Fear


Some people criticize others out of loving concern. These are not the people who bother me. No, it is the people who are “professional critics” and thus seem almost incapable of saying anything nice or loving to others that really mess with my serenity. It this bunch that seem to enjoy nothing more than attacking and judging others.

Over the past 24 hours (from the time I’m writing this entry) I’ve dealt with one very critical person via e-mail. He asked for a business-related favor and I set a boundary: I said no. If that point forward he has threaten to harm the business I own and to damage my reputation. Yes, those kind of threats mess with my serenity!

When dealing with “professional critics” like the guy I just described, I remember a quote I heard for the first time many years ago. It was part of a 12 Step presentation on the problem of resentment. Resentment is an issue that I would like to deal with in detail in other entries. The bottom line about being resentful against hateful critical comments is I really don’t have to let the person or their comments threaten my recovery from addiction. I have a choice! Here’s a quote that strengthens my commitment to not allow myself to be shaken by critics: “Criticism is the unconscious tribute that mediocrity and stupidity pay to greatness. So when you get criticized don’t get mad, just take
a bow!” The source of this gem is the late Bishop Fulton Sheen.

Just for today I really CAN CHOOSE to “take a bow” when I’m criticized, instead of using food to stuff down the pain/anger/resentment caused by hate-filled words. I also recently realized that most “professional critics” are little more than bullies. They use words instead of fists to harm others. I have no respect for these or any kind of bully.

CHEW ON THIS…

Giving into our double-sided addiction of over-eating and under-exercising does NOT accomplish anything worthwhile. It certainly does NOT harm those who attempt to harm us. JUST FOR TODAY I wont allow others steal my serenity, threaten my recovery or cause me to want to harm myself.

Dave: I’m a food addict — powerless over the dual-addiction of overeating and underexercising — and my problem is Dave!
Reader: Hi, Dave and welcome back!

Yes, I have “un-lurked” after a few years and writing again in this space known as OveractiveFork! It is my blog, right?  🙂

<soap box mode = “ON”>
With the death of my mother in January 2009 I got away from working on this blog and got into working on a blog related to problems in the nursing home industry. I believe that pathetic nursing home care contributed to my mother’s death. Resentful? Yes. I’m also hopeful that as I carry the message of nursing home reform and work with others (sounds kind of 12 Step, huh?) involved in the fight that nursing home care can improve and that corporate greed will not have the last word. The battle to reform the nursing home industry is far from being over. My recovery from codependency and food addiction has taught me that all of these “outside issues” can be faced in a health way that doesn’t have to threaten my recovery.
<soap box mode = “OFF”>

So yeah, I’m still working a program of recovery for what I identify as my “double-sided addiction” of overeating and underexercising. I’m making progress — one day and one pound at a time — which is how we addicts recover, isn’t it?

As I’ve experienced recovery, and the weight loss that goes with it, I’ve gone through some changes involving my spirituality and sexuality. More about those changes in future blog entries…except to quote a male friend in Overeaters Anonymous who shared that he noticed a “connection” between his appetite for sex and his appetite for food. He created a couple of “art objects” to illustrate this realtionship. One item he came up with was a patchwork quit consisting of condom packages AND condiment packages. The name for his masterpiece was, “Some Days I Just Don’t Know What To Put On My Hot Dog!”  🙂 When I think of hot dogs of course I see two sexual references — one has to do with the MEAT and the other has to do with the BUN that goes with it! <blush>

I’ll be redesigning OveractiveFork over the next few weeks, adding some new pages and deleting at least one. You’ll also notice a new feature with each blog entry I call “Chew On This”, in which I share my thought on recovery reading that I’ve recently “consumed.” Wow. You mean we can take in knowledge and inspiration like we can food? What a concept!

CHEW ON THIS…

— It is said that “The newcomer is the most important person at any (12 Step) meeting.

