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I honestly had the BEST of intentions to post an entry on this blog EVERY day for eight consecutive days.  I did. I really did!

So I did TWO consecutive days of posting before breaking my eight day commitment.  But dear reader, please do not assume that I overate insanely and/or avoided exercise just because I didn’t post like I said I would.  All I can say is that sometimes LIFE and CRISES interfere with the best of my intentions and plans.  Even when they do, that is NO excuse for relapse into active addiction.

Actually, at least one of the crises that popped up a few weeks ago managed to remind me of a couple of important truths that I need to remember…truths that can even (eventually) strengthen my commitment to my recovery process. Specific lessons and reminders from the crises included…

1)  I have a right (even an obligation) to THINK BEFORE making a commitment (like making a commitment to write an online journal entry EVERY day for EIGHT consecutive days) when I know (had I thought things through)  that I was coming up on some of the busiest days of the month in terms of my “day job”! The same days each month are my busiest. So WHY do I OVERcommit myself, just to NOT be able to follow through? What is my PAYOFF for this ? Am I that “addicted” to the shame and guilt that I KNOW I ALWAYS get when I don’t follow through on my commitments?

2)  I have a right to NOT respond to  e-mail messages that start out being full of personal attacks and histrionic comments.

3)  I have a right to allow another person to be mad at me, rather than trying to “fix” their feelings or attempt to “make them happy”.

4)  I have a right to delay responding to hysterical individuals until they regain their composure and back off from being on the “attack mode”.  And if they don’t calm down?  Not my issue (especially if I’ve made amends in those cases where it appears to me that it is appropriate for me to make amends).

In any case, rather than re-starting my 8 Day Revival series of posts what I’m hereby giving myself permission is just go ahead and DUMP about some issues that are bothering me. If it takes me eight days of dumping, so be it.  More or less than eight days is OK too.

I’m even gonna’ give myself permission to NOT spend hours searching for or creating a nice picture or some other nifty graphic to go with each of my journal entries!  I can go back and find and/or add them later –If I choose to.  Getting out the words ought to be my first priority.  Dressing up the words visually?  Not so important.

Off the top of my head, I’d like to DUMP about the following topics over the course of the next (insert # here) days…

1)  Problems I’ve had with the otherwise-wonderful Weight Watchers food plan.

2)  My fears about posting my food intake and other information from my Recovery Journal Sheet on this blog.

3)  My difficulties dealing with “ANGRY people”.

4)  My difficulty being able to HAVE FUN in the process of working on my recovery.

5)  Coping with the pain of rejection.

I think this list of five things to DUMP about is plenty.  😀

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In order to honestly follow the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan, I read lots of nutritional information in order to calculate the Point value of what I eat and drink.  A Point is determined by the calorie, dietary fiber and total fat content contained in a particular serving.  These values are usually easily found on either the label of the food items I buy at the grocery store, or in the nutrition guides provided by many restaurants.

It makes me a little anxious when a restaurant – especially one that is part of a national chain – fails to keep nutrition guides on hand for customers.  Its one thing for a restaurant to run out of guides to give to it’s customers from time to time, but it is another thing when they either don’t have at least one copy on the premises that they can “loan” to customers concerned about nutrition, let alone refuse to keep them on the premises at all.

skylinechili-logoYesterday I ate lunch with two friends at a Skyline Chili restaurant here in Louisville.  On a couple of pervious occasions when I’ve dined at Skyline, my request to see a nutrition guide was met with a refusal to provide one followed by an assurance that “You can find the guide on the Skyline Chili website.”

I finally got around to downloading and printing the Skyline nutrition guide after lunch yesterday (www.skylinechili.com), only to discover that what I thought was a “healthy” item that I chose for my lunch was in fact OVERloaded with calories, fat and sodium!  The Southwest Chicken Wrap (NO dressing included) contains 670 calories, 30 grams of fat and 6 grams of dietary fiber.  This translates into a whopping 15 Points!  The sodium amount? A whopping 2,040 milligrams, which is nearly ALL of the amount of sodium a person consuming 2,000 calories per day should eat for the WHOLE day!  So just because a menu item contains the word “Chicken” does NOT necessarily mean it is sound nutritional choice!  The Chili Cheese Fries at Skyline Chili I would expect to be oozing with calories, fat and sodium.  But surely NOT one of their chicken items!

