Today I used Psalm 23 as a meditation tool for my morning practice.
It took me back to a few years ago , on a walk through the woods where I, deeply rooted in my Christian faith , discovered deep in prayer , its richness and beauty , but mostly its promise. The Promise that God of love and goodness would follow me , all the rest of my days.
At the time , I was suddenly struck with the density of this pledge. It wasn’t that I would be always filled with God’s love and goodness , but that it would follow me. If I got lost , if I went the wrong way , if I changed direction , If I stopped looking behind me , it didn’t matter, it was a surety that I would be followed , by the mighty God of all things. Followed all my days – followed to be sure that love and goodness was there , the love and goodness of God.
I have had many years without this Faith , the collapse of my religiosity was slow and painful. But not unwanted. It was a prison of sorts.
And this morning , I was moved to tears , when I realised that the promise was steadfast. It ripped through religion , it didn’t require membership of a church , it just was .
It is like finding something so loved and cherished, something that you never considered you would find. something that I was so certain was lost to the sands of time. Out of reach , unattainable , restricted in its access. Coming back, gently , like a summer wind , whispering it’s welcome , it’s subtlety tangible , delicate like a rose petal. My soul feels deeply touched , deeply known , the God of my past religion , just came back as the God of Faith , the Unnamed God. God itself. Reminded me that God never went away , never changed. Only I did.
The Easter weekend is over .. Spring has begun , the light has returned and all around me are faint stirrings of heat , light and summer. England is so beautiful in the spring and it is such a tonic to emerge from the winter months and taste the freedom that the light offers. The light bounces off the blossoms , twinkling. The beautiful low winter moons sit deep in the sky , heavy and glorious to behold.
I am approaching this spring and summer at the wonderful weight of 11 stone. A weight I always wanted to remain at when I was 23. A weight that has often been such a pipe dream but is now a solid wonder to enjoy. This year I want to embrace my femininity ; as my own daughter decides that she wants to be a man, that she has always felt male , I realise that I very much love being female and this year I want to go floaty and back to my youth with hippy style dresses and ethereal things. Frilly socks , languid crimsons , pastels galore. I am going all out this year and am going to enjoy my new physical self.
My daughter , or son I guess she (he) would like to be known , has transformed. I can’t quite call her he yet , so I won’t . But she is applying for jobs, taking driving lessons and engaging in her tutoring. I can’t quite believe it and I still hold my breath and don’t quite celebrate this utter transformation. How did it happen ? I always told myself that she would be okay , that in time , she would find her path , but in the depths of a suicidal hell and self harming I don’t know if I was just trying to sooth my anxiety – if I ever actually believed it.
But I hold fast to newness , there is a new feeling in the air , she is adventuring out into the world and I am yearning for something. I was going to write a resentment on ‘ getting old ‘ , how I fear being left out of the world, how the freedom of my youth , the utter lack of responsibilities are a long way away. I wonder what could be , what I am missing when I constrain myself to 9-5 , home life , what am I missing discovering, I always wanted to travel & that feels a long distant dream. But I don’t have to resent anything , I have within my power a chance to create what I wish , what do I want to do? Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go ? Just because I am no longer 22 , with no ties , does not mean that I cannot create , cannot float above the world’s river. Where do I go in my dreams , what do I see.
Connection. This is the key to all things. What do I need to connect to? My Higher Power. I yearn for the intensity of my christian faith , I don’t want all the things back that were toxic , like sin and slavery , but I was close to God, I was in relationship and God is my love now but I lack connection and I want that back . That is the answer , what is God’s will for my life? If I hand my life over to Her , what will happen , how will she direct my energy? I long for depth , there has always has been a deep yearning in my soul , a hole that I filled with so many things over the years, food was always one. But that hole will never be filled with earthy goods. It needs spirit , energy , chaos & peace. It needs to be something more.
I am 47. I potentially have another life time of time within me. Yes I will be physically more fragile than I was for the 40 years before, but that is exciting. I need it to matter. I need it to be untainted with waste. Time is so precious on this earth. And I have been blessed with such love and luck in my life, I am so fucking grateful for my life. It is so wonderful and rich. Pain is inevitable , suffering is a choice. I heard that on telly tonight, a Buddhist mantra. Life is full of disappointment and pain , but in all things , there is Beauty and gratitude .
