Rejection


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.

Occasionally I receive comments from readers of OveractiveFork that suggest I really have an “anger problem” based on the content of some of my posts.  Really…a food addict with “anger issues”?  How could that be? During the time I’ve spent in active addiction I’ve done my best to swallow my anger and faked being a “nice guy” (“Nice” = No Boundaries = People Pleaser = Doormat To Be Walked On). After all, doesn’t EVERYbody just love (not to mention) like anger-free people?  And surely in my active addiction I’ve been as hungry for love as I have been for Onion Rings!

So YES, in recovery, I darn well DO have anger. In recovery I experience a whole set of feelings that were numbed out during active addiction. So yes, I feel anger today.

I say GOOD for me having anger. Sometimes anger is a VERY APPROPRIATE emotion to have. I happen to believe that ALL people with any degree of SANE recovery will feel anger from time to time. How dare you (or me) expect me to be anything less than fully human? Yes, being angry IS part of the human experience!

Just for today my recovery allows me to have enough clarity so that I no longer confuse anger with other issues and emotions…

  • Anger is not the same thing as resentment. Feeling anger is therefore NOT the same thing as “re-feeling” it.
  • Anger is not always accompanied by hatred for the object of one’s anger.
  • I can feel BOTH anger AND love at the SAME time for the object of my anger.

Even Jesus Christ was known to get angry. Even the BIble says, “Be angry but sin not…” (Ephesians 4:26)…which, it seems to me, infers that it IS possible to be angry and NOT sin.  The same passage of Scripture also adds, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”, which tells me that healthy anger does not last forever.

Anger is not a bad thing, despite what one co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote about it in one sentence of the thousands of sentences he wrote in that fellowship’s literature. I’ have much respect for the wisdom found in the writing of Bill W., but he is not God and his opinion (speaking for myself as a Christian) is not a higher authority than Sacred Scripture.

Just for today, I refuse to be shamed for my anger. Just for today, I refused to allow other addicts shame me into silence about what I’m feeling angry about. Just for today, I respect my right to feel and constructively express my anger.

I don’t to speak on behalf of other addicts, but I believe that if I don’t “face my stuff, I’m going to stuff my face”.  So facing and expressing and  working on my anger is a whole lot healthier than “stuffing it down” with excess food, let alone a whole lot wiser than trying to “numb” my anger though avoiding doing physical movement.

It takes courage for me to face and feel my anger. It takes discipline to use the 12 Steps to work through my anger (working  through it sure beats “overeating over it”!) so I don’t remain stuck in it.

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!

As an addict, I struggle to overcome self-centeredness in all of it’s forms. One area where my self-centeredness manifests itself is in the area of fear. Two of my biggest fears are that others will  reject me and will shame me in a toxic manner by unloading mountains of harsh criticism on me.

Because of these fear issues — and for other possibly good reasons — I’ve avoided posting to OveractiveFork specific details about my food intake and exercise effort.  I’m not ashamed of what I eat and how much I exercise most days, but I fear that those addicts who demonize carbohydrates and exercise bulimics for whom NO amount of exercise is ever “good enough” would surely overwhelm me with criticism if they only knew what I was eating and much (or how little — depending on one’s perspective) that I exercise. So I ask: Why put myself through the potential of being sent abusive e-mail messages from fellow addicts who 1) are NOT my sponsor and 2) are NOT any sort of health care professional? Answer: I don’t need to put myself through such harsh judgementalness that the posting of food intake and exercise data would surely generate.

The other reason I wont post such personal information on OveractiveFork is because I would never want the specifics of my food and exercise plans to be followed by the readers of this blog.  I’m NOT a dietician or exercise physiologist so I would hope that I NEVER prescribe food or exercise plans for fellow addicts.  And I would not want any addict reading my blog to follow my plans becuase they were too lazy, fearful or arrogant to seek out the advice on such matters that I believe should ONLY come from a health care professional.

I do write down what I eat and how much I exercise on a regular basis.  But that information will be shared ONLY with professionals who are in a position to offer me sound advice and appropriate feedback when such information is shared with them.  I may also choose to share this information privately with fellow addicts, but NOT in order to obtain feedback and/or advice that should only come from a professional.

These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

My approach to recovery from food addiction incorporates many sources of information and support.  I have found that my “Al-A-Carte Approach” to recovery (which is only approach that makes sense to me) offends and even outright angers numerous fellow addicts and “earth people” alike.

Some of the support I seek out for my recovery comes from 12 Step-focused resources (e.g., literature from the Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and Overeaters Anonymous fellowships).  My food plan comes from Weight Watchers and my exercise plan is centered around Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos.  Both my food plan and my exercise plan have the input and approval of a whole host of health care professionals. My faith in God keeps me stong in my recovery. My connection with other addicts (of every sort — NOT just food addicts) reinforces my commitment to sane eating, one day at a time.

