Sunday, July 8, 2012

Meeting my Monster...

In the meeting tonight there was an intense and painful discussion about the food. About the baffling, cunning, and powerful compulsion that rules us with cravings, pushes us toward out-of-control binge eating, chews away at our peace of mind and our ability to approach life on life's terms.

Someone said that their compulsion is a ravenous little monster that lives inside them and that hit me like a ton of bricks. ME TOO. 


I don't remember exactly how I came to be in possession of this monster, but it's been there a very long time. I don't know why I got a food monster and other people got an alcohol monster, a gambling monster, a shopping monster, a cocaine monster etc. etc.. 

But I am realizing that how and why are not relevant questions for me anymore.

What I didn't fully comprehend in my previous years of dieting and/or suffering, is that THE MONSTER ISN'T GOING ANYWHERE.

In my previous attempt to lose weight, I was starving my body but feeding the monster. Even at my most stringent calorie-counting, I was feeding the compulsion with endless thoughts about food: what I had just eaten, when I would eat next, whether I could justify another bowl of cereal or an extra piece of chicken breast or cup of cocoa. I was feeding my monster with intense battles of math in my head; if I eat this pizza that just means an extra two hours at the gym. And as the wieght came off, I started believing my monster was defeated, that I had single-handedly slain the beast. I had all the answers. Wasn't I clever?


What OA is helping me to see is that my monster will always be there.

Being abstinent, going to meetings, listening to speakers and reading the Big Book- my monster gets a little smaller. Some days it gets downright sleepy and curls up in a little ball in the back of my mind. Those are good days, but potentially dangerous days. That monster can get so small and docile that it almost gets cute. That monster bats its eyelashes and whispers things like, "You've been so good. Normal people can eat ice cream as a special treat. So can you."

But I know that every single compulsive bite revives the compulsion and allows it to grow large and ravenous all over again. That cute little monster that seemed so harmless is once again rampaging through me, causing misery and suffering.

The thing is- if the monsters in our head didn't whisper, if they didn't bat their eyelashes and speak in that sweet, comforting voice, we would see them for what they are! My monster is never going to smack me on the head and scream- "Go eat an entire gallon of ice cream and then hate yourself!" That's why this addiction was able to control me so completely. 

I have found that my monster looks something like this...

My monster presents himself as a teddy bear. He can seem soft and cuddly. My monster uses comfort as his weapon. "You've had a hard day. You deserve a hug. Let's eat a little something first, ok?" "I am so proud of you, you did great! Let's celebrate with a hug. But let's just eat a little first." Whether I am sad, angry, happy, confused, scared or anything in between I turn to my monster to deal with the emotions, because in my life emotions have been scary and uncomfortable. But once I turn to him he isn't cute and cuddly anymore...
He wants more. And more. And more. So I give him more.
And then I am left alone. Wondering how in the hell I managed to eat all of that. Miserable. Hating myself. Feeling sick and pathetic.

But if I can listen to my monster when he is a teddy bear and let that motivate me to use my OA tools instead of silencing everything with food I take the power back from him. I am learning to listen closely for his whispers because they are an indicater that I have OA work to do. I need to be reading the Big Book or journaling or listening to a speaker. Because when my monster's voice is louder than my Higher Power's- I am not centered where I need to be.

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