All over the world right now , there are 12 step meetings happening, Overeaters Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous , Gamblers Anonymous , NA , WA , the list of A’s is ever growing. All across Zoom and face to face throughout the world, there are groups of people , who meet and share their lives in secret yet vulnerable and incredibly open ways. It is a beautiful thing. And their common problem , whatever ‘ A ‘ you are in , is Addiction.
A stands for Addiction.
I wonder as I write this whether is somehow breaches the confidentiality of anonymous groups, I don’t want to break the rules of this wonderful fellowship which has brought me recovery , But I also want to be able to sing from the heavens , in case It reaches an addict , who wants to be saved from their misery.
I really realised today , that my addiction , which is food , is not actually the problem , its been a solution to my problems , albeit a not very useful or healthy one , as have other addictions , which haven’t been as progressive or oppressive in my life , such as weed , shopping, alcohol & tobacco – they have all soothed the angst of my being. My problem Is and always has been spiritual and emotional , when these things are dealt with , then the physical will continue to be maintained.
I realised that I spend my life trying to control everything – what people think about me, what I think they should do and be , how people conduct themselves, how they are in their relationships, I think that I am the centre of all these things – I am somehow special and more important and I deserve to be listened to and heard at all times. This is my illness, a toxic self centredness of which most , if not all people are or have been afflicted with to some degree. But those with more pervasive addictions suffer from the most.
They say there are 3 types of people , those who don’t have addictive tendencies at all, who are genuinely able to be temperate with all things. Those that sit in the middle and have to be mindful and careful with some things, lest they fall into over indulgence once too often and the other type , the type that sit in rooms all across the globe , with often multiple addictions and stories of a life littered with an inability to be temperate around things generally – but often with a core addiction which is their unshakeable affliction. And these people aren’t all as you may assume , those with abusive , stressful histories , some are average lives , like mine – a childhood reasonably uneventful.
What strikes me the most about the 12 Step fellowships , is its beautiful simplicity , the way in which it functions completely as a stand alone solution. No payment , no rules , no hierarchy. It moves fluidly through a process of giving away what you have learnt in order to continue staying well. IN sharing how you have got well and helping others get well you stay well. Therefore it will never get lost or fade away.
The Higher Power part is deeply personal so It doesn’t require explanation or offerings. But this too is the core of the 12 Steps. and I think we can all agree that there is always a power greater than ourselves, just look at the ocean , or the sun rising , you would have to be pretty narcissistic to believe you were more powerful than that.
I guess I just want to shout out loud to all those who can hear me , if you are suffering with an addiction, there is hope. Acceptance is the key , acceptance of what is. There are safe places to go , filled with laughter , hope , trust & integrity – where you learn to be yourself , to show up as you , to say exactly what’s on your mind and be loved.
That is precious indeed. It takes time. I am a year in to my abstinence now and am really only just starting to trust the space. Which is a surprising thing for me to realise. I have always thought myself an open and honest person , but actually, in truth , I am often painfully self conscious & its taken me a while to accept that about myself. To own that I spend my life needing to be accepted & needing to be important to others and that’s what makes my life unmanageable .
I am a compulsive overeater. I probably say that sentence every day at some point, just to remind myself , that like being tall , or English , or having pointy ears, this attribute of my being is an unchanging thing. It will always be there , whether I let it cause me problems , or whether it just remains a dormant part of me , is where the changeability comes in. Just like an alcoholic always will be an alcoholic.
When you think you know it all you become unteachable. Working with my sponsor on my general resentments of life has made me realise that I don’t have as much self awareness and self knowledge as I thought or imagined. I am so thankful that my heart remains open to learning and still has some semblance of humility . The most valuable thing I have learnt this week is that what others think about me is none of my fucking business!
It’s a real joy to start to become part of the 5am club and it’s happening naturally. So I have been getting up at 6am , but the last few days I have naturally woken up at 5am. Something about the new Spring light that starts to filter in beckons me out and I have trained myself now to just get up. I took the dog out at 6am this morning , it was a stunning morning and many of the blossoms are out , my favourite the Cherry blossom is in full bloom. They look so ethereal in the dawn light , their being is so mighty and beautiful, I want to drink them. And if you don’t get out before 7am , you never get the gift of the egg yolk sunrise, it doesn’t take the sun long to become almost bright white.