— 12 Step meetings/groups exist in order to “Carry the Message” to the “still-suffering addict”, regardless of how long the one who is suffering has been around 12 Step fellowships (oldtimers, newcomers and everyone in-between can experience stuggles and pain. I want to be here for them…in giving to them of my experience, strength and hope, I’m renewed in my commitment to “keep coming back, one day at a time”.  That sounds great, but when it comes down to it, what is the “message” being carried by/presented to the still-suffering addict? If all they do not find hope and mostly find excuses and negativity they wont find a reason to keep coming back and the group/meeting will eventually go out of existence.

— “We carry the message, not the addict.” True. It isn’t my job to work their program and they have a Higher Power who is NOT me. I share my experience, strength and hope and then I LET IT GO! I do not nag or preach at my fellow addicts. Healthy, loving sharing is NOT the same as judging, preaching or nagging.

 

When I use the phrase (as in the subject line of this message) “Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis”, I am NOT (repeat: NOT) — in any way, shape or form — talking about members of the Nazi organization, skinheads or other racist groups. Understood?

Instead the phrase in the subject line of this post refers to food addicts for whom ONLY ONE food plan exists (which is ALWAYS the one they are following — how convenient!) that the rest of us food addicts MUST be following if we are “really serious” about our recovery.  These nut jobs are not above shaming, shunning and degrading anyone who would dare to disagree with them. If they were not so extreme in their tactics and insane in their beliefs I doubt I would feel the level of anger I do about them.  I also realize that FEAR of these people also tiggers my anger toward them. I mostly fear the physical, emotional and spiritual damage they do to newcomers to 12 Step recovery.

These “craziest-of-the-crazies” food addicts can be found within the meetings of Overeaters Anonymous and many other so-called 12 Step fellowships. At least in the case of OA, they do NOT represent the official (let alone the best) thinking of that fellowship. These extremists are (at the most) a “cult” within OA, far removed from the mainstream of OA thought and practice.

Many of these carb-phobic folks identify themselves as being part of the “H.O.W. Movement”, which is an outrageous abuse  of the 12 Step acronym “H.O.W.”, which stands for the three foundations of authentic recovery: Honesty, Openmindedness and Willingness. The inference the control freaks are making is that ONLY THEY are “honest, openminded and willing” and rest of us are just deluding ourselves because we don’t follow their sicko food plan. Talk about elitist nonsense!

Other than the issues identified above, why do these Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis upset me so much? Probably because they prey on the vulnerability of newcomers to OA and other 12 Step fellowships. Newcomers desperate to find answers and hope to overcome their addiction.

They also make me angry because I’ve found out their food plan(s) (it comes in various versions, but virtually all can be traced back to the original Gray Sheet Food Plan that came from an OA member around 1962) is UNhealthy and can even be harmful to one’s physical health if followed for any significant period of time. Their food plan is RIGID and NOT scientifically or medically sound for most individuals. It is based on, at best, superstition. Remember that superstition is “an irrational belief or practice resulting from ignorance”!

Thankfully I’m following a food plan today that has been designed by health care professionals (not irrational addicts determined to control my food intake, who can’t keep their own food intake under control) based on my unique medical history and health concerns. At the same time, I don’t demand any other addict follow my food plan. I know their is a God and it is not me! Thankfully I’m part of Weight Watchers, as imperfect as that organization is, they at least strive to be on top of the latest medical research when it comes to nutrition and weight loss.

The idea that a fellow food addict would attempt to dictate to another adherance to a particular food plan is just plain NUTS! I would trust another food addict to tell me how much and what (and what not) to eat as I would trust a pyromaniac to work as a firefighter! Food addicts in control of other food addicts food intake is dangerous, scary and even has the potential of being deadly!

So yes, I’m going to speak out against the dangerous insanity of Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis! I’m going to proclaim “freedom to those held captive” by the superstition of cabrohydrate phobia and to indiviudals who have been emotinoally and spiritually abused by the people who promote one or another version of the dangerous Gray Sheet Food Plan (regardless of the name it goes by in a particular fellowship or 12 Step group).

