Archive for the ‘OA’ Tag

23 Months of Binge-Free Abstinence!

I can’t believe it, two days ago I hit the 23-month abstinence mark.  For almost two years I have been binge-free.  I have kept off my weight loss for 14 months.  I am SO happy to be able to make both of those statements.  It has certainly been quite challenging, day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, but  if I can do it, anybody can.

Looking back on these past 23 months… In the beginning, I enjoyed going to one certain OA meeting once a week for about a year or so, but then I found out that a friend was also a compulsive eater and my daily email shares with her took the place of the weekly meeting so I stopped going to the meeting.  While it would certainly not hurt to go to the meeting, my work load has picked up, I feel like between this wonderful friend, my husband (and now this blog!), that I am able to talk about whatever is on my mind and put it out there in the universe. As my blog tag-line says, “you are only as sick as your secrets” and I find that really holds true for me.  When I come clean about my thoughts and any little slips I’ve had, it makes it much easier to move on as oppposed to keeping them bottled up inside of me.  My honesty sets me free.

I did not work all the steps of OA.  For me, the first two were enough (for now anyway) to put me on the right course.  The first two steps gave me the ability to take ownership of this eating disorder, which for the past 30+ years I didn’t even know I had. 

I know that I will have food issues for life.  I am a work-in-progress.  I know that once you are a compulsive (over)eater, you can never totally leave the “title” behind no matter how many years you are in recovery or abstinent.  I think that totally sucks, but I have taken ownership of it.  I do hope that with therapy and whatever else I can pick up along the way, that in the future, easier days will become the majority, and the hard days, the minority.  That is what I’m striving for.   I want to turn 23 months into 23 years. 

I know that I may never have a normal relationship with food, but I want to get as close as possible, so that food, and thoughts of food, will not rule my world anymore.

Compulsive Eating at Thanksgiving Dinner

*Sigh*  I knew going into the holiday that it was going to be rough.  I always have a tough time when  there is a buffet of some sort.  I’m pretty good with “meal” foods, but it’s the buffet of desserts that gets me.

The first step of OA is to admit that you are powerless over food. Well, once again I have proven that this is certainly the case with me.  I am weak.  It’s as if I can’t be trusted around certain foods.  It makes me feel disappointed in myself, that I don’ have the self-control to stay away.  I should never take the first bite.  I won’t bore you with the details of what desserts I ate, but suffice to say that I took the proverbial first bite, thought the bites were really good, and had some more bites.  This happened with four different desserts.  At home , on a regular day, I can take the first bite, but when I’m not in my home and it is some occasion where there is a lot of desserts, this sickness clouds my rational thoughts.

Now, the fact of the matter is that I only went over my calorie count by about 250 calories.  I could have done tons more damage, and in the past I would have in a heartbeat.  I consider myself as having kept my abstinence because even though I compulsively ate more dessert than I planned on,  because thankfully I was able to put on the brakes before it got worse, I didn’t continue the eating at home and today I’m right back on track.  But ugh, I still felt a little full after we got back home last night.  I never eat until I’m full.  For SO many years I used to eat until I was physically ill, but for close to two years I have not done that.  I did not like feeling that fullness I felt last night.

In the grand scheme of things, I know that going over my count by 250 calories is not the end of the world.  It was the compulsive behavior that was so upsetting to me.  It is just always a hair away from the surface and can easily cross the surface at any given moment. 

I have put Thanksgiving dinner behind me, there is nothing I can do about it now.  All I can do is make today a good one (which I did) and continue to take it one day at a time.   Still, it sucks to feel week, powerless and out of control.  I know all the tricks, made my plans, didn’t frame the desserts in some negative way and yet, I still succumbed to the compulsion.  It’s like I can talk the talk but I can’t walk the walk. 

I hate that I’m probably going to go through this for the rest of my life.  While I would love to avoid family dinners, special occasions, etc. and stay safe in my home cocoon, I know that that is not a reality.  I have to live my life, which includes these dinners and events.  I need to either find a better way of dealing with the compulsion, or just assume I’m going to go a little overboard, let it happen within reason, be kind to myself about it, then just get back on the horse the following day. 

This sucks.