But I still can’t get rid of the harbouring annoyance that my husband sleeps on ! I have been up for hours and I just think , what a waste. Waste your life sleeping and then watching telly and I then wonder what our future looks like, we are 2 such different people now, wanting to do different things with our time – but that’s OK , as I also need the space and perhaps in living these separate lives and times, that gives me what I need.
I now have a Bearded Dragon , as well as a dog. My dog is very jealous. But my dragon is very dear to me , I wonder how one can adore a reptile so !
So I am 8 days back into abstinence. Back to Overeaters Anonymous, the place I never thought I would go back to. The place of rules, consistent literature and life long membership, of which I arrogantly decided that I would never need or want. And what brought me here, is interestingly from a place renowned with freedom and fluidity , which in the Steps , I saw as lacking and what I perceived to be the demise of the program.
SO from my yoga mat I was brought to my knees in desperation. NO longer able to twist into places which before were the norm, not able to hold my body weight , collapsing into the place of safety , the child’s pose, the instructor says to me ‘ just do what you need to do for your body‘ and I just broke. Stones of weight that has come back insidiously over the last few years and wrapped itself around my bones just literally weighing me down and I lament at how much I hate being FAT. January pledges came and went and I find myself 3 months later with my weight peaking and my inability to stop eating running away with me. OA has been on my mind over the last few weeks. The idea pricking away at my mind , wrestling with the ambivalence.
But come a couple of days later and some re-reading of the basic literature I am actually suddenly inspired and refreshed – I was struck by some addiction teaching about the basic premises of pathways in the mind. And my motorway of overeating was well established , well lit up and easy to use – but in the corner of my mind, I knew that there was that dusty path that had worked and had been walked. I needed to exit the motorway , destined to be going in the opposite direction I wanted to go and my speed was increasing.
So I sit here, 8 days in , after such an odd week of inspiring abstinence , knowing that on my own I could have never had done this. I decided that my higher power is called Mighty Force , but also known as Mother Fucker. I love the phrase motherfucker, it’s badass and it reverberates off the tongue and it just encapsulates my God. My previous God was the Conservative Christian one, The Lord Jesus, who I still place as part of my powers , but in my own way , with my own rules. Not one drawn up by the patriarchy.
And it feels like a haze, I feel channels of peace & creativity opening up and I wonder why – why haven’t I written, poems? Started projects? Because I have been so into the goddamn food I have been blinded. I can’t even pinpoint where I started to slip into the invisible hell. So insidiously has my weight and my addiction to food been – so cunning – the mind.
I last wrote in September nearly 6 months ago . I dearly love reading back on my entries , I really must make more of an effort. I have been writing in my new paper book this year , with my new fountain pen , which is maybe why, but I think I enjoy typing more. I think it’s a comfort thing , after a page or so , my fingers get numb. But there is something so grounding and cathartic about using pen and paper, yet I find myself able to write much more organically when I type. It’s like my mind and my typing are connected in perfect fluidity , but my writing hand is slow and clumsy and my handwriting is never consistently nice. I remember struggling with this as a child, wanting to start a book really neatly , and then being so disappointed when my handwriting just became more haphazard and out of control . I want to write as fast as I think and on paper I just can’t do that .. But there is something about books , that I love. I can’t read on a kindle. I have to have a book.
Anyway , so much has happened since I last wrote on my journal here. Today marks the day where I finally finish as Team Manager, I have some leave next week and then I start back in the community. I am really quite looking forward it. Although I enjoy the laziness of WFH and not having to leave the house much , I know , like going to the gym, I will be happier for it. Off about in my little car , visiting and being in control of my own world. What will I not miss? All the meetings you are meant to be at & the expectation to be at all other things. Having to play an active role in all these meetings, rather than sit back and let someone else take responsibility . Not having to supervise people will be my biggest pleasure. Just the thought of not having to prop these people up , constantly thinking about their needs. I think that is the crux of it, I have too many peoples’ needs to think about.
