“Once an alcohlic, always an alcoholic.” (Pg. 33T BB)
“Pickled!” Most people in program know and understand that once we are pickled, there is no turning back!
“Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person”. (AA Big Book xiii) This is also true for the compulsive overeater. We don’t get over a real eating disorder; we don’t get cured, just recovered. It’s sort of like going into remission for the Cancer patient. We make a beginning when we stop the binge eating or other compulsive behaviors related to an eating disorder. We get recovered through the spiritual kit of tools called the “Twelve steps of recovery“. But many remain pickled for an extended period of time. In light of that, you may want to ask yourself the question, ‘What kind of pickle am I?’
Are you a dill pickle?
Are you cool and crunchy, you know everything about the program so you don’t listen? I was as cool as a cucumber and wore the badge of “I know every thing! Haven’t you heard? I’ve been in program for a long time!” Humility? I thought I was humble, after all, I was still hanging around with you guys, wasn’t I ? And I ‘thought’ I knew ‘everything’. I wasn’t teachable and in fact, I was offended if you tried to teach me because, as I would remind everyone, “I’ve been in program for 30 years!” Are you delightfully sour and full of flavor? Did you know that a dill pickle can be made in seconds with a syringe? This makes me smile because, of course that makes sense. I know what it feels like to white knuckle it (Notice the fists in this cartoon?) I can get pickled really fast! I’m a pro as I’ve had years of ‘falling off the wagon and landing in the food!’ Hey, I gained the same heavy poundage many times over! You may ask why? It’s because I was paying attention to the allergy of my body and I walked around a dry drunk (I was drunk on food, not on liquor, but not thinking as clearly as I do now!).
Perhaps a bread and butter pickle? Bread and butter pickles include those who are slipping and sliding and staying in the food. Those living in ‘fat serenity’ and who don’t understand that ‘thin is not well’ are included in this state of ‘pickled’. These pickles are still doing it on their own power and trying to figure it out, control it, define it, defy it and never stop long enough to ask God, their sponsor or their RD Nutritionist, “Is this food a problem for me?” (After all, we do have a strange mental blank spot when it comes to the food (Pg. 42 AA BB). So maybe we should ask someone else who is more honest and even objective about what they hear as when we repeatedly choose questionable foods?) Bread and butter pickles are only concerned with their weight. Sadly, I was a bread and butter pickle for a long time, unwilling to give up comfort foods like popcorn and other foods that were “so healthy”! I was crunchy and squish-able all at the same time! I didn’t want to give up bread or butter! My eating disorder includes sugar, flour, salty-crunchy foods (I’ve only recently been willing to admit popcorn into the hall of fame of my red light foods), fats (peanut butter and almond butter being among the favorites) and volume eating which is why I weigh and measure everything. Bread and butter pickles are party favorites as they are sweet and go with everything! Truth be told, I was never a picky eater! I’ve ingested things that included moss and walnut shells. I’ve boasted, on more than one occasion, that my taste buds are tamed!
Then there is the kosher pickle who only stays abstinent for the holidays. The professional dieter who “tries” to do the right thing and uses the program, the tools and group support to avert disasters! They are willing to suffer and white knuckle it for the sake of the coming holidays and any other approaching event. They are willing to follow their sponsors instructions and focus strongly on the tools of the program in order to escape a binge rather than risk weight gain. But that’s it! They are not willing to invest any more time that that! I could ‘stay on the wagon’ for weeks under these conditions (fear of weight gain and the need to lose weight for an upcoming event) and even for months and years! But ultimately, I gained the weight back or didn’t lose the weight at all. Fear never kept me from binging, even if I might have to hear my family member, who was a weight trainer, say, “Sally: Get the fat off!”. Whether it’s the upcoming class reunion, a wedding, a cruise or the dreaded summer bathing suit ‘reveal!’, when motivated by ‘what will they think?’, the kosher pickle is usually pickled through the months, weeks and days leading up to the event. And sadly, most of the time, the words they dreaded hearing from critical family or friends are the words they said to themselves, “What is wrong with you?” (Or in other words, ‘Shame on you!’)
And what about the garlic pickle, ever asserting your ‘single-mindedness’. Determined to be unique, special and hold onto your personality (even if it clearly would do well to get an overhaul and make some changes?) Are you a stinker who clings defiantly to the personality defects that you know, down deep, must go! Are you like me in that you blame it all on your genes and your environment? “I’m an Italian, a New Yorker! What did you expect? What else can I be but a garlic pickle?” I’m now at a point in my recovery that I am aware of many of my defects and I don’t like them. Awareness leads to acceptance. Can I accept myself and embrace the truth of these defects? In the past I made excuses and explained away every mistake I made, ever justifying and defending myself – never willing to admit, “I was wrong, please forgive me.” Accepting the truth about my defects (which are usually born of warped instincts (12 & 12 Pg. 52) lead to a choice. I can wallow in a pity party or do something about it. “As we go through the day we pause when agitated or doubtful and ask (which indicates prayer) for the right thought or action (Pg. 87 AA Big Book). And so Awareness leads to Acceptance and then to Action!
And then there is the sweet pickle. I long to be a sweet pickle. The sweet pickle is a team player. Largely because of the gift of desperation and an intense willingness to do something, anything, different, the sweet pickle is honest, open-minded, humble and willing to believe (all that is needed to recover and become emotionally balanced (Pg. 13 AA Big Book)). They are ready to cooperate and be part of the herd (AA BB Pg. 569 Dr.Kennedy and paragraph 2). I, for one, was always afraid to let this program intrude on my life and once I was ‘done’ with my abusive friend (my eating disorder) and the white flag was raised high, I was ready to stop trying so hard (stop being self-sufficient regarding this problem since I knew, I was finished with self-reliance and had no more tricks up my sleeve!).
Yes, I am a pickle. I have waltzed through each of the five stages of 12 step ‘pickled’ recovery. I’ve grown a lot through the years and I am progressively recovering. I have been changed and I am an empowered pickle! My creator knew that I would be born a cucumber and someday, be pickled. I can accept this, too, knowing that my creator had a plan!
He said, “Come to the water, stand by My side; I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied. I felt every tear drop, when in darkness you cried. And I long to remind you…that it’s for those tears I died.” (Marsha Stevens)