Author: Ellie M

God and Understanding

God and Understanding

I have been thinking a lot lately about the God of my understanding.  I’ve also been thinking a lot about whether there is a God (with or without an upper case G) at all.  As an addict, I need to believe in something greater than myself because my self has never been stronger than my addiction.  My self has been stronger than a number of things, but in order to battle the monster on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, I need to believe in a super hero of some kind.

One event that triggered these thoughts was an essay I read online by a woman who was having a lot of difficulty with her AA and NA meetings.  She is an atheist among a lot of people who espouse a Christian God.  She identifies as transgender among a lot of cishets* who, for lack of greater understanding, often advise her to “pray away the gay.”  I feel pain and anger and sadness for her because it’s hard enough to be among people who believe in a God that is not of your understanding; even worse to be among people who keep suggesting that who and what you are is somehow a disease of your own making.

Let’s pause a moment for a brief digression into background.  AA was founded (more or less) by two white, heterosexual men in the 1930s.  These men were not particularly religious, but they had been in contact with the Oxford Group (headed by an Episcopal clergyman), which emphasized what they called “universal spiritual values.”  As these sobriety groups grew and multiplied, the members eventually established the 12 Steps and wrote “the Big Book” — often a kind of bible for 12-step groups — which was a description of their beginnings and the rationale for their tenets.

The need for a higher power is, as I perceive it, two-fold:  (1) we have already proven that we cannot overcome the addiction of our own power, and (2) most of our problems stem from the egocentric belief that we have power over all kinds of things that are truly out of our control.  From my experience, I can say that this is language I have heard over and over in the various Christian churches I have attended:  Only God (and usually, only the Christian God) is all-powerful, and our “original” sin is the self-serving belief that we are more powerful than God when it comes to making things happen.

So, it’s no wonder to me that there are people who find AA (and other 12-step groups) to be unwelcoming to atheists and anyone else who doesn’t subscribe to the language of a Christian God.  It’s not just because the founders were white-privileged males from a predominantly Christian ethos, and it’s not because western Christianity is always making a lot of noise in this country about how great it is.  It’s because 12-step members are addicts, and what addicts do best is try to control things when they should keep their hands off and their mouths shut.  It is likely true that they are not drinking or using or otherwise engaging in their primary addiction, but they are still susceptible to various expressions of a pervasive and lifelong disease.  And, for better or for worse, 12-step groups are necessarily non-professional.  On one hand, that means the cost is always low and therefore affordable to people with no means for professional recovery programs; but, on the other hand, that means that there is no “quality control” among the groups.  If the only group you can attend is one that isn’t friendly toward atheists, you’re pretty much stuck until you can form your own group or make new arrangements.

I’ve been to meetings where some members share in a way that reminds me of the testimonies I would hear at the Protestant Evangelical church I attended in my 20s.  I understood what these people were saying and why it was important to them, but I felt uncomfortable for my own reasons, not the least of which is that I felt I’d been damaged by my relationship with that particular branch of Christianity.

I used to believe in God in that way.  I used to read my Bible and make notes about the weekly homilies and take notes in Sunday School and journal every day.  I understood that God was powerful and forgave my sins, that I was weak and in need of saving.  I believed God knew my name and everything about me.  I was certain I would go to heaven when I died.  But people who I’d thought of as friends were starting to be controlling, challenging me (with all love) about the “witness” I was to the world and second-guessing my beliefs.  I was such a people-pleaser then, that I let it happen.  The end began when I read a book called GodDependency.  It opened my eyes to the codependency in my own little church.  With that and some other tragedies in my life, I was never able to go back to that way of thinking and believing.

It was a decade or more later that I went to a 12-step meeting for my addiction.  The first book I picked up from the literature table was about spirituality, and I’m glad I did because I needed assurance that my higher power would, indeed, be a God of my own understanding and not the God of someone else’s definition.  My prior belief in God had been helpful to me, but it had been tainted by the people in the church and by the constant yammering of ugly Christians always in the news (e.g, the ones who claim to follow Jesus but think Hurricane Katrina was God’s wrath toward homosexuality).  I needed, as the Big Book states, “a new way of thinking” where spirituality was concerned.

