Monday, December 16, 2013

Overeaters Anonymous Big Book Style?

On June 17th, 2013, I walked in to a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous. I weighed 596 pounds, I was too heavy to get gastric bypass surgery, I'd lost my job to a combination of severe clinical depression and basic insanity. What caused which is up for debate, and I truly don't care. What is important is what has happened since I found OA and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over food. - That our lives had become unmanageable.

By the time many people walk in to any 12 step program, most people feel at some level they have completed  step one. I know when I walked in to OA on June 17th, 2013, I "knew" I had. Then I started to do step one as described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, I learned I was clueless. On June 17th, I was at step zero, I knew I needed help. What brought me to that room was a life of complete inability to control my food. I didn't yet realize my absolute lack of control.

A few years ago I lost some 70 pounds.  I then gained almost 140 back, topping out at some 624 pounds I wanted to get Gastric Bypass Surgery.  "Loose 50 pounds." Says the surgeon. I loose 80. I then gain back 50 without even thinking about it. I realize I need real help. So I go to OA. I receive a warm welcome.  And I stand around and said "What next?"  Somebody suggested I read the Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous (BBoAA). I picked up the 2nd addition for my Nook and started reading. I also continued to go to OA meetings.

As my first week progressed I noticed two important things:

1) The BBoAA spoke of being "recovered" and OA promised I could be "in recovery."

2) Many folks feel the solution depends on planning a menu and/or reporting your food to your sponsor and measuring your portions diligently. In other words: the secular solution would teach me how to obsess about food. This "tool" is a good one, but it is only a tool, not a solution.

I was already obsessed with food and I wanted to have that "position of neutrality-safe and protected" (BBoAA page 85 top paragraph) about eating I read about. I wanted my obsession "removed", I don't want to be "fighting it nor avoiding temptation." I want to live as normal a life as I could. I know from my studies I will never be a "normal eater" but I believe I can be a happy eater. Not through my efforts alone, that can only lead to obesity and death, but through learning to live with the outside help of a Higher Power.

Enter the Big Book Awakening. A group of people who strangely feel the methods that worked for 75% of the original 100 alcoholics in 1939, can still work.  And not just for alcohol but for any addiction/obsession.

I have come to my WOPR moment! In the 1983 movie WarGames, a military computer named WOPR (War Operations Programed Response) figures out the futility of Global Thermonuclear War from strategic games like Chess and Tic Tac Toe. The computer played these games, against itself, always loosing. The computer "Joshua" realized one side or the other might survive but Joshua always lost.

Of the 12 steps, a thorough step one will show you, if you are honest and really are a compulsive _____ (eater, drinker, addict etc.) that there is no way you can quit on your own. Why? Because "Remember we deal with alcohol (food, drugs, nicotine etc) cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too powerful." (BBoAA pg 58) The reason our addictions are so "cunning, baffling, powerful" is we are fighting ourselves. The only real solution is an outside influence or a higher power.  Anything less is just another diet club.

On my own I am playing Chess against my self. Pixar explored this in a short called Geri's Game:

Meet Geri, this kindly old gentlemen with glasses is my addiction, my spiritual malady.  I know he looks harmless but just watch what lengths "he" will go to to win! His opponent is my own personal ego looking to get "clean.".

When ever "I" think I'm winning, my spiritual malady will cheat.  I can't beat a game against my self, especially since "I" will cheat. The only way to win is for me to not play.  A common catch phrase used by AA/OA is "let go and let God." Sounds great, and how do you do that? As a religious person myself, I've never been able to do that.

A true alcoholic or eating disorder victims became drunks, addicts or food obsessive  because they wanted a level of "control." As spiritually infirm people being in charge is what we thought we were doing in being obsessive. But in truth we controlled ourselves into what ever oblivion we chose. Why? Because we are not capable of clearly thinking, by any definition we are insane.  We over or under think, we "misremember" our personal experiences so when we pick up the we are "We'll do it better" or "it wasn't that bad last time" so we push on. Last time you gained 140 0pounds, were so depressed you lost your job and your house, or worse.  "But this tine is different......"(Note: A Lie)

Left to my own devices I will screw it up again.

When do you know you are ready to move to step 2? When you reach that WOPR moment.  When you realize the only solution is for you to stop playing the game.

Gregor - Back from the brink! From there and back again. A spiritual Hobbits journey.