Tag Archive: emotional relapse


Photo credit: Woman's Day

Photo credit: Woman’s Day

Confession time! The transformation of recovery isn’t complete when Self keeps taking charge.

For the last couple weeks, I have moved, for the most part, into a guest bedroom in my house, partially to study without disturbing my precious bride, but mostly to hide from disappointment. I have repeatedly told the one who loves me that I was giving her “space to have her own way.” The truth is I have grown increasingly impatient, even intolerant, with her decisions lately. I have judged her actions as being based on her whim and emotion, when they are more than likely only lacking what I would deem an appropriate level of consideration of my own will, wish, and way. Either way, I am using isolation as a shield for disappointment, whether the expectations that feed it are realistic and fair or not.

Last night, while I fell asleep alongside her for a change, my mind and mouth were engaged even in the twilight of wakefulness. In the mental fog where the lies that support justifications begin to buckle under the weight of truth, I had some profound thoughts that escaped by way of mumbled, almost hypnotic, verbal expression. I confessed to my precious bride that, more than anything else, I am afraid of her. Not that I am afraid of her intentions or convictions, but that her intellect is not behind the wheel. After acknowledging my fear that her emotional navigation would run us, or more accurately – me, amok, I was forced to acknowledge that isolating myself from her to prevent injury puts my own emotions at the helm of my life, and so, constitutes me becoming the monster of which I was afraid.

The last thought I remember uttering before drifting off was that she is worth whatever pain I may experience, whatever it takes. As I recall what Christ endured for His Church (Ephesians 5:25), I am reminded that I have “not yet suffered to the point of shedding (my) blood” (Hebrews 12:4). I have not done everything I can. I have avoided pain by disengaging. I have behaved according to my own self-interest rather than sacrificing myself “as an act of worship” (Romans 12:1) giving preference to those around me. “As a dog returns to his vomit” (Proverbs 26:11) I have put Self on the throne of God yet again!

“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity…” (AA, 62).

Holy Father, rescue me from the bondage of self!* I have wandered back into my old cage, and it is dark and lonely in here. Deliver me so I can be relevant to those You have placed in my path, and that You, not me, may be glorified. Make Your light shine on me and reflect onto others, that they may be attracted to You and discover for themselves that You are able and willing to deliver us from our prisons, no matter how comfortable we have made them. Empower me to do Your will only always. Through Christ our Lord, amen!

 

* (a variation of AA’s Step Three Prayer, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 63)

Day 1,705 or Day one?

I feel like I’ve relapsed totally. Last night, during an emotional tirade, I fussed at my wife and then went to bed, disregarding the fact that I had not yet eaten my last planned meal of the day. When I remembered it, I said to myself, “Forget it, I’m not eating!” which is dangerously close to my abstinence phrase, “Forget it, I’m eating!” and I can see how the two are related in the lives and recoveries of some of my friends who restrict food intake. To make matters worse, once I did go to sleep, I dreamt of every imaginable self-indulgence, starting with cake and ending with an extra-marital affair. I woke up afflicted with guilt and shame, and it took a while to remind myself I had not actually done any of the things for which I was feeling guilty, except for the harmful fit that started it all. By the time the artificial guilt eroded, I had completed the personal inventory that makes everything my fault, so generally my guilt was never really assuaged but redirected at the defects that ignite outbursts of rage in an otherwise peaceful home.

Since my abstinence does not say anything about restricting, I will not consider this a “day one” but I need to acknowledge that I am a hair’s breadth from relapse if I do not do something about my spiritual condition.

Dear Father, today, keep me aware of what I have done, but wash me clean of it. Help me remember the atrocities of which I am capable so I can be vigilant against them. Protect me from the spiritual forces that war against me, and help me to stand up against my own internal battles that tend to weaken me to any outside force. In my weakness make me strong. Secure my insecurities so I can be gentle and selfless in my relationships. Do not let me suffer needlessly, but bring purpose to any pain by making me teachable, and to Your discipline I submit, Lord. Thank You for loving me enough to be patient in re-creating me.

