Yesterday, I experienced the strongest cravings and associated mental obsession since finishing step nine following the Big Book over 2 months ago.
Aside from powerful binge dreams just after finishing step 9, I have had food neutrality 98% of the time over this time period which included Mardi Gras, studying and taking a CPA exam and doing my first budget with no training at work. So the thoughts caught me by surprise – especially because yesterday was a kick ass, awesome day full of happiness and bliss.
Yet, as a fellow OAer often says, the buildup of human emotion is what triggers the mental twist. And it doesn’t matter if the emotions are happy or sad, boredom or frustration from overwork – it all boils down to human emotion.
I listened to a meeting recording of Vision for You when the thoughts started. It helped some but the thoughts got worse as soon as I turned off the recording. I was angry that I was triggered by happiness. I was pissed that I couldn’t simply have a great day. I was mad at Higher Power for the very fact that addiction exists and I have the disease.
The difference between yesterday and many prior episodes of intense obsession and cravings is that I pulled out the 4th step forms. I learned from Lawrie C. (who wrote the non-OA approved BB workbook I used recently), that a regular daily review step 10 doesn’t cut it for intense emotions and powerful obsessive thoughts and cravings for him. It doesn’t cut it for me either.
So I worked the 4th step resentment and fear forms. I let it all out on paper, saw the parts of self affected, my part in the situations and what Higher Power would have me be in relation to my fears. I ended with making a gratitude list and calling my sponsor to give the mess away to her and to Higher Power.
And it worked. The intensity of the obsession lifted and I was able to see the blue sky on the horizon. While the clouds continued to swirl and rain upon me, I was no longer hopeless. I knew it would pass, and I turned my mind to being of service to my husband who was suffering with his own alcoholic obsessions at the same time.
We had the night free which as parents is a rare occasion. Our addictions made us want to let loose which always meant binging on substances. But yesterday, we held each other through the storm of obsession and went to the riverfront for sunset.
On my way back to the car, a person stopped me with a giant platter of brownies, cookies and deli meat wraps. All trigger foods. All freely offered because they had bought too much for their picnic. Clearly these people weren’t compulsive eaters because they were going to throw it away if they couldn’t give it away. Heaven forbid!
It was like a waking nightmare. Being still in the midst of obsession (albeit less intense) and having free food offered to me which would be THROWN AWAY if I didn’t ‘save it’. I must have looked panicked and upset because the woman said, “You don’t have to take it.”
Those words immediately cleared my paralysis, and I was able to say, “No, thank you,” and get to the car with and abstinence and sanity intact.
The rest of the night was serene. We enjoyed sushi together, I wrote a blog and slept peacefully. I awoke this morning with a sense of gratitude I have never felt since joining OA almost 5 years ago. My journey has been riddled with slips and relapses. Even though I have released over 100 pounds, I could not keep continuous abstinence.
I kept lying to myself that consistent abstinence was enough. But it wasn’t. I was slowly regaining over the past year which is what compelled me to go deeper, surrendering foods and behaviors I had been hanging on to and working the steps precisely by the Big Book.
I have to say that continuous abstinence is an even more rare gift to me than abstinence overall. Because consistent abstinence was driving me crazy. I felt even more like a failure with each slip and relapse because “I knew better”.
Thank you, Higher Power, for the willingness to work the steps through the storm. Thank you, OA for being there for me when I needed the fellowship to stand witness to my stepwork and obsession. Thank you, Higher Power, for loving me through my anger even when I screamed in anger and seething resentment for being abnormal. Thank you, Higher Power for the eventual recognition that yesterday’s experience will enable me to help another suffering addict because the miracle of staying abstinent through Higher Power and the steps is a testament to the power of this program.
I do not hesitate to say that last night was a miracle. To wake up abstinent after the chaos of hours long cravings and obsession is an event I have never experienced. I hope to never have such an intense cravings again, but being human and therefore having emotions, I know that the obsession will likely strike again. But now I KNOW that Higher Power will see me through the storm as long as I hold tight to the lifeline of the steps to clear the connection to sense and follow the direction of Higher Power.