Monday, May 9, 2011

Remind Me Again Why I Do This

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

I am so sick of this! Normally I am relentlessly upbeat: This is the *best* program! I feel *so* great! Everything is *wonderful*! So allow me a little wallowing.

I'm not sick of abstinence. I am forever grateful for abstinence. This OA-HOW program has brought me hope and healing. It's brought me relief from years of compulsive overeating. As I have followed this program, I have released nearly 75 pounds from my top weight. My life has become more free and more disciplined at the same time. I just officially entered a 5K for the first time in my life. These are miracles, my friends.

My question is this: Can I recover... Can I continue to recover without the rigidity and structure of OA-HOW? Do I need to keep weighing and measuring - even in restaurants? Do I need to avoid alcohol? Do I need to call 3 people every day?

It's getting old. And I'm starting to feel like I'm in a cult or something.

I think I need to talk to my sponsor about these feelings. Tomorrow will be nine months abstinence in OA-HOW. But today I'm not sure I'll get there.

OK, that was not true. I will be abstinent today. Tomorrow too. I guess I'm just future-tripping. I don't want to do this the rest of my life. I don't want to have to call in my food to a sponsor when I'm 45 years old and 55 years old. I don't want to have to interrupt dinner with friends to rush into a bathroom, frantically calling OA-HOW sponsors to try to make a food change. I don't want to keep inconveniencing others with my strange behavior around food.

I know this is supposed to free us from food obsession. Why, then, do I feel MORE obsessed with food? I think it all got stirred up this last weekend in California. The planning, the phone calls, the packing, the conversations with my friends and hosts about what I needed - a specific restaurant, a trip to the grocery store, reading the labels on the cottage, borrowing a little cooler and icepack.

I know some who learned a lot in OA-HOW, and now they are in OA, still abstinent, eating three moderate meals a day. Did I mention still abstinent?

Another thing that stirred it up further... Friends have invited my wife and me to vacation with them in Cancun. I don't know if it will work out, but I am so excited about the possibility. Mrs. C. and I have never been out of the country together... not vacationing like that. It would be at a resort, with a swim-up bar, all the luxuries associated with a vacation like that. Dragging my scale around, trying to figure out how to make hook-up calls, reading and writing assignments, planning my food in advance... It just freaks me out.

So I know what the program says to do: Talk about it on my hook-up calls, talk to my sponsor about it, pray about it, surrender it to God. And keep using the tools. Every day, all the tools.

OK, I surrender. Feedback?


Courtney said...

Hi Charlie,

I cannot imagine what a struggle it must be to continue on a journey with no definitive end. I do know how much I struggle and suffer with my own eating disorder and marvel at the courage and strength you possess. It requires courage to be vulnerable and honest in telling your story and in putting one foot in front of the other. I am keeping you in my thoughts and wish you all the best!!

Anonymous said...

I understand your frustration. Sometimes recovery can become like an addiction. Somedays I feel like my eating disorder defines me, and I hate that. Just take one day at a time and don't focus on tomorrow. All your hard work is paying off!

Ellie said...

All I can do, of course, is share my own experience. I attend an "OA Toolkit" meeting, which is sort of a hybrid between HOW and regular OA. Together, my sponsor and I work together to figure out what methods will keep me out of the food -- physically and mentally -- the best.

For example, when I made a food change, I would initially call it in to her or another sponsor before I ate. That made me feel panicky and obsessed. Then we tried having me simply make the switch and tell her about it the next morning when I made my daily call. That took all the pressure off me -- I stayed on plan, because I knew I was still accountable for the change, but I could roll with it in the moment (if, say, I found a custodian had thrown out the food I'd been saving for lunch in the office fridge, or whatever).

When it comes to eating out, we've worked out a plan for that, too. I commit my food to her that day by saying something like, "I commit to following my food plan at the restaurant, or with backup food afterwards." Again, I'm accountable because I've committed, but I can just figure out what I want when I get there, or can eat less at the restaurant and then fill in the gaps with my own food afterwards (e.g., they don't have any starches I can eat, so I have some rice crackers when I get home). I don't weigh or measure in restaurants, except to eyeball it, and I limit myself to one plate, no apps or dessert.

I haven't vacationed while in OA yet, but I'm planning a road trip in June, and I expect to do my reading and writing every morning and commit my food then -- it seems like a lovely way to start each day!

Like I said, that's just what works for me. I'm the kind of person who needs a certain mix of discipline and flexibility to succeed, and with some trial and error, my sponsor and I are figuring out what that means for how I use the OA tools each day. I'm still using them all, just not necessarily the way others do, because even though we are all so similar in our addictions, I think we do have some different needs.

I think you have the right idea with talking this out with your sponsor and with other OAs. One day at a time, you can do it! :)

Recovering Anorexic said...

I know how you feel. Often there are times where I'm sick of going to program. Before I started work and stopped going to meetings completely, I was hardcore in the program, working my recovery. And then I would get tired. Tired of going to meetings, working with my sponsor, working the steps. But usually these feelings were fleeting and something would happen that would get me back in that recovery mojo.

With that said, I think it's also reasonable for someone to "tone" down their recovery the more they get sober. I was abstinent from the anorexia for two years, and I was only going to one meeting a week. So I think as long as you are constantly practicing recovery in your life somehow on a daily basis, you'll be fine. That doesn't have to be five meetings a week, or calling three people a day, or weighing your food.

But a word of advice: Work kept me from meetings completely, and if you've kept up with my blog, you'll know I've slipped/relapsed. So for me, I think it's safe to say I'll always need a meeting or two, but really, what's so bad about driving to a meeting for an hour ONCE a week for the rest of my life? I'd probably be spending that one hour farting around online anyway, which is so not productive for my recovery.

Look at OA and recovery the same way you look at your abstinence. One day at a time. Maybe tomorrow you'll drop out of the program. But today, you are still in.

Charlie O. Edinburgh said...

Thank you all SO much for your encouragement, wise words and support. I am in a much better place today, and I plan to write about it soon. I'm grateful for you. Thank you.

One Fat Chick said...

I'm just starting out in the OA program. If you answer 3 out of 4 questions 'yes' you're a compulsive eater. What are you if you answer 11 of them yes?

I definitely want to get healthy for me and my kids. Your success in the program has me feeling optimistic right now. 1 day abstinent and counting!