The Value of Abstinence

As an accountant, I began pondering the value of abstinence. The opportunity cost of breaking abstinence is profound. I lose the opportunity to be present for myself, friends, family, Spirit and fellowship. I lose the clarity of a mind free from the clutter of food obsession. I lose the ease of movement in a smaller body. I lose the usefulness and the ability to give grateful service to others. I lose my precious connection to Spirit and weaken my spiritual fitness. I lose the balanced emotional perspective I have when food sober. I lose my ability to incorporate the principles into my daily life. I lose myself.

What do I gain? The obvious answer is weight. But it is not simply body weight. I gain the emotional weight of the horror, remorse & hopelessness of the morning after a binge. I gain the spiritual weight of shame and distrust which block me from the Sunlight of the Spirit. If I am starting down the slippery slope of sloppy abstinence due to justification & rationalization, I lose the clear line between abstinence and being drunk on food. Finally, I gain a giant wall between myself and others. My defects multiply when I am not abstinent. The increase of defects likewise increase my unhealthy behaviors such as isolating, self-sabotage and procrastination.

Overall, my abstinence is precious and fragile. I protect it when I remember each day that I only have to follow program for today. Just from waking to sleep one day at a time. Only one day is asked of me. The moment I am in is the most important moment. It is the moment of choice, of action. The moment leads either to freedom from food or the prison of compulsive eating.

I find the freedom from food by reading a morning passage in a daily reader then pondering it quietly while showering. I eat an abstinent breakfast, text my food to my sponsor then talk to Spirit while driving to work. Talking to Spirit in the car allows me precious, uninterrupted privacy, and I am able to speak freely, express all my emotions and ask humbly for Spirit to lift my defects to make me more useful to others. I eat an abstinent lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. My witching hour is in the quiet hours of the night, so it is extremely important for me to work my program at night. I work my program by leaning into the tools: talking to my sponsor or my fellows, calling or attending a meeting, reading literature and writing step work for my sponsor. I also use healthy coping skills I found through therapy: artwork, hot bath, lotion, petting my cats or caring for my plants all relax me.

My action plan outlined above gives my day structure and stability. I am still learning the willingness to follow all the Action Plan given to me by Spirit. Spirit wants me to joyous, happy and free by adding a few items to my action plan. I struggle with these actions for various reasons rooted in character defects. I pray for the willingness to wake early for walking and watering garden. I pray for the willingness to get on my yoga mat at night followed by meditation.

Over the 20 months I have been in OA, my life has been transformed. My abstinence slips and slides, but I get back up and start afresh every morning. Program is my last and best hope for recovery. Like others, I tried everything else before admitting powerlessness and coming into the rooms. I have released about 80 to 100 pounds and kept it off thus far. I have another 80 or so pounds to go, but like Rozanne, shedding the weight slowly allows my spirit and mind to heal along with my body. I am grateful even for my slips and relapses because they teach me lessons, especially the priceless value of abstinence.



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