Getting Honest about my Food Addiction

Here is a letter that I submitted, and was subsequently printed, in OA’s “Lifeline Magazine” in April of 2008.:

One principle that has made a difference in my life is honesty. Ever since I can remember, I have always loved sweets and sugars. I could never get enough of them. My mom used to hide them from me because she knew I couldn’t control myself to eat a “normal” portion. It never occurred to me that there was something wrong with my mom hiding food from me. It never occurred to me that the quantities I ate were a problem. I never thought that, when I was teen, buying sweets, eating them and burying the empty packaging in the trash so no-one would see them was a problem. I simply had a sweet tooth, right?

Throughout my entire adult life, when I went to any kind of social event, my goal for the evening was not to enjoy the event or my friends, but to enjoy the deserts over and over again. Each time, I would feel awful and disgusted with myself and told myself I had to stop doing it. I just had a sweet tooth, right?

It wasn’t until I was close to my 40th birthday that a thought occurred to me one night. I’d like to think it was my Higher Power who thought I was ready to face the truth about my sweet tooth and popped the concept of compulsive overeating into my head. I immediately got on my laptop and started doing some research. I quickly found myself at the OA website and the list of questions that ask “are you a compulsive overeater?” Wow. I answered most of the questions with a “yes.” The honesty was finally beginning.

I devoured the website and then began to compose a letter to my dear husband to tell him what I have discovered about myself. I was a woman possessed writing down all my food-related secrets. The truth came pouring out of me. Finally. I was completely honest with myself. It was such a catharsis. The reality of what had been going on in my life for over 30 years was now set in front of me. A few days later, after I digested this information within myself, I read the letter to my husband. I cried while I read it, I cried while he held me for a long time afterwards. I continued to cry as I revealed to him even more of my eating habits and secrets that I have never told to anyone.

Now that I had this knowledge, I had to do something about it. I found the OA meetings closest to my home and I started to look for a therapist. Within days, I went to my first OA meeting and had an appointment set up with a psychologist. I clearly remember sitting at my first OA meeting with my eyes filled with tears throughout the whole meeting. These people all had the same problem that I did. Amazing. One woman, J, who I never met before in my life, hugged me at the end of the meeting. Little did she know how much that meant to me. I went out to my car and cried some more. I cried the whole drive home. I cried more the following day for no particular reason.

I heard somewhere, maybe it was on Oprah, that when you cry a lot, it means that you really had something buried deep in yourself. I had no idea that so much emotion about my so called “sweet tooth” was inside of me. This honesty was very powerful and was the beginning of my recovery. Thank you Higher Power for helping me to realize that I had to get honest about my so called “sweet tooth.”

Before You Take that First Bite…

One of the things that really sucks about this addiction is that when trying to be abstinent, you know that you can’t even eat just one or two of something because you know that one or two is not enough.  I mean, who can really eat just two m&m’s or two potato chips and be satisfied?  A person who has a normal relationship with food can, but not us lucky folks who are compulsive overeaters.  One of the key sayings in OA – “before you take that first bite…” is not a key saying for nothing.   They are truly words to try to live by because that first bite always gets you into trouble.

It’s really, (no pun intended!), hard to digest that there are some foods that I will never be able to eat for the rest of my life if I am to live abstinently/binge-free.  Take for instance, one of those delicious gazillion-calorie blizzards at Dairy Queen.  If I were to indulge in one, two things would happen:  1) I would literally eat up 1/3 to 1/2 of my allotted calories for the day, which would leave me pretty darn hungry for a good part of the day (which would suck!), and 2) I fear that eating it would send me over the edge into bingeland .    Neither of these things would be a good situation.   I don’t want to lose almost two years of abstinence and start from scratch again.  No enjoyment of food, no matter how good it is, for a mere few minutes, is worth that.

This being abstinent thing is something that I want to do for the rest of my life, because I don’t want, for so many reasons, to go back to binging.  And to be abstinent, there are foods that I will probably never eat again for the rest of my life and that kinda sucks.  But being abstinent is a not just a temporary diet, it is a life change.  It is a life change that has many benefits.  So while it’s quite difficult, almost impossible sometimes, I believe it is worth it.