Fitness – Not so much

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of attaining my goal weight. I have been in various states of maintenance ever since, hovering at this weight, trying not to obsess over it, sometimes going weeks or even more than a month without stepping on a scale. Such has been the case since April 2nd, when I arrived home from an overseas trip still at my goal weight. I guess I got a little relaxed with my measuring and weighing since then, maybe even a little cocky, but the scale revealed five pounds of creep had clawed its way onto my carcass. I like to think that, as much as I have been exercising, this weight might be muscle and therefore a good thing, but I have noticed my belt feeling a little tighter too, so I know this is not really the case. At any rate, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t share all the details, even the negative ones.

On that note, my spiritual fitness has taken a downturn with the onset of my status as a full-time student. I swear this workload must be for young kids, because the homework is killing me! In addition to that, I am still juggling regular adult life. I have a daily exercise program (except for Sundays) that includes a running meet on Tuesday, I have a Bible study on Wednesday, choir practice on Thursdays, two OA meetings a week (down from five), church on Sunday, an online Chemistry class, and an Economics class that meets on Tuesday and Thursday. Next week we will add an English Composition II class that also meets Tuesday and Thursday. On top of that, I am the one in the house who does laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, and all my own cooking. I’m tired just recalling this. If there is any wonder why I haven’t written regularly, there’s the explanation. I try to read some of the material that used to start my every day, including Food for Thought, Our Daily Bread, a New Testament in a Year entry, an occasional entry from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, and I just started reading He Walks Among Us, a new devotional book I got, which was written by the director of World Vision and his wife, Rich and Reneé Stearns. With beautiful photography of their mission work overseas, this book reminds me of so much of the misery and poverty I witnessed in Uganda, and inspires me to keep moving along the path I have chosen toward missionary work.

In the past few weeks, I have lost four friends who died. That has taken an emotional toll. My earthly marriage has suffered from neglect as well as my Heavenly one. Two isolated masses existing within the same house does not have the same luster as one marriage enriching a home does. I believe I have alienated my sponsorees with my inattention. My other family relationships have suffered too. My sister and her family recently visited my parents’ home, and I went over to spend some time while they were in town. There, my mother got a little motherly and pushed food at me just one too many times, and I reacted in a manner indicating I was not in fit spiritual condition. I hurt the already suffering and fled… no, stormed out of the house to safety, only to return when the dining… no, feasting… no, bingeing was over. I will have to reevaluate whether it is safe to eat there. My siblings and I call it “the gingerbread house” for good reason. There is an old woman in that house who seems intent on fattening us all up with goodies. Still, spiritual fitness would make me more immune to her attempts and able to participate in family gatherings, whether they are around food or not. The corrective action to be taken is in my own condition, no one else’s.

Dear Father, today, keep me close to Your side. I need Your intervention. Come between me and the insignificant worries, but keep me diligent to do Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening entry for October 22nd, in a response to the words in Hosea 14:4, “I will love them freely,” had this to say:

Remember, the softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions; the covenant of grace has no conditionality whatever; so that we without any fitness may venture upon the promise of God which was made to us in Christ Jesus, when he said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned.”

Have you ever had one of those days when, though you knew in your head you were loved by God and saved by God, and maybe even favored by God, you just weren’t feeling it?  This reminded me that when my feelings stray, God does not.  My Higher and Most Trustworthy Power does not leave me, nor does He turn from me even as many times as my fickle self yawns, turns, or even walks away from Him.  He bought me when I was dirtiest, He cleaned me up from my filth, and He knows I’m likely to get a little soil on my brand new clean clothes again.  He is faithful to receive me one more time every time.

Dear Father, today, I thank You for Your grace.  Help me to live steadfastly in it each moment of this day, which I turn over now to You.  Rather than exercise Your patience, let me bring You joy, as I remain in You, abide with You, and rest in the arms of You who loved me from before I was knit together in my mother’s womb.  Thank You for Your care!  Forgive me for so often dishonoring it.  This is Your day, Lord Jesus.  Let me not try to grab it back from You.

