Today I have SEVENTEEN YEARS clean and sober.
17 years ago I was in so much emotional and spiritual pain that I wanted to die: I couldn't imagine going on living the way I was living, but I didn't know any other way and couldn't imagine living with out alcohol or drugs. My sponsor in OA was also in AA and had quietly and patiently watched me bottom out for months and when I called wailing in despair and talking about how badly I wanted to just STOP EXISTING, he casually suggested I go to a meeting..."any meeting, even AA." He then told me that there was an AA meeting starting in exactly 15 minutes about four blocks from my apartment and suggested I go there. So I stumbled over there, stoned and crying, and sat in the last row of seats.
The gentleman who was speaking looked and lived nothing like me: he was formerly homeless, he was elderly, he was African American, he was a MAN, he was dressed in a suit, he was calm and clear and focused, and when he told his story of what his life used to be like, what happened, and what it was like "now", he told MY STORY. He spoke right to my heart and soul and right there a tiny door opened up in my hard heart and a little bit of light got in there, and I asked myself, "Is it possible that I might be an alcoholic?" I decided to "keep coming back" as they say in AA to find out. The next morning I woke up and decided to try not to smoke weed or drink or use any other drug that day, and to go to a meeting. Within three days I met a woman that I asked to sponsor me (I'm greedy, I had two sponsors).
The first 90 days were really exciting -- I went to 90 meetings in 90 days, had crushes on guys, made some friends, alienated my roommate and former BFF who took my quest for sobriety as a rejection of her, drank so much coffee my stomach hurt, chain-smoked Camel Lights, and cried all day every day for what felt like forever. But I kept going to meetings and I kept away from drugs and alcohol. I told myself early that since I was a musician, I need to "get over" being in a bar and not drinking so I would still go to open mike nights and go to see other bands in bars, but I never put my seltzer and lime down for a second because I was afraid of picking up the wrong glass.
Next thing I knew, I had a year, and by then I fully accepted that yes, I was an alcoholic and addict, because I stopped drinking and using and MY LIFE GOT BETTER (that's a SURE sign). So many things have happened in the last 17 years: I lost a job, made bad career decisions, lost friends, had two broken engagements with the same womanizing sociopath, moved 8 times in NYC, watched a plane hit the second tower while standing about a mile away in Soho, lost all my money and had to move back to my mother's house in CT, met a widower with two small sons, lost family, got married...PHEW! But throughout the celebrations and devastations, I did. not. drink.
I didn't do it alone: I've had the power of a 12 step group behind me, my sponsor, my close friends, a ton of anonymous alcoholics. And most importantly, God. Any pain I had in giving up something I loved SO much (and trust me, I LOVED BEING DRUNK) was completely and totally worth it.
YET...this food thing.
I don't understand how I can overcome a life-ruining addiction and change it all around, yet I am constantly struggling with overeating and relapsing and finding resolve and LOSING resolve and beating myself up and swearing OFF beating myself up - over and over and over lather rinse repeat.
I know I could apply the same principles, to a point: I mean, I can't just NEVER EAT AGAIN. LIke they say in Overeaters Anonymous: "You can put the plug in the jug, but you gotta take the tiger out of the cage three times a day." Word.
There's two things that really make a big difference though: Willingness and Surrender. I am WILLING to do what it takes to get back on track, and I surrender the thought that I can eat certain foods without consequence.
I also can do anything in one day that I cannot imagine doing for the rest of my life. I can easily not eat any white sugar today -- JUST FOR TODAY. I can walk for 10 minutes JUST FOR TODAY.
Life hands itself to me one day at a time, and like Gretchen Rubin says:
Today I am staying away from a drink, a drug, white sugar, beating myself up, and diet soda. Just for today I am moving a little more, drinking more water, writing a gratitude list, and will eat a fruit or veg every time I eat a meal or snack.
What are you going to do, just for today?