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Cliff Walking!

Good is the Enemy of the best!

The holidays are here and for many, as it was for me in past years, the focus will be on their struggle with food instead of time with family. I remember a morning, sitting on the rug in my bedroom, worrying about the coming holidays.  The worry was not about money or emotional expectations. It was about how much damage I might do with the food and my weight before this holiday season was over. It was Halloween morning, I was thirty-something. I sat thinking,’Tonight is Halloween and I have a decision to make. Will I begin a two month binge tonight with candy, as I have done on many other Halloweens?  It won’t stop, the feeding frenzy, until some time after the new year. In fact, it might not stop untill after Valentines day. I could gain a lotWalking on the edge of a cliff!Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery of weight.’ I sat there thinking, I could go on a fast instead and loose the 30 pounds I need to lose. Or, I could take myself back to my twelve step program and do it with group support and a program of one day at a time. I didn’t know about the power of the AA Big Book at that time, or the real significance of the steps and how they would lead me to a right relationship with and a healthy dependence on God. I made the right choice. That night, I went to a meeting. That was ‘day one’ of a five-year abstinence from Sugar and flour and some respite from the disease of compulsive over eating.

Good is the Enemy of the best. Precarious sobriety vs Entire Abstinence is like that. While I have not had any sugar or flour for two and half years, for the last few months,  I have felt more and more that I am walking on the edge, the tip of the edge of a cliff, balancing to not fall off. I’m speaking of my abstinence. It’s not that sugar or flour are any kind of temptation. I’m neutral where they are concerned, thank God! For two and a half years, no ketchup, no ice-cream, no pizza and a resounding ‘No!’ to many other things. I don’t miss it! I’m free and it feels good. But I have friends who have wound up back in the food after years of abstaining from sugar and flour and they seem to be lost as to how it actually happened. Is it because they had a precarious sobriety (Pg. 21 of AA 12 &12) and they were not entirely abstinent (Pg. xxx, AA Big Book)?  Yes, abstinent from food they know they can’t handle like sugar and flour, but sloppy with regard to other things. Can you identify with what I’m saying?


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Wiggle Room

“Yellow-Light foods” and What I’ve learned.

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Inspirational Music, Gospel, Christian, Concerts, Public Speaker, Bookings, Christian, OA, GuitarIn my quest to ‘discover’  what foods are driving my eating disorder, in other words, to clarify what foods are leading me back to the cliffs (see Cliff walking), that place where I reach a threshold and binge,  I was asked to make my list of Red-light foods: the foods I know to be binge foods, Green light-foods,  the ones “I’m positive” (Note to self: Really? Are you sure?) I can handle, and my Yellow-light foods, the ones we identify as “I’m not sure they are a problem.” These foods are the ones I have held onto with a vengeance!

That about sums it up. “Get back in there: I can control this, and I’m NOT GIVING IT UP, It’s Mine, Mine Mine!” It wasn’t till I joined a 12 step recovery group that I started to identify ‘what exactly is the problem,’ calling them, “MY” (MINE, MINE, MINE!!!) ‘Red-Light, Green-light and Yellow-light foods.’  After 33 years in this program, I have finally learned, if they are ‘Yellow-light foods’, they are, most likely, ‘red-light’ foods you are holding onto. I had heard this before from one woman, but she said it in such a ‘matter of fact’ way, I dismissed her as being ‘nuts’, ‘wrong’, and gave it the old, “Thanks for the information” (Pg. 39, Anonymous), ‘See ya!’.

