Grasp My Abstinence A Lot Harder Than My Day Count
December 13, 2005
DENMW: What does it mean? Ring the chime of abstinence.
I swing the hammer every time I call my sponsor.
I swing the hammer every time I commit my food.
I swing the hammer every time I weigh and measure my food.
I swing the hammer every time I plan time in my day for meals and food prep.
I swing the hammer every time I attend a meeting.
I swing the hammer every time I make an outreach call.
I swing the hammer every time I stand to sponsor.
I swing the hammer every time I take a food call.
I swing the hammer every time I read about a Step.
I swing the hammer every time I pray.
I swing the hammer every time I meditate.
I swing the hammer every time I speak to the positive picture of abstinence.
I swing the hammer every time I take the time to help another CO.
These are only a few ways, there are others. None of these actions comprise abstinence in and of themselves, but I must do enough of them so that I keep the sound of abstinence vibrating in my heart not just in my mind. Thinking of abstinence will not do it, I must think of how I swing the hammer. I must swing the hammer no matter what. NMW is the priority that I must place on the actions which I take to support my abstinence. If I don't swing the hammer, I don't feel the sound of abstinence. Thus, "Don't Eat No Matter What" is an affirmation of how I have come to live because of swinging the hammer, it is a statement which urges others to do the same, and it is a reminder to keep the sound of abstinence vibrating in every part of my life. DENMW
Anonymous, July 3, 2005
Easiest, Softest Way
I'm [Anonymous], compulsive overeater. I weigh and measure my food from the greysheet three times a day, call it into my sponsor, and don't eat no matter what. I recently celebrated 7 years of back to back abstinence. My life now, does not resemble my life before at all. I am grateful that I tried all of the "diets" out there before I crawled into greysheet, because now I don't wonder if anything else would work for me. Everything worked temporarily. Greysheet is the only program that gives me freedom from compulsive eating, allows me to LOVE my meals, and teaches me boundaries and self-care on a level I never knew. I have had to weigh my food in some very uncomfortable situations. The uncomfortable situations took moments, not weighing my food would have taken my life. Sometimes it's awkward to have to walk into an unfamiliar setting carrying a scale and back-up, but not as awkward as walking in carrying 100 extra pounds. The time I put into maintaining my abstinence is a drop in the bucket compared to what I put into the perfect binge, or whether I had been "good" or "bad", whether the people in the room had seen me go up to the buffet already, wondering if I was really as heavy as I looked in pictures........it never stopped. I was preoccupied in the first days of abstinence with how I could possibly get through a birthday with no "x", or never have another bite of "y". My first sponsor asked me if I could not have any "x" for today, of course I could get through today......it was the rest of my life I was worried about. Then I got it. For the first time in program I truly understood, "One Day At A Time." What a relief I felt. The "rest of my life" was only a sequence of days. I could only deal with today. I could do anything for one day. So, I'm grateful. Grateful for the back to back days that have accumulated. It got easier. It really did. If it wouldn't have, I wouldn't still be here. The cravings went away. The withdrawals went away. My higher power definately gave me a new life. Miracles happen. One Day At A Time,
Anonymous in MA, March 9, 2005
Name, Rank, and Serial Number
I weigh and measure three meals a day from the Greysheet, write them down, commit them to my sponsor, and I don't eat between meals no matter what. I have 134 pounds of physical recovery and 34 months of back-to-back abstinence. Abstinence is the most important thing I do for myself today. A new Greysheeter recently asked for advice on handling eating out at a business meeting. He is afraid of relapse and is not yet confident of his weighing and measuring abilities in a public setting. He was considering not eating during the meal and wanted ESH on how to handle that I, too, often choose not to eat.
I fully support those Greysheeters who choose to weigh and measure at a meal hosted by civilians, but I often find that I am still too overwhelmed by fear of making a mistake to do it in a business setting. My choice not to eat gives me serenity. Since this Greysheeter seemed to want the same serenity, I offered him the following advice. I thought it might also be helpful to others. Choosing Not to Eat Considering your state of mind, I highly recommend eating your abstinent meal alone in your room prior to the business meal. You can then sit and socialize with your colleagues during the business meal. If you are going to use that technique, you should be prepared to: a) Quietly and unobtrusively drink an abstinent beverage while others are eating. If the conversation is focused on how good the food tastes, you can comment on how good your beverage is. Discuss how much you like herbal tea, African coffee, or Smart Water. Talk about the best tea and coffee shops in your town. Move the conversation away from food and toward the beverage. Then, if people ask what you like to eat, and they are asking out of a genuine desire to include you in the conversation as a friend, you could discuss your food choices if you want. Discussing your food choices should depend on your level of comfort. I never discuss my food with people who are hostile and disdainful of my food choices. They don't deserve the honor. I don't cast pearls before swine. b) Learn to serenely answer questions about why you are choosing not to eat. People will ask why you are not eating and many of them will continue asking until their curiosity is exhausted. You should say, "I have a severe sensitivity to any form of sugar. I have to be absolutely certain that my food is prepared in accordance with my dietary needs. Therefore, I find it much easier to prepare my own food. I wasn't sure if I could bring my food here (i.e., to whatever restaurant they are in), so I decided to eat my meal prior to coming." Let people know you are not hungry, not uncomfortable, not unhappy, not dying to eat, not envious of their food, etc., etc. People put so much emphasis on this, sometimes they won't let it go and they go on and on about how bad they feel that you're not eating. Practice deflecting their emotions. They will flood you with emotion if you choose to participate in their emotion. Be polite (because it will make you feel good about yourself), but firm (because it will make you feel good about yourself). c) Before they can make you feel bad about your choice of not eating, take control. Before they even ask, use some of the following example statements: "This is the right way for me to eat and I'm so happy I've found it." "I'm so glad I found this way of eating. Before I found this way of eating, I was sick all the time." "I am so much healthier and happier now that I can eat this way. It's very good for me." If you are afraid to make these statements or can't imagine yourself saying them, stand in front of the mirror and say these statements out loud several times a day prior to your business trip. Look yourself in the eye and say them out loud 10 times. Obviously, the techniques I described here are similar to being in combat, being captured, and learning to provide just your name, rank, and serial number. I highly recommend taking on that mindset and using it to its full advantage. We have to be fully convinced that we deserve to keep our disease in remission.
