Thursday, April 14, 2011

Whining My Way to Gratitude

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

I have had a very, very, very, very long day. All Wednesdays are like this for me, but today seemed especially busy. I got up at 5:45 this morning, and I'm still up, typing this at 11:26pm. I'm so tired, but I couldn't go to sleep right now if I tried.

At the risk of sounding like a terribly whiner, I'm going to tell you what I did today.

Talked to sponsee at 6, realized I was out of eggs, drove to grocery store while talking to sponsee (wearing pajamas and slippers and a sweatshirt), bought eggs, drove home, made and ate breakfast, showered and got ready for work, stood out with twins at bus stop, worked on Eighth Step, called my sponsor, drove to work, worked from 9-3:30 (incredibly productive work, I might add - I am not often that productive), began my "afternoon taxi service": Picked up middle son at home, drove to school to pick up twins, drove girl twin to gymnastics, drove boys home to get boy twin's soccer stuff, made and ate snack, drove boy twin to soccer with older brother in tow, took older brother to church, ran to my office to get sheet music and check email, rehearsed with men's ensemble in choir room, rehearsed adult and children's choirs, rehearsed with singing group for Sunday, turned off lights throughout church, got stuff from my office, retrieved two patiently-waiting older sons and oldest son's friend, drove friend home, drove boys home, arrived at 9:40pm...

Aside, or "Mrs. Charlie: An Appreciation."

Discovered my sweet wife crashed in bed, miserable with headache. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Mrs. Charlie is an incredibly hard worker and all-around wonderful person. SHE also had a busy day, at her 8-5 full-time job. She left work, drove to gymnastics to pick up our girl twin, drove to the soccer field to pick up boy twin, then drove to church where she volunteers as a middle school small group leader in our confirmation program. Then she took the twins home, got them into bed and went to bed herself.

Sometimes I miss my wife... Especially on Wednesdays. You know, the whole "two ships passing in the night" thing...

Anyway, got home at 9:40 to find my wife in bed, the girl twin still awake, tossing and turning up in her bedroom. Sang James Taylor to her while scratching her back. "You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am I'll come running to see you again. Winter, spring, summer or fall... All you have to do is call and I'll be there. You've got a friend." Got the two big boys in bed, put the trash out for the garbage truck, emptied and re-loaded the dishwasher, put the rabbit in his cage for the night, made a delicious dinner (eggs, cheese and salsa in a brown rice tortilla with V8 to drink), ate it while reading some more of Jonathan Franzen's great novel "Freedom."

Fired up the Mac. Put iTunes on shuffle. Listened to Adele, Erin McKeown, Josh Woodward (Thanks, G.), Joan As Police Woman, The Choir, Sean Kingston, Sleeping At Last, Chris Tomlin. Blogged about my day.

Felt exhausted but happy. Grateful. Realized that God was with me all day, walking with me, holding me up, providing me with three OA friends who called ME, four healthy and satisfying meals, fulfilling work that pays me well enough, a house to come home to, reliable transportation, a lot of quality time with my kids in the minivan and great music.

The words to the song I'm listening to right now (Chris Tomlin's "Lovely") seem appropriate to close tonight:

As long as I live, I'll praise you, Lord.
Name above all, be lifted high
For all of my days, I worship you
I worship you

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dinner Anxiety

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

Tonight Mrs. Charlie and I are going out to dinner with a couple from our church. I should clarify. We are being taken out to dinner by a couple from our church. This couple is wealthy. They are in their 70s. He was a doctor. They are wonderful, bright, successful, generous people. He was instrumental in getting me my job here at the church. He currently sits on a board of laypeople who help to oversee my ministry at our church. They both sing in my choir at church.

So I feel a little insecure. I have no reason to be insecure. They like me a lot. They have told me so. They think I'm doing a good job. I believe them.

They called a few weeks back and invited us to dinner and a theater production (The Aluminum Show), and it's a lovely, generous gesture. I am grateful for their kindness and the opportunity to get out of the house!

And I'm totally tripping over dinner. Remember, I weigh and measure my food, even in restaurants. It's one of the parts of my program that I'm not too fond of, but I cannot deny its power in my life. As I surrender to the program, even this part of the program, I find freedom. But c'mon already! I do not want to weigh and measure my food tonight. I don't want to have to talk about it. I don't want to look like a freak. I don't want to stand out. I could eat moderately in this restaurant, I know I could! I don't want to have to explain myself or defend myself. I don't want to have to talk about addiction or recovery, especially with a doctor.