It took me a while to sort out my beliefs.  It took me a long while to be comfortable with even needing to sort out my beliefs.  In the time since leaving the church of my 20s, I have made friends who are Jewish, Atheist, Buddhist, and just plain free spirits.  I have also made friends with people who are vegan, gluten-free, whole-foods-only, paleo dieters, Weight Watchers adherents, . . . the list is long, and it’s long because I’ve discovered that people actually make a “higher power” out of any number of people and practices, whether or not it’s an organized religion.

Here’s what I found for myself:

  1. I will always describe the God of my understanding in the terms of my Judeo-Christian upbringing.  It’s the system and iconography that I understand best, so that’s what I use to frame my understanding.
  2. Just because I use those traditional terms, it does not mean that my beliefs are traditional.  I am a registered member of a socially progressive Christian congregation (United Church of Christ) that promotes an open and welcoming environment to all.  (Seriously — you could be an atheist in this congregation and no one would try to convert you or say, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.”)
  3. I learn from other the spiritual practices of others, and it’s OK for me to use those lessons in my own spiritual journey.
  4. On my best days, I can feel the unconditional love of the God of my understanding, and it’s an indescribable feeling of freedom from years of emotional baggage.
  5. On the days when I am having a hard time believing that there is any God at all, I imagine that my Higher Power is a group on neurons in my brain that is forming new and better connections so that my addicted and diseased brain can heal.  It’s completely atheistic and perhaps somewhat scientific, but it gives me a Higher Power I can cling to in the dark days.

To 12-Step groups, I would say that some of you need to do a 12th-Step-Within look at how your group operates.  I’m concerned that some members start using the God of their understanding and upbringing as their new drug of choice, and that just as hurtful as using alcohol or drugs or anything else.

To everyone who is feeling like your 12 Step group isn’t welcoming to your spiritual beliefs or your identity, I hope you will speak up about that at a meeting.  If you cannot, I hope you can find a better group.  Whatever happens, keep coming back.  You are loved, you are valued, and there are people who will be your friends and advocates.  Seek the Higher Power of your understanding because this is YOUR RECOVERY, so you need to find the super power that is going to help you kick addiction to the curb for at least one day at a time.

(*cishets = plural of “cishet,” the description of a cis-gendered person who is also heterosexual.)

Broken

Broken

For the sake of expedience, I usually identify myself as a food addict.  In some circles I will go so far as to say that I am a compulsive overeater.

We have a lot of words to describe ourselves:  anorexic, bulimic, emotional-eaters, stress-eaters, carb-addicts, yo-yo dieters, compulsive exercisers, body dysmorphic, gluten-sensitive, OCD, anxious, depressed, disordered, dysfunctional, and more.  Some of those words refer to recognized diagnoses, but even a multiple-word diagnosis doesn’t explain the cascade of emotional (and sometimes physical) pain we live with on a daily basis.

No matter what we call ourselves or how we define our often unreasonable relationship with food and eating, the bottom line is that we have a scary disease.  It is fueled by self-hatred and expressed in actions that, in any sane human being, would be described as a compulsion to self-annihilate.  For us, food is not a source of nutrition.  For us, food is the Great Satan and an Angel of Mercy, punishment and reward, poison to be avoided and the elixir of life, an occasion of sin and the salvation of hurt feelings.  Whether we overeat or starve ourselves, we view food as the enemy:  something never to be enjoyed, because enjoying it means we are doomed.  And then some of us throw caution to the wind, drowning ourselves in “the evil one” because even though we hate it, we love how it feels.

We are broken, and we hate our brokenness. If Dante had known of this, he’d have described it as one of the circles of hell, worse than any of the 7 deadly sins.

Recovery begins with accepting that we are broken, and that being broken is OK.  Recovery begins with accepting that we have no control over the disease.  Recovery begins with the hope that we will soon learn that, despite being broken and out-of-control, we are still worthy.

