Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The beginning ...

This is a hard one. First steps usually are.

I've been bulimic for the better part of 20 years. And once I tried to start dealing with it, I always assumed it was the problem, the behavior itself. But it's not. I think it's just a side effect of the real problem ... compulsive overeating.

I don't know when I became a compulsive overeater; there isn't a specific "a-ha" moment in my memory. I do remember being very young and not liking most foods, and my mom making me sit at the table until I ate all my carrots, and hearing stories about how children in China were starving. And then, I have later memories of feeling like I needed to eat as much as I could, but I had to be sneaky about it because I didn't want people to think I was a pig. I don't know why I felt I needed to get more than everyone else. Was I afraid there wasn't going to be enough? I don't know. I think the bulimia became a way to control the consequential weight gain of COE.

Much like alcoholism, compulsive overeating is an addiction. Although the physical withdrawal is not as bad, the headaches and cravings one experiences when withdrawing from sugar can be difficult to deal with. I used to say it's a way of dealing with what life throws at you. But in reality, it's a way of a way of not dealing with things. That's part of what makes this whole thing really scary. In trying to stop the behavior, I'm going to have to start dealing with life, instead of hiding from it.

Part of that is going to be realizing that even though certain events in my life may have started the ball rolling in this direction, ultimately I bear the responsibility for my own actions. I choose to act in a certain way, or not to. It's time to stop blaming things that happened thirty or fourty years ago.

Someone recently told me it's better to act than to react, and then he explained what that means by way of an example. He told me to think of something that annoys or irritates me. For example, because I used to be one, I don't have a lot of patience with bad waiters or waitresses. Then he said to think of how I would react in that situation. Like I said, I had no patience, so I'd become all authoritative, like there would be no pleasing me, no matter what. Consequently, this would only serve to intimidate the waitress or waiter, making them even more nervous. (Was that my goal? Was I that mean spirited?) Now, imagine that instead of reacting the way I did, I could choose to think first. Think about what? Well, I guess that's up to me. I think in this case, it would be to think about how I felt as a new and inexperienced waitress, and think about how I would want to be treated. Puts things in a whole new perspective.

And he told me to try and find my spirituality, my higher power. Whether it's God, Buddha, whatever ... it doesn't matter. Just find it. The purpose is to admit the problem, admit that I'm powerless against it, and turn it over to the higher power. This will be difficult for me. I was raised Catholic; went to Catholic school for eight years. I abandoned that religion a long time ago, and in doing so I tried to deny the existence of God. But he told me that religion is different from spirituality. Academically I know this. Emotionally, inside it's confusing to me. I'm having a difficult time separating the two.

OA (Overeaters Anonymous) recommends reading the AA "Big Book." They recommend following the same twelve step program. I didn't just decide to do this yesterday ... I've been thinking about it for a long time. It used to be about how I looked in terms of my weight, etc. But that's changed. It's more about how I feel. And I don't know how to define that yet. I did get the book and I will start reading. I'm thinking I should probably go to a few OA meetings and try to get a sponsor. That's scary. That's part of admitting to the problem. It's one thing to admit it to myself, or to my friend. It's another to admit it to a room full of strangers. It's like making it real.

Okay ... so the last thing. Why am I doing this so publicly? Well, I have learned a few things in my 53 years here. The first is that no matter how bad your situation is, no matter how much you're suffering, someone else has it worse. For example, I have fibromyalgia. Yes, it's painful; yes I'm forced to make changes that I really don't want to make. But it's not going to kill me. It's life changing, not life threatening. It's all about perspective.

Second, we're never as alone as we think we are. Someone, somewhere is going through the same thing. So if by doing this in a public way I can help someone else, or connect with someone else, then perhaps we can both be helped in the process.

So here I go on my own yellow brick road to recovery. If you'd like to follow along, great. If not, that's great too. Just please, wish me luck.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck and may you have the strength you need!