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The face of Defiance! Part 1, Dr. Tiebout

When defiance comes out to play,

deep from inside of us, the damage can be devastating! The following is an excer Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, sallyatari.compt from Dr. Harry Tiebouts’ article, “THE ACT OF SURRENDERING TO THE THERAPEUTIC PROCESS”. According to this good doctor, in the compulsive over-eater (or any addict), there are two qualities which are characteristic of their personality:  Defiant Individuality and Grandiosity. Today, I would like to look at defiance because it is one of the last and most dangerous vestiges of my own illness – it still peeks its ugly head out and I’m hoping to decode what is going on and once and for all, lay down this character defect. Perhaps you have seen defiance peek its head out in you as well. If, like me, you have spent years of ‘falling off the wagon’ and landing back in the food, bingeing, you too may have this defect! It’s dangerous and I believe it’s our ‘self-will’ rising up and in many cases, it’s our coping mechanism for the corrosive thread of fear (born of anxiety) that drives so much of what we do and say; ultimately, it’s defiance that has led me back to the edge of the cliff,  back to self-reliance and then, to the food.

I have treated defiance like it was an adorable two-year-old within me.  My own grandson, Luciano, comes to mind. I think of that face he makes when he lowers his chin and raises his eyes in such a way that he appears defiant; he actually looks like a bull in a bull-fight preparing to attack! He does this when he’s scared and angry. As a spectator of Lu, when he makes this Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, face, one wonders, ‘Uh-oh, what’s coming?’ Is he going to hit some one? Scream? Get crazy? He looks, suddenly hardened and slightly
‘evil’ if it were possible. But no, he’s playing and it’s short-lived.But as an adult,
my defiance is seasoned and dangerous mostly to me and in how I respond to it when it rears its head! My defiance has led me to the edge of the cliff many times
‘Cliff Walking’ posted December 20, 2014). I knew I was walking on the edge and about to lose my precious abstinence and even, recovery. The food is neutral, it’s not in response to the allergy and it’s not about marbles of thoughts rolling around. It’s me, shooting myself in the foot, creating crises, playing with my disease. I didn’t want to take any drastic measures, I didn’t want to do anything different!

But of course, that’s the definition of insanity! Doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes. Deep inside, I knew, despite all the ego and grandiosity of being a leader to so many others, that I wasn’t being rigorously honest and I was sloppy (albeit with abstinent foods).  Sloppy enough that I was  scared and I knew I was cliff walking. And so, I am so much like my two-year old grandson, self-willed at times. He needs his parents to deal with his defiance which could hurt him and others.  I need the God of my understanding to protect me from my self-will and self-reliance (born of anger and fear) as well! We need strategies to deal with defiance!

“Defiance masquerades as a very real and reliable source of inner strength and self-confidence, since it says in essence, ‘Nothing can happen to me because I can and do defy it.’ . . . It is the main resource of the chin-up and unafraid type of adjustment and, as a temporary measure, it helps people over many rough spots.” (Tiebout).  Doesn’t this sound like self-reliance? (BB Pg. 68). It’s our instinct! Our security instinct is threatened! (See ‘The Herd Instinct.’) Then you get defiant (I have to stand up for myself, to protect myself). This may be true, that it helps people over the rough spots, but for myself, defiance as a tool for overcoming and for garnering bravery (chin-up), it doesn’t work! Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines defiance this way: it includes a refusal to obey something or someone, the act of challenging. Defiance is Self-will run riot and the fuel for both is ego and there is nothing good that comes from this mind-set.

 Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, sallyatari.comDefiance and Denial are two sides of the same coin. The root of both defiance and denial are anxiety and fear.  “If you DEFY A FACT AND SAY IT IS NOT SO, and you can succeed in doing so unconsciously, you CAN EAT TO THE DAY OF YOUR DEATH, forever denying the imminence of that fate.  [Defiance] is a trustworthy shield against truth and all its pressures.” (Tiebout)


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Step Three Prayer From My Heart!

Sure, I memorized the Third Step Prayer. . . Thy Will Be Done,  Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,,

a long time ago. But I didn’t make it my own (A.A. Big Book, Pg. 63). The ‘Step Three Prayer’ from my heart looks like this:


I offer myself to you: I give up on running the show… I give up on playing God in my life…. I’m done running the show! Please, You be the director… the boss, the father I long for….