See? This is future tripping, plain and simple. I am anticipating what they will say, planning complete conversations that simply don't exist. It's fantasy.

By the way, I know I don't owe anyone an explanation. I know I don't have to talk about anything I don't choose to talk about. I also know that these are wonderful people who I do not want to be rude to.

I drove up to the restaurant yesterday and talked to one of the managers. I investigated the menu. I'm having 3 oz. chicken, 2 cups veggies and 4 oz. of plain baked potato with 2 tbsp sour cream and 1 tsp butter. I'm drinking water. I'm going to be grateful for the willingness to go to any lengths necessary to maintain my abstinence.

I guess I just needed to get that out today. I'll be fine. I always am. I turn my life and will over to the care of my Higher Power today, as I try to every day. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Timely Reminder

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

Welcome to D.M., a new reader who's been catching up on my posts and reading some of the old ones. She commented on some, which drew my attention to them. Look at this one, from March 10, 2008:

"Feeling fat again. Ate off plan all week in Boston. Stress and anxiety are really giving me grief. Isolation and fear are cutting me off from reality and good choices for my body.

God, help me!"

And this one, from eight days later:

"Wow. I've completely fucking let myself go. I am so tired of this.

Last night I thought to myself, 'I am NOT hungry. Nothing sounds good. I don't WANT to eat!'

And then I continued to put food in my mouth. Four cookies. Milk. A cheeseburger. Diet Coke.

God help me. Compulsivity consumes me."

I had forgotten that Charlie, the one who was so afraid and isolated, so hopeless and helpless. I'm grateful to be reminded of what it really was like. Sometimes I forget.

Now that I'm nearly eight months into my OA-HOW abstinence, now that I look and feel "normal" as far as my weight goes, now that I'm doing (for me) amazing things like training for a 5K, sometimes I wonder if I'm "all better," if I could do it on my own.

These messages remind me that I can't. I need you, my recovery friends. I need the 12 Steps. I need OA-HOW. I need God. I've been out there, and it's ugly. If I don't work this program, I'll be right back where I was three years ago.

I have a life-threatening disease. Thank you, D.M., for the reminder. Thank you, God, for the solution.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5Ks, Body Image Issues, and Lots of Gratitude

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

I'm also, apparently, to my great delight and surprise, a runner.

Crazy, I know. My friends, believe me when I say to you that I am one of the world's great couch potatoes. But I just ran twenty minutes without stopping. Twenty minutes!

I'm planning to run the Full Moon 5K in Tulsa on May 14. My wife and son will probably join me, and I'm training now, using the Couch-to-5K program. Every time I bump up to the next level, it's tough... but not impossible. And each time I get stronger. It gets easier. I love it.

I've been thinking about body image lately. I always saw myself as a "big" guy. I told myself that even if I lost all the weight I needed to lose, I would still be a big, barrel-chested guy. I saw myself as a big, lumbering guy. And I hated it. I know it's unusual for a man to talk about body image issues, but we experience this stuff too. I see the men on TV and in magazines, and I want to look like that. I sing in a cover band... I want to look like a rock star... skinny jeans and tight t-shirt and all.

But you know what? I've been lying to myself. I'm actually, really, honestly a lot smaller than I ever could see before. I was at my chiropractor's last month. He and I were talking about running, and he was working on my back... He said - I kid you not - "You'll be a great runner... You have such a nice, light frame." I actually asked him to repeat and clarify what he had said. Yup, I had heard correctly. I have a light frame. A small frame. Me.

Why have I never been able to see it? It's amazing the lies that we tell ourselves, that our disease whispers in our ears. I look in the mirror now, and I think I'm starting to see what I really look like.

Thanks be to God. I could never have imagined these gifts eight months ago. I was an absolute mess, and today I'm training for a 5K. I'm feeling more peace and joy than I have in years. I'm experiencing the 9th Step promises. I feel purposeful. I'm working on my 8th Step, and I'm not living in fear of the amends I have to make. I feel more connected to God, more in tune with my wife and kids, more accepting of myself and my character defects, more willing to turn my life and my will over to God's care, more able to accept life on life's terms...

I'm recovering, one day at a time. And I'm grateful.