It’s been around seven months since I’ve posted to OveractiveFork. I would not be surprised if the judgmental types — especially the carbohydrate-phobic addicts — who read my blog have assumed that I’ve been in relapse during my silence.  I’m pleased to disappoint them: thanks for your “concern”, but I’ve been doing great.

In fact, I’ve released 9 more pounds since my most recent previous entry! Some self-hating food addicts would put down my “rate of weight loss” over the past seven months, but the fact is, was and will forever be: my rate of weight loss is NONE of their business.  🙂  I’ve noticed many times that the addicts with the most negative attitudes toward my recovery effort either have little or no recovery to show for themselves. Yet they never miss an opportunity to criticize those of us who DO have some degree of recovery.

With 110 pounds now released, I feel more than a little overwhelmed when I think about the remaining ### pounds that I still have to release before reaching an ideal body weight. How does my “recovery process” help me deal with “the numbers” that on many occasions have driven me crazy?

  • I really only have ONE pound to loose at any given time. One Pound At A Time (O.P.A.A.T.) then is how I release my excess body weight. Therefore I will keep my focus on JUST THE NEXT ONE POUND that I want to loose. Thankfully one pound is not overwhelming!
  • I now see my weight loss as the “fruit” of my recovery effort/journey INSTEAD OF the REASON WHY I’m addressing this aspect of my health and well-being in the first place. In other words, I’m NOT loosing weight in order to “be acceptable”. Instead I’m loosing weight BECAUSE I ALREADY AM acceptable, loving and worthwhile as a person. So whatever my weight does (increase or decrease) is NOT the sum total of my value as a precious child of God.
  • Now that I’ve reached the milestone of having released 110 pounds, Weight Watchers encourages me to set my next weight release goal — this means I don’t have to be concerned about loosing another XXX pounds (which I can choose to make my ultimate goal). Instead I can have an “interim goal”, which feels much less overwhelming than my ultimate goal. Interim weight loss goals remind me that I still have “work to do”, but NOT so much that the thought of it leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

So my current “interim goal” is to release 35 pounds. How will I release this excess weight?  Just O.P.A.A.T.. while I work my program of recovery just O.D.A.A.T. (One Day At A Time)!  🙂

As always, the rate of my weight loss is NONE of my business or your business (as a fellow addict). Only the opinions of God and the health care professionals who care for me count on any of the issues involved in my recovery.

Dave: I‘m an addict and my problem is Dave!  My drugs of choice are food addiction and exercise avoidance. I abuse my body with food in order to numb painful emotions (especially fear and rage) and avoid exercise because I lack the discipline to take good care of my body and because I’ve elevated lazyness to an artform. I’m grateful to be experiencing the gift of recovery from both sides of my addiction today — just for today — one day at a time!

Reader Responds: Hi Dave and welcome!!!

spilledicecreamconeAs an addict who has a long history of abusing my body with food, for today I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done some crazy stuff when it comes to acting out with my drugs of choice — especially food.  My insane behaviors with food include, but are not limited to…

— Picking up food that I’ve dropped on the floor and then eating it.
— Picking up food that I’ve dropped on the sidewalk or even parking lot and then eating it.
— Eating food that is still half-frozen.
— Eating food that is partially stale.
— Eating food so fast that I don’t even hardly taste what I’m  eating.
— Eating food (which includes drinking beverages) so fast that I nearly choke on it.
— Eating so much food that it leaves me over-stuffed and short of breath.
— Eating so much food that it leaves me so lethargic that you would think I was on dope.
— Circa 1984: At one meal eating 19 pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken, along with all sorts of sides (e.g., mashed potatoes and gravy, slaw, biscuits, baked beans, etc.) while INSISTING on drinking ONLY Diet Coke! My justification was that “real food addicts would have ate 20 pieces of friend chicken, while I _only_ ate 19 pieces!