If a restaurant doesn’t want to make it easy for it’s customers to access it’s nutrition guide, it leads me to believe that they are serving food that they are NOT particularly proud of.  Then again, I’d be ashamed too if my food was high in calorie, loaded with fat and oozing with sodium!  Such is the case of much of the food served by Skyline Chili.

Skyline Chili is hardly the only fast food restauarnt service nutritionally-challenged food!  Hard to believe I’m sure (HA!!!), but McDonald”s sells it share of crappy food as well.

bigntastyhamburger1

When it comes to “delicious-but-nutritionally-crappy” fast food, have you heard of the Big N’ Tasty hamburger at McDonald’s?  The fast food giant considers this sandwich  competition to Burger King’s Whooper hamburger.  The Big N’ Tasty is a “Whopper” alright, weighing in with 460 calories, 24 grams of total fat and only 3 grams of dietary fiber.  The sodium content is also fairly high: 720 milligrams – which is 30% of the daily recommended amount of sodium a person should have if they are consuming 2,000 calories per day.

The Points value for Big N’ Tasty hamburger: 11.  A 12” Veggie Delite Submarine Sandwich from Subway, complete with two slices of cheese, lots of fresh vegetables, one ribbon of lite mayonnaise and two ribbons of Sweet Onion Sauce (or another fat-free condiment) is also worth 11 points.  If I have a choice between burger on a round bun or a foot-long submarine sandwich, if I have any sanity I’ll choose the submarine sandwich anytime!  It is much more filling and a lot lower in total fat and sodium than the burger.

The biggest problem I have with the Big N’ Tasty hamburger is the five tons of MAYONNAISE they load on the sandwich (which is why I think McDonald’s should re-name it “The Mayonnaisebuger”)!  A fellow Weight Watchers member pointed out that the mayonnaise content of the sandwich alone probably accounts for at least 25 percent of the sandwich’s calories (and the Point value).  But does McDonald’s provide nutrition information on the value of the same sandwich withOUT the mayonnaise?  Of course not.  So figuring the Points value of a mayo-free Big N’ Tasty hamburger would be rather subjective since I don’t have the nutrition values for this healthier version of the sandwich.  I’m sure the volume of mayonnaise dumped onto the sandwich will vary from burger to burger.

My point to all of this rambling?  I’m finding that for myself restaurant foods (especially those sold by fast food restaurants) often lack substantial nutritional value and are usually larded up with total fat (even though they may boast of being “trans-fat-free”) and contain a level of sodium that verges on being dangerous (remember that excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure).

I’m embarrassed to admit that my ability to “estimate” the Point value of the foods I eat (when I am too lazy to read the nutrition information) is pretty pathetic.  Examples: for nearly two years I’ve estimated the Points value of the Big N’ Tasty hamburger to be 7 (NOT 11) and if you would have asked me what I thought the Point value was for that Southwest Chicken Wrap (hold the dressing) that I had for lunch yesterday at Skyline Chili. I  would have guessed it to be no more than 8 – 10 (as opposed to 15 Points).

Do let you "sophistication" get in the way of your recovery! This "simple" ONE DAY AT A TIME concept DOES work, when you work it!

Don't let your "sophistication" and "intelligence" get in the way of understanding (and using) this simple One Day At A Time concept!

So how did you do with your food intake on Thanksgiving? I pleased to report that I ate moderately!  Then again, why wouldn’t my eating be just fine on a holiDAY? After all, a holiDAY is just another DAY.

I’ve found that one of the many awesome things about 12 Step recovery is that it works just fine EVERY DAY of the year.  “Even on a holiDAY?”, you ask. To which I respond, “Yes. Even on a holiDAY…Since a holiDAY is just another DAY.” Which means that when we have a program of recovery that helps us to eat sanely — one day at a time — it makes NO matter which “day” we’re following our program. Weekday or weekend day. Groundhog’s Day or a rainy day. Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years.

Our program of recovery (which is based on working the 12 Steps, as adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous) will work just fine on any of these days. Of course, we don’t work the 12 Steps in insolation — we work them while DAILY connecting to God and to other addicts.

