Step1, Part 2: “…our lives had become unmanageable.”

The second half of Step 1 has to do with coming to terms with the unmanageability of our food addiction.  For me, this was easier than admitting powerlessness because it was so obvious, not only to others (who could “see” my addiction on my overweight body), but to myself in all the ways that I had unsuccessfully tried to control my food-related behaviors.  But even if we can understand the unmanageable part of our food addiction, it is important that we also begin to see that the unmanageablity in our lives goes beyond food.

If something is unmanageable, that means that it cannot be “managed,” and this describes my experience with food addiction perfectly.  Not that I didn’t try to manage it.  In fact, looking back over my life, it feels as though I have done little else!  From around age 12, I was either on or off a diet – – there was no inbetween, EVER!  Sometimes I would be able to lose a little weight, but I never stayed on them long enough to reach my “goal,” and whatever weight I did lose never stayed off.  And yet, whenever I was NOT following a diet, I was bingeing, so I felt guilty.  It wasn’t long before I convinced myself that I was “supposed” to be on a diet at all times as “punishment” for being overweight.

Not only did I use diets to try to control my food addiction, but I also started using exercise.  I would obsessively work-out or join exercise clubs or gyms and create these impossible schedules and unattainable goals for myself.  But whenever I would deviate from these rigid, self-imposed plans, I would quit because I looked at this as “failure.”  Same if I got sick, or hurt (which happened often, since I was always pushing myself too hard).  As with dieting, exercising feeling guilty when I wasn’t doing it and resentful if I was.  As a result, over time, there were fewer and fewer days in my life when I felt ok – – and those could only be the days when I was eating and exercising “perfectly” (which were few and far between).  Now I had TWO ways of dealing with my food addiction, and BOTH of them were destroying my self-esteem.  And it did take much time at all for this  feeling, itself, to become unmanageable.

As the years went by, I added other behaviors to my repertoire of ways to make the unmanageable manageable.  For example, I started to notice that when I got praise from others, my feelings of self-hated lessened, at least for a while.  So I became a people-pleaser.  Then I noticed that the same thing happened whenever I got attention from guys.  So I became “boy-crazy.”  Then I noticed that whenever I got praise from authority figures, I got the same feeling.  So I became a workaholic.  Then I noticed the same feeling when I would spend money on myself, so I became a shop-a-holic,…  All of these were temporary fixes for the same problem – – trying to control my feelings of worthlessness.  And as each attempt at weight loss failed, these other behaviors got stronger and stronger, until they, too, became unmanageable.  Looking back, it seems like my entire life was a swirling mess of unmanageability.

It was not until I came back to OA and got involved with a Big Book Step Study meeting that I was finally able to recognize any of this.  And until I could recognize it, I couldn’t even begin to fix it.  And that’s where we are at the end of Step 1 – – at the beginning of a journey of self-discovery.  And although this beginning may start-off with some truths about ourselves that we’d rather not face, we can take comfort in the fact that, for maybe the first time in our lives, we are finally willing to take a good hard look at ourselves and address our problems rather than run from them.

April 2, 2012 This post was written by Categories: On The 12 Steps Tagged with:
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