I never liked my name! I’m sorry to say this out loud, Dad, as I know I was named after you, ‘Salvatore’. There were so many Uncle Sal’s in my family and in my childhood. Of course, there were sweet Sally’s like Charlie Browns’ sister, Sally. And then there is my favorite children’s’ book, “Blueberries for Sal”. (I don’t remember “Silly Sally…”, a book many friends like to bring up! Do you remember the readers we learned to read from, the stories of Dick and Jane and Sally? What a privilege to see my name in writing as a child. Now, what are the odds that my name is also in the AA Big Book? “As ex-problem drinkers, we smile at such a Sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark.” (BB Pg.152) And your point is? I must pause here to say, I do like the expression: “Sally Forth!” That makes me smile.
Their point is that we were scared…whistling in the dark! As the Big Book says, I was driven by a hundred forms of fear (Pg.62) and I still find that fear is a large part of my day and “why” I do things. The thing is, I’m realizing that after three years with no sugar and flour and after so much growth and recovery (and a 90 lb. weight loss), I am still confronted by the choice of fear and self reliance or a courageous faith and God reliance! I’ve been thinking about how fear motivates me to pause and to be willing to change. I’m tired of being scared. I’m tired of making my decisions based on fear and what might happen. I’m simply tired of living in fear. Here is what is happening right now as I continue to bring my fear to God.
You might have heard me say, “Listen- so you can Learn. Learn so that you can Change! Change so that you can be transformed and be transformed so you can recover and never be tempted to turn back to that old foe, binge eating Be changed so you can be transformed so that you can become recovered: this is found on page 143 in the AA Big Book. Sixteen years later, Bill W. wrote the AA 12 & 12 and in that manuscript, he speaks over and over about becoming emotionally balanced. I believe that this is what happens after we stop turning to our old defects of character and instead turn to God. This is where I am right now! It’s my daily prayer and strongest desire, to heal socially and emotionally as I was ‘drunk’ on food for so long and even though I was thin (thin is not necessarily well!), I was socially and emotionally stunted. I have been decoding emotional health or at least trying to make sense of it. So far, this is what I have come up with. This is the play ground I live in right now and I’m learning some important things that I would like to share. Here is a KEY that has become the focus of my growth and study!
We are told in the AA Big Book that we have to practice the pause (Pg. 87 BB) when agitated. I’ve been thinking about why we are told to do this. Is it possible that we are told to do this so that we can step back and figure out:
1. Is this my business, God’s business or none of my business? In taking a moment to pause and figure this out, I now can proceed with what I will do or say (or not say as we are instructed in the AA 12 and 12 on Pg. 91 “restraint of pen and tongue” ) and over and over, in the AA Big Book, we are told to “cease fighting!” Gosh, I thought it was only hot head Italians but apparently lots of people struggle with contention and disputes that lead to ‘the marbles’ that trip us back into the food! So, I pause when words are flung at me. Then I pray and ponder about what to do in response (instead of impulsively turning to old behaviors and defects!) Is this my business or should I just pray about it? Because, so many times, when people say things that make me agitated, I can’t fix them or change them! I don’t have to do more damage by responding or defending myself. In most cases and in fact in 9.9/10 cases, I must wait on God (or pause when agitated Pg. 87 AA BB) …. and say nothing. Let’s review:
a. Pause (Big Book pg. 87) Wait on the Lord (Bible ****)
b. Is this my business? None of my business? or God’s business?
c. How should I proceed? With Restraint of Pen and tongue if it’s not my business / Prayer if It’s God’s business/ Set healthy boundaries by being honest and direct if it is my business. (This, too, requires a pause and waiting to prayerfully decide which one it is!)
Like a seesaw…… one side up: Set boundaries and be honest and direct with the person…. on the other side of the seesaw…. Say nothing, pray for the other person and let God do the fixing and changing of others as this is not my job, it’s an old set of defects: playing God, trying to control or change others, try to fix people and alleviate my fears. For so many years, I felt, “Oh, I can help! I’ll tell you what I see and what is wrong with you and your relationships! Don’t you want to know?” I don’t do that anymore as God’s timing is vital and HIS ways are not mine. Also, it’s not my job to try and fix people. Any wisdom or discernment I might have I use to “RIGHTLY PRAY for others”. For many years, I wasn’t honest or direct because I was scared. Setting boundaries was like looking through a telescope at the Moon…. ” Wow! What’s that?” Boundary setting means I take care of me. This implies that I am focused on change and this, too, requires reliance on God. Pausing is just as important because “Say what you mean and mean what you say but don’t say it mean!” is a challenge and could lead to confrontation (and a marble!). Pause, ponder and pray will come in handy here too!
Here’s another seesaw! People pleasing and being scared of what people will say about me vs. being honest and direct and setting healthy boundaries for me. “Honesty is the greatest gift we give ourselves”. Honesty is the opposite of people pleasing. Of course, in the past, I was brutally honest and that, too, is something I watch out for.
I’ve said a lot. I’m learning and very focused on emotional balance. I see it as a see-saw! I remember sitting on a see-saw as a child and liking when neither of us was up or down. Hanging in the middle and balancing the see-saw. Like practicing my guitar, I’m practicing the pause. It’s not easy for me as I, by nature, am impulsive and like to ‘fly by the seat of my pants’. Being with my large, Italian family provides lots of practice. People in general in any setting provide us all practice. Every time I pick up the phone, I listen to learn to change …. all roads lead to practicing the pause which means, being quiet and turning my thoughts to my God who is faithful and tells me what to do or say if I would but ask Him!The end of the matter is always, ‘Bless them, Change me!’ I’m so glad I’m growing. I’m so glad that ‘More will be revealed.’
“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD” Psalm 27:13