According to 12 step programs, Step 6 and 7 are all about identifying one’s character defects and asking God to remove them.
I love the 12 steps, yet character defects never sat well with me.
God doesn’t make junk and I don’t have defects.
Instead, I have transformed character defects into defense mechanisms because at one time they served me and kept me safe.
One of my “character defects” revolves around a heavy block of rock that sits on my shoulder. I tend to carry resentment for years and years.
The boy who called me an ugly dog in 7th grade? I remember your name and your exact features.
The police man that drives in my neighborhood; don’t you even think I forgot about what you did to me!
And that beautiful woman with the perfect body and appearance on Oprah because you are the real superwoman yet the cruelest and snobbiest woman in the STL: I know where you live…….
As the years went on and on, the chip on my shoulder got bigger and heavier and I had to gain weight just support it!
One day while working Steps 4 and 5 (searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself) I saw the light!
I didn’t control how they treated me but keeping that chip on my shoulder was slowly swallowing me alive.
The 7th grade boy, the policeman and the beautiful Oprah guest hurt because they are hurt.
I gave them to God; they are now his problem. I took the boulder off of my shoulder and danced a jig.
I was finally free! By carrying that boulder on my shoulder and being resentful; I was only hurting myself.
Enough people had hurt me; I don’t need to add myself on the list anymore.
I gave them a big karmic I Forgive You Shout Out!
Yet the other side of the forgiveness coin is asking for forgiveness.
In other words, saying I am Sorry.
When I took that boulder off my shoulder and kicked it off the cliff; it became very clear that I had to ask for forgiveness and that I didn’t have any control over whether the other person would forgive me.
Here comes step 9: Making amends to those I had harmed.
Yikes, I went to gravesites, I wrote letters, I facebook messaged old friends.
I also made living amends. Now this one is very embarassing: When someone gets on my nerves and rubs me the wrong way I felt like I have to share my feeling with EVERYONE except that person.
In other words, I gossip. ( I know you want to be my friend now, dont’ you?)
This gossiping ritual came from my own insecurities. Even though I felt a certain way I needed someone outside of me to validate it.
Even though this realization hurts me and is shameful; I am free.
I know why I do it and now when I do it; I have a special kvetching gal that keeps my secrets and I do the same for her. It is safe. I don’t provide names. I just get the kvetching out of my system (by the way kvetching is yiddish for complaining).
If you are anything like me, I bet you have some resentment and that others may be resenting you. By forgiving and asking for forgiveness, you hold the key to finally set yourself free.
My journey with food addiction is intertwined with my marriage to the boulder on my shoulder. When I walked through the fear of asking for forgiveness and forgiving others; the compulsion to binge left. When it comes back (which it does) I can stop and say: who is pissing me off today?
172 Days without a Binge and Splat it was all over in a second.
I didn’t want to believe I binged; after all I was hungry.
Yet, I did it; a whole f*cking sleeve of saltines.
Yes, those scare white crackers with the salt are my nemesis; but I forgot they were delicious!
How did I get my hands on these decadent, gluten-filled seduction of a cracker?
I had not even thought about them in years and then all of a sudden BAM I was crunching down a whole sleeve.
Last week, my husband was getting some testing done and I was a bit nervous.
Although I knew everything would be ok, you just never know right?
Well, he was told that he could only have soup and saltines for the rest of the day.
When I heard “SALTINES” my mouth started salivating.
As I drove to the store for them, I prayed to God asking him to keep them at bay.
As I bought them, memories of eating them while watching television and drowning out the hell that was happening around me sent shivers up and down my spine.
Then, I got hungry and I had nothing to eat except those crackers.
At first I took 6 and told myself that I was going to eat them slowly, savoring them.
The next thing I knew I was crumbling the wrapper and my stomach was bulging like I was 6 months pregnant.
I told myself; surely I didn’t binge, after all I was hungry!
Then I remember that I had a food addiction and even when hungry those trigger foods are my alcohol. I cannot have just one sip or one bite.
I was really disappointed and angry at myself.
“How can I binge still?” “I know better!”
Then I remember that I have a disease and even though it may seem like I am on top of it; it is strong and can tackle me in an instant.
I soothed myself with some water and laid my head down.
In the past I would have berated myself which would lead to more binging. This time, I just gave myself a nice belly rub and asked the magic question:
What the heck happened?
1. I was not prepared. Even though the test was early and I had worked out my husband had rushed me so I didn’t get to eat breakfast. WHAT I LEARNED: Know that he is going to rush me and for just that day it was ok; so be extra prepared.
2. I was scared. Lately my mind has been obsessing over fears of loss and I had allowed my head to take over my soul. So food was my only soother. WHAT I LEARNED: Take a time out and breathe. I know it sounds too simple, but it does work.
3. I forgot my trigger foods. I totally forgot that saltines trigger my binges. I love them; like fruit loops they put me into Lala land. WHAT I LEARNED: I didn’t have to get saltines. I could have purchased some crackers that I knew I wouldn’t binge on.
So, there you go I binged; I confessed!
How about you? Can you relate? Let me know in the comments section.
You Can read some of my insights and failings at The Food Addiction Sanctuary. Just go here.
Yet, I am not a food addict. I have a food addiction but I am not a food addict.
It goes the same for people with other diseases such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.
You are not Diabetic, Heart Diseased, Alcoholic or a drug addict.
You may have one or a few of these disease but you are not the disease.
So, what is the big deal? Am I just being a little picky at semantics?
Not at all.
YOU are magnificent, exquisite, unique and powerful. You may have some thing but you are not it.
I am not a food addict. I have a disease that is called food addiction.
Allow the shame the propel these labels to float away because they are just your “thing”.
Every person on this earth has a “thing” that keeps them human.
For example, my “thing” is food while my friend has a healthy view of food. She eats to live. When she gains a few pounds she just cuts back on her portions.
Her “thing” has to do with intimate relationships. That is her “thing.”
Yet, that thing isn’t who you are, it s merely something that keeps you human and humble. It allows you to be compassionate.
For many years I called myself a food addict, yet I refused to allow anyone to say my son was Autistic.
Was I in denial? Not at all, I just knew that he was a boy who had Autism.
He wasn’t autistic he had autism.
When I would rally for that autism diagnosis during IEPs and with insurance; people would question me; wondering why I would want THAT label to follow him his whole life.
I knew that that diagnosis was not a label it was a Godsend. With an Autism diagnosis I knew that he could get the maximum help required.
Eventually Austin was re-diagnosed with complex learning disabilities.
He is almost 21 goes to school in Florida, thousands of miles from home.
He is in a fraternity and has friends.
Besides my brother, he is the most content person I have ever met.
Did it all happen because I refused to allow a label to define him?
I would like to think I was that powerful! I believe that lack of shame that is fueled with an autism diagnosis helped. If anyone said he was autistic, I corrected them.
I think God just made him that way.
Can you see the importance behind how you refer to yourself?
You may have a thing but you are not that thing?
What is your thing? Let me know in the comment section!