Monday, July 13, 2015

And Acceptance is the Answer to All My Problems?

The title is a quote from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), page 417 (AA 4th edition).  I’ve often heard in meeting how this is a favorite quote. As with most things, it is a step in the right direction.  The story “Acceptance is the answer” starts on page 406 (AA 4th edition).  How many have read all of it? That story makes it clear that "acceptance" the first step to the answer. My experience has been people flipping to “417” and pointing to it like some kind of mantra.  It’s not something to say, or feel or think, it is something I do!  Acceptance is not a condition, it’s a decision.  But just like “going over the steps” is not the solution, doing the steps, making each decision and doing each action with commitment and honesty is the route to recovery.

I’m a relative newcomer to Overeaters Anonymous.  My first meeting was June 17th, 2013.  But in this short time, I’ve found a way of living that has improved my life to areas never even considered., as well as helping me continue to loose over a hundred pounds and counting (the "and counting" is the most important to me). It’s all because I’m learning to “accept the things I can not change.” More of my misery was tied to the things I can’t change than I ever thought. I considered myself an open and “accepting” fellow.  But about what really mattered, and even stuff that didn't,  I was a quiet tyrant.

I’ve heard folks say they “just can’t accept that” about some aspect of the world.  What that really means is, if they can’t change it, they refuse to decide to be peaceful with the truth, incorporate its existence into their actions. We have all accepted things in our life that are hard fast rules we can’t change.  What you may ask?  How about the idea that a collection of symbols (some 108 characters) on a page have a specific meaning?  The idea that a collection of letters and symbols, arranged and spaced in a certain way, have a linguistic, as well as a conceptual equivalent? At some point in your life you accepted that, made the decision to affirm as fact, that these symbols you now are looking at form words.  Nobody gets upset by the idea that “their personal symbols” were not adopted some 6000 years ago.  Everybody recognizes that the symbols, possibly language specific, mean something.    Another thing you’ve accepted is gravity.  Again, at some point in your life (while learning to walk maybe?), you decided that gravity existed, even though you can’t see it, you can only feel its effects.  It does not upset you that it occurs.  You should be grateful for its inconvenient pull, without it we couldn’t breathe, fly or put things on the table.

So you have accepted certain truths, to be self-evident. So what is our problem with accepting the idea that we are compulsive about certain things? Drugs, food, weight/body image, booze, spending or whatever. Acceptance is only the answer if you understand that is the start.  You see it’s one thing to accept that I’m a compulsive eater, it is another to accept, make the decision based on experience, that I am powerless over food. If I can’t make that decision, I can never be ready to complete the 2nd step.  “Came to believe that a Power, greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity.”

Yet again again there is a decision to be made, actually a few:

  1. Is this it?  Am I all there is, everything about this is an accident, a freak of happenstance that came to being because some molecule blew it’s nose at just the right time?  Or is the fact that nature itself has laws it must follow, that everything has a certain order to it, prove that that “something” is keeping it in order? Intelligent or not, there is obviously a force that keeps the universe going. 
  2. That Power is greater than what I can have.
  3. I am currently insane, and I need to be restored to sanity. 

If you don’t make any one of those decisions, you are not in position to make the next decision: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” This is not something you think about, nor feel, neither do you hope for it, it is a decision you make. Many of the issues with recovery today stem from the inability of people to make a decision.   A real decision is something you don’t rush into, you can’t just say yes, and call that a decision.  “Yes” is an answer.  The decision comes when you realize the only way you will ever be able to stop whatever you are addicted to came not from your actions: not taking the first - bite, purge, drink, toke, and smoke or placing that first bet. But from your decision to allow something, like gravity, you can’t see it, touch it or feel it, only its effects, guide you away from those actions.  That is the difference for me between being “in recovery,” always worrying about that next compulsive action, and “being recovered.”  Because the later means I don’t have to worry about it.  It is resolved.  Since I know, because I made the decision that I truly am powerless over food, my Higher Power handles all of that.  All I have to do is look at what is available to eat and make the right choices.  I even ask His guidance for that. So I never have to fret when family members have foods at home that I will binge on, because I don’t have to worry about that any more.  I made the decision (on a daily basis) to turn my will and my life over to that Higher Power.

Am I perfect? Ha no! I am making progress. And progress, not perfection, is the journey. Self-will will rear it’s selfish and insane head in everybody’s life, whether you’re a compulsive anything or not. But I can make the decision “accept the things I cannot change” and I can ask for the courage to change the things I can.  Most importantly I seek the wisdom to know the difference.  If I can determine what I need to accept (Can’t change) and need to “do” I will continued to be a gratefully recovered average human.

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