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Stopping the Slide

A lot of what Chrissy said in her comment to my Funk-ytown post really resonated. Recovery requires attention to all three aspects – physical, emotionally and spiritually. Spirituality does not necessarily mean formal religion. It means different things to different people whether their Higher Power is God, Allah, Buddah, the Universe, or a higher consciousness of their own self. For me, mostly, it’s God. Sometimes it’s an intangible state of being I think of as my healthy-non-diseased mental state.

Whatever the case, I need to reconnect with my Higher Power in order to stop this slide. Allow me just to say that today I physically feel like utter crap and that’s a direct result of too many days in a row of eating off of my plan. Emotionally and mentally I’m still down, although I had a nice time last night — which I’ll share about later in this post.

I’m trying to take care of myself. Thanks to the forethought of arranging for a dogsitter to stay in my house last night while I went to Key West for the function, I was able to sleep in a little this morning. Staying in bed until almost 9 a.m. felt really good. I woke up to a beautiful morning, so beautiful in fact that it would have been a perfect day to take out the boat with friends. However, I didn’t rush to come back home. I realized that while I would have loved to be out on the water, I really didn’t want to be around a lot of people today. I feel like I have been surrounded by others without a break for too many days in a row. Don’t get me wrong, I like being social and enjoy the company of others at work and in my various other pursuits. It’s just that when I’m already feeling the effects of energy drain, I hit a wall.

So, today I decided that I would rather soak up some solitude hanging around the house with Nat and Pyxi. I also would treat myself to new spring flowers for my porch planters and rejuvenate my herb planter. This was another way of taking care of myself. With that decision made before I left the hotel this morning, I was in a calmer, more relaxed state of mind on the drive up home.

Perhaps that’s what opened me up to understanding why my funk and slide are prolonged. Lately, I’m experiencing a resuscitation of some co-dependency issues. Co-dependency kicks off my eating disorder because food and overeating were always my coping mechanisms. Destructive and not always effective, still, it’s how I coped.

I haven’t run up against a situation where I would experience co-dependency in the two-plus years that I’ve lived in recovery on my weight loss and health-reclamation journey. I’m not surprised that I didn’t recognize this right away, but now that I have the signs are very clear to me. Now that I know, it’s time, as Chrissy said, to jump horses on the carousel and look for help from my spiritual self and my Higher Power.

This is not something that I can resolve with an extra bike ride, although the endorphins help. I need to make the conscious decision to turn the problem, the situation, and my reaction to it, over to my Higher Power. Turning it over is another means of letting go of it. It requires admitting that the situation is not something over which I have any control, nor am I required to fix it.

My responsibility in this is to take care of myself. I need to stay aware of how the situation affects me and, when I feel its influence, not take that influence into myself but turn it over and let it go. It’s another kind of mindfulness, to realize how other people/places/things/situations can impact my health — if I permit them to. This aspect of my recovery requires help from my Higher Power, but I have to make the conscious choice to ask. Doing so will help me stop this slide and get back on the road to recovery.

Okay, now back to last night. A few weeks ago, I talked about finding a couple of new dresses for upcoming events and then also ordering some heels. Last night was one of the events. I had fun socializing with a large group of people whose company I enjoy. We talked, laughed, and danced a lot. It’s not easy to take a flattering picture of myself with my phone in a mirror, but hopefully you can get an idea. I think I looked great in one of my new dresses. (Please ignore the slightly strange facial expression. I was focused on trying to get the photo.)


This was the debut of one of the new pairs of shoes, too. First time that I’ve worn more than a kitten heel in forever. They were pretty and comfortable (for most of the night anyway). I slipped them off a few times, as did some of my friends with their heels, but I was never in pain. As I discussed in that earlier post, I haven’t owned a lot of really pretty shoes in my life. If I keep having this kind of success, I might become a late blooming shoe addict. What do you think?



Cruise Day Three – Snorkeling and Spirituality

Needless to say, after getting to talk with Larry Gatlin, I carried a glow with me throughout the day. We docked at Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos on a beautiful, sunny but breezy day. I’d lugged my snorkeling gear and a wetsuit with me from home and looked forward to a trip to the reef. I am such a water girl, as we’ve established before, so it made perfect sense to disembark a huge ship to board a smaller one for a few hours.