Civilians don't understand, and that's ok. They have a right to their own lives. But we can live the way we need to live if we stand our ground. No Matter What,
Anonymous, March 9, 2005
Anonymous in DC, March 7, 2005
Things I Do with Free Time
- Read or listen to the GS shares on the website: Written/Audio Qualifications.
- GET TO A MEETING. I don't have any GS meetings here in MN, so I attend LOTS of GS Phone Bridge Meetings. There are phone bridge meetings every night at 9pm EST and three times a week at other times. I get to most of them, to build the defense against the first bite. When I lived in a face-to-face GS community, I went to almost daily (if not more) meetings. I need the "brain washing" that I get at meetings. Gratitude flows when I'm in a meeting. Meetings are NOT just for newbies. The oldtimers I know still go to many meetings a week. As I've always been told "Meeting Makers Make It."
- Write to the GreyNet and share where I am.
- Call my sponsor. I always encourage my sponsees (or any other GSer) to call me when feeling 'discombobulated'. We don't have to do this alone. It's a "WE" program.
- Take a bubble bath (sometimes accompanied by two kids and wandering cats, sometimes blissfully alone). I take a nice book and a cold drink in to the bathroom and I soak and read and dream.
- Give myself a pedicure. There's nothing I love better than a pedicure, so it's really very special to give myself one. If I can go out and have someone else do it, all the BETTER!
- Give myself a facial (see above).
- Go to a movie. During the day there isn't so much munching, and if I need to, or can, I bring my lunch and munch to my heart's content.
- Bring a movie in. Can't do that anymore, since I gave away my TV and VCR 18 months ago, but I used to do that and it was a nice alternative.
- Clean out the fridge. If that is too close to the food, I don't.
- Declutter or clean out some other room/'hot spot'. For some reason this helps me declutter my mind, too.
- Fix and pack extra meals. If that is too close to the food, I don't.
- Get out my drawing supplies and play.
- Get out my handcraft supplies and play.
- Get out my tape player and headphones, a book on tape, and listen to it while doing some of the above activities. It drowns out the "Committee" in my head and I find some peace that way, strange as it may sound.
- Read the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve and the 12-Step meditation books. Sometimes I hear just what I'm supposed to hear.
- I'm not a journal-writer, but sometimes if I just can't get what I need I pick up a pen and I find my beautiful journal (a gift) and I do stream-of-consciousness writing. It's remarkable what I connect with when I do this. Why don't I do it frequently? Maybe some day I'll find out grin.
- I go for a walk. I frequently feel much better after taking a walk. I hate to exercise (isn't it enough that I have to do GS???) but it's another of those things that almost always makes me feel better.
- I put on a favorite tape or a cd and sing&dance with my kids. See above re: walking.
- The thing I've learned is that feelings pass. Abstinence is worth hanging around for. When I first came back this time around, I had no earthly idea what I liked to do, what would make me feel better, what would help me pass time until the next meal. I just sat on my hands a lot and waited. Now I have a few options I hadn't thought of then, and it's a wonderful thing to them share with all of you. I have come a long way in the last year and a half, plus.
- Just Don't Eat No Matter What, and it will get easier, I Promise. If you don't believe me, read the promises in the Big Book (p. 83).