Other than these things, my behavior with food over the years has been reasonable sane.  HA!!! 😀

So I was on my way to shop at my neighborhood Walgreen’s last night and I noticed a gentleman that I assumed to be a Nicotine Addict toss his cigarette (which he didn’t extinguish) on the SIDEWALK in front of the store, only to emerge from said store a few minutes later and proceed to PICK UP AND PLACE IN HIS MOUTH his still-burning cigarette!  Honest!!!

Before I could cope a totally judgmental attitude toward this smoking stranger, I remembered some of the INSANE things I’d done with food (see my Short List above) and realized that I was in NO position to judge the man who did the SAME behavior with a lit cigarette that I had done with food…even when I’m NOT overeating I have been known to place food in my mouth that has landed on the floor, a sidewalk or parking lot. “There but for the grace of God go I”, eh?

Why be so open about my checkered history with food?  Because I learned a long time ago that I/we addicts are only as sick as our worst secrets. Also, when I share my sickest secrets I am much LESS likely to repeat them! To get them “out in the open” also reduces the weight of my guilt and shame that these sick secrets have caused me.  In recovery I am afforded many opportunities to come out of secrecy and into the light of honesty.

Several years ago, I shared at a 12 Step meeting that I “never cope well” with rejection…to which a fellow member honestly responded to my lament with a question, “Who does deal well with rejection?”  Duh!  I wouldn’t be feeling my feelings if I didn’t feel pain immediately after (and for a long time to follow) being rejected by some other person.

So rejection will likely always hurt. This is an undeniable and unavoidable fact of life. Thanks to what I’ve learned over the years through my recovery efforts, HOW I (yes, me) choose to deal with the pain of rejection is where I have found that I have (to some degree) freedom to make the best of a painful situation.

What I’ve learned about coping with rejection from fellow addicts and others over the years includes…

— As an addict, when my commitment to my recovery is weak, then I tend to “handle” rejection by rejecting myself.  My self-rejection is acted out in many ways, including acting out with my drugs of choice and doing a poor job of self-care (self-care includes simple things like bathing, wearing clean clothes, shaving, keeping my apartment and vehicle tidy, etc.).
— Overeating (or acting out with other self-destructive addictions) can NOT (for any signifcant period of time) relieve me of the pain of rejection.
— “The only thing you get for sitting on the (Self-)Pity Pot is a ring around your butt!”
— Writing helps release the pain.
— I can forgive myself for making mistakes that may have contributed to another person’s rejection — and then learn from them so I don’t repeat them.
— Loving someone doesn’t mean I must give them the power to destroy my self-esteem.
— Loving someone doesn’t mean I must give them the power to reduce the level of  my self-esteem.
— I’m powerless over others,  so if other people want to stay stuck in their resentment against me, that is their choice and (after I make amends, if I believe amends is appropriate) then I just need to move on.
— I can choose to focus on the many people who love and accept me and IGNORE the relatively few people who have rejected me.
— I have a RIGHT to ME!!!  So if I must pretend to be someone I’m not in order to prevent being rejected by them, then I’m better off WITHOUT that person in my life.

The bottom line about rejection is that I recover from it’s devistation (as well as recover from other issues in my life that cause me pain) the same way I experience recovery from my self-destructive addictive behaviors: (no more than) One Day At A Time!  And if need be, Just Five Minutes At A Time!

I’m an addict and my problem is Dave!!!

Reader Responds: Hi Dave and Welcome!!!

In addiction to ingesting excessive amounts of food, avoiding physical exercise at all costs (along with a few dozen other substances and behaviors), several years ago I discovered that I’m also addicted to misery!

I can relate to the following dictionary definitions of misery: great mental or emotional distress; extreme unhappiness. One dictionary entry I found noted that in previous generations the word misery was often used to describe/identify a pain (e.g., “I’m experiencing a misery in my left side”).