What I just listed in the previous paragraph are the major sources of support for my recovery effort.  They are by no means the only sources of help.

I give myself permission to “add” and “subtract” from my list of resources as often as I choose.  Although I don’t believe I could stay in recovery without God’s help — so hopefully He will always be on my “short list” of where I seek help.

Sometimes it makes me want to S-C-R-E-A-M when fellow addicts and “earth people” “Should All Over” me (e.g., “You SHOULD try ______ diet”, “You SHOULD exercise at least ___ minutes per day OR your exercise really does NOT count!” “You SHOULD avoid (this food)… to loose weight”, “You SHOULD be losing weight faster!”, etc.). The only thing that  keeps me from losing it on the know-it-alls (and MOST of the time I don’t lose my temper on them) is remembering that when people (regardless of their “best intentions”) offer UNsolicited advice, they are acting out of their own co-dependency issues.  So their “SHOULD-ing” isn’t about something being flawed or defective in my approach to recovery (though after being “should-ed on” I’ve often gone away feeling attacked or demeaned).  Rather should-ing is really about the need of the “should-er” to control one or more aspects of another person’s life (e.g., MY life) that is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS in the first place.

Whether you refer to your recovery approach as “Al-A Carte” or think of it as being a puzzle (or mosaic) with many pieces, the various pieces/parts/elements/sources that make up YOUR recovery process are uour’s to choose as we see fit. So the self-appointed Committee of Should-ing Know-It-Alls SHOULD keep their hands off our stuff and keep the focus on their stuff.  Not that it is my job to control the should-ers.  I think I’ll leave that job to God.

I dedicate this journal entry to a bulimic friend I’ll refer to simply as “E.”. I haven’t seen or heard from her in many years. I met her through Overeaters Anonymous sometime in the mid-1990’s. She was a true inspiration to me with her determination, wit and zeal to carry the message of recovery to all who struggle with food addiction in all of it’s various flavors: overeating, bulimia and anorexia.

Your value as a precious child of God should be measured by something far more substantial than a measuring tape, scales or even your clothing sizes.

Your value as a precious child of God should be measured by something far more substantial than a measuring tape, scales or even your clothing sizes.

Because I found her recovery effort so uplifting, I was sure to encourage “E.” to write for our local O.A. newsletter during the time I served as it’s editor.  One of her missives that I published was a poem — I would love to find the text, but alas it has long since disappeared into the mess that it my cluttered apartment. So please forgive my forgetfulness as I don’t recall if the following phrase was the title or a particular line that I have managed to hang on to all of these years — and stick with me it has: I’m a perfect size me.

One thing that “E.” discovered through working the 12 Steps, was that her body image, indeed her very clothing sizes were NOT the sum total of her worth and value as a human being.  Indeed, regardless of her weight, waistline size and even the number of fat cells in her body, she worked hard to ACCEPT herself in all sorts of sizes, shapes and measures.

For us addicts to believe (really believe) that we are MORE than just the sum total of our “numbers” requires confronting our diminshed self-esteem and deep down feelings of toxic shame. I’ve found that the 12 Step recovery process offers me the tools to face, confront and transform my body shame.

Yes, what my weight does and what my body is doing IS one way to judge the progress (or lack thereof) of my recovery effort. But whatever my size or weight is NOT the sole measure of my worth as a person. Many of us have struggled with NEVER feeling “quite good enough” — and our weight, our waistline and our muscle mass were ways we found to prolong and intensify our lack of self-worth.

So why am I journaling about being “A Perfect Size Me”? Because not too many weeks ago my own struggle with body image reared it’s dysfunctional head in the process of responding to an online personal ad.

I find it aggravating that many gay men (or at least many of the ones who write personal ads) are terrible “body bigots”!  “No fats” and “height-weight proportionate” are phrases in gay men’s personal ads that I have come to despise!

So back in early September I had an incredible “e-mail conversation” going with a guy who’s personal ad I had responded to. Based on my description of myself (minus my weight) “Jonathan” wrote: “Alrighty Mr. Dave.  you’ve got me interested!”, along with the encouraging line, “You sound like someone I’d love to get to know.”

Later the same day, my potential future boyfriend wrote: “Oddly enough, I’m anxiously watching my emails today in hopes of finding another note from you.” And yes, the whole day I was “anxiously” awaiting his next missive in my inbox.

And then Jonathan made a request that struck terror in my body-shamed heart: “So, do we exchange pictures at this point?” 

Jonathan sent his picture.  His picture was impressive. Indeed, by my standards, he was georgeous!

For fear of immediate and instant rejection, I hesitated to send my picture.  But I sent it anyway, with the resolve that my current size (remember that I’m over 80 pounds below my top weight — though dozens of pounds from my goal weight) was (to paraphrase “E.”) “A perfect size me — just for today.”