-Build with me

-Do with me…what ever you think is best! Because You know what’s best for me! You know me better than I know me!

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Step One, Admit What?

‘We admitted we were powerless over [food],   that our lives had become  Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, sallyatari.comunmanageable!’

In Step One, we are asked to admit,  but what are we really admitting? For so long I lived a lie and pretended that I was fine, that everything was ok. When it was not! Who was I lying to? When I was in binge mode, I was sneaking and sliding plates under the coach or under sheets. Now that I’ve been getting well and on a clean food path for almost three years, am I being honest about who I am or what I have? People ask me, did you ever tell your children that you have hypoglycemia? Or that you have ‘an eating disorder?’  What do we have to admit to? That we are powerless? That we need help? “Lack of power, that was our dilemma!” (Pg. 45 AA Big Book) That our lives were a mess and our best thinking got us where we are?  In the song, Baby Steps on the ‘new’ album, The God of Second Chances, the refrain breaks down the first three steps. The lyrics are meant to highlight each of the first three steps.

Step one: ‘Admit it, I need you’.
Step two:’Believe, I will trust You’.
Step three:’Turn, I’ll come to You!’.

I’ve been thinking about the full measure of ‘We admitted. . . ‘ and I have a few thoughts. It all boils down to  honesty! Recently, while visiting my children, they of course, had ‘noticed’ at Thanks Giving, that I weigh my food at this point. There are certain things I must do daily that I can not put on pause while visiting my kids. I’m not normal and I’m tired of hiding it within my home.  One of my girls commented on my new lifestyle. The gist of what I heard her say was, “Mom, when you come to visit, you are spending a lot of time with OA.”  She asked me, don’t you think you are spending too much time in OA? Is it a new compulsion; instead of the food, you are focused on OA? Additionally, another family member said, “Who else obnoxiously carries a scale with them when they travel?” I was left wondering, ‘Why is that obnoxious?’ ‘Why would they make travels scales if others weren’t using them?’

My reaction was to laugh it off, but inside, I was not laughing. What I wanted to say was, ‘ I have an eating disorder; Didn’t you get the memo? There are certain things I have to do. If I had Cancer, I would have a different set of requirements. If I had renal failure, there would be another set of treatments.’  I didn’t say any of this. Would they believe me? Cancer and my eating disorder, are both killers? I was on a fast track to heart disease and diabetes at least! Everything appeared normal until I stepped up my game; now I’m required to make four phone calls a day (I did try to sneak off like superman and find a phone booth but there were none in the neighborhood!) and weigh and measure everything. I have felt like I was cliff-walking through life lately and as my last two binges (the last scene of the crime) were at my daughters’ house, I was paying attention to taking care of myself and my food so that I would not have a personal catastrophe; a binge.

So what am I admitting in step one? That I’m not like other people? (Pg. 30 and 31 AA BB) That I’m not normal when it comes to food? Yes! I’m not happy that I am not normal when it comes to food but I’m saying it, “Uncle!”

As I grow in acceptance and surrender to the truth, I can admit that I have an eating disorder, that I am lactose intolerant, that I have hypoglycemia (recently diagnosed) and need to eat small meals and can’t wait to eat breakfast until 1:00PM; a peace about my truth is settling in. I don’t want to hide it anymore. I admit it. If I can finally be honest with me, then maybe I can finely be honest with you and all those around me and live my truth.

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, sallyatari.comSo just what am I admitting? The problem of food, apart from the allergy of my body, is a symptom. The real problem is the hole in my soul. That I need God. I remember the morning after I was laid off from work a few years ago, I was visiting my children. I didn’t want them to know I was laid off because I didn’t want them to worry. I awoke very early, at four AM. I prayed and cried (no, I wept!) to God. Then, I determined to meditate and give God a chance to respond to my prayer. I sat quietly. I remember asking God, ‘What would you say to me?’ In my heart, I heard only three words. “YOU ARE MINE”. Music started rolling around in my head.

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