We do not discard a limb because it is broken.  We have it treated.  We care for it.  We recognize that it is not as strong as it once was, and that it will take time to mend.

 

Grinding the  Gears

Grinding the Gears

I am lamenting that I have not been to the gym for weeks.  A combination of illness and bad weather have kept me away, plus depression over the state of the world as well as my office.

I have been lamenting that I have never felt stress release from exercise.  I have felt tired, I have felt beaten, I have felt virtuous for at least exercising, but I have never felt the loss of stress or worry or anything else.  My mind doesn’t seem to give a rat’s arse for what my body has done.  My mind keeps churning out the shite no matter what.

One thing that’s been on my mind lately is bad relationships and how far we’re willing to go to deal with them.  Do we invest the emotional energy in changing  our expectations of another person or entity, or do we just cut and run?

If it’s a place with which I do business, I’m likely to seek the product or service elsewhere.  If it’s a business where I am employed, the solution is more difficult.  It takes into account the job itself, where the problem comes from, the people I engage with, and more.  I’m in a job now where I think the owners are not emotionally healthy people, so I’m looking for a new position.  But I ask myself:  Is it their fault for being emotionally unhealthy, or is it my fault for the constant, internal demand that they change themselves?  I cannot make that change for them.  Also, it is not a daily battle to face, although some weeks are more difficult than others.  The boss’s wife (who is usually here only 3 days per week) is the main problem; the boss himself is disorganized, incompetent with basic software, and often loses track of details.  Do I leave because they should change and be better people, or do I stay and readjust my expectations of working with them?

If it’s a person who is problematic, it is sometimes as easy as walking away.  At least one former acquaintance has a personality that bothers me, so I just don’t stay in touch with her.  But what if it’s a spouse or a family member? It’s even harder than having a problem with the office.

So, I don’t have any answers.  I just have questions in my head that won’t resolve.

And I have a job that has been consuming all of my energy lately.

Thursday Blues

I had an appointment yesterday at 4:00 p.m. to see a counselor.  Well, she’s a full-blown psychiatrist, so there wasn’t much back-and-forth discussion.  Of course, it was just our first meeting and she was taking a lot of notes.  Anyway, I won’t get a chance to see her for about 2 weeks, so I decided I’d better keep a journal of everything going through my head.  There is so much going on.  I told her mainly about work (and she confirmed my suspicions about people in the office who are adding to the stress), but there are other things.

A friend in the UK was diagnosed with early onset dementia (as in, early stages, I think), which is expected to get a full diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  I got that news on Sunday.

On Tuesday evening I got an email from one of my sisters that her husband was diagnosed as being in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Here’s the thing about Alzheimer’s:  It’s harder on everyone than it is on the person who has it.  The person with Alzheimer’s just starts fading into the fog of non-memory, while the rest of us watch him/her disappear over a period of time.  Fortunately it’s not known to be physically painful, but I suspect there are moments of fear when a person suddenly doesn’t know where he/she is, or who he/she is.  And it’s not like the memories of these two people is going to disappear overnight.

But it hurts.

The boss at the office just emailed to ask me if he’d made a reservation for a lunch that is tomorrow.  I emailed back that I don’t know because I don’t keep his calendar.  The former secretary/office manager/miracle worker (the one whose last day was nearly a week ago) didn’t keep his calendar, either.  We’re going to have to drag this guy into the current century somehow, but it won’t be easy.  He doesn’t check his calendar even when there is an appointment on it.  He is routinely late for everything, and he has completely blown off some meetings and appointments.  The man is a narcissist and his wife and son are enablers.  And we’re left to deal with it.

Suffice it to say that the job hunt isn’t turning up very much.

Full Boil

Full Boil

kettle-653673_1280Life has been crazy since I last posted, and I’m not sure it has really settled down.  There has been office drama, political upset in the nation, and then I received an email yesterday from a friend to say she has early-onset dementia which will likely be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s.

Can I scream now?