I always enjoy snorkeling, but I have to say that I think our reef in the Florida Keys is prettier with more varieties of coral and many more species of fish. That said, I still had fun. I also saw some sizeable “flag” yellowtail that my fishing friends and I would be happy to have hit a hook back home.

After an enjoyable few hours, I returned to the ship a salty, sticky, happy mess. I cleaned up and hit the buffet for lunch, putting together a nice, healthy salad. My attitude and approach to food and eating were so great while on my cruise that I wish I could package them and access them whenever and wherever I need to make a food choice. Only a couple of days into the cruise and I began to think that I might be able to surpass the goal to not gain weight and actually lose some. I was incredibly willing to keep eating right and be as physically active as possible. That thought stayed with me every time I walked up several flights of steps to the upper decks for a meal or different activity. (Going down is, of course, a no brainer.)

Lunch completed, I walked upstairs to the Gatlin Brothers’ interview. They are blessed with a great gift of beautiful voices and rich harmonies. During the interview they spontaneously broke into a rousing rendition of America the Beautiful and had the entire room (A hundred or so people, I estimate) singing a long. Later on, they sang a gorgeous hymn.

This brings me to the second part of this post. I’m not sure if it was thinking about Larry’s long ago personal ministry to the people at Ashley, the joy of the Gospel Hour, or hearing so many different artists on the cruise profess their faith, but I found myself thinking a lot about God, faith, spirituality and where I am with all of it. The 12th Step of AA/NA/OA talks about spiritual awakening. I’ve always believed that means different things to different people, depending on where we, or they, might be in their lives.

I was born and raised Roman Catholic but once I aged past 16, my regular practice of my religion and attendance in church have been sporadic. I used to go through periods where I’d attend church regularly but the years of not going are far more numerous. Yet, I believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, even if I couldn’t tell you exactly what I believe the Holy Spirit to be. An essence, perhaps, but not a personage. I’m not much for the rules of the church, but when I go I behave in accordance with them. For example, I grew up learning that Catholics do not take Communion without first going to Confession and doing penance.

I pray. I try not to ask God for too much beyond the Serenity Prayer pleas for acceptance, courage and wisdom. I ask Him to help me in my efforts to be a good person, to do good in this world. If friends or family of friends are sick or need support, I’ll say a prayer for them. Most of my prayer time is devoted to being grateful for all of the blessings and lessons in my life. That’s something that I started doing the year that my mother was so sick and dying. Every night I found five things for which to be grateful. No matter how bad the day had been, or what challenges we faced, I was determined to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Doing this got be through the worst days and helped me sleep with more ease, then get up the next day at least able to put a foot in front of the other and keep moving.

So with this spiritual awakening on the ship, I found myself wanting to connect to something greater than myself and to be part of a bigger picture. I saw on the daily schedule that Mass was scheduled for half an hour before dinner. I haven’t been to Mass in years, other than for a funeral, but I felt called to go. It was held in the Northern Lights room which I’m pretty sure is usually some sort of lounge or private party room. On the ship, this room was located near the casino. Before they closed the outer doors, the bells and clangs of slot machines came through. Strange or not, I wanted to be there. My heart felt full and I felt more connected, as I’d hoped.

The 12th Step talks about carrying the message of the steps to others and to practicing the principles in all of our affairs. I thought about what that meant to me. The spiritual awakening I experienced on the cruise showed me that I can continue to work on being a better, kinder person. Not that I don’t already try to be good and kind, but I know there are times when I am impatient, snarky and selfish with my time. I resolved to keep practicing the life lesson I got more than 20 years ago and be more generous in heart and spirit to others.

It’s a good goal and one that rewards even while it engenders more giving. When I first went to OA, there were a lot of us who didn’t understand how the 12th Step helped us with eating disorders. I’m not sure that I can make a point to point correlation, but I believe it goes back to the larger connection. Overeating is often an attempt to fill empty spaces, to make up for something that we feel is lacking. Expansion of spirit, in whatever way it happens, fills empty spaces from within. The 12 Steps are good guidelines for living a life of honesty, integrity, and kindness toward ourselves and to others. Working on those principles leaves a lot less room for the diseased thinking to take hold and manifest itself in diseased behavior like overeating.

For what it’s worth, I’d like to keep this spiritual awakening awake for as long as possible.

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