When we feel overwhelmed by the stress or difficulties we face on a given day, we always have a right to work our program of recovery in incriments of LESS than just one day a time

We start with a commitment to eat sanely for just one minute.
Then we make it through five minutes.
Then we put several of those five minute incriments back-to-back and all of a sudden we’ve made it 30 minutes.
Then we find ourself making it through one hour.
The next thing you know, we’ve made it through 12 hours.
Double the 12 hours and you’ve made it one day.
And we only work at our recovery NO MORE THAN one day at a time.
And this concept and approach works quite well every day.

For more thoughts to help you work through unique challenges of the food-obsessed winter holiDAZE, be sure to check out this journal entry that I wrote in back in November 2007:

When it comes to achieving long-term recovery from an addiction, RESENTMENT is a very important issue. From what I’ve experienced in my own life, read in recovery literature and heard from other addicts, ALL addicts (including myself) MUST face/release our resentments in order to be able to “stay stopped” from acting out with our drug(s) of choice. To clarify, while we may not have to face/release resentment(s) in order to become sober, we definitely must face/relase our resentments in order to stay sober, one day at a time.

The dictionary definition of resentment notes that it “is the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.”

Many years ago I learned from a recovering alcoholic that the Latin meaning for this word implies that we actually choose to “re-feel” our injured feelings, thoughts and perceptions in order to experience the feeling of resentment. So to feel recentment means that we have a choice — three choices actually: we can deny our resentment or we can admit we have resentment and then (once admited or faced) we can chose to take action in order to release our resentment. To my understanding denial, admission and release all involve choices.

The “Big Book” (Alcoholics Anonymous) points out that “…resentment is the number one offender” for alcoholics and, I would assume, for all types of us addicts.  It also states that in order to stay sober (e.g., stay in active recovery) that we must be freed from our resentments.

To this background about my understanding of the meaning of the word “resentment” I’ll now focus on answering the specific question that was posed by a reader of this blog, which was…

I bring up the topic of resentment because of a comment/question I received from a reader of this blog. This person’s words should be understood in the context of my blog entry dated November 15, 2008 (Did Science Finally Catch Up With 12 Step Recovery? AND…How Much Urine Does My Bladder Hold?). The comment/question I received read,

“I do feel like you seem to have a LOT of resentments towards some people in recovery. Does writing about them in this blog help you get over them?”

As to the content of the specific journal entry in question, my answer is: absolutely not.

Thinking back to the definitions of resentment I shared above, an Overeaters Anonymous member stating that HER “bladder works list a still” and therefore “it converts urine into alcohol” has NOTHING whatsoever to do with me. It is a statement referring to another OA member’s reality. Therefore I could not have been “injured” or “insluted” by her comment (remembering that resentment is about what has “injured” or “insulted” us).

While I did back in 1990 (and still now in 2008) find the OA member’s comment odd, illogical and humorous, it never injured or insluted me. I’ve NEVER overate over that member’s words — although I might have accidentally spat out food while laughing uncontrollably when considering the preposterous nature of her words (If I did, would that make me guilty of “unintentional bulimia”? Probably not.

In any case, I journaled about the “Still” comment because I do find it  offensive when any OA member (as in the case of the woman who made the “Still” comment) inserts into the context of an OA meeting (or other OA-sponsored event) comments of a highly controversial nature. Why does THAT bother me? The answer can be found in the 12 Traditions.

Tradition 10 reads, “Overeaters Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the O.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”  Further, the Big Book states that “No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues…”  And it seems only logical that what applies to AA (the grand daddy of all 12 Step, 12 Tradition fellowships) should also apply to OA.

In my opinion, anger is an appropriate response to Tradition violations. At the same time I will acknowledge that the late Bill W., co-founder of the AA fellowship, wrote on many occasions that it was important for alcoholics to avoid anger at all costs.

In 36 years of coninuious sobriety, I find it very difficult to believe that Bill W. never once felt anger. To never once feel anger throughout a 36 year period is not being human. Given all of the unkind things that were rumored about Bill W. and fellow co-founder Dr. Bob during the early days of the AA fellowship, I know that I would have felt anger if those things had been said about me!

As a Christian I also take into consideration the words of Saint Paul where he writes that it is OK to be angry — so long as we don’t allow our anger to cause us to sin (Ephesians 4:26 & 27: “Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the devil any opportunity [to work].). As a Christian I have a right and duty to place the teaching of Scripture above Bill W.’s opinion. Nothing against Bill –But as a Christian I place the Bible as a higher authority than the words of another addict.