This is the part of recovery that I have a hard time with:  How do I maintain serenity when everything in my world — and even inside my — is at a full boil?  It is an uphill climb to a place of acceptance of the myriad events that are out of my control.  I cannot make our president a sane and reasonable person.  I cannot fix everything that is wrong with the work culture at my office.  I cannot cure diseases.

My faith informs me that my Higher Power is with me at these times, but I find no comfort there.  I would try to cry, but I am at the office and we all know there is no crying in Marketing.

I know that I must take care of myself in order to have the strength to be an activist of any stripe, and I must take care of myself in order to be a friend to those who need me.  I know I must be gentle with myself as I curse that I’ve not been to the gym and my clothing is tight and . . . coming to the realization that when I feel powerless I also think I am ugly, useless, and impotent.

That is the difficulty of a program that emphasizes powerlessness.  The concept is valid:  It is only ego that makes me believe that worrying about something will change the outcomes, or that fixing what’s wrong in the world is something I can do on my own.  The Serenity Prayer has me asking for the serenity to accept what I cannot change, but courage to change the things I can (i.e, myself), and to have wisdom to know the difference.

So, the water is boiling, and I cannot stop it.  But I want to remember that when water boils it is in the midst of transformation, and transformation comes at a price.  In my case, the price is my ego, my lingering belief that I can change anything, the nagging feeling that it is my responsibility to make it all better for everyone, and the inability to accept the heat of the moment.

Here’s another proverb, one for which I cannot find an original reference, but one that was told to me by a Jewish friend:  “The same fire that turns metal into gold will burn clay into ashes.”  Whether I am metal or clay, I will find out in time.  To my thinking, either outcome teaches me something I need to know.

 

Icing

Icing

tree-451650_1280There was an ice storm upon us.  It had been sweeping across the country, running south of us, but we got rain on Sunday afternoon and it froze overnight.  It is an unusual winter in many ways.  The coldest temperatures were in December, before Christmas, and we usually have a lot more snow on the ground.  But this winter we’ve had only a dusting of snow so far, and freezing rain some days.

I don’t enjoy it when a winter storm is on the way.  This is something that has come upon me only in the past few years or so, that I can recall.  Or, perhaps, I am only aware of the anxiety now, as I have become aware of other times I have felt the trigger to eat based on whatever anxiety has built up in my head.  Fortunately, it was a Sunday and I was able to be at home.  I could rest when I needed to, snuggle up with the dogs when I needed to, and/or knit as I binge watched episodes of Call the Midwife on Netflix.

One of the things I’ve been grateful for lately has been communication, particularly with my sponsor who often reminds me that my feelings are OK, no matter what kind of feelings I’m having.  It may not be comfortable to have the feelings — especially anxiety, sadness, hurt, and the like — but it is OK to feel these things.

It seems like such a basic thing to say, “Your feelings are OK,” and yet it has been a bit of life training that I missed out on.  Somehow it was never a good thing to have any feelings of depression or anxiety or anger.  “Girls don’t get mad.”  “No one likes you if you don’t smile.”  Granted, it’s true that it’s difficult to be around someone who is dealing with grief or fear or anything of that nature, but just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we have a right to demand, “Snap out of it!”

Like so many things in life, even what appears to  be negative actually has a purpose.  I learned that in Steps 6 and 7, in which we list our defects of character and then ask our Higher Power to remove these defects.  I remember being frightened of doing Steps 3 through 9 because I didn’t want to admit any of the crap about myself.  It was hard enough to live with it, why would I want to tell anyone else about it, too? In fact, when I first went to a 12-Step meeting more than 20 years ago, I didn’t last very long because I was afraid of doing a 4th Step inventory, of admitting anything to my HP or another human being (Step 5), to say nothing of listing my defects!

What I discovered in going through that entire process (from about 2014 onward) is that I actually need my defects because each one of them gives me something.  At first all I could see was that a character defect gave me an excuse to eat.  Later I realized that some character defects (especially self-righteous anger) gave me a way to claim moral high ground, and other character defects (procrastination and subsequent lying) kept me from having to deal with the uncomfortable confrontation that usually results in being honest about not wanting to do something in the first place.

