Peggy(mom) : While taking care of my mom, I fell off the wagon and into a one and a half year relapse. This meant that instead of following my sugar-free/gluten free very measured meal plan, I was bingeing on anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor. My MO has always been to stifle my emotions with food…didn’t matter what kind of food, so facing my mother’s final months with colon cancer easily allowed me to justify overeating.
I’ll talk about what life is like when I’m in relapse on another day but for the most part, life when I’m not abstinent is chaotic, hurtful and definitely not peaceful. After therapy helped get me out of a significant depression, I finally felt willing to go back to an OA meeting about one week ago.
A lot goes into the decision to go back to a meeting for someone that has relapsed as much as I did…I mean, when I went to OA meetings on a regular basis, I felt like a super hero. I was slimming down (over 50 lbs), I was sponsoring up to 5 people at one point and I did service at every opportunity (leading meetings, buying the literature for the group, etc.). So when I fell, I fell hard and I had ZERO desire to be around “those people”. I knew what it was going to be like. I was going to go back and people would make a fuss (in a nice way but in my addiction, I knew I would hate the fuss). The “new” people wouldn’t understand I was an “old-timer” and they would float over on their pink clouds and their OA “high” to encourage me. I knew that I would hate every single one of them. These people, the ones that I leaned on and loved only 1 1/2 years ago would be enemy number one for the one-hour meeting. I knew intellectually that they were not judging me but facing them just seemed unfathomable.
I dragged my feet on going back until one day, one of my OA “buddies” from my regular meeting sent me an email to let me know that a BRAND NEW meeting had just opened up and it was only 10 minutes from my house! Certainly a sign from my higher power that NOW was the time to go. I knew that I had another appointment that would make me a little late to the meeting but I made the plan to go.
Expecting only 1 or 2 of us at this first meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to see 8 other attendees. That is unheard of for a new group (as far as I know) so I was glad to sit down and see how this one was going to go. There were a couple of faces that looked familiar from meetings I might have visited at one point but for the most part, I didn’t know anyone very well so I felt “safe”. They started the meeting and sharing…..it seemed like people were just telling their quick histories so we could all get to know each other. This wasn’t going to be too hard so when it came to me, I was ready.
I opened my mouth……..just tell them that you’ve got this and you’re just coming back….come on, you’ve got this….go…. and I….well, I just started crying. I don’t know what happens to me but I’m not one to cry in “real” life but get me in an OA meeting or with a therapist and I can’t stop the blubbering. I told them how I had relapsed when my mom got sick and how this was my first meeting in a long time. I even told them I was glad I didn’t know them because had I gone to my other meeting, I knew I would hate everyone there. Instead of judging me, these wonderful people just nodded in total agreement. They had been there…they knew that I didn’t really hate the others, I hated myself and what I had done to myself in my addiction. They smiled at me warmly and knowingly. One abstinent attendee said she was glad I went to the meeting because I reminded her NOT to lose her abstinence because it was so hard. I forgot, it wasn’t only about ME, it was about my service to OTHERS as well!
Being a new meeting, there was no Kleenex available so we all had a laugh at that and I committed to bringing a box the following week. By the end of the meeting, we were all really happy that we had this new meeting available so close to our homes…we shared phone numbers and started to say our good-byes. One especially friendly woman asked me if I had a sponsor. I told her I wasn’t ready to get abstinent yet and she said, “well, let me know when you’re ready and I can at least get you started”. No judgment from anyone. They knew that I was going to eat and not be asbstinent but they understood that I wanted to be abstinent and that was the only condition to be allowed to go to the meeting. This was such a blessing!
In my head I knew that my birthday was going to be the following week and I wanted to wait until AFTER that date to be abstinent….afterall, I deserved one last “hurrah”, right? I mean, pounds and pounds of sugar didn’t qualify as a hurrah, I needed to have MORE before I could get “sober”.
I thought a lot about the meeting the next couple of days. I thought about how I feel when I’m abstinent and how sugar/flour isn’t giving me any “highs” anymore….I’m not feeling better from bingeing. I also had read a friend’s post on Facebook that said, “Losing weight is hard but being fat is hard too”. For some reason that really stuck in my head…so, two days after the meeting I decided to visit the Big Guy again. Yeah, God. Wasn’t sure if he’d remember me since I hadn’t really talked much to him since I felt like he dumped me when Mom was going through her hardest days. I decided to just give it a shot and I asked Him to please relieve me of the compulsion to eat sugar/gluten for just one day. It was as simple as that…..I knew that I had NO control over my addiction….I knew that only HE did…and so I decided to give the control and power to Him. 6 days later……I’m still abstinent. Ahhhhhhhh, how “sweet” it is.