Friday, May 20, 2011

Ignoring My Real Issue

Considering the fact that I have written a zillion posts in my brain I find it ironic that I am only getting one down in print every few months. The frustrating thing is that I have cycled through so many stages of thinking since I last wrote and have ended up right back where I was in March—including being on “day #1” again. So, maybe I just saved myself some time—I can pick right back up where I left off writing.

That is not to say that many goods things haven’t happened. They have. I made it perilously close to getting back to 90-day.  Close, but no cigar.  I lost an additional 7 pounds (26 pounds off since November), which not only puts me right back into an acceptable weight range, but puts me quite close to my ideal weight. So, what’s the problem?

Me. I’m the problem. 

In my last post I clearly established the fact that I am an addict. I took the test and I definitely tested positive. The next post, which never got posted any where but in my brain, was about the “solution”. The solution is clear: 1) complete abstinence, which prevents the physical craving from taking over, and 2) working the 12-steps in such a way that I have a complete psychic change sufficient to bring about recovery so that the mental obsession doesn’t take over.

I have been working really hard on that “psychic change.” I have done a lot of soul searching, studying, immersing myself in the AA Big Book and really gaining a deeper understanding of what it is all about. I understand the principles—the theory. But there is obviously something missing if I can do all that and then have a weekend where I snack on a few tortilla chips and eat left-over lunch between meals. Of course I rationalized that it was just a “little” extra “abstinent” food. But it was still a break of abstinence.

Forget the psychic change right now. Forget the figuring it all out. I have a problem with abstinence. Complete abstinence must precede success in working the steps. I totally believe that. I just can’t stay focused on what that actually looks like. I was able to stay focused on it for a number of years, but I have to be honest with myself. I have been messing with my definition of abstinence for some time now. I swing back and forth between the very strict “every bite weighed and measured” and a more reasonable approach of “good healthy foods (still no flour and sugar, of course) in moderate quantities, mostly weighed and measured, but not always.”

It is SO easy to be completely abstinent from drinking alcohol. You either drink it or you don’t. I am frustrated and resentful that it is not that cut and dried and simple with food. We have to eat to live.

Okay, I see that what I am really resentful about is that it IS that cut and dried with food.  I just don’t like the reality. Abstinent food for me is eaten exactly three times a day—nothing in between.  No snacking. No snitching. No tasting. No polishing off a little bit of left-over. Abstinent food is dished in precise, accurate, weighed and measured quantities. Abstinent food is pre-planned under the guidance of a sponsor—not just compulsively eating what ever looks good at the moment. That is a very painful reality, especially considering that there are so many people who seem to maintain their weight and their sanity without those very strict guidelines. I don’t want to accept the fact that I am not one of those people. Give me an inch. I will eventually take a mile. Push my start button and I don’t have a stop. Yep—I get it—academically, at least.

My sponsor said something yesterday that kind of hit me over the head, so to speak. She said: “Your job is to stay abstinent.  That is your responsibility.”

Wow. That gave me a lot to think about. I love to hide from reality behind “thinking”. I tend to want to approach my recovery as an academic exercise. If I could just figure out a more clever way to understand the steps…If I could just figure out a more effective way to turn it over to my higher power. Well, I accidently thought myself into a break through. I have everything reversed. My job is to stay abstinent and turn everything else over to God. In reality, I am expecting God to make me abstinent and I am spending my time and emotional energy trying to do everything that I should be leaving to him. That is worth repeating.

Truth: my job is to stay abstinent and turn everything else over to God.

My addicted approach: I want God to keep me abstinent with no work or sacrifice on my part while I busy myself trying to run the rest of the world.

I have always hated the word “surrender”. I don’t want to surrender my food. I have avoided dealing with that fundamental issue by hanging on to two ideas:  1) I was so successful and comfortable surrendering my food for so long (during the first 2-3 years in program) that I have obviously outgrown the need for that and it isn’t important any more, and 2) there has got to be a way to surrender my food without being so strict.

Any intelligent person would be able to step back and recognize that neither of those cases  appear to be reality for me. I don’t seem to recognize it. I keep thinking and rehashing it over and over, hoping that I will find a different, softer conclusion. That’s insanity.

For today I have one job: stay abstinent. I don’t have to outsmart the world. I don’t have to solve all my problems. For today I just trust that if I am willing to take that single step of faith that all the other pieces will eventually fall into place.