Another dictionary entry that caught my eye claims that often times emotional misery is directly connected to our expectations and perceptions. If this is true (and I think it is) then maybe I/we addicts is/are at least a little (or a lot) responsible for my/our own misery?  Ya’ think!?!

DISCLAIMER: I also believe that sometime I get hooked in a state of misery because of clinical depression.  I would never accuse myself or others of choosing to be depressed. I believe depression is a disease and we don’t choose to experience.  BUT I do believe that we need to be (as much as humanly possible) for reaching out for help (professional and otherwise) when we are afflicted with depression.  Staying stuck in our depression — assuming that it is possible to overcome it with assistance — is truly a sad choice to make.

A special note to the Compulsive OverREADERS in our audience who regularly experience the compulsion to own every self-help book ever printed: I know of only one book on the twin topics of misery and addiction that I would encourage you to read. Addicted to Misery: The Other Side of Co-Dependency, by Robert A. Becker is long ago out-of-print, but you can find new and used copies for sale on Amazon.com, with used copies starting at under $4.00! If you must act out with your overREADING addiction, at least be a “value shopper”! 😀

Truly I could devote several paragraphs to discussing what I believe to be the many causes for the emotional misery that I have struggled with over the course of my life. But the fact of the matter is that whether it is “just a tendency” or is an outright addiction, I think that my frequent struggles with misery make it very difficult for me (at least at time) to experience FUN. Even during those periods of my life when I’m experiencing a decent amount of physical, emotional and spriritual recovery from my various addictions figuring out how to “have fun” can be a major challenge.

Why is HAVING FUN important?  Why is LEARNING HOW TO HAVE FUN an important skill to work at while in recovery?  Several years ago I met a guy who worked as a “recreation therapist” in an addiction treatment center.  For some reason I just had to ask him “why” addicts in treatment were in need of his expertise…Why do recovering addicts need to learn how to have fun, let alone be sure to have fun on a regular basis?

As best I can recall, my recreation therapist pal explained that addicts who, in their recovery, regularly took part in activities that they found to be “fun” were more likely to stay sober.  In part, he believed, it was a matter than we addicts must replace “self-destructive, insane addictions” with “healthy, sane addictions” in order to stay sober.

For some addicts the “fun stuff” includes physical activities (e.g., including physical exercise) that many us greatly overweight addicts are physically INcapable of doing. Yet physical limitations and disability issue are NOT a valid excuse to keep from having fun.  Even addicts with major limitations on their physical mobility CAN find things to do that they enjoy!  It may take a while to figure out/discover what we enjoy doing (other than acting out with our drug(s) of choice), but my experience is that it is worth the effort to figure out (and then participate in on a regular basis) hobbies and activities that we find to be FUN.

I enjoy Legos and can play with them for hours!  In fact, several years ago I invested $20.00 (they ain’t as cheap as they used to be) in a large box of this popular toy.  I still have to remind myself to play with my Legos, but at least I have identified something other than food that I enjoy spending time doing.  I suppose it would be ideal for me to find some forms of recreation that I can enjoy in the company of others (actually I do: board games, card games and taking in live entertainment, etc.), but the beuty of Legos is that I can enjoy them all by myself…and sometimes I just enjoy doing things (other than overeat) all by myself.

So to my fellow addicts who are reading: Please post a comment to let me know what you do for FUN!  Our other other readers and myself might benefit from knowing what you do to have FUN. It may be something our “terminally serious” selves might also enjoy doing, but never have considered it.

Quick! Somebody contact Cindy Lauper and ask her to record a song sure to be a hit with every recovering addict seeking freedom from misery: Addicts Just Wanna’ Have Fun

That’s all we addicts really want:
Some fun!
When the working day is done,
addicts – we want to have fun!
Oh addicts just want to have fun!

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