Rather than to pretend that I don’t feel anger, what I find to be a more reasonable approach to dealing with anger (so anger doesn’t threaten my recovery journey), is to 1) Feel anger. 2) If possible, do something LOVING with my anger (e.g., pray, work for change, etc.) and/or 3) Confront what I feel needs confronted. In the context of the Serentiy Prayer (which is not taken from Scripture), I am pointed toward the truth that PRAYER is absolutely neceessary to know when to “let go” of anger about things outside of myself.

But enough about anger. Resentment is the primary focus of this journal entry.

it is no secret that the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship has lost thousands of members over the past decade for any number of reasons, including the introduction of “controversial outside issues”. Among the most controversial of such issues that has divided this wonderful fellowship is the discussion of theories regarding nutrition. Believing that one’s body is capable of “converting sugar and flour into alcohol” is (at best) “controversial”, is it not?

Another point: Since when does any addict (myself or others) NOT have a right to openly discusss whatever is bugging us (regarless of whether or not such things cause us resentments)? When did the toxic behavior of other addicts (that take place within the context of fellowship meetings and other fellowship-sponsored events) become something that I have to “keep secrets” about? In my recovery from dysfunctional family issues I’ve learned that keeping secrets is UNhealthy.

As to the reader’s direct question, “Does writing about them in this blog help you get over them?”, my answer is not really.  While writing IS a key tool to help release resentments (along with prayer), the writing I’m doing on OveractiveFork is not intended to be a substitute for working the 12 Steps. We need look no father than the pages of the AA Big Book to discover, in the context of working Step 4, a five column format for working through one’s resentments.

Beyond writing about resentments when working Step 4 (as instructed by the Big Book), I’ve found it very important to work Steps 5 – 9 to help me get to the point of releasing my resnetments. Then after and in the process of) working Steps 4 – 9, I can’t emphasize strongly strongly enough the importance of PRAYING about our resentments — and if need be, praying about then just ONE resentment at a time.

We PRAY to find release from the RESENTMENT we feel for those people, places and situations that have injured and insulted us -- One Resentment At A Time!

We PRAY to find release from the RESENTMENT we feel for those people, places and situations that have injured and insulted us -- One Resentment At A Time!

Why is prayer important to releasing resentment? Because I believe that prayer helps me to connect with God and that God can do for me what I can not do for myself. If you can release your resentments apart from the grace of God, good for you! I can’t. I need His help!

How do we pray in order to become free of our resentments? Here’s what is suggested from the same AA Big Book I’ve referred to many times in this journal entry… 

“If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or thing that you resent, you will be free.  If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free.  Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free.  Even when you don’t really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway.  Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.”

healthychoice-package

My most recent additions to OveractiveFork have focused on some emotional and spiritual aspects of recovery from food addiction.  So this time I want to focus on a practical “physical” aspect of recovery, namely discussing foods that I’ve found to both taste great and be nutritionally sound.  Yes, it IS possible to find something that I love to eat that is actually good for me!

If y’all look through this blog, you will soon discover that I have a strong preference for Weight Watchers, when it comes to their POINTS food plan and their approach to many non-spiritual aspects of recovery from food addiction.  Yet when it comes to pre-packaged food, my preference is for the Healthy Choice brand. I like some of the WW meals and ice cream treats, but Healhy Choice is by far my favorite in terms of taste and value for the money.  However, as one who follows the WW POINTS food plan, I definitely appreciate that the Healthy Choice packaging usually includes the WW POINTS value for their meals.

Allow me to recommend two of my favorite Healthy Choices meal items.  NOTE: This is an unsolicited product recommendation. I have NOT been financially compensated (nor will I be) for offering my thoughts on the following products.  Shucks!!! 😀

Part of Healthy Choice’s Cafe’ Steamers line of products, I really enjoy the Grilled Chicken w/Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Sauce, Linguini Pasta and Broccoli Florets! The taste is anything but bland — Very tasty!  And each meal contains approximately 20% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of grains, 30% of the RDA of vegetables and 25% of the RDA of meat. This meal offers great nurtioinal balance!  Calories: 270.

For a regular pre-pacaged Healthy Choice meal, I highly recommend the Grilled Chicken w/BBQ Sauce, Caramel Apple Crisp, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli.  Total fat for this item is just 3 grams and it provides nearly 1/4 of the RDA of fiber. Calories: 280.

Got a Healthy Choice product that you would like to recommend? Click on the COMMENTS link above this entry!

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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