As I have grown in my understanding over the past couple of years, I have learned that even some of my best traits can become defects when they are in overdrive.  For example, I’m good at planning ahead, but when it goes into overdrive I work myself into anxiety, and anxiety often gives me an excuse to isolate (another common problem for addicts).  The fact that I have depression and anxiety is not a defect of character; the defect comes when I isolate rather than reaching out to someone.  In fact, one of my defects of character is to believe that I shouldn’t have those feelings.

Ice can be treacherous, but it can be aesthetically pleasing to look at.  An ice storm earlier this week was a scary thing, but it gave me a paid day off from work and I needed that time to relax.  Anxiety isn’t fun to have, but it got me to call my sponsor in order to get a lifeline to reality (and thus to lessen my anxiety).  Depression and food addiction are not anything I’m proud of, but they got me at last to a place of coping and recovery.

Up from the Gravy

Up from the Gravy

nature-794126_1280One of my favorite mondegreens is “Up from the gravy, a rose!” which is originally from a Protestant hymn, “Up from the Grave, He Arose!”  It’s not the song itself that I care for, but I like the idea that from the yucky brown gravy of my days, I can rise, so I will admit that the metaphor is apt.

I’ve been having some gravy days, for certain.  Part of it is due to some kind of illness I’ve been fighting, and part of it is that I carry around a lot of emotional baggage that spills out when certain of my buttons are pushed.  For example, on Wednesday at the office I had taken a goodly size swig of soda pop, then I turned in my chair and out came this enormous belch.  I exclaimed and excused myself (because I’m sure that people in the next county heard that belch!), but a couple guys in the office kept giggling and making remarks.  I felt deeply embarrassed.  I also started feeling worse about myself as the giggling and remarks continued.  I sent an email to both guys to ask that they refrain from teasing me for things that are out of my control.  One apologized; the other replied asking why I thought they were amused. (For him, I believe it was derision.)

It was near the end of the day, so I went home.  I called my sponsor on the way, crying so miserably that I could barely see the road.  My sponsor told me that s/he has been in similar situations and had similar feelings, and that the most difficult thing is to hold two ideas in my head and heart at the same time:  (1) I feel crappy / unloved / worthless, but (2) I’m OK because I’m doing the best I can, so fuck anyone who wants to make fun of me or the situation.

Yes, that’s hard.  The feelings I have are valid.  The feelings are real.  But, even being valid and real feelings doesn’t make them true.  Just because I feel badly about myself doesn’t mean that I am a bad person.  Just because I feel embarrassed, doesn’t make me an embarrassment of a human being.  Just because it’s true that I’m obese doesn’t mean I am less worthy of respect, love, and encouragement.

It still took me more than a day to get over it. I’m glad to report that sleep is a great healer.  But, in the midst of feeling grief for the loss of dignity that was visited upon me, I was tempted to severely restrict my diet as a kind of punishment for the event.  My thinking was, “If I weren’t fat, I wouldn’t be so disgusting.”  I was tempted to become smaller, to take up less space in the world, to shrink from being in order to no longer upset anyone around me (something that comes from growing up with critical parents, and worse).

It took me more than a day to get over it, but I’m glad I have a program and a sponsor and a Higher Power to set me up again after I fall.  Everything about this program says, “Don’t harm yourself because someone else is a shit-head.”  (My paraphrase.)  Severe dieting, rigid exercise programs, struggling to be small:  All of these things are diseased responses to a world rich with ugly, muddy gravy.

So, I took some time for myself to relax, pet the dogs, work on a project.  I talked to another friend on the phone. I grieved.  I slept.  And then I got up in the morning, took a shower, put on clean clothes, and headed to the office.  Renewed.  A rose among the crud.  It hasn’t been the easiest day.  I’m still feeling a little fragile.  But the recovering part of me is strong, like the stem that holds up the rosebud.  I have broken through the crud today, and that’s worth singing about.

