Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Pause: Where recovery happens!

We who are powerless over food behaviors have a special life. Whether it's nurture or nature that causes our behavior is really not important. What is important is that we have to eat to live. The Alcoholic does not physically need booze to survive, the smoker and drug addict also don't physically require their substance to survive. The compulsive food behaviorist does require nutrition. And many of us have trouble staying in a food rational state. Anything we eat can cause trouble. I have dubbed my disease the "Dragon" and I need to nourish myself from it a few times a day. If my dragon bites me, it has a poison that makes me want to eat more and more. Not because I need it, it was the only thing I could see to do. When I started my first attempt at abstinence I really felt like I was fighting a physical beast to stay food sober. I was, at 596 pounds I was the size of a small bear. I was truly fighting the beast I was powerless over… Me!
Medical professionals want to offer "medical" solutions to our overeating behaviors. If you are a restrictive eater they want a psychological solution, occasionally offering medication to help. The problem is that a real compulsive foodie, regardless if you are an overeater, restrictor or a binging bulimic, we have a problem that can't really be touched by science. There is an aspect in our brains that is not quantifiable. It is the "mental twist" the "Alcoholics Anonymous" talks about. In order to change Doctor Carl Jung said that a "Psychic change" was required to halt the alcoholic. Drug addicts and Alcoholics can just not participate in whatever their problem substance is. Though I don't mean to say it is easy, it is just much more defined. Don't drink, smoke, shoot, inhale or swallow whatever your addictive substance is. But people who have food issues can't just stop eating, yet we do need a "Psychic Change" in how and why we eat. Part of it is to understand it is not the food that is at issue. It ts the behavior of eating, purging or restricting that is the real problem. Blaming a specific food is like an Alcoholic blaming Gin, and drinking whiskey at length instead.
Many of us find that if we're binge eaters, if we give up our "Binge Food" we can control our eating. That usually works, until the next "abstinent" food becomes our new binge food. What science does not understand is that its not about the hunger or the food. When I was overeating I didn't need to be hungry or anything like that. I just needed to eat. The beast took over and I needed to eat to quell my anger, stop the emotional pain or feel better for a little while. Hunger and nutrition had no place in my internal conversation.
Now I've walked a path that has helped get a psychic change of sorts. I am aware of how and why I'm eating, I no longer just pick food up and eat it. I now eat with forethought and purpose. When I get angry, feel hurt or happy or whatever used to force me to the food, now I can pause, look at how I'm feeling and find another solution. The secret to stealing nectar from the Dragon is to do so with a purpose. I actually developed a tool to help me. The important thing in this tool is to:
  1. Be honest. Ask yourselves the relevant questions and answer them honestly. If you can't be honest here, you will not recover.
  2. Do it every time. It must as automatic as breathing. It can't be rationalized out of your life.
You have to be willing to pause and think. The word Pause is used twice in the first 164 pages of Alcoholics Anonymous. Once in "Into Action" (10th step) and once in "To Wives." Some people believe that pause is what makes the difference between the grudgingly abstinent and the recovered. One can be food sober and miserable. Constantly fighting off the urges to eat this, that or the other thing. As a "recovered" person we are "placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected" (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 85) regarding not only food, but many other things if we let it. That is how you feed from the dragon, yet don't get bitten to go on to a binge. I had to make it a visual tool.

The idea is at the point of my first food thought, I insert the "Pause." The obsession starts when I think about the food I see or want. So instead of continuing to think about…. Alcohol, Drugs or Food I decide what my needs are:
  1. When was the Last time I ate?
  2. Was it long enough that I should need more nutrition?
  3. If not then I immediately look to the tools – There is no debate or rationalization.
    1. Why do I want to eat? Am I upset or is there something else going on?
    2. Read some inspirational material.
    3. Activate my plan of action – Exercise, Reading or Meditation
    4. Call my Sponsor
    5. Make a Service call – A Service call is not a way to commiserate, The idea is to be of service to the recipient. Pay attention to them.

What is the change that takes place? In Alcoholics Anonymous talks of selfishness. On page 62 of Alcoholics Anonymous it talks about the root of the Alcoholics issue:
"So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it will kill us."
As a way to stop our mental twist, I need to look outside myself. A "Service Call" is not an opportunity to complain to another person about where I am at, or the fact that I am obsessing about cookies or some other food that I really don't have any control over. By making a call where I pay attention to the person I'm calling, and find out what they may need, I can break the obsession. That is what Bill W did in "A Vision For You" on page 154 he relates a story about a "business man" who battles his insanity, We later find out this is Bill's own story when he eventually meets Doctor Bob:
"One dismal afternoon he paced a hotel lobby wondering how his bill was to be paid. At one end of the room stood a glass covered directory of local churches. Down the lobby a door opened into an attractive bar. He could see the gay crowd inside. In there he would find companionship and release. Unless he took some drinks, he might not have the courage to scrape an acquaintance and would have a lonely week-end.
Of course he couldn't drink, but why not sit hopefully at a table, a bottle of ginger ale before him? After all, had he not been sober six months now? Perhaps he could handle, say, three drinks - no more! Fear gripped him. He was on thin ice. Again it was the old, insidious insanity - that first drink. With a shiver, he turned away and walked down the lobby to the church directory. Music and gay chatter still floated to him from the bar."
The secret to serenity, or being recovered is not about "taking care of myself" it is about being of service to others. Then we are doing what I Higher Power has put us here to do. Things become more clear. Decisions become easier and the obsession is removed. Not because of what we do for ourselves, but what we allow God to do through us for others. Then you are recovrered,


You can check out "The Pause on my You Tube channel. I have a PowerPoint presemtation/video that goes in to far more detail..