GreySheeters Anonymous (GSA)

No Matter What

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Written Text Qualifications

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•  These are stories of GreySheeters, with at least 90 days of back-to-back GreySheet abstinence, who tell what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now.
•  If you have 90 or more days of back-to-back GreySheet abstinence, you may submit your qualification to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for inclusion on this page.

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Desperate As Only The Dying Could Be

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Abstinent in GSA since 25 March 2006, a meal at a time, a day at a time.

I would steal food as a child and eat it in secret. Not normal behaviour for a 5 year old. I felt ashamed and hated myself for behaving like this, and couldn't understand why I couldn't stop doing these "crazy, shameful" things with food. This behaviour followed me into my teens, twenties and early thirties. I didn't know it at the time, but I started to use alcohol to try and numb the pain of the shame I felt for the way I ate. Clearly there was something wrong. The shame and self-loathing I felt because of this was horrible. I knew there was something wrong with my relationship to food but I didn't know what it was. I had no idea that I was being driven by the phenomenon of craving and that this craving for the foods we don't eat on GreySheet was as a result of an allergic reaction my body has to these substances – mainly sugars, grains and starches. I did not know that this was why I could never sustain control over the amounts or quantities I ate of these foods. As I got older, I would try and control the amounts of these foods I ate. My iron-strong will and "fierce determination" would work for periods of time and my life would bumble along appearing normal and in control. Then after a period of this fierce control I would reward myself for good behaviour. Guess what the reward was? Yip, you guessed it – the foods we don't eat on the GreySheet. "I'll just have one. It can't do any harm." The vicious cycle would begin again. The cravings returned, the wanting more, the self loathing for having more, the restraint, the control, the "going on yet another diet," followed by a period of control, followed by a reward, followed by a binge. This cycle became a living hell for me. I was constantly thinking about "giving up" x, y and z forever. It was going to be on Monday or tomorrow. I was constantly going on the wagon in preparation for a binge. I didn’t know this at the time. At the time I believed that the next diet I went on was going to be the diet to beat all diets. I was going to lose all my weight and then go back to eating normally again, this time being careful not to eat those foods that would cause the weight to come back on. Having got sober in AA and experienced the magic of the 12 steps to keep me sober, I fell into the rooms of regular OA hoping for the same miracle with food. Here I was told to decide what abstinence meant to me and it was suggested I avoid refined white sugars and starches. I was given a number of suggestions, all different, some conflicting. I was frightened and confused. The volume in my head was turned down for a while, but I had no physical recovery in OA and soon the insanity returned. I was still eating the foods I was allergic to without realising it. My idea of abstinence in OA was avoiding the foods that I thought caused my weight gain, the refined white sugars and starches and to try a variety of crazy combinations of healthy eating – from just fruit to three meals with the "brown stuff" a day, convinced that these were healthy "whole" meals that were good for me - to just one kind of brown stuff and one protein etc etc. Without realising it my addiction was choosing unrefined grains, starches and sugars, which was having same effect in my body as the white stuff.. Insane. The obsession was back. The weight inevitably crept back on, the self-loathing returned, the manic trips to the gym returned, the quest for control again. In the end the binges got closer together, my iron-strong will and self-control only lasted for a few weeks, then a few days, then by the end not even a few hours. I couldn't stop bingeing, starving, dieting. I thought God had turned His back on me. Why did He help me put the alcohol down but was keeping me in the food (not realising that I had to stop eating my drug of choice before He could help me)? I couldn’t get off the sofa, I didn't want to go out and be seen in my hideous condition. I stopped answering the phone. The noise in my head was so loud, I thought I was losing my mind. Bloated, miserable, baffled, confused and in a lot of pain - desperate for the madness to stop, I cried out for help.

Not long after this cry for help I was at my first GSA meeting, desperate "as only the dying could be for a life preserver." I was willing to go to any lengths to get abstinent. I was done with the debating society, done trying to work it out for myself. Sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just wanted you to tell me what to do. Thank you God. GSA defined abstinence clearly and simply. You told me to get a sponsor. You explained to me that we have three weighed and measured meals a day, written down, planned and committed to a sponsor. You clearly told me we don't eat between meals, no matter what and without exception. You clearly told me what we eat and how much of it we eat. None of it contained the food I’m allergic to which took care of the phenomenon of craving. You clearly told me how often we eat. You said that we stay abstinent by picking up the phone before we pick up the food. You told me we weigh and measure in all circumstances, at parties and restaurants etc. You told me that if I was in doubt about whether a certain food was abstinent or not, to leave it out and to call another GSer. You told me to get to 90 meetings in 90 days to begin with, to make three outreach calls to other Greysheeters per day and to pray for an abstinent day.

