Thursday, January 21, 2010

I’ve Been Cured!

OK, so I haven’t been cured yet. To borrow from Mr. Hemingway, wouldn’t it be pretty to think so? That it could be THAT easy? That just going to one meeting would set a whole bunch of unstoppable balls in motion that would lead instantly to a cure.

All day, I went back and forth between Good Idea and Bad Idea: Go to my first meeting or just continue my now 11 day binge. Believe me, each hour was a struggle. Those pretzels in the cabinet were calling my name. There were way too many temptations. But I didn’t waver and I was clean, all day long.

The meeting started at 6, and I got there just a few minutes before, lest there was some sort of social situation that I would have to participate in. Not quite ready for that. Walking up to the church, I kept thinking, I could just go on the drug store and pick up some snacks and just go eat them somewhere and skip this whole thing. I tried opening the doors, but they were locked. It’s a sign! Go eat! I found the right doors, which lead to locked interior doors. Another sign! Leave now. Yet I fumbled around again and found a second set of unlocked doors. And followed the instructions posted on a piece of paper that was carefully coated in plastic down to the big room in the basement. There was no stopping me now.

Two steps down into one of those church basement rooms: Folding chairs stacked in the corners and angel-like choir robes hanging on racks and cute little Boy Scout ribbons hanging near a bulletin board. This is a place where coffee in Styrofoam cups are served after services. Where Entermann’s cookies are arranged earnestly on paper plates. Where people sit around and bask in that post-church glow together. And also, apparently, where addicts of all sorts sit around tables and try to keep their various demons at bay. Maybe the church goodness and serenity seeps through the floors.

It was a small group: Four women and one man. The man surprised me. Not that I don’t think men can have eating disorders: Of course they can. But still, I was a little surprised. I just pictured OA meetings to be all women, all the time.

I can’t talk about these other people, share their names or their journeys. But I will say this: I was by far the smallest person there. I was kind of wondering if they would resent me for that, or marginalize me. Or think that I don’t really have an issue. I may have felt out of place physically but I felt right in place, mentally.

The meeting was exactly how these meetings are stereotyped: I had to introduce myself each time I spoke and announce that I am a overeater. “Hi I am J and I am an overeater.” “Hi J!” came the enthusiastic chorus each time. And “Thank you J!” after I spoke each time. To be honest I almost broke into a case of inappropriate giggles a couple of times because it just seems absurd to keep saying this over and over again. But I guess this is apart of the tradition and structure, and traditions and structure are good.

The meeting lasted about 50 minutes, and this is what it was like: The chairwoman opened the meeting and read some things. Other people were asked to read a couple of pages loud as well (the 12 steps, and other basic background). It was made clear that OA is not affiliated with any church or political group or anything about, oh, 75 times. And then it was asked if anyone wanted a coin. Apparently you get keepsake coins for different levels of sobriety I got coin to represent that I have not binged in 24 hours. Go me! After that, it was asked if anyone wanted to choose a topic for this evening’s meeting. This being my first meeting. I had no idea what this meant. The chairwoman told us to flip through the index of the voices of recovery book. Self-love, self-judgment, sanity, secret of recovery, service, slips, sponsors, steps, stubbornness, struggles….and that is just a sample of the “s” list.

There were two things I learned at this meeting that made it completely worth my time: One was that surrender is an unconscious event. This was a thunderclap realization for me. All these years I have tried to force surrender. Instead, the passage we read said, we need to do the footwork, to go through the motions and the surrender will come. Yes, this involves the infamous 12 steps, and even as I listened to those steps being read out loud I though, there is no way I am doing that one (to wit: apologize to those I have wronged? No way! Be of service to others? I have no time for that! I have two kids and a life.). So you can say I will be dragged kicking and screaming through this process. If I even do it.

The second insight I realized was all those awful qualities I have, like impatience and fear of change, they aren’t going away. Ever. The best I can do is temper those qualities. TRY to be more patient. TRY to embrace change. And when I start to feel impatient and rigid, TRY to figure out a way to make it better. Try try try. That is all I can do.

It isn’t over yet, but Day Two of clean eating. Victory might be mine. Right.


  1. I saw your comment on Oh She Glows. I felt compelled to visit your site because, unfortunately, I can relate. I am a former super thin person-but forcibly due to extreme exercise and writing down calorie counts every day for years. Over time, my body and mind had enough-and once I opened the flood gates, all hell broke loose. And by all hell, I mean a 40 pound weight gain, turned 2 year struggle with bingeing, and what I would call food addiction. I will be ok, and feel very few urges, but then the mental images and day dreams of all of the food I want, and what I would eat...if only....But then, the day comes when I just go for it. All day. Stopping at Dunkin Donuts, Marble Slab creamery, gas stations, bakerys, the whole deal. When the stomach pain goes away, more eating...Until I feel like I've gotten the urge out. Eating in secret, eating in the middle of the night, lying to loved ones, throwing wrappers out the window as I'm driving. I'm sorry for writing so long. I wanted you to know that I understand, and I am struggling as well. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  2. Theresa, I hope you see this comment. I am glad you commented. You are not alone. I dumped the remnants of a bag of potato chips out the car window as I was speeding along a windy country road. Then I fold the empty bag up really small and hide it. I too have resorted to buying donuts at DD. Let's face it: They are crap. I will shovel as much food as I can into myself on the drive back from the Country Food Store. I will eat a box of Dots out of desperation because there just isn't anything else around.

    The million dollar question: What can you do to stop when those days come? How can you snap out of it before it starts? I wish there was an intervention police of some sort: Like when we are on the verge we make the call and get round-the-clock protection.

    Keep commenting. Maybe sharing more will help you. And me.

  3. Thank you for your reply =) To answer your question, the more I have analyzed my patterns of binging, this is what I have come up with...I believe that I have come to view food in the same way a smoker views his next cigarette or an alcoholic/drug addict looks forward to the next high. To me, it is a high. Food is my drug of choice. It gives me the escape that I am craving. And it may not be an escape from something terrible-maybe just a normal, bad day. But I do also believe that these binge days don't just usually pop up out of nowhere...they start a few days in advance. Maybe it will start one day with having 4 (unnecessary) pieces of toast after dinner...few days later...a little too much candy...few days later...few small dips in the PB jar...All leading up to a gradual divergence from my plan of health-focused, recovery eating. I also try my damndest to remind myself of how AWFUL I will feel after. I tell myself " it, see how crappy you feel after and what a bad mood you're in." And I usually am in an AWFUL mood. And the next day will experience withdrawals, sadness, moodiness. I believe that we are craving the escape and the hormonal response we have taught our bodies to experience when eating large amounts of food. I'm with you on the 'food police' idea =) I'll be following and commenting here with you.