There is Nothing but Grief

There is Nothing but Grief

circles-1846537_1280

ANTHONY O’DALY

Since your limbs were laid out

The stars do not shine,
The fish leap not out

In the waves.
On our meadows the dew

Does not fall in the morn,
For O’Daly is dead:

Not a flower can be born,
Not a word can be said,

Not a tree have a leaf;
Anthony, after you
There is nothing to do,

There is nothing but grief.

from Reincarnations, by James Stephens

I sang the Samuel Barber setting of this text while in college, and it has stayed with me ever since.  It is the lament in the back of my mind when I am feeling low.  If you listen to the piece on the YouTube link, you will hear the bass ostinato, “Anthony,” through the majority of the piece as the other voices cascade their mournful cries.  It reaches a crescendo in the last three lines, as if the dam of anger and tears has finally burst, but the river of pain, while an intense deluge, is ultimately brief.  What remains is the slow trickle of grief, until it finally dries up.

What grows in that dry gulley when the weeping finally ceases?  I don’t know.  I honestly don’t know.  I am still waiting for whatever that miracle of recovery finally shows itself to be.

The truth: Yesterday, in a fit of internal stress and rage, I ate several of the “mini” size KitKat bars in the break room. I think it was 7, but it might have been 11.

The truth:  I couldn’t sleep well last night, and when I was awake all I could think of were the disappointments of my life, the times when there seemed to be a seed of talent and promise, but the seed was never nourished.  In fact, it was often killed by the very people who might have helped it along.

The truth:  I had a beautiful singing voice even when I was in Jr. High school, but I was told I would never make it because I was “not pretty enough.”

The truth:  I didn’t sign up for choir until I was in my senior year of high school, and even then my mother complained that she didn’t have time to be “driving all over the country” for school events.  (My high school was only a 15 minute drive from home.)  The only time that both my parents came to hear me sing was when I sang in the spring Pops concert.  I was the only person chosen to sing a solo both nights, and my teachers and friends were so complimentary.  But I was never encouraged beyond that.  Not by my parents.  Not by my siblings.  It was basically the same shit when I was in college.  You know how some parents came to recitals and concerts and brought the kids?  At my first solo recital, one of my sisters (who was pretty much shamed into attending) asked why I didn’t sing any country & western music.  It’s a long story, but a reasonably well-known composer wrote four songs for me to sing, but my classmates made remarks that suggested I was not worthy of this attention.

The truth:  I was an emotional wreck when I was in college.  I was also socially backward.  I didn’t know how to make friends.  I didn’t know how to be me (instead of parroting the behaviors of other people who I believed were good examples).  I certainly didn’t know how to act when the attention was on me because I believed for all of my formative years that I didn’t deserve anything good.

The truth:  I’m not done grieving that shit in my life.  It was 40+ years ago, and there is nothing but grief.

Navigating the Labyrinth

Navigating the Labyrinth

british-museum-atrium

If I recall correctly, the above image (which I pulled from a public domain site) is of the atrium at The British Museum in London.  They completed this for the year 2000, one of the myriad projects to celebrate the millennium in that great city. I believe the brochure for this particular project states that each piece of glass for this undulating ceiling was cut individually.  Well, I’m not surprised.  All of those curves and angles means a lot of individual attention was needed, especially for this iconic repository of history.

My head was in about the same state this morning, except that nothing was catalogued or shelved or individually cut and placed in the complex grid that is my brain.  The universe knows that I’ve been collecting memories of voices, events, feelings, and dreams for only about 57 years, but there are days I could swear that my repository could rival the great museums of the world.  And there are mornings like this one when the weight of the mess is too much to bear.  Here’s a sampling:

