Another coin has dropped!!

50 days ago another coin dropped. There was no planning. No bolt of lightning moment. The only way I can describe it is: the time was right. I had been through what I needed to and went with the flow when the opportunity presented itself.

As a result I am 50 day’s free from chocolate, biscuits, cakes, pastries, fried chicken, Greggs, McDonalds and those salty ribs I get from the local chip shop. All of which can trigger me into compulsive eating and has done so for the last three decades.

Make no mistake – this a miracle!!

What’s more is, for the first time in my life I don’t want to relapse. A strange thing for someone to say when that someone has struggled with food for as long as he can remember, someone who has been on countless diets and whose weight has continued to go up and down like a yoyo. For a few years now, I have been aware of the insanity around my thinking but I continued to test the water, to put the feelers out and try again. Oh, the great obsession to be a normal eater.

But I have finally accepted my powerlessness over certain foods. Through bitter experience I know where that first bite will take me. It maybe instant, it may take a few days or a few weeks, but what’s certain is I will reach the point of no return. I will cross that invisible line into compulsive eating and the self-pity, self-delusion, self-loathing and dishonesty that comes with it.

So how did I get to this rather serene place? First of all my sponsor suggested I did 90 meetings in 90 days. Thankfully, I quickly committed before my ego got the better of me. And of course, the more meetings I went to, the more shares of experience, strength and hope I heard, the more service I got to do, the more literature I read, the more serenity prayers I said and the more fellows I got to know.

Unlike my other fellowship, I had to grow into this one. The magic wasn’t instant. I had to do the basics and ‘keep coming back’.

I am so grateful for this abstinence. If I take notice, miracles are happening to me on a daily basis – I can turn down a donut when they’re brought into the office, I am not weighing myself numerous times a day, I can leave food on my plate if I feel full, I can attend a buffet and not sample everything, and Christmas is not an inevitable binge.

Today I feel so much better about my relationship with food. I can enjoy what I eat without fear and that’s a blessing.

It’s like a game of ‘whack-a-mole’! What’s next? Bring it on!

Up A Downward Escalator

Up A Downward Escalator

I can liken my recovery to walking up a downward escalator. At the beginning, standing afoot, even the look of what lied ahead was a daunting prospect. Most daunting of all was I couldn’t even see the top, it went on forever. But there were others climbing ahead of me. They had smiles on their faces and a sparkle of hope in their eyes. From my comfort zone, I stood and watched them working, week after week, month after month. Until one day, an experienced hand reached back towards my own. Accepting this selfless offer of help would prove to be vital. I have no idea where the courage came from but I took that leap of faith and made that first step.

In the early days I bounded up those steps like a mountain goat. The suggestions, meetings and initial bookwork ushered me upwards with relative ease leaving the idea of relapse beneath me. With this came the progression of blessings including gratitude, happiness and serenity.

At times though, I stood still, complacent, whilst I procrastinated or took the weekend off. I quickly learnt there is a problem with standing still on a downward escalator. I don’t stay still. I regress. I need no more proof that a lack of action is directly linked to the increase of dishonest, selfish, resentful and fearful behaviours. To make things worse, the downward motion seemed to pick up speed the longer I did nothing. Carry on and soon enough my rock bottom would be above me as I dig deeper and discover new depths.

So I had a choice. I could put in the necessary diligent effort by practicing to the best of my ability – Unity, Recovery and Service, and continue to progress. Or I could do half measures, tread water and flirt just above that invisible, insidious line of relapse.

I also had to consider life’s challenges. The setbacks. They are coming, I am not immune. When they do I will get knocked down. How far I fall will depend on how strong my defence is. When I fall, how far above that relapse line do I want to be? As far as possible thank you very much.

So I chose to work hard and keep going. And as I climbed higher and higher, not only did I create more distance between myself and that next bet, everything around me was improving. Humility was deflating my ego, my relationships were fixing, gratitude was overcoming expectation, I was thinking of others instead of just myself, and faith was replacing fear. Things simply kept getting better and better. I was learning to love life. I was learning to love myself.

Not seeing a top to this lifelong escalator was once a daunting prospect, the same thought now fills me with genuine hope. If there is no top, no end, if perfection is not attainable, that surely means there is no limit to my progression. As long as I continue to work at it. Bearing in mind how much I have progressed in what is a small fraction of my life thus far, that thought is an exciting one.

Now my hand is reaching back.

My Gift. My purpose.

This just about sums it up for me. Shame I only found it three and a bit years ago! Although, to be fair, I truly believe it was precisely the right time. I had to go through exactly what I had to go through. Any other time and things just wouldn’t be the same.

Daily recovery from self was my gift. Carrying the same message to others is my purpose. My gift and my purpose go hand in hand. One cannot live without the other.

‘Who are you to say there is no God?’

‘Who are you to say there is no God?’ pg 56 AA’s Big Book

Am I the only one who reads this and thinks of Miracle on 34th Street?

