Truth on Tuesday

There is Nothing but Grief



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.

Truth on Tuesday

The Miracle of Freedom (sort of)


Somebody brought in a plate of goodies and plopped it on the table in the break room.  I am pleasantly surprised to find myself able to walk away, but I’m still obsessing a little bit in my head.  Part of my thinks, “Oh. Cookies.  That’s interesting.”  Another part of me thinks, “Hmm, I wonder how they taste?”  Still another part of me rationalizes, “I should eat one because I might not get another chance.”  The devil on my shoulder says, “Take one or two. It won’t matter.”  The angel on my other shoulder says, “Take care of yourself.  You don’t need cookies today.”  And my inner beast says, “OMFG, COOOOOOOOKIESSS!!!”

Here’s the truth:  Glad as I am that I’m not stuffing myself with cookies (because, you know, I might never get to taste a cookie ever again in my entire life), the crazy is still there inside of me.

In the program, we talk a lot about miracles.  Miracles come in all sizes and shapes.  Today the miracle is that I’m not physically crazy for cookies even though I’m fighting a few battles in my head.  I’m not a person who really believes in miracles because the ones that happen to me often don’t seem as spectacular as I think anything called a miracle should be.  Inasmuch as I’m grateful for today’s little miracle, I want the big one.  I want it now.

Here’s some more truth:  I rarely want anything in a small way.  Whether it’s cookies or recovery, I want it BIG.  I want it to be MAGNIFICENT.  I want it to be INSPIRING and I want it to go viral.  A lot of that is ego.  A lot of the desire for the BIG miracle is because the feeling of wanting to eat junk food is overwhelming at times, but the lack of desire is *meh.*

Imagine this:  You’re in your house, maybe watching TV, and suddenly there are fire alarms going off.  You don’t just sit on the sofa and say to yourself, “Oh, fire alarms.”  No.  You jump up and you run to the door.  Well, that’s how it feels inside me most of the time when I’m craving something to eat (usually junk food).  It’s like there is a fire and I physically need to get up and run to the food for safety, for calmness, for satisfaction, for relief from the tension.

And here’s the God’s-honest-truth:  Recovery really isn’t spectacular.  It’s having to deal with the inner demons that come out to play as soon as I don’t give in to food cravings.  On a good day, it’s just calmness (i.e., a lack of the drama that has been part of my life for longer than I can remember).

So, maybe in time I will find joy in the quietness.  Maybe in time I will realize that freedom from the addiction is a magnificent gift even if it’s not celebrated with fireworks and rainbows.  Until that  release finally comes, I’ve got friends and I’ve got a program and I’m going to take this just one day at a time.


Truth on Tuesday

Truth on Tuesday

I’ve decided that I need to tell the truth about myself.  Tuesday seems like a good day for that.

Truth #1:  I’m fat.  At my last doctor visit, I weighed 306 lbs.  Granted, I was wearing my shoes and a pair of jeans at the time, but I think it’s bullshit to deduct any number of pounds from the today because the number is what it is.  Deducting even 7 lbs still puts me nearer to 300 lbs than I ever intended to be.  So, let’s be truthful:  I’m fat.

Truth #2:  I’m a food addict.  I am a compulsive, impulsive, and sometimes repulsive eater.  I have tried diets with some success, but no diet has ever addressed what’s really going on at the core of me.  That’s why I need a 12-step program.  That’s why I needed to heal my relationship with a power greater than myself because when I’m around food I have no power.

Truth #3: I’ve eaten some food today that was not beneficial.  I was stressed out over some work I’m doing and pissed off about some inequities at the office, so I told my Higher Power (HP, for short) to get the fuck out of my way.

Truth #4: My HP doesn’t punish me for pushing him/her/it aside.  My HP loves me exactly where I am today.  When I overeat, I am only harming myself by eating stuff that isn’t good for me and by not practicing the habits of recovery that I have been given.

Truth #5:  I don’t like myself very much, so it really blows my mind when I remember that my HP loves me no matter what, when my 12-step friends love me no matter what, when anyone in my family or among my friends loves me no matter what.

Truth #6:  Lots of times I am eating cruddy food because it’s a way to kill myself and still live for now.  If you heard the self-loathing that goes on in my head when I’m stress-eating, you’d think I had a gun stuffed into my mouth.

Truth #7:  I’m still trying.  Last April, I called a friend in the program and said, “OK, I’m really ready to take Step 3.”  My recovery is based on working the 12 steps, and most of time I’m starting the day at Step 1 and getting through Step 7 before I get to bed.  But that’s OK.

I think that’s enough truth for today. #TruthTuesday