Friday, October 7, 2011

Like the Wind

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

I felt so much yesterday.

I stopped at a Ticketmaster outlet on my way in to work. I was (finally) going to buy tickets to a concert I've been excited about for months. I had saved my pennies, and I was going to take Mrs. Charlie and our two teenaged sons. AND they were sold out.

I checked my email at work, and there was a sweet, concerned email from my mom. Complete with photos. She was worried about me. I'm "too thin" and I "look sick." Now she had thought this before, but this particular email was prompted by "so many people" who were talking to her about me, expressing their concern. I hate that.

My pastor called me in to his office a little later. We are going through a massive change in the way we worship on Sunday mornings. It's been in the works for a long, long time, but we just announced it on Sunday. Now we're dealing with the reactions of those who are happy, mad and every emotion in between. And I think my pastor is finally realizing that there's a lot of actual work to be done! He wants plans, he wants timelines, he wants assurances. He wants it on his desk Tuesday. And I'm overwhelmed.

I had a headache and felt a little barfy all morning.

I got a call from an OA-HOW friend that I used to talk to quite a bit. She was checking in, because she knew I had been considering leaving the structured way we work the program in HOW. So I told her how I was and how it was going, and she was friendly and supportive, but it was obvious to me that she disapproves. I honestly appreciate HOW people (I was one for a year!), and I want to stay in touch with them. I admire their recovery in so many ways, and I am committed to using the tools... of which one is the telephone! But sometimes I sense an unspoken accusation that I am somehow willfully taking an "easier, softer way," and that I'll be back in HOW eventually or else I'll descend into "pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization."  That may be true. I'm a compulsive overeater, and I always will be. And I know that what people think (or what I think they think) is none of my business. So, yeah...

When I talked to my temporary sponsor later in the afternoon, I realized that all of these experiences and feelings are a lot for one day. It's OK for me to feel overwhelmed. And then I was reminded that all of this was happening on the first day without my sponsor. Wow. No wonder I was feeling especially vulnerable. In addition to all the things I was dealing with, I was grieving too. I was feeling, at least on a subconscious level, the loss of my daily check-in with my sponsor. That structure, that order and that accountability is no longer a regular part of my life, and it's a big change. For nearly 14 months, I have talked with her almost every day for 10-15 minutes. That's approximately 4,200 minutes. That's 70 solid hours on the phone with this woman. That's a significant relationship, and I'll miss it in many ways.

And then there are the good feelings I experienced. I got through my first day without my sponsor... I lived through the feelings, and I didn't overeat. I didn't binge. I didn't stray from my food plan, not even a bit. I found that I didn't have to commit each individual piece of my meals. I chose what to eat from meal to meal, and I chose wisely. God gave me the strength and the willingness to stay abstinent for one more day.

I called my parents and had a good discussion with them, encouraging them and assuring them of my health and wellness - while at the same time expressing my feelings about their inappropriate talking behind my back and lack of trust in me... and setting some boundaries for the future. I think we left it in a good place. They're going to let go of their fears and trust that I am being careful, deliberate, medically supervised and healthy. And when people ask them about me and express concern, they are going to defend me instead of getting all worked up and fretting about it.

And last night as I set out on my latest 5-mile run, I felt so strong and confident. I ran faster than I should at first, just because I could. I had this big stupid smile on my face, and I thanked God for my body, my new life, the amazing music playing on my iPod, the community of friends I've found in OA, the amazing cool weather, my beautiful wife and kids, my temporary sponsor, a program that is bigger than any one person or sponsor...

And the ability to run like the wind.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Still A Compulsive Overeater

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though I can run 6.3 miles.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though I'm maintaining a 75-80 pound weight loss.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though I haven't had sugar or refined white flour in 423 days.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though everybody things I'm skinny.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though I don't weigh and measure in restaurants anymore.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though I do step work every day and use the tools of recovery.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though my sponsor and I - as of this morning - are no longer working together.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though I have taken my recovery into my own hands, trusting God to guide me rather than surrendering to a particular method of working the program.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Even though I am going to bed tonight without planning specific food to eat tomorrow. For the first time since August 10, 2010.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. I am not "all better." I can't just "eat normally."

I'm still a compulsive overeater. I need recovery today more than I ever have needed it. Just like every new day.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. I need you more than I have ever needed you.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. I'm grateful I don't have to face it alone.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. I'll let you know how it goes.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. And I'm so grateful for Overeaters Anonymous.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. So for today I'll stay abstinent. Today is all I have.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. I can't forget that.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. Don't let me forget that.

I'm still a compulsive overeater. And I always will be.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Sponsor Is NOT My Higher Power (Neither Are Kanye or Jay-Z)

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

::Hi, Charlie!::

Question: Has anyone ever put his or her sponsor on a pedestal and, in effect, turned him or her into a Higher Power? I was talking with my sponsor a few mornings ago and realized that is exactly what I've been doing. I am a huge people pleaser, and I have to face the reality that one of the people I want most to please is my sponsor. Like, in a kind of unhealthy way.

Now that I've started working on the 11th Step, I do a daily 10th Step and read it to my sponsor. On the first day I did that, I had to answer the following question: Have I kept something to myself that should be discussed with another person at once? Well, I immediately knew the answer to that question. I had not yet talked with my sponsor about Mrs. Charlie's and my upcoming trip to Cancun. Early on, when I first mentioned it to her, she had kind of a negative reaction to it, and I remember being defensive and angry about that. Since then, I have totally decided to go and made plans to go. We're leaving in about 5 weeks! And I kept meaning to tell her, but the closer it got, the more foolish I felt, and so I put it off until I read that question.

So on Friday, I took a deep breath and told her. And you know what? It's not really a bit deal. What is a big deal is the way I've been treating her. And it's not just regarding this trip. It's really about my whole program. Even though she's been so clear with me, I have continued to make this abstinence about pleasing her on some level. And that's a problem. She is not my Higher Power. She shouldn't even be one of my Higher Powers!

And she suggested I talk about it with people and decided whether I'd be able to continue to work with her or whether this might be a good time to find someone else.

So. Anyone ever have anything similar happen? How do you deal with people pleasing? And how do you deal with it when it's directly related to your sponsor?