Abstinent Today:

I am a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinent by the grace of God one more* day at a time.  †

My blue mood started a week ago last night over a failure of mine.  What I can’t figure out is why I am still waiting for someone else to come to me, when I was the one to start this wheel spinning.  A warped part of me expects those I wronged to forgive and comfort me, and I get aggravated because that unrealistic expectation is repeatedly disappointed.  …And the wheel spins faster and faster!  Holy Week, the week beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Easter, is typically my favorite week of the year, but I feel robbed of my joy right now.  I’m hoping that God will ladle me out of this moody stew I have been soaking in and cradle me in His comfort.  His is the only comfort that really matters anyway!  …And I know that He forgives me even when others (including myself) don’t.

 

 

 

 

From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

“At the very first meeting we attended, we learned that we were in the clutches of a dangerous illness, and that willpower, emotional health, and self-confidence which some of us had once possessed, were no defense against it.” — Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, p. 1

I resisted calling my problem an “eating disorder” even after I had admitted I was powerless over food and my life had become unmanageable in Step One.  I even recognized that the clinical definition of “disorder” is a life (job, health, or relationships) that has become unmanageable (impaired function).  I knew I had a “problem” and that problem, if left unresolved, was progressive, chronic, and fatal; and that it was primarily characterized by my eating behavior, but I resisted calling it what it was: an eating disorder.  I hesitate to write it even now, both for my sake and for the sake of those reading who are still balancing between resistance and admission.  I don’t want to teeter anyone off their fencepost onto the side of denial!  But I (just I, mind you) have a life disrupted by my eating history, marked by my chronic behavior patterns that have historically followed my feelings rather than prudent, rational self-care.  Regularly living the Twelve Steps (especially Step Three) has enabled me to live according to what I know rather than what I feel, to shut off the connection between stressful stimuli and abnormal reaction by interrupting that cycle with pre-planned action and submission to a Higher Power.  I have “a new way of thinking, of acting on life rather than reacting to it – in essence a new way of living.(From Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, “Our Invitation To You”)

Perhaps it is important for me to renew this admission so that I can better understand the nature of my current dysthymia.  It is reasonable that I might suffer from disorder of a nature deeper than my eating.  Obsession and compulsion, both of which are elements of a compulsive overeater, are often associated with other anxiety disorders and at least a couple depressive ones as well.  I don’t want to spend a life being “moody” just because I am afraid to characterize myself with a mood disorder.  I spent too long denying my eating disorder!  If I had a chest cold for a week, I would consult a health professional; I guess it is time to go see one for this emotional illness.

 

 

 

From Proverbs 24 (NRSV):

for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

What are the chances I would stumble on this while battling my brain over going to a counselor?  All right, I’m going!

 

 

 

 

 

From my reading through the Bible, currently in John 21 (NRSV):

Peter swims to Jesus17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Peter’s feelings were hurt by the Christ, Who had just demonstrated His love for all in the pouring out of His own life.  Jesus questioned three times Peter’s love for Him, and Peter affirmed his love as repeatedly as he had once denied Jesus.  Jesus gave His forgiveness, provided an opportunity for Peter to amend his prior wrongs, opened a window into Peter’s future (v. 18), and charged him with a responsibility to pastor the flock of Christ’s Church.

Saint Peter, the rock on which Christ built His Church, had hurt feelings.  They were undoubtedly tied to his feelings of shame and guilt, having betrayed Jesus just prior to His crucifixion, but they were emotions of pain.  There is nothing wrong with having emotions.  The trouble comes when the emotions have me!  Imagine if Peter had avoided the breakfast on the beach, and missed out on this opportunity with Jesus.  What if, when he declared he was going fishing (v. 3) and people started piling into his boat to tag along, he had abandoned the idea and gone off to pout on a hill instead?  He would have missed the day with his friends sunning himself on the water, the miraculous catch, the third appearance of Jesus, the breakfast with the Lord, and all that happened on this amazing morning, maybe even his commission to shepherd the Church.  I wonder what opportunities I have missed, nursing my own moodiness.

 

 

 

 

From the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 133:

But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such persons.

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

*Abstinence began for me on May 11th, 2010.

For the sake of accountability, the details of my eating are posted in my online food log.