Monday, September 20, 2010

Gotta Have Faith

So, George Michael song references aside, I am seeking faith these days. Tonight's OA meeting - which I had to drag myself to, by the way - focused on the second step, which is all about believing that a power greater than ourselves being capable of restoring us to sanity.

I realized something important tonight. I haven't gotten past the first step yet. I am having a lot of trouble finding faith in anything - whether it's the oft-evoked "God" or even the OA groups or programs themselves - partly because I still believe I can kick this addiction on my own. It's kind of a disturbing revelation, because the twelve steps and everything that accompanies them are based on an admission by the food addict that s/he has no power over food. But when I have days like this past Saturday, when I tried to eat "sensibly" - reasonable portions of foods I shouldn't be eating because they trigger me - and succeed by some fluke, I get the idea that I can do that sort of thing in the long run. I mean, it's not as though I've eaten myself to death already, despite having had this problem for fifteen or so years. So maybe I can control it?

I have a feeling that someday, maybe not too far off in the future, I'll look back at this post and the feelings and thoughts that created it and I'll laugh. Or maybe I won't laugh, but I will definitely shake my head. Because it's so ludicrous. I'm desperately out of control with food. I spent all day today wishing I could be eating everything in the world because I was feeling down and wanted comfort. I do not know how to self-soothe! Food has been the only thing that's ever worked.

But that's just it - it hasn't ever worked. My favorite part of the chapter on the second step in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - heretofore referred to as the "Twelve and Twelve" - is the following passage:

"The more we ate the more we suffered, yet we continued to overeat. Our true insanity could be seen in the fact that we kept right on trying to find comfort in excess food, long after it began to cause us misery."

I read that aloud to myself the other night before bed, chuckling at the sheer RECOGNITION I felt when reading it. I've often thought about how paradoxical and ridiculous it is that the very thing I look to for comfort is slowly killing me, not to mention making me miserable a lot of the time. Interestingly, the leader of tonight's meeting pointed out that exact excerpt from step two, and I feel like it gets at the crux of why a lot of us have come to OA. We've been trying really hard to get better anyway we know how, but what we've been doing has not been working. It's been backfiring, big time.

A very wise professor of mine in graduate school, a therapist in practice over 16 years, once told me, "People change because staying the way they are is too painful." Surely this principle is what brought me to walk into my first OA meeting, and every one I've been to since. My search for faith is treacherous thus far because it's so integral to believing the program can work. It's integral to believing anything at all, I suppose, or at least anything that hasn't already materialized before me. I've always been the type who only believes things when she sees them; can I learn to act as if there was a higher power that could take my character defects and flaws and remove them? What about self-reliance and taking responsibility for my actions?

My head is spinning a little with regard to OA and recovery-related stuff. I mentioned that during sharing tonight. Other members said all they could say - keep coming back, recovery will come. Have faith, or act as if you do.

So now I'm left to fake it 'til I make it, I suppose. Will it work? Stay tuned...

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