stress


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.

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I came sooooo close to OVEReating last night! Thanks to God’s marvelous grace I was able to remain faithful to following my food plan — as written — during and beyond the “crisis” (e.g., the period of over 30 minutes when I wanted BADLY to eat more out of obsession than actual physical hunger).

The “crisis” involved my mental obsession to eat a medium size Ice Cream Cone dipped in Chocolate that I wanted to purchase at the Dairy Queen located around the block from the laundromat I was using. Because I ollow Weight Watchers POINTS Food Plan, NO food is “off limits”.So the three questions I pondered that helped to convince me to NOT eat the DQ treat were…

  • Do I have enough POINTS remaining for this day to “cover the cost” of the DQ item?

Since I didn’t know the POINTS value of the item I was obsessing about, I figured that (based on what I had already ate yesterday) I probably did NOT have enough remaining POINTS to cover the amount needed.

  • Was the likely amount of POINTS a “good investment” for a food item that has almost NO nutritional value?

Of course not! In general DQ food (both hot and cold) is pretty low in nutritional value and such is the case with the item I was craving last night.

  • For the number of POINTS I had remaining to consume yesterday, didn’t any other food appeal to me that wouldn’t cause me to spend more POINTS than I had?

YES!!!  It came to me what I could eat (a food I really liked, but wasn’t nuts-o about like I was the DQ item)…a Baked Potato topped with some 7/16 oz. of a fat-free sauce I had with me in my minivan was what I choose. The nutritional value of a potato is pretty impressive: they are a great source for Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron and Niacin, Thiamin and Folate! So yes, potatoes have carbohydrates, but what’s wrong with that? We ALL (even us diabetics) NEED carbohydrates to live. The DQ cone I was lusting after had lots of carbs, but NO significant nutritional value.

I  thank God for the ability to STOP AND THINK BEFORE I eat insanely. I was able to THINK SANELY last night, instead of acting out. I know that it was God’s grace that gave me the ability to both think and act sanely!

Carbohydrate phoics will disagree with my choice of eating a baked potato. My comment: Who cares! It’s a choice my food plan allows me to make AND I ended up STAYING on my food plan just fine yesterday.

Apart from the foods involved in last night’s “crisis”, the more significant issue for me is HOW EMOTIONAL I GET WHEN IT COMES TO  FOOD!

  • The mere though of consuming DQ treats gets me aroused to the point of making me feel (sorry, I don’t know any word to describe the power of the obsession for some foods) what I call “horny”!
  • Thinking about NOT eating some foods (like DQ foods) can cause me to feel deep sadness (almost like it becomes a grief issue).
  • The guilt and shame I’ve known over the years associated with OVEReating has (past tense, thankfully) been very intense at times.

“Earth people” (= non-addicts) surely don’t experience this broad range of INTENSE emotions when it comes to food that we addicts experience! To the “earth people” food is JUST food. To we addicts who’s drug of choice is food, you would think food was our lover and best friend!  It isn’t?  😀

In any case,  Once again I want to thank God for the grace to eat sanely — despite the “intense crisis” I faced (and survived) last night. Here’s a video clip that expresses my gratitude for God’s grace that “carry’s me” when my own strength is weak (or even non-existent). As Alcoholics Anonymous literature reminds us, “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

Dave Begins: “I’m an addict, my problem is Dave and my drugs of choice are excessive food intake and exercise avoidance!!!”

Reader Responds: “Hi Dave and welcome!!!”

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas!  May your Christmas be full of joy and serenity and hope!

If you’ve read any of my journal entries from 2009, you know that it has been a really rough year for me and one that can’t end soon enough — one day at a time!  My mother died at 6:00am on New Year’s Day.  My closest female friend died on April 16th.  I nearly died of an allergic reaction that sent me into kidney failure in late June.  Then in mid-August I came down with the painful condition known as sciatica (on my left side).  I guess after a year like 2009 I at least deserve to be referred to as a “survivor”, huh?  😀

I thank God for the grace I’ve needed to cope with the drama of 2009 — one day at a time.  God’s grace is always a precious gift and I hope that I always feel gratitude when I experience it (not to mention always realize when God is pouring out His grace on me to begin with — rather than assuming I’m “making it” on my own, when indeed I’m not).

