Oh, how nice! Clean sheets for my bed! I had thrown them in the dryer just before I went out-of-town for the weekend and now, putting them back on my bed is the last thing I have to do. But as I went to put the corner of the sheet on the bed, the corner where I lay my head, I realized I couldn’t put the corner on because something was in the way. I reached my hand behind the mattress, next to the head board, and realized my two-foot- long flash-light was there! I pulled that out and put it on the end table. As I went to put the corner of the sheet on the mattress, something was in the way again. Oh yea, my miniature baseball bat! Pull that out and put that aside too. Then the thought crossed my mind, ‘What’s next, a miniature automatic assault weapon?’
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“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?’
The True Meaning of a Sponsor!
For awhile now, I have been fascinated by the use of the expression, “In God’s Hands” in the A.A. Big Book. Four times, in very significant ways, this expression is used:
Pg. 80, 100, 120 and 124.
- ‘. . . he came to the conclusion that it was better to take those risks than to stand before his Creator guilty of such ruinous slander. He saw that he had to place the outcome in God’s hands or he would soon start drinking again, and all would be lost anyhow. He attended church for the first time in many years.’ (A.A. Big Book, Pg. 80)
- ‘Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen. When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.’ (Ibid, Pg. 100)
- ‘If a repetition is to be prevented, place the problem, along with everything else, in God’s hands.’ (Ibid, Pg. 120)
- ‘. . . Each member of it should be only too willing to bring former mistakes, no matter how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have, the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. (Ibid, Pg. 124)
Recently, I heard someone put sponsorship in perspective! I have come to believe that the job of a sponsor is, first, to take our hand and walk with us, teaching us what they know and helping us to find a right relationship with God. Then, they help us put our hand into God’s hands and hold it there until we are unblocked and comfortable walking with our hand snuggly in God’s hands. After that, we are accountable to God and our sponsors are but a witness.
Round Two of Harry Tiebout’s Article: Grandiosity!
Dr. Harry Tiebout’s article, “THE ACT OF SURRENDERING TO THE THERAPEUTIC PROCESS” states: “In the compulsive overeater, there are two qualities which are characteristic of their personality: Defiant Individuality and Grandiosity.This may very well explain the well-known fact the overeater is, among the not-so sick, the most UNREASONABLE and STUBBORN about seeking help or being able to take it even when she seeks it. Both of these qualities operate in unconscious layers of the mind and the influence of both must be defined as: That quality which permits the individual who has it to snap her fingers in the face of reality and live on unperturbed.” (Tiebout)
Defiance and grandiosity, these are the two subconscious elements that drive the food addict and have kept us in the disease. The following are some of the more key and incredibly concise descriptions of the compulsive overeater and what keeps us for so long, in the disease. In the post, The face of defiance, part one of this subject, I learned about the character flaw of defiance that, working with denial, has provided an isolating internal atmosphere of control and power to keep me in the disease despite the pain and mentally compulsive behaviors that have held me prisoner to my self and my decision to stay in the sick mindset I lived in for most of my self-imposed prison with food.
“Grandiosity, as structured in the psyche of the overeater, springs from the persisting infantile ego. . . grandiosity claims there is nothing it cannot master and control; on the other side, the facts demonstrate, unmistakably, the opposite.” (Tiebout). It’s grandiosity that kept me in the delusion that I could somehow control this disease.
“The dilemma of the overeater is not obvious. Her unconscious mind rejects, through its capacity for defiance and grandiosity, what its conscious mind perceives. Hence, realistically, the individual is frightened by her eating and at the same time is prevented from doing anything about it by the unconscious activity which can and does ignore or override the conscious mind.” (Tiebout)
The dilemma is that the world still doesn’t get that we even have an addiction just like alcoholism or a cocaine addiction. It’s 2015 and the world still doesn’t understand that there are three types of eaters… there is the ‘moderate eater’. (BB Pg. 20-21) They are so lucky that they have no interest in food and just eat to sustain their bodies. Even then, in some cases, they are annoyed that they have to eat at all! Then there are ‘Hard Eaters’ who like to binge on the holidays, on weekends (wings and pizza and ice-cream and more). These people can stop when they get full or when they want to lose a few pounds, they can pull it together! Weight watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutri-system, and a host of other diets will work well. They need some structure, a plan and group support and they are on their way! But there are people like me who are food addicts! Like alcoholics, we have the allergy of the body and we have the mental ‘twist’, (BB Pg. 23, 24, 33, 35, 37, 42 and 92), the greater aspect of our disease (“the crux of the matter” as the Big Book calls it on Pg. 35). The dilemma for me is that I didn’t believe me! And then, the world backed up my delusion and denial by saying, ‘It’s not that bad, you just need a diet and some group support.’ And I believed what they said because I wanted it to be true. But it wasn’t true! I have a sick mind and an allergy that led to obesity three times in my life.
One last thing, with regard to this article and then I will drop it! “With submission to a diet, which at best is a superficial yielding, tension still continues: “There’ll come a day when I lose the weight, then i can eat again…” . . . The tools of phone, a plan of eating, a sponsor, meetings, writing, and reading and even anonymity: these are designed to induce surrender to the fullest degree possible so that defiance and grandiosity actually cease effectively to function. Some programs within OA use tools to help us “surrender” instead of yielding to a diet mentality.
“She senses a serenity, the possession of which frees the individual from the compulsion to eat. In other words, an act of surrender is an occasion wherein the individual no longer fights life, but accepts it.” (Tiebout) Apparently by seizing the tools of the program, we become surrendered and then serenity (a peaceful state) ensues and leads to a mind-set that makes us willing to stop fighting and follow the ground rules, the guidelines of a program (such as HOW or FAA or ‘Gray Sheeter’s’ ect.) and instead of submitting to a diet mentality, we are finally at peace with the disease and a plan for behavior modification because that’s what the tools give us, behavior modification.
When defiance comes out to play,
deep from inside of us, the damage can be devastating! The following is an excerpt 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 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.
Defiance 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)