  1. Do the laundry
  2. Declutter the laundry room
  3. Declutter the closet
  4. Take all unused clothing to Good Will
  5. Go through the entire house and find everything that needs to go to Good Will.
  6. Order a 9-yard box for the driveway because there is a lot of shit in this house that needs to go
  7. Why does my partner keep so much shit!
  8. Why do I still have all of this shit!
  9. Jesus, I should just put away the clothes that are folded up and sitting in baskets.
  10. I need to make sure I have clean clothes to wear to work this week
  11. I should go into the office today to catch up because I was out on Friday (sick).
  12. I should go to the gym today, too, because I missed that on Friday.
  13. If I go to the office, then I can go to the gym afterward, and then I’ll come home and do laundry.
  14. I should write thank you notes, too, from Christmas.
  15. Who gave me stuff?  I better make a list.
  16. I have to forward that email to my partner so he can get in touch with his friend.
  17. Oh, crap, here are three things in my email box I need to deal with
  18. Facebook is better than email.
  19. Facebook is full of crap most days.
  20. Why don’t people recognize fake news when they see it?
  21. Why don’t I just pick up after myself every day instead of letting everything get this messy?
  22. I should start with the bathroom.
  23. I want a nice, clean, uncluttered bathroom.  My bathroom should be a sanctuary for me, a place from which to start each day fresh and a place to unload before going to sleep.
  24. New towels would be nice.
  25. Oh, gawd, I should do something about this wallpaper.
  26. This stupid little closet in the bathroom is next-to-useless.  Who designed this?
  27. OMG, all of this old makeup!  I remember when I used to do my hair and makeup every day.  Well, that was the 80s.
  28. OMG, the 80s.  Big hair, high heels and blue jeans.
  29. I will never look like Meg Ryan.
  30. I loved Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.
  31. Carrie Fisher was in When Harry Met Sally.  She was great.
  32. Oh, gawd, Carrie Fisher is gone.  So is Alan Rickman and Gary Shandling . . . too many people have died.
  33. I used to watch The Tonight Show with my dad when I was in high school.  I remember Gary Shandling being on that show.
  34. I used to know how to make coffee on the stove.  I didn’t drink it myself, but I knew how to make is just right for my dad.
  35. I wish my dad had liked me more.  I know he cared about all of us, but he never gave the impression that he was in my corner.
  36. That old house we lived in.  Crappy insulation, but I remember how warm it was under the covers.
  37. That morning when I thought I’d get up and help my mom out around the house, but I felt so dead tired, and all she could do was yell at me for not keeping my word about helping with the housework.
  38. That house looks so small to me now.

This is why I cannot meditate for shit.  There is no way to empty my head of all of this stuff.  So I called my sponsor.

I’ve had several different sponsors since I’ve been in the program.  I like to think I learned a little bit from each one. My current sponsor is someone who has been a friend in the program from early on.  We are definitely on the same wavelength for so many things.  My sponsor often just gives me a way forward, and that way forward is, paradoxically, to sit still for a bit a connect with my Higher Power.  When I connect with my HP, a lot of the bullshit can fall away.

Today’s bullshit has been a lot of shaming and a lot of “shoulds.” I’ve been mentally  berating myself for taking a sick day, for missing work at the office as well as a workout (as if missing one workout sends all of my progress down the toilet).  And then I was berating myself for not having done more work around the house in this time I’ve been at home, e.g., I should have started in on laundry, I should have kept up with decluttering, I should have put these other things away.

Writing in this blog/journal is a way for me to meditate.  It’s a way for me to get things out, and it’s a way for me to remember what I’ve learned from a talk with my sponsor.  It’s sort of like the only way out of this maze is to stop for a moment and make my own map.

I’m a “doer;” I have a hard time just sitting still, and I often think that the only way to get things done is to just start at one end and work to the other.  But my house is too big for me to tackle in one day, and my recovering won’t ever respond to that kind of linear approach to sorting and cleaning.

So, here is the way through the woods for me today (my Action Plan, another of the tools of recovery):  Make sure I have clean clothes for work this week (which will likely include tackling some of the laundry concerns), get my gym bag ready for a trip to the gym tomorrow morning before work, stop after those two tasks and consult with my HP about what might be the next most beneficial activity for today.

Updated 1:55 p.m.  Gym bag ready for tomorrow.  Clothes enough for the week.  Laundry started.