I only receive a few more messages after I sent Jonathan my picture.  It hurt.  Then again, when doesn’t rejection hurt?  I wanted to overeat to “stuff the pain” of his rejection.  But I didn’t.  And I haven’t.  And I’m back to looking for love on the Internet.  And I’m committed to be totally up front about my weight — just for today.

Because of my experience with Jonathan, I no longer “wait” to OUT myself about my weight when I’m responding to other guy’s personal ads.  I mention my weight (without a silly humorous tone (which I have used to hide my fear of rejection) and with an explanation about my recovery process (e.g., “This weight loss of mine isn’t a diet. It is a way of life”).

From day one, this blog has offered a MALE perspective on recovery from food addiction.  So this journal entry is NOT about “politics”.  Plenty of other blogs deal with political matters…but NOT this blog.
I Have The Right To Come Out Of Shame

Being Gay Shouldn't Have To Hurt

In recovery most of us addicts have found that we have had to deal with shame. Much of the “shame baggage” that I have carried around during my life has had to do with my being gay. So for this reason alone, I feel it IS appropriate to (finally — approximately one year after beginning OveractiveFork) come out about my sexual orientation. I’m gay.

You may not approve (good for you!), but I’m still gay.  You may reject me for being honest about my sexual orientation (your choice, to be sure!), but I’m still gay. I sure hope that you don’t overeat over my being gay — because even if you chose to overeat over it, I’m still gonna’ be gay. 🙂

Clay Aiken was recently paid the obscene sum of $500,000 by People magazine to come out.  I’m coming out to you, dear readers, for FREE!!!  Such a deal! 🙂  More importantly, I’m coming out to set myself free from the fear of having this detail “leak out” at some point in a future journal entry.  I’d rather be direct and “come out”, rather than live in fear of being “found out”.

Acting out with my addiction has usually involved my being indirect and/or passive/agressive.  In recovery I’m learning to face my fears and be direct in dealing with “life on life’s terms”.  As with all aspects of my recovery process, this IS a “process” and I face it and move forward (or backward) just one day at a time.

I think my recovery process (yours too?) has been a constant stream of “coming out experiences”.  First, I came out to myself that I’m powerless over my addiction (NOT that I was “fat”, I knew THAT already — and so did most of the world for that matter).

Then, over the years, I’ve come out to myself and others about the extremes of my behaviors with food. I’ve also opened up about my sense of shame, the degree to which I’ll isolate while acting out my addiction and resentments and I’ve even come out about my sexuality to fellow addicts.  So coming out ony my blog is NOT the first time I’ve come out.  It is just the first time I’ve come out to you.

If you are a male food addict reading this journal entry, let me assure that my sexual orientation is NOT intended to be a reflection on you!  I hope you will be able to relate to what I write, even though our sexuality is not identical.  The sources of my emotional pain may be very differrent from your sources, but the bottom line is that our shared addiction is not a respecter of anyone’s sexual orientation: it causes pain to gays, straights, bisexuals and transgendered persons alike.  In that sense, it is an “equal opportunity addiction.”

While I could write volumes to describe the intense feelings of shame that I’ve felt because of my sexual orientation, a few lines from (of all places!) a song made popular many years ago by The Partridge Family offers some insight into the shame/pain of  feeling “different” that I have felt.  The spoken words part of the song Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted read:

You know, I’m no different from anybody else
Start and end each night…
It gets real lonely when you’re by yourself
Now where is love, and who is love?
I gotta know.

And then the words from the song’s chorus ask:

Doesn’t somebody want to be wanted like me?
Where are you?
Doesn’t somebody want to be wanted like me?
Just like me?

Like it or not. Believe it or not. Gay people like me are “NO different from anybody else”. And despite what some religious people teach and what some bigots believe, I do have a right to “want to be wanted”. Yes, someone “like me”…”Just like me.”

In my recovery journey I’m re-teaching myself that I am “lovable, loving and have a right to be loved” — which is totally opposite of the messages that I’ve been taught and what I’ve “caught” about myself over the years. I was taught that we “queers” are “different” and in a BAD way.  I was taught that our love — that my love — was vulgur, nasty and even sinful. So at the depth of my being I have felt toxic shame for whom I love.

In case you aren’t familiar with the phrase “Toxic Shame”, John Bradshaw and others within the 12 Step movement have identified this painful sense of oneself as the source and fuel for all (self-destructive) addictive behaviors.  People who truly love and care about themselves rarely self-destruct with food, booze and other substances and relationships like those do who have felt the anguish of toxic shame. Of course, non-gay people feel toxic shame and have been shamed just like us gay folks have been, so I don’t mean to diminish the intensity of the toxic shame that my straight readers have felt and are feeling to this very day.

I’m grateful that the 12 Steps point me towards God to heal me of the pain of toxic shame.  In the process of working Steps 4 – 12 I have found a wonderful framework to “face, trace and erase” (= heal) from my toxic shame, one day at a time.

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