THANKS-giving = Gratitude, Dear G.S. People, [Anonymous
] in Cambridge here. I W & M 3 meals off the grey sheet (as interpreted by my sponsor regarding the microquestions about new products, maintenance amounts, days of flu and nausea, etc.) every day, write them down, commit them to my sponsor. Abstinence is the most important thing in my life. I have taken to printing out the greynet posts and reading them right before I go to sleep. This simple act has ratcheted up my g.s. gratitude, as has the "three fold" holiday. I always feel very nostalgic and grateful on Thanksgiving, because it connects so clearly to my grey sheet abstinence. First of all, Thanksgiving was "amateur day" for normals. For me, the hell started when I was a fat kid. I ate all day and then ate the meal and then counted the minutes until I could sneak back into the kitchen and attack the carcass (the inside of course). Even the words of the meal's favorite carbs made me tingle with anticipation. Who knows what guests we had at the table? Later I tried to diet (as a teenager, I was on many diets and never understood why I kept "breaking out") during the big meal, but then I binged in secret later that night (and on into the night). Christmas was the same. The words "holiday" and "vacation" came to strike fear into my heart, because my cravings (I call them the Cyldesdale team of horses on speed--powerful and unwieldy) were turned up high, and once again, I was the fattest cousin at our family gatherings. I never knew what we know (and what they still do not get in all the diet stories in the media):
- Certain foods set up a craving for more. Sugars, complex carbs. THESE FOODS HAVE TO BE ELIMINATED COMPLETELY so that alcoholic food craving will go away. As that hyper old exercise dude Jack Lelane said recently "I do not eat anything that man has made!" We're close to that food plan.
- It's not about the weight; it's about the craving for more. This connects to the "id," not the intellect. It's deep, unconscious, nothing to do with "cutting back," "common sense" or getting thin for an occasion or a sweetie. You are a C.O. or you aren't. You can become one at any time in your life, but once you're a X you can't go back to being a Y (picture a certain raw veggie becoming a soaked spicy one).
- AMOUNTS, AMOUNTS, AMOUNTS!!!! This is our biggest secret that they just don't get in the outside nutrition world. Night grazing, staying up late, teens in front of computers, all that ongoing unconscious "snacking" takes a toll, and most people are in denial about it. And as we all know, restaurant portion sizes have grown, along with American arses. "The most spiritual thing I do every day is measure 4.0 ounces, and if it's 4.1, I take that piece off until it's 4 even."
This is incredibly spiritual, because of our daily NO MATTER WHAT. Any daily discipline cuts through that day's very "important" plans and emotions to a deeper level of continuity and integrity and a gift that no one can take away. It's the best intersection of reality (we are compulsive eaters who love food but who don't want to keep growing in size or unhealthy physical or mental deterioration year by year) and fantasy (loving food as pleasure, not a demon, being a normal size for without yo-yo-ing for a lifetime, being thin, and once you are, building a self you had only dreamed of). I have done amazing things in my abstinence: gotten a professional certificate, had three serious love affairs, formed a singing group that performed for eight years, published articles and book chapters, co-founded two political groups, buried my father, and moved my mother into assisted living. That's only the outer resume. Inside, I have become a bit more friendly, peaceful, aware of life on life's terms, and positive, largely thanks to my "nervous breakthrough" after eight years of abstinence. Simple stuff, but "simple" and "daily" has been a challenge for someone with bipolar illness and depression all up and down her family tree. "T'is a gift to be simple." My first Thanksgiving I was so proud because I ate all grey sheet foods (this was in 1978) and reported to my sponsor, who of course told me that wasn't abstinent because I didn't measure them. The next year I did, but I was still not ready to take it all seriously and I would get a few days back-to-back and then eat. I thought it was about losing weight. In 1980, I was back-to-back and have been ever since. I realized I could nickel & dime forever, and that you get back what you put in. I have spent Thanksgiving with tons of people, all by myself (often celebrating with my favorite German protein), and with a partner, candles, and place mats. All are great, if I W & M. (Compared to what???? See paragraph two). This year I will miss my last partner of over three years, but like others who have gone before me, I had to let him go. Not because I'm perfect, or because he was abusive. It didn't feel abstinent to be with someone I had to excuse, apologize for, prop up, and take all initiative with. I cooked a lovely T-G dinner two years ago, and I dressed up in black velvet, and he was snoring through it all and couldn't be awakened. He was sober but going to zero meetings, a smoker, depressed, overweight, and I joined Al-Anon and tried not to take his inventory. But at one point, I "caught" his depression and I wasn't myself in g.s. meetings. As I heard someone else say, I deserve someone who is AT LEAST as interested in recovery as I am. So this Thanksgiving, it will be real, it will be abstinent, it will have integrity. My favorite new word at age 53. I have no opinion on my future, even though my feelings fluctuate. That's what the third step is for, HP always provides stuff I never thought of. My abstinence from bingeing and dieting and starving is the ONE thing that grey sheet promised, and I have gotten that. It never promised a magical life. For now, I'm singing more (my pre-abstinent "career" was street singing and temp typing), enjoying Al-Anon (thrive mode, not survive mode) and a spiritual church community, being a good daughter, enjoying my recovery job (20 yrs. there) while searching for another, and enjoying the tons of new people who are streaming in to our Cambridge meetings this year. The Sunday 5 p.m. is a Goddess-send; the hour of the wolf for someone who has just left a relationship. In closing, Thanksgiving (with apologies to all Native Americans, who my ancestors royally messed over!) means giving thanks, i.e., gratitude. And that is the key to being serene even without the outer resume (good job, any job, good partner, any partner). The best day eating is so much worse than the worst day abstinent. But THE FOOD THE FOOD THE FOOD - - the main food holiday finds me and my G.S. People and I expect to wake in the morning intact, with integrity, a happy hungry stomach, and a clear mental slate, ready for our delicious breakfast. When they put that stuff in front of you, if you're new, remember that they will be groaning later. But others behavior is not my business. The point is, BREAKFAST is the best revenge. If you're new, it's JUST ONE DAY. You've done it before, you can to it today. If you stay abstinent out of fear, go for it. If you stay abstinent for the rewards of the craving getting quieter, go for it. If you stay abstinent to fit into a dress at holiday time, go for it. If you stay abstinent out of an appreciation for the horror of the alternative, go for it. If you stay abstinent because you don't want to disappoint your g.s. friends, go for it. It doesn't matter. My first year, I realized that withdrawal was going to be an "initiation" period of discomfort and confusion and weak knees, but if I did it right once, I would never have to do it again. And I haven't. In gratitude to you all on my 23rd abstinent Thanksgiving,