SO , I reach my annual leave , I am sober , after having pledged to give up alcohol for 100 days / For good ? Who knows. Without the normal way I would celebrate , chill out – I don’t know how to mark this event. Without a glass of bubbly! That’s sad in 2 ways for me , sad that I can’t do it and have that buzz, that deadening of the space between – and sad that I rely so much , or my culture does on alcohol to mark things, good and bad!? It plays such an intrinsic part of life’s tapestry in my world , how do you unpick the threads and go off in a different direction? So I thought , I could do what I like to do best ; cleaning , or clearing an area of my world. Writing , or reading & having an early night. Don’t those things sound like the epitomey of self care compared to a glass of a toxin to the body?
I will have to get used to the lack of emails as well. I have noticed already this week , how few I have recieved. Even though there was pressure there, there was also the similar response that you get to a little red notification! That buzz of something that needs you . I think I require this week off , to disentangle myself out of it all. I think my mind is heavily invested in all the dramas of work , all the things that need my attention, It has on one hand been good for my very needy mind, but it’s also been exhausting it. I hope to improve on my mental wellbeing giving up this role , but I also sense I will need to give myself some space and activities to re – establish some sort of balance.
I guess I am also a bit pissed off at the lack of pomp , or ceremony that has failed to happen at my leaving. I know I remain in the same team and my leaving was announced so long ago, but I thought I might have at least had a thank you card, or a little Goodbye Teams meeting. All the meetings I have held to say goodbye to various people and there isn’t even one held for me , I know I hold importance to transitions and endings , from my time in WCNS. This would have never passed without a huge reflection on how it feels, what it is like for me and others – and I mourn that space to process. I guess that’s why it is taking up so much of the page , as I am self caring in allowing myself to just type what I need to type.
Life is disappointing , or perhaps people are. And the worse realisation is that I must also disappoint people. It’s quite a stark reality when you unpick the threads of relationships and interactions. I am not being deliberately gloomy or obtuse , I just sometimes need to sit for a moment in the dark corners of my life and understand them more so that I don’t sink into the abyss & reject what is essentially good.
People are messy , they come with all sorts of baggage, bias , habits & unresolved searching for their own importance in the minds of others. This I think is the main issue , we all seek to be important, loved , sought out , desired & loved completely by those around us. But this is a pipe dream which needs silencing. We disappoint & Others are woefully disappointing.
SO how do you come to sit with only yourself for company , with only your own voice to ensure that you remain whole. Acceptance I guess. That’s the key , acceptance of self and those who are important to you. Otherwise , a lonely life stretches ahead.
What has created this monster in my mind? My best friend not wanting me to come to South Africa with her. That is her home and in the past she has been enthusiastic about taking me there. I recently jested that this January might be the time to do it. I waited expectantly for a hint , an invite , a validation that this excites her , but none came. Then she casually says in conversation that she wants to go alone. I really get that wanting to go alone and not wanting me to come are not the same. I totally understand the yearning to get away from your life , escaping. Yet , I spend time trying to unpick where things shifted. Where I perhaps started to disappoint her. I also find myself feeling angry that she can say no to me so casually. In a throw away comment. How does she look after her own needs so vehemently. Maybe this is what gets my goat the most. I have to try quite hard to live my life for myself and not take responsibility for others happiness.
Anyway , this is what has led down this morose path this weekend. Such a solid friendship , but the cracks have started to reveal themselves. I think I spend my life believing that everything will be magical or perfect , do I expect everything in life to go my way? Do I expect to be loved by all I meet? Where did these expectations come from? How do I extract myself from the insatiable need to be filled by life and it’s journey? Perhaps it’s a good thing. Maybe always wanting and expecting things to be wonderful is a fine way to lead one’s life. It’s never really gone particularly wrong for me before. But then I wonder if I am actually a lonely person.. I have few close friends, I find people in general to be disappointing, Does that make me an egotist , or somewhat narcistic ? Or am I just loathe to be bored , unfulfilled or uninspired?
My best friend inspires me in many ways. But after this episode I found myself uncovering what I perceive to be her faults ; her cracks. Is this a defensive way of protecting myself from being not all that she felt I was? Or is it just a helpful exercise to uncover that people’s decisions and desires are unlikely to be anything to do with how disappointing I am , and much to do with their desire to be important to the people around them.