In all seriousness, the ‘We Agnostics’ chapter and in particular this line, provided the foundation to my belief in a greater power than myself. As well as bringing Richard Attenborough’s festive smile to mind, it gave me humility. How egocentric was I for this to have such a profound impact on me? Did I really think I knew everything? I am not the almighty. I am not celestial. I am not all powerful.

And it’s this humility which is the over riding thought when I get on my knees and pray. I have no idea who or what I pray to but I do know its not me. There is plenty of things more powerful and that is enough for me.

Free from insanity

Free from insanity.

That’s what I have been reminded of today. Don’t get me wrong, I still make some insane decisions that beggars belief. But today’s insanity is nothing in comparison to what my mind could conjure up when I was in action.

Today I am grateful I am free from the following thoughts – thoughts I used to have.

“If have a heart attack, at least I’ll get some sympathy”

“Maybe it would be easier for everyone if I weren’t around”

“Losing my family and becoming homeless wouldn’t be all bad. At least I get to do what I want”

Abstinence from my addiction is one thing, but freedom from insanity is another. Today I am grateful for my health, my family and my home. Life is beautiful and worth living. I desire to make the most of it.

Where am I?

Where am I?

Exactly? Well I’m on the tube having just been to another 12 Step meeting. That’s 52 meetings in as many days. I’m 6021 days without a bet of any kind and 6 and a half days free from overeating. I am comfortably into my fourth decade on Earth and I am happier than I can remember. I used to dread the future to a point that I never planned for it, now I have a sincere hope. I’ve gone from managing my own life as well as managing the lives of those around me to handing my life over to a greater power I choose to call God. I am understanding how powerless I am over people, places and things. I am realising, sometime too slowly, the importance of self honesty. I am mending relationships instead of breaking them. I now meditate and have become one of those spiritual beings I used to laugh at. Through Unity, Service and Recovery I am progressing instead of regressing. The fear I sometimes wake up to is quickly recognised for what it truly is – not real. To life’s challenges I have found some answers. I lean towards consideratation, tolerance and patience. I practice love, forgiveness and gratitude. My pathological dishonesty is leaving me. I accept I am not perfect and never will be. I have found humility and I try to remain teachable. I am able to use my past for reflection and learn from it, instead of surpressing it under lock and key. I have found my purpose in life – to carry this message to others.

Keep going….

Wow, I love this! Something I can really relate to. Whenever I cast my mind back to where I was spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally and financially three years ago, I am shocked as to how far I have come. With such a dramatic turnaround it would be easy for me to rest on my laurels, enjoy the comfort zone and seize to take action. But something (mainly my sponsor) has kept me going, kept me working, kept me progressing and I will be eternally grateful.

I am not perfect and I never will be. This is not negative thinking, its quite the contrary. If perfection is unreachable then that means there is no ceiling to my recovery! I can keep progressing, I can keep going! Where I was three years ago is not where I am today and where I am today will not be where I’ll be in three years time.

I can also relate to this quote from a completely different perspective. There have been many moments where I have had to endure difficult times – some brief and some extended. Upon reflection I can say through experience that I kept going. I didn’t dwell and reside in that difficult moment, I took action sometimes quickly sometimes slowly, but in time things have always passed.

I’d like to hear how you relate to this quote? 🙂

Unity

Tradition 1 – Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon Unity.

Now read it again. And again.

Sounds like Unity is vital, but what does unity actually mean. Here are some quotes and definitions that have helped me understand the meaning of unity.

“The state of being united or joined as a whole.” – Oxford dictionary

“It’s the opposite of being divided.” – vocabulary.com

“We must hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin

“That no personal sacrifice is too great for preservation of the fellowship. He learns that the clamour of desires and ambitions within him must be silenced whenever these could damage the group. It becomes plain that the group must survive or the individual will not.” – Twelve and Twelve

Do I really want to stop?

Do I really want to stop?

When I first walked into the rooms I was met with just one requirement – a desire to refrain. Did I have that desire? Of course I did. I had the gift of desperation. My path of destruction had caused a huge amount of pain to both myself and others. Why wouldn’t I want to give up the cause of it? This was my conscious thinking at the time.

In hindsight I have come to realise that not only had I given up the negative side of my addiction, but the level of desperation meant I had also given up the ‘apparent’ positives. There were positives of course. I wouldn’t have done what I did had it not been for the dopamine hits I was getting in return. This realisation took my surrender to a new level. I clearly wanted to stop 100%.

Which brings me back, do I really want to stop? Do I really want to stop over-eating? Do I really want to stop being dishonest? Do I really want to stop being a people pleaser? Sure I want to stop feeling crap after binge eating on pastries, but do I want to stop the brief pleasures I get from eating that sugary pain-Au-chocolate? Sure I want to stop lying to the people I love the most, but do I want to stop taking what seems to be the easy way out? Sure I want to stop living in fear of letting someone down, but do I want to stop being everyone’s best friend?

To have a desire to refrain, to really want to stop, my recovery from my primary addiction has taught me that I need to surrender 100%, the bad… and the good.