 

50 Reasons to Eat

50 Reasons to Eat

Milky Way

How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky?  That’s probably how many reasons I can think of to eat.  I write this because yesterday, when I was on my way home from work, I telephoned a friend just to talk until I got past the turn-off for a Dairy Queen where I have stopped in the past (at least once a day) for an ice cream cone.  We were laughing about it because we understand that an addict can come up with any reason to indulge.  I told him that I’ve written lists in the past (e.g., 100 things I’m thankful for), so I would write a list of 100 reasons why I have eaten and/or overeaten.  As you can see, I’ve stopped at 50 reasons because the redundancy of underlying themes was getting to be embarrassing.

NOTE:  Excepting reason #1 on this list, there is no foundation of actual hunger or need to eat in any of these excuses.

  1. I feel actual hunger (a legitimate reason to eat, but there’s no guarantee that I will choose something beneficial to my health).
  2. I *might* feel actual hunger in an hour (or 2 or 3) and I have no guarantee that I will be able to get food when I need it.
  3. I might never get to eat this particular food again any time soon.  In fact, I might go a lifetime and never have this wonderful food again, so I should eat more of it.
  4. I should eat so that I don’t blow up at someone in the office.
  5. I need to eat to calm down so that I can concentrate.
  6. I know I should sleep, but I want to stay up and finish watching this program (or read this book or work on this project), so I’ll eat to stay awake.
  7. I can’t sleep.  I should eat something that will help me sleep.
  8. I might wake up in the night feeling hungry, so I need to eat something before bed.
  9. This book I’m reading mentions food.
  10. We’re at the theatre and I always have popcorn when I watch a movie.
  11. I’m sitting here with nothing to do while I watch this TV program, so I will eat.
  12. I’m working on this project and it’s really intense, so I’ll eat to fuel my ability to work on this.
  13. I feel good.  I can eat anything I like.
  14. There is leftover food. I should eat it before someone else does.
  15. Oh, look:  cookies!
  16. They make my favorite cake at this store.
  17. Coffee and strudel — a perfect treat when talking with a friend!
  18. I’m late for work.
  19. I had a good workout.
  20. It’s cold out.
  21. There’s a storm coming.  Might be a blizzard / tornado.
  22. I was thinking of how my mom made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid.
  23. Pancakes.  I want pancakes, and I want them now.
  24. Oh, look, it’s a festival.  Let’s get funnel cakes!
  25. The boss brought in doughnuts for a meeting but only a few were eaten.  I should eat some to make sure he doesn’t feel bad for bringing in food that no one wanted to eat.
  26. Wow, there’s candy leftover from that trade show!
  27. It’s just a small piece.  I’ll be good.
  28. I didn’t win the Powerball.
  29. Nobody likes me.
  30. I hate everything.
  31. I’m never going to have a Hollywood-perfect body, so why try?
  32. My husband went to all the trouble to cook this, so I should eat it.  I don’t want him to feel bad for his efforts.
  33. It only tastes good when it’s first cooked.  It’s terrible when it’s reheated.
  34. Hey, is that a potato chip that fell out of the bag yesterday?
  35. Oooh, someone is warming up soup in the microwave!
  36. Is that fresh bread I smell?
  37. Fresh coffee!  What can I eat as I drink my fresh coffee?
  38. Chocolate would be good right now.
  39. I’ll order in pizza because I need to work through my lunch hour.
  40. It’s 4 o’clock and I’m hungry, but I still need to work another hour.  I’ll have some of the leftover pizza.
  41. I’m on vacation, so I’ll eat whatever I want.
  42. I’ve already blown my diet / food plan / exercise plan, so I’ll just eat this.
  43. I’ll start over again tomorrow.
  44. I’ll start over again on Monday.
  45. I’m just going to blow my diet / food plan / exercise plan anyway; it might as well be today.
  46. Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and they always have the best chocolates in the store for this.
  47. Oh, look! A new flavor of M&Ms!
  48. Those little Girl Scouts are working so hard to sell their cookies.
  49. The neighbor kid is coming around to sell popcorn again for his Scout troop.  I should be a good neighbor and help out.  Popcorn is at least healthy.
  50. It’s a day that ends in “Y.”