I have been trained to Love My Food. I am a Compulsive Overeater. That means I am NOT normal around food. I will never consider in my heart that food is fuel. Therefore, if I want to stay abstinent, I have to LOVE my Food. The GS lets me have safety around loving my food. If I eat foods from the GS, Without Exception, committed,and W&M'd, then I get to enjoy every morsel. I HAVE to LOVE my food. If I don't, I WILL eat again. This is not a diet. All diets fail, and if I use GS as a diet, it will fail, too. I can't wait until I have time or energy to do the work to find #10 meals. I have to have them every single meal (with those rare exceptions when circumstances call for a quick and easy meal, but notice I say RARE). If I am bored with my food, I have to take action to find foods on the GS which make me look forward to each meal and which give me orgasms during each meal. This is difficult to 'get' until you do it. It IS safe. It IS surrender to the GS. Don't look at recipes, call other GSers and ask what they love. Find what you love, and give yourself the gift of #10 meals and abstinence. You deserve it! Abstinent and Grateful,
Anonymous in MN USA, December 5, 2002
What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?
- Being totally desperate and willing to do whatever a qualified abstinent person said to do to get relief.
- Not waiting until I had self-esteem, faith, loved myself, or found a loving and kind sponsor that I bonded with.
- Following directions even when they were illogical, inconvenient, or expensive or given to me by someone I didn't admire.
- Making three GS connections a day (this is where graduate student poverty forced me to invent the GreyNet to avoid long distance phone calls from Kalamazoo, MI. Desperation to be abstinent may be the mother of invention.)
- Driving three hours to Chicago or two hours to Ann Arbor to GS meetings even though I was too busy with studying or too broke to buy the gas
- Starting a GS meeting in Kalamazoo even though it was often just me, copies of the GS, and my Big Book for weeks on end
- Working with newcomers after I had 90 days even though scores and scores (maybe even hundreds and hundreds!) never came back
- Going to the NYC Round Up, the Cambridge Marathons, and the Chicago Retreat (those were the only GS gatherings in my early years - now there are many to choose from) (again, despite being much too busy, much too afraid of financial insecurity, and terrified of GS people I didn't know)
- Listening to GS tapes in the car, as I walked around campus, and when preparing and eating my GS abstinent food, i.e., whenever I wasn't studying or in class
- Promising myself that I would eat tomorrow but since I had committed my food that morning, I would be abstinent today
- Chewing pack after pack of sugar free gum (that lasted a year) and drinking gallons and gallons of diet soda (that lasted years) whenever I wanted to eat
- Calling my sponsor on time everyday, calling in food changes, and calling with GS questions or dilemmas
- Throwing out all non GS foods and stocking up on emergency GS supplies
- Going to the grocery store to make sure I had the food I committed
- Going to AA meetings everyday in the absence of GS meetings even though I didn't think I was an alcoholic
- Eating huge meals
- Trying everything vegan on the greysheet at least once and constantly expanding my soy choices
- Napping after my meals to get through the tragedy of 4 ounces.
What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?
- Write a gratitude list daily.
- Drink 12+ glasses of water a day.
What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?
- Have a CD player in my kitchen where I prepare my food. I am then able to play my most favorite music (women singers, Celtic, bluegrass, new age, YoYo Ma) while I'm chopping, weighing and measuring. It makes the experience very pleasurable, and for me, who used to eat whole meals whilst I was preparing food (and then sit down and eat whole meals!) it just seems to keep me focused on taking care of myself and Not Eating No Matter What! No Extra Bites during preparation. But I can listen to all the great music I want!
- For me is that abstinence is a promise. Food was destroying my life in many ways and I decided I wanted to live! I also am a person who keeps promises, I guess from my earlier Girl Scout days. The words of an old Girl scout song was as I remember it: "Whenever you make a promise, consider well its importance, but once you have made it, engrave it upon your heart." That's how I feel about following GreySheet, a promise made to myself, and when I commit my food to my sponsor, that's a promise I made to her! This thought has helped me for the past 5 years.
- I am organized today. I bring my breakfast and lunch to work. Bought a little scale, T spoon and 1 cup measuring cup in a little bag to bring with me every day.
- I have phone numbers to call and e-mail contacts. I made phone & email lists in Excel, printed a bunch of copies, and have them everywhere so I can find the info I need at a touch.
- I listen to my sponsor and do what she tells me.
What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?
- Get on my knees each morning and ask for help to not take the first bite.
- Go to a meeting.
- Make 3 calls a day.
- Don't Eat No Matter What.
- Get on my knees every night and thank my HP for a daily reprieve from compulsive overeating.
Move a Muscle, Change a Thought
What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?
- In the very beginning, I went to a greysheet meeting every day. Today 3-4 years later, I go to no less than 3-4 greysheet meetings a week. I do not substitute AA meetings for GreySheet, as I live in a city where GreySheet is in abundance. I seldom substitute phone meetings for live meetings.
- I go to therapy and Al-Anon 4 days a week as I ate because I hurt so much and need healing on an emotional level.
- I have belonged to a Buddhist group for the last 14 years so that is where I get my spirituality from and my prayer and meditation.
- I do lots of service in the GSA community. I help the next compulsive overeater.
- I share HONESTLY about where I'm at ANY GIVEN TIME IN MY PROGRAM, BE IT POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE.
- I keep an open mind.
- I study the Big Book especially the Doctor's Opinion and More About Alcoholism; for today, I don't eat no matter what.
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