I did what you told me to do on this first day and continue to practice these principles. I haven't had to take a compulsive bite since my first meeting, 1,365 days ago today. My life is completely different to the one I was living before GSA. I've been restored. Today, I will go to any lengths to protect my abstinence. And I love my new GreySheet body. Thank you God.

Anonymous

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Over A Quarter Century In Cambridge

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Dear GS friends,

[Anonymous] here, abstinent as WE define it in Cambridge Massachusetts, and thrilled to have weighed and measure my food off the Cambridge GreySheet for the last 27 years and 7.5 months, back-to-back.

Thank you for asking me to reflect upon the blessings of abstinence and the incredible fringe benefits of long-term abstinence.  First among these, for me, are my loss of illusions about returning to the food, the lack of longing to be "normal" (read, return to my crazy days, as that would be the only choice for me), my contentment with meals, and the "trickle down" effect of contentment with my significant other (a kind, brilliant, funny man), our beautiful new home, my furry friends Wolfie and Foxie, a really classy health club that has the nicest indoor pool I have ever swum in, my snazzy new computer, a wonderful, feisty, tell-it-like-it-is sponsor with over a quarter of a century of back-to-back GS abstinence, a wonderful circle of GS friends, the recent return of my dearest GS friend to the program after a decade long relapse, another small circle of wonderful "normie" friends and the list goes on.

I work ALL of the tools of the program, but it begins and ends with meetings, as far as I am concerned.  I am a member of two local GS groups and two local AA groups.  (I am also an active, participating member of AA, hardly ever miss at least my two AA meetings a week, sometimes more, and no one is giving me any gold stars for diplomacy and charm there either, but I do claim my seat and work the program seriously and diligently).

Acceptance of life's difficulties has come very slowly to me, but I have always felt that if I had "gotten well too soon" I would have been out the door and back to bulimia and obesity post haste.  Not that I consider myself to be well now.  Just weller than I was.  (All sentence fragments and coined words allowed by special retired-English-teacher license).

I got abstinent and sober at the same time, on July 24, 1977.  I also had a horrendous Valium/Librium habit at that time, and was doing a few other things that I no longer broadcast.  I have survived quite a few no-matter-whats in my time: dessert thrown in my face by a student somewhere around June of 1985.  I didn't eat it.  Two ruptured discs in my back--no surgery, just rest, ice and therapy.  I did not take even aspirin for the first 9 or so years of my abstinence.  I was afraid I would eat compulsively if I took pills, so I refused all painkillers at the time and I lived through it.  Hip replacement eight years ago.  That was a doozy!!  Yes.  I did change my mind about the painkillers (at least short term) when that came around!  The devastating breakup of 5 major love affairs, each of which looked like it was going to send me straight to the nut house for a few months.  The fourth was the most gut-wrenching/faith-destroying experience thus far in my life, but I didn't eat over it and I set the limits I needed to set, with the help of my sponsor and a handful of old timers who saved my life.

One of the key elements of CAMBRIDGE Grey Sheet is that we take care of the food first and steps other than the first three AFTER a solid foundation of back-to-back abstinence has been well established.  I didn't listen to that advice as a newcomer, as I thought it was based upon a notion that I did not yet have enough self-awareness or clarity, as a newcomer, to work the steps.  Since I thought I already knew everything, I saw no reason to delay plunging right in.  In retrospect, I realize that a lot of the anger, fear, doubt, dishonesty and chaos I experienced for my entire life before I got abstinent as we define it dissipated simply by attending tons of meetings, having a sponsor, doing rudimentary service like setting up chairs and showing up for business meetings, and NOT EATING NO MATTER WHAT.  Just doing that turned me from a whiner into a rejoicer, a doer instead of an observer, and eliminated an enormous quantity of garbage I through, erroneously, to be loathsomely integral to my character.

After I had been abstinent a few years, I was much more able to use my close study of the Twelve and Twelve and the Little Red Book for attaining and maintaining personal growth conducive to sustained abstinence instead of using my study to beat myself.  That's why, here in Cambridge, sponsors are likely to tell their sponsees to concentrate on the first three steps and not worry about the rest until they have at least a year and preferably a few years of back to back abstinence.

I do Cambridge Grey Sheet no matter what, and that has made all the difference.

Anonymous

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