I have been doing a Big Book step study with a sponsee in which we work the steps in tandem. As I contemplated the last question of the Step Three inventory, I was given an answer for my food and body obsession which has lately grown stronger.
First, the context then the question.
I have over a year of consistent abstinence which used to allow me to change my abstinent food for other abstinent food and not report to my sponsor. As long as I was reasonable and listened to my Higher Power about my food, not reporting to my sponsor didn’t trigger obsession.
That is no longer the case. I have been “feeling” fat, like I am gaining weight. I only weigh at the doctor, so the number is not the answer for me – especially if I did gain even as little as .01 oz, I would spin into a spiral. My pants are not noticeably tighter, so the feeling is likely all in my head. Regardless, the feeling of fatness moved me into self condemnation and morbid self reflection.
The question: What have I done recently that demonstrates my surrender to recovery and to working a program?
I took the question and my growing obsession problem to Higher Power during my yoga and meditation class. As always, HP gave me the answer:
Rigorous honesty. I commit to reporting my food as I eat it, complete with measurements.
I have heard before that the longer we are in recovery, the narrower abstinence becomes. Yes, my abstinence has now narrowed, but practicing a more narrow definition of abstinence is certainly worth the gift of serenity and freedom for obsession.
I shared all this with my sponsor and reported my measured food as I ate it. The result: I feel amazing! The weight of the obsession has been lifted.
I was given the gift of desperation when I first entered the rooms almost 3 years ago. Why do I say the desperation was a gift? Because the desperation was strong enough to make me push past denial. Once denial was lifted, I began to approach life with honesty and surrender.
My recent stubbornness to begin a deeper surrender of food triggered another level of desperation. And once again, the desperation to be free of the obsession led me to seek the answer and begin to practice the solution.
So I am indeed profoundly grateful for desperation. For without it, I would still be self-medicating with food, avoiding my problems by obsessing about food and my body and wallowing in misery. I was 360 pounds when I entered the rooms. I am certain that if I hadn’t been desperate, my weight would have continued to skyrocket and my depression deepen. To me, depression is part of disease, but desperation is a precursor to recovery.
Desperation to be better gave me willingness. Willingness gave me the ability to push past denial. Being free of denial led me to honesty. Honesty enabled me to work the steps. Working the steps connected me with my Higher Power, taught me surrender and forgiveness (of self and others) and most importantly, the steps led me out of obsession into service. Service gives me a purpose and a life trajectory. By being of use to others, I feel and witness the work of Higher Power in my life.
So, yes, I am as grateful for desperation as I am for freedom from obsession. Desperation is the gift that led to my miracle. Desperation gives me the willingness to be rigorous honesty. Desperation led me from the darkness of self hatred to the symphony of colors held in each beam of light.