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.
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