Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I went to Prague for a conference and we ate in restaurants all week. Luckily, my roommate was Czech, and with her help and the little mini-dictionary I had with me, I checked ingredients and got by, weighing and measuring in front of diplomats, NGO heads, and senators. But one time, we were out for an early dinner before a ballet at a famous theater. When the cooked veggies came, I measured and saw that there weren't enough, so I plopped some of my extras onto the plate. I ate a little, then got the bright idea to ask the waiter (more like sign to him) to heat it up. When he brought it back, gone were the extra veggies I had added; there appeared to be more meat on the plate than I remembered, and my messy pile had been rearranged to look ornamental. I was sure that he had just thrown out whatever was left and brought me a new order. I spent several tearful minutes talking to him, his manager, and the chef, stepping semi-discretely away from the main table. I begged him to admit that he threw out my food and demanded he return it to me (I saw him put it in foil to heat up, so I was sure it was still all together in some trash can). Ten minutes of shouting and crying later, I was getting nowhere. They kept insisting, in broken English, that they never threw out my food. I couldn't call anyone from my cell phone because it was out of battery; my calling card and list of European GSers were back at the hotel (we had just arrived a few hours before and I was jet-lagged and foggy), I was making a scene and my group members were tapping their watches because it was time to go. There was no time to go anywhere else to look for extra food. I had no idea how much I had left on the thrown-out plate, so I couldn't weigh out whatever I had left. I swallowed my doubts, ate what was on my plate, and told my sponsor later. Since I did it with a good heart, she didn't send me back to Day One, but I learned from that never to let my food leave my sight if I can't explain myself perfectly to the person I entrust with it, no matter how unpleasant it may be to eat cold meat and veggies. 


A friend of mine wavers between Cambridge GS and weighing and measuring with exception in OA. We were both GS abstinent this summer, but by the time she invited me to visit her a few months ago, she was back in OA. But she said she knew my needs and would take me out to a yummy GS lunch. I was ready for lunch at 1, but the buses ran late, so I called and asked her to wait for me. I got to her by 3, but she had to run a bunch of errands first, so I arrived at the restaurant ready to eat a horse at 4. She explained to the waitress what I needed, but it took many protests and not-okay plates being brought out before I started my long-awaited meal at 5. It wasn't so much the hunger that made this so hard as my anger at my friend and at myself for trusting another GSer so much that I didn't think to bring backup. I had been out to dozens of U.S. restaurants abstinently before and was always able to request steamed veggies, large salads, and basic proteins, but here in Israel, the meals are almost always served "the way they are" and people look at you like you have two heads if you ask for something as simple as putting the dressing on the side. So here, when I looked at a menu item with a lot of salad and a little cooked vegetable and asked the waitress to bring me the salad and a large pile of that same cooked vegetable on a different plate, she had to first get "special permission," then acted like it was a huge favor "just this once" to do it. Now, I always bring full backup everywhere; even if it sits heavy in my bag all night unused, at least I have the assurance that I will stay abstinent no matter what happens around me. 


In almost two years of abstinence in CT, I used maybe two scales and was incredibly lucky that they were all long lasting. But a week after I got to Israel, two of my mechanical scales fell apart (including one really cute, small one that was a going-away present from a very dear GS friend; I never even got to use it!) and my digital scale got all wet one day and stopped working. Thankfully, my Israeli sponsor knew a GSer who sold discounted scales locally and got me a replacement. Two months later, that one broke, but the GSer she bought it from picked me up, drove me on his motorcycle (another first for me; only in abstinence!) to the repair shop, and when it turned out that it had been a counterfeit scale (of all things!) and they couldn't fix it, he apologized and bought me a replacement. A month later, I took my fancy replacement scale out in my backpack (against the advice of the repairman, I didn't put it in its box with Styrofoam support), and opened up my bag minutes before dinner to find that the pretty glass plate on top of the scale had popped off. I grabbed my remaining mechanical scale and it broke right there in my hands. I panicked for a few minutes, then called up a GSer who lives in my neighborhood (this busy lady just happened to be home and live 10 minutes away!). Even though she is not currently abstinent, she graciously invited me to come and borrow her extra scale, so, hungry and resentful as heck that I had to wait another half hour for food, I picked it up. But wait, that's not all . I used that scale for three days (a challenge, because it only weighs in grams and I'm not used to the exorbitantly high conversion rate people use here). My sponsor said to get my old one fixed stat, so as soon as I got a free moment, I schlepped to the repair place. "We'll get you a replacement in a week," he said ("What, you have none in stock?!" I almost cried). This was right after lunchtime, when I had noticed that the borrowed scale was wobbling. When I went to check it again, I almost cried in frustration when I saw how I could put food on it and the read-out would show one number, then slowly start ascending, gram by gram, without me adding a crumb. Dinner was coming and I had three broken scales in my possession, but not a single good one. I went to two or three stores GSers told me might have a good one. One just happened to have run out of stock that day; another only had ones that were ridiculously expensive. Thank HP for my sponsor, who calmed my panicked self down and told me I could eat cupped meals until I could find a scale. Now, I have had bad experiences with overflowing my cups and was scared to go back there, but at least this would keep me abstinent. But on a whim, thank HP, I thought to go to one last hardware store before they closed and they just happened to have an affordable, lovely, digital scale that measures in ounces! I bought it just in time to join my friends for dinner at a restaurant and had a delicious abstinent meal that night. 


I have W & M'd out camping in pitch dark by bonfire (thank God for candles), had half my pre-weighed, pre-dressed raws stolen by someone's hungry puppy out in a park (walked home and reweighed), and eaten out on a date with a normie (called in advance to request an a la carte meal, then took that last 0.3 ounces of cooked veggies from his plate with his blessing). I have W&M'd on Shabbat in strictly religious households, where electricity is forbidden (I explained that I had to do it to save my life, and sometimes had to schlep to their homes ahead of Shabbat and pre-weigh all my food). I have dealt with countless nosy relatives, fellow compulsive eaters asking me a zillion questions and making fun of what I do, staring waitresses, and even screaming GSers from other lines who kept telling me my line "does things wrong" (does "keep your eyes on your own plate" mean nothing anymore?) and stayed abstinent. I had a sponsor who taught me that, when eating in public, you put your head down, say the Serenity Prayer, and don't put your head back up or talk to anyone until all your food is in order. I still do that today, and I'm working on perfecting a graceful way to say. "I don't talk about my food *with anyone but my sponsor* or *while I'm eating*" in a polite way. When you pack your commitment first, there's a way!

Writer #2
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