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?

These questions and the sloppiness I have been allowing around food, have led to the decision to weigh and measure everything I eat. I have been very cognizant of the marbles that roll around in my head with regard to people, places and things; working hard to do tenth step ‘turn arounds’ and free myself of these thoughts; thoughts that lead to a need to quiet my mind, which I did for years- with food. The greater aspect of the disease, the mental blind spots that lead to that first bite, this is treated with the twelve steps and living in ten, eleven and twelve.  Almost daily, I do these tenth step turn arounds’ and at night, I do a nightly review with an eleventh step buddy; It’s freeing and helps me to take stock of my day. It’s also a discipline that helps to free my mind of nagging thoughts. It works.

But lately, it has become clear that I have had marbles rolling around in my mind that were also trippers! And here in lies the difference I am experiencing from precarious sobriety to entire abstinence. I didn’t know so many people were weighing their food daily. So now that I weigh and measure my meals and give the information to some one else (a sponsor), I don’t have these little thoughts rolling around in my head; ‘Did I eat too much? Did I eat enough? Was I sloppy? Was that the right portion? Am I gaining weight?’ I can’t trust my eyes when it comes to food and portions so this really is so freeing for me. For some time, I have been swinging from not eating enough so I can lose the last 20 pounds to eating too much because I’m hungry from not eating enough. When did it happen?  When did I say, “Let the games begin!” This has long been my story around food. It reminds of the home movie I once saw, it was of me in a high chair, my hair still white-blond. I was playing with spaghetti and placing the strands carefully on my head.

Well,  stop the games! Once and for all!  I have been working very closely with my nutritionist, Lisa Merrill. I highly recommend her ( I surrender the control over what I”ll eat. It’s a huge white flag! Tell me what to eat, I’ll eat the exact amount. I have lost the ability to play with, frog around with, decide what to do with food. I plan it, I call someone and tell them, ‘Here’s the plan’ and then I work the plan and no further decisions are made. It provides structure, discipline and accountability and it helps. The committee in my mind is fired! What joy! This is freedom. If I don’t lose weight, I can talk to my nutritionist. Entire abstinence for me is moving foods that I have struggled to hold onto from ‘yellow light foods to red light foods’ once and for all! And weighing and measuring my food has made the struggle even clearer! How free do you want to be? 

Lord, I have been praying since June for Your help to lose this last 20 pounds! I have ignored your direction as I have heard in my head the words, “What about HOW?”  My reaction is always the same, “NOT THAT!!!” Finally, I’m not wrestling with You or Your still small voice. Thank You for the peace. Thank You for helping me to step away from the edge of precarious sobriety! Finally, I’m done with wrestling over food. I surrender. 

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Twelve Step Recovery

Step away from the cliff! How free do you want to be? Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery


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3 Responses to Cliff Walking!

  1. Hudi

    I love your story! I do relate this is exactly what i feel about HOW! it’s such a freedom to live with this structure, discipline and support network on a daily basis! HOW reinforces the BB “we of AA..” we are a WE program and together WE can do what i can’t do alone!!! Hudi

  2. Amy

    Absolutely, Sally! Thank you for your honesty. I could never “eyeball” it. The cups and scales are my best friend. And they offer me tremendous freedom! I had a former sponsor who used to say “I look at a cow and say, yeah, that’s about 4 oz.” I think it’s great, though, that you got honest about what you needed to do, and you did it; before the disease took you down. Thanks for this writing. I’m sure many can relate!

  3. Hi, I’m an FA member in the Erie, Edinboro, Pa. groups and my friend Barb gave me this e-mail address. I now have just completed my second day totally abstinent as I have been breaking very often lately. I’ve been to my Dr. just today and she says I’m now very near to goal. My A1C number is down 2 full points, blood pressure good, cholestrol numbers are better than they’ve been in years. BUT I still feel like I’m white-knuckling it and am not really contented. Thanks for listening. I would like to be a part of your program.

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