people say "I ate some xyz to be polite" or "no one noticed that I didn't eat xyz" I don't get it. I don't feel rude or impolite not consuming something that I don't want or need, I never have. Don't eat stuff just to make other people happy! Seriously, they really don't care that much. Using BBQs, parties and all the other social eating occasions as an excuse to eat crap because you think someone 'expects' you to is just crazy. Now if you want to eat junk for your own reasons, like you were planning on it cause you knew you were going to a party - go for it! Or any reason, as long as it is for you and not because of what you think other people want. Adding hundreds of calories to your intake just because you think that someone will be offended because you didn't eat their brownies is just crazy. I hope you can see that. People that love you, will love you no matter what you eat or don't eat. People that really care about you probably know you are trying to be healthier and aren't going to try and sabotage your diet. And if anyone tells you "Oh, it's ok, you can splurge every once in a while" or anything to that effect... tell them they can come straight over here and kiss my ass. lol.

sabilon said...

Charlie, good to find another entry from you! I can't sleep tonight and have got up at 1.30am. Am again inspired by you. I have not had to deal with Thanksgiving as I live in the UK and am not American, and I also don't have a large family. We don't get together for meals at all. Plus, I live abroad, far away from any family members. And yet, I am so inspired by your determination. I have been having slips recently, and that doesn't feel good at all. Feels crazy. It's not just the food and fear of gaining weight, but I feel I am not very sane when not 100% clean. But have been abstinent today, THANK GOD! Am so grateful for it.

It is also so nice to hear about all those places far away, Nashville etc. So amazing that we are in it together as OAs!

By the way, here we are part of the OA Region 9, and recently I attended the Region 9 Assembly and Convention in Iceland. It was amazing, being in such an extraordinary place (in the middle of a lava desert!) with OAs from there and feeling so connected!

memoirs of this binge eating triathlete said...

man i am glad i found your blog!

memoirs of this binge eating triathlete said...

I read this post before I went to bed this morning (I work nights) & I had to read it again when I woke up. One of the things that I struggle with at family functions is I feel like I'm missing out on everything when I'm not overeating. I couldn't figure out why. I think I missed the buisiness of reloading my plate, and of course the eating. I think the stratadgy of filling my plate and giving it to others will make me feel like I'm, a part & not being left out! Man am I glad I've found your blog. I'm eagerly awaiting your next post!!!!