Because I’m afraid that the grief of my mother’s loss will be overwhelming on Christmas day, I’m going to PLAN (in writing) my food choices for tomorrow ahead of time.  I may need to revise my plan, but AT LEAST I’LL HAVE A PLAN. WHY is PLANNING IMPORTANT (especially at stressful times)?  Because “those who (consciously) fail to plan are actually (subconsciously) planning to fail” and (the bottom line is) I don’t think nearly as  clearly when I’m under stress (Who does?), especially when it comes to anything to do with food.

I love my momma and I miss her more than words can even begin to express!  But NO amount of insane eating will ever bring her back to life in this world.  She suffered much in the several years leading up to her death and I can find at least some sense of peace believing that my momma is no longer suffering.

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!

The last week of June I came down with a fever and some other symptoms that I assumed, at first, were signs that I had the flu.  My best friend wisely reminds me that I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. 😀 Sure enough, what I thought was the flu turned out to be something much worse!

I had noticed that the color of my urine was getting darker and darker and that my legs had more than doubled in size overnight.  At the urging of a neighbor,  I dialed 911 and was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.  I was admitted from the ER with the diagnosis that I had a “bizarre allergic reaction” to an antibiotic I had been taking — an allergic reaction that caused me to go into kidney failure (hence the black urine and the fluid retention in my legs — which lead to a 15 pound weight gain overnight). Weight gain?!? Yup…and we recovering food addicts know that weight gain in any amount is without a doubt our worst nightmare!

Thankfully all that weight I gained has been lost.  I came out of the kidney failure fairly quickly, but not without feeling like crap (what exactly does crap feel like, btw?) for several days.

This coming Monday will make three weeks since I was released from the hospital. The good news is that I’m doing much better now (Just as “Stella Got Her Groove Back”, so OveractiveFork is getting his groove back!) — though I still tire easily at times.

I promise to get back to posting on my “Dump Topics” soon and appreciate your patience as I continue to recover from my recent health crisis.

Only a food addict like moi would think to add…While the medical care I received during my recent hospitaization was excellent, the hospital food really sucked (with few exceptions).  😀

I’m a LOT better than I used to be when it comes to dealing with ANGRY people.  Yet I still would rather go out of my way than to face/deal with hostile individuals.  Then again, who enjoys being around angry folks, especially those individuals who remain STUCK in angry mode most of the time?  Those people epecially wear me out!

My co-dependency recovery has taught me many important lessons about anger: my own and that of others. What I’ve learned includes:

1) I have a right to feel my anger — despite what one very brief passage in the Alcoholics Anonymous BIG BOOK says.
2) Feeling my anger is a whole lot healthier than “stuffing it down” with excess amounts of food.
3) Taking my cue from the A.A. BIG BOOK, I do believe that I have a CHOICE when it comes to what I do with my anger:  I can choose to hold onto my anger until it becomes a full-blown resentment (which is NOT  healthy, since resentment is believed to be the number one cause for relapse into active addiction) OR (the better choice, IMHO) I can pray and work the 12 Steps to release the anger I feel.  It may take a LOT of praying and Step work, but that sure beats a return to active addiction.
4) Myself and others can express our anger withOUT acting out with verbal rage and physical aggression.
5) NObody has to tolerate being screamed at or being physically abused or being threatened with physical abuse.
6) Allowing myself to be repeatedly abused is NOT sane and surely is NOT a sign that I’m some sort of spiritual giant because I keep going back for more.
7) Real Christians DO get angry. What was that New Testament passage about Jesus throwing the merchants out of the Temple?

One suggestion that I thought was both funny and clever in terms of “working through” anger can from a speaker at a 12 Step event I attended many years ago.  In response to anger caused by an abusive co-worker, the offended party took a piece of masking tape on which she wrote the name of the person she felt anger toward and then stuck the tape with the name written on it to the BOTTOM OF HER SHOE AND THEN…SHE TOOK A WALK!!!  😀

One word of caution: Just remember that it is probably NOT a good idea (before or after you go on your “anger walk”) to sit down next the person you are angry at and CROSS YOUR LEGS so they can see their name on the tape stuck to the bottom of  your shoe!  😀

Do you have any creative ways to deal with anger…ways that help you (eventually) RELEASE your anger?  Feel free to post them in the COMMENTS section!

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