Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fixing Fear with Food

For a girl who once lived every single day wondering where, how, when and how much I could binge and purge so that I could relieve the excruciating pain in my heart and quiet the noise in my head, it seems strange to say I’m having any trouble at all with food today.  But for a girl who lived 15 plus years in the throws of bulimia, I can’t afford to decide I’m just the same as every other woman out there worried about body image and dieting.  This isn’t because I’m such an abnormal eater today or that I’m in a constant battle with food and weight because that’s just not true.  I enjoy a great deal of freedom in my meal plan and certainly ‘look’ normal in my approach to food.  People appear almost shocked when I do share my eating disorder story with them.  The reason I cannot afford to say I am a ‘normal’ food person is because that’s just not true either.  If I begin to playing with my food, adjusting portions to fit into a new size jean or feel better around certain people, I’m playing with my life.  If I allow myself one day of restricting, one binge, one purge, I’m opening a whole box of crazy, and there’s no telling if it will close again, ever.  I know how fast and hard I fall when I go there and in a very short time most everyone can see I have changed.  They might not know it is food that’s striking me psycho, but they know something is seriously wrong. 

So I am struggling with food lately and it’s really affecting my body image.   Interesting now that I wrote that, I don’t know which came first.  You see, my husband and I moved across town a few months ago, and I have been uncharacteristically shy around new people since.  I feel such a powerful loneliness even when surrounded by a hundred folks in recovery and I have frozen up and closed myself off.  So I show up and am in my head at meetings and gatherings thinking that everyone is judging me… BY THE WAY I LOOK.  Danger, Danger, Danger!!!   I don’t know about you but if people are just going to judge me by what I look like and decide from that if I’m good enough to talk to, I better look super duper uber HOT!!!!  I have no idea how much better I need to look to get to superduperuber, but I know darn well I’m not even close.  That’s enough for me to start the mental tirade against my own body and overall self worth.  I’m not pretty enough.  I’m not skinny enough.  I’m not fit enough.  I’m not good enough.  I’m not what I used to be.  I’m a failure.  I SHOULD FIX THIS.  If I can be skinny and fit and drop dead gorgeous again, THEN people will talk to me and like me and THEN I can be happy and outgoing again.  THEN I can be me again.  

The temptation to actually act on the barrage of criticisms in my head has been extraordinary.  I have felt the extra bites, the skipped breakfasts, the late night eating that I really, really wish would just fix my discomfort.  I want to believe my screaming head that says I can fix it with food, because that seems the quicker way.  Thankfully, I have been taught to seek the truth in all things before I act out of desperation and before I go on a full scale binge or purge or start weighing myself multiple times a day.  So, I took some time today to find the truth through all the bullshit in my brain and found it fairly quickly.  The truth is that change is really hard, and I am uncomfortable.  That’s it!  I have not recently become ugly or gross or less than or incapable of forming new friendships.  Nothing about the funny, outgoing, grace-filled, caring, friendly, recovering woman I am has changed.  I simply don’t like feeling vulnerable and am afraid of rejection.  Duh, I’m human.  So after two weeks of internal turmoil and self deprecating thoughts, I can see that my perception of myself, my own worth and my security were knocked off balance by the fear of change.  I will ask to be put back to center now and smile into the mirror a few times today in gratitude of the woman I see looking back.

Maybe this week I’ll play a different tape when I go to meetings that says, “I’m okay and what you think of me is none of my business anyway so what’s your story?”

Related Posts:  So little talk of food

Friday, April 6, 2012

How to die gracefully

A lesson from Tina Diaz.

My sponsee in recovery died of cancer Sunday night at 11:10pm.  She was 2 years and 4 months sober and absolutely LOVED LIVING LIFE.  When I met her, she was in remission and just beginning a new journey in sobriety.  Just a short time later, the cancer showed up again and she fought hard to survive another bout.  Sadly she has passed, but not without leaving behind tons of memories and a bit of her tenacious spirit in all who loved her.  Over the past year, I’ve heard myself say on several occasions something like, “If there’s a way to die well, Tina’s doing it”.   

Throughout her fight, she spent all her stored energy experiencing brand new adventures.  She was one mighty woman!  She won a scavenger hunt and danced at my wedding.  A memory I will never forget.  She parasailed, went on retreats, threw birthday parties for her family (played in the bounce houses herself!), let it loose in Disneyland, and all sorts of other things.  She lived! 

From her sick bed, she would send us out from our visits saying things like "Go get a newcomer ladies!"  She wanted everyone to get the life and freedom she found in recovery.  She had a clear purpose to share her story with other alcoholics and she never passed up a chance to reach out to someone in pain.  She inspired so many women to admit their problems were not so big, to swallow hard, to suit up and to help someone out.  If Tina could, they could too. 

She was a fierce mother and so loved both her children and her grandchildren.  She would do anything for any of them and didn’t bat an eye to defend them.  She would get this ‘don’t mess with my kid’ face on if someone began to cross a line, and if her accent returned, oh man, watch out!  Her family surrounded her in her final moments.  She was a blessed woman.

She loved having prayers sent her way.  It was like she could feel them comforting and energizing her.  You could see her whole body change and her chest expand as she took in the prayers and well wishes sent from her friends.  Occasionally, she would cry while she listened to longer prayers.  It was as if the longer ones filled her up so much that she overflowed in tears.  The way it moved her was so inspiring that I came to find more comfort in prayer than ever before in my life.  She taught me how to pray comfortably, honestly and without reservation.  I was not shy in prayer with Tina.  She was a woman of awesome faith and she showed me how to carry my own faith with more grace and confidence.  She told her friends and family that when the time came for her to go from this life, she would not be afraid.  She would be filled with love and taken home.  What faith!

I am humbled to have ever met Tina and am so grateful for all she taught me.  I hope you can find strength, hope and faith in her story.  She would love you to know more of them all!

“To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends -- this is an experience you must not miss.” -BigBook of Alcoholics Anonymous, p.89, Working With Others

“We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.” -BigBook of Alcoholics Anonymous, p.164, A Vision For You