I spent about five years in a 12 Step, OA program for Bulimia and Anorexia. For seven years (two years after parting ways with OA) I was still weighing and measuring my food. I was “under control”. I was following orders; I was doing what I was supposed to do; and I was pleasing others with my obedience to the program. Admittedly, we were a stricter ilk; and other OA’s thought we were a bit rigid; but we liked it that way: We were the radical ones and we reveled in our audacity. And, in so saying, we set ourselves apart from the world (even, ever-so-slightly). We were, in essence “better than the others” because we were an exclusive club. Yet, I’ve always prided myself on being INCLUSIVE, “bring me your battered; your brave; your messed up: All the more messed up: All the better, and so forth. However, I became the “one” who everyone would call when they were depressed to the point of suicidal despair; and after they had exhausted other group members. For awhile, I was happy to have the attention until I heard (through the grapevine) what my Role was in the group. When I felt exhausted by the onslaught of sad stories and unhappy people, I was then reminded by group members that I was there to serve others. I think I was about out of servings.
Still, I never spoke, I rarely asked for anything and I therefore rarely got anything. I listened and listened and supported others. For me, the Disease Model created internal conflict at least in terms of how this related to 12-step addictions. I still have trouble believing bulimia is a Disease (at least in terms of calling other addictions a disease) inasmuch as it has quantifiable characteristics and quantitative physical, emotional and social ramifications. Eating disorders are hard-pressed to be served with 12-step programs (alone). There were a few woman who attended OA and also found some peace at church.
I always felt uneasy, if not out-rightly; under the surface. I never spoke during meetings. I qualified (told my story) once because it was a terrorizing experience. I never qualified again even though I had five years of adherence to the Gray Sheet program* (this is a strict weighing and measuring food program wherein your choices of foods are restricted). I guess my speaking wasn’t good enough; perhaps my Message wasn’t convincing enough to others that the Program had created this spectacular life.
Principals above Personalities. Well, it depended on whose personality: There were clicks. I was judged on how I worked my program. When I left, NO ONE spoke to me. My roommate Marcia would say, occasionally, “someone asked about you”. I was dropped like a hot potato: You’re supposed to expect that.
What is confounding and confusing; what has caused me incredible heartache today, this moment, and for the last three years (about the time I stopped writing this blog) is that I, do, drink alcohol. Yes, there you have it. Not profusely and not perfectly. I won’t parrot a commercial and say “responsibly” and I won’t say “in moderation” because it is not terribly relevant. The angst for me is not what I am doing, per se, it is the judgment from others and guilt I feel in juxtaposition to those folks who I know and love, who have pledged their lives to the premise that their lives were saved (thank God) by the Program: The Program that has caused me pain and perhaps caused me harm. It is so deeply painful to talk about this, but it has been eating me alive.
To be sure, In turn, I have acted badly, and occasionally lashed out at those very people because of my personal experiences with the program that has brought them joy and has saved their lives, For them, I am delighted and I try to remember that they want the best for me, no matter what means I get to my end … and continue my journey.
The feeling of being alone in this.
I feel I am judged by the notion that “once an alcohol abuser, always an alcohol abuser” and that what races through everyone’s mind is “She is in Denial”: The biggest topic of conversation at meetings and a touch-point in relation to anything in life. Some of the lingo has become pop-culture, slang. I feel like I can never get the experience behind me!
These friends, who I love and respect deeply, who have had a profound, loving influence in my life, I fear are judging me or will “drop me like a hot potato” because I am on a different path: And, maybe it is a path less traveled; but it is mine. My therapist and I talk about my conflict and “consumption” ad naseum. We talk about many things. Drinking alcohol is not hidden from her because she knows me and she assures me that there is nothing to point toward an addiction. I get relief from hearing her tell me this, but our Culture speaks volumes (outside the therapy walls).
I do not hide anything from her. We are not denying anything. We are adding things to my life that bring me joy: A Craft Beer with my boyfriend. Some Clos du Bois as well as painting, gardening, poetry, swimming, hiking, vacationing, napping, sitting in the sun, playing with dogs, planning retirement, building my art room, looking at buying property out West, my improving relationship with my family and boyfriend. All these things matter. Nothing has been minimized or destroyed by Blue Moon.
I try to hold onto my own beliefs of where I am with my life. I am delighted that the Program works for people because there are many, many people who [one] can share their stories and struggles with. My experience is simply different.
And so, that is My Story.
This is simply My Experience: My path. And if you judge me, it is not my business: I will try to remember that. There is no comfort in what other’s think of me.
I have grown up.
I am responsible.
I am responsible for the good I do
and the dumb I do
I do my best to live life to add value~
Do no Harm.
Love and peace.
Maybe there is someone out there who has a story like mine.