Being shy in a group

This is my 4th week going to OA meetings at one location in Greenwich Village, and I’ve only talked to one woman.  I’m usually shy in big groups where I don’t know people, where I feel like I don’t belong, or even in small groups where I know people if there’s someone who’s more outgoing than me (which happens a lot).  Part of OA is that you’re supposed to get support from the group and talk and text with other OA members on the phone.  I have yet to do that.  I don’t even know how to begin.  I don’t really want to put myself out there.  And that’s part of the problem.  I think I just need to do it.  Ask for help.  Text someone.  Call.  There’s a list that goes around, but I’m too nervous to write down peoples’ names.

This week has been pretty stressful, with the situation with my boss’s car, my back going out on Tuesday, and starting school again (which I actually really enjoyed–one year down–two more to go!).  I binged a few days ago and today.  Yesterday I overate but didn’t binge.  Ugh, I feel so stressed, I just want to sit somewhere in the sun and read and not do work or worry about anything.

Next week I’m going to try a location in midtown.  Really I just want to hear someone mention their kids instead of always talking about their parents.  Sometimes I just feel like I don’t belong anywhere.  When I’m in Queens I feel like I should be in Brooklyn.  When I’m in Brooklyn I feel like I should be in Manhattan.  When I’m in the Village I feel like I should be on the Upper West Side.  Why can’t I be happy where I am?

Sugar Addict

I met with a nutritionist on Monday since OA literature writes that you can choose a plan of eating with the help of one, and I really want to get going with this.  Although my therapist says I should take it slowly and not jump in and then run away. Key takeaways:  food has been my most enjoyable pastime since I don’t know when, and it seems like I’m addicted to sugar.  The nutritionist recommended that I remove added sugar from my meals and snacks as much as possible, but that I shouldn’t see it as all of nothing.  I’ll take it one day at a time, and get right back on the horse if I fall off.  Ah, cliches.

She also recommended that I write a list of things that I like to do other than binge and eat sugar-laden foods that make me feel good for a minute or two.

So far here’s my list (seems pretty solitary):

  1. Biking
  2. Knitting
  3. Reading the New Yorker
  4. Reading OA stuff
  5. Blogging

Then I just read on Ashia‘s blog Save Yourself Serve Yourself that an OA member recommended that she do a doing a red/yellow/green light food list.

Here is the start of mine:

Red: Chocolate, Candy, Hazelnut wafers, Cookies, Nutella

Yellow: Chips, Rice & beans, Pasta, Cheese, Hummus

Green: Vegetables, Quinoa

Seems a little unbalanced, huh?

OA Step 3

3. Made a decision to entrust our will and our lives to the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before us.

I’m so tired of trying to lose weight and not binge on my own and being unsuccessful.  I need help from others who have entrusted their will to the OA fellowship and have been abstinent.

However, I’m very independent, selfish, and prideful.  If I achieve something, I want the credit for it.  And I want other people to see me as “doing a great job.”  I care a lot about what other people think of me.  But weight and food are two areas where I’ve always struggled.  It’s time for me to do something different.  It’s time for me to surrender.

OA Step 2

2. Came to believe and to accept that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.

This is a tough one for me.  When I was in my teens and twenties, and even into my thirties, I thought I could lose weight on my own.  I knew a lot about nutrition, I could do it if I just set my mind to it.  It was a question of willpower.

In my late twenties, I accepted that I would need some “help,” but that I would still need to do a lot of work on my own.  I tried diet books, Weight Watchers (4 different times), and Jenny Craig.  I paid for meal planning services to make shopping a cooking easier but still keeping it healthy and interesting for me and my family.

Now I’m 37 and I’ve finally realized that I can’t deal with my addictions without an HP–the fellowship of other sufferers who attend OA meetings, follow the steps & traditions, and use the tools to manage their addictions.  After two and a half weeks of reading some texts, attending meetings, and listening to some podcasts, I already feel calmer.  (I’ve also started a new anti-depressant cocktail at the same time…damn you confounding variables!)

I need more than just me.

 

OA Step 1

As part of OA, we have to work the 12 steps.  I’m using an agnostic set of steps, using the OA fellowship as my HP.  I haven’t picked a sponsor yet, and I’ve only talked to a couple of people briefly.  I think part of my disease is isolation and my social anxiety.  I judge myself (and sometimes others) too harshly.

I wanted to write down my thoughts about each of the steps over the next few weeks.

1. We admitted we were powerless over food—that our lives had become unmanageable.

I really do admit that I am powerless over food.  It consumes me.  I think about it every few minutes, it seems.  I really can’t manage it and it feels like it interferes with my emotional health, my physical health, work, school,  my relationships with my friends and husband, and my kids and home life.  I don’t believe in god, but in a way, food has been my god, and has ruled my thoughts and actions for so long.

Even though I’ve managed to get a meaningful job and get promoted twice, get married, have kids, and get accepted to a graduate school for the second time, I still feel like my life is unmanageable, because I still obsess over my body image, my weight, and food.  I feel like I haven’t been able to live up to my potential because of my compulsive eating and the shame I feel about it.  And that’s linked to my depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem, which has caused me such grief over the last 20 years–really my whole life: 37 years.

Atheist, Agnostic, and Humanist 12 Steps

I have a hard time picturing a higher power (HP) while attending OA and learning about the steps.  I was thinking that my HP could be the OA fellowship, since I really can’t believe in a higher power, other than the laws of physics.  I think I like these versions of the steps better that the ones that actually mention God or a Higher Power (compiled from the blog of Bellwood Health Services):


Agnostics AA 12 Steps

Roger C. (2012). The Little Book. A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps, (11)

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe and to accept that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to entrust our will and our lives to the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before us.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character.
  7. With humility and openness sought to eliminate our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through meditation to improve our spiritual awareness and our understanding of the AA way of life and to discover the power to carry out that way of life.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Humanist Twelve Steps

Roger C. (2012). The Little Book. A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps, (13)
Renowned behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner’s 12-Step version first published in “The Humanist” (1987).

  1. We accept the fact that all our efforts to stop drinking have failed.
  2. We believe that we must turn elsewhere for help.
  3. We turn to our fellow men and women, particularly those who have struggled with the same problem.
  4. We have made a list of the situations in which we are most likely to drink.
  5. We ask our friends to help us avoid these situations.
  6. We are ready to accept the help they give us.
  7. We earnestly hope that they will help.
  8. We have made a list of the persons we have harmed and to whom we hope to make amends.
  9. We shall do all we can to make amends, in any way that will not cause further harm.
  10. We will continue to make such lists and revise them as needed.
  11. We appreciate what our friends have done and are doing to help us.
  12. We, in turn, are ready to help others who may come to us in the same way.

So re-written for overeating the agnostic OA steps would be (based on Roger C (2012)):

Agnostics OA 12 Steps
  1. We admitted we were powerless over food—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe and to accept that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to entrust our will and our lives to the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before us.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character.
  7. With humility and openness sought to eliminate our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through meditation to improve our spiritual awareness and our understanding of the OA way of life and to discover the power to carry out that way of life.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other over eaters, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

letting go of what you can’t have and isn’t good for you…

Today was my second Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meeting.  I almost wish I had recorded the meeting.  There were so many good things that I wish I could remember.  The meeting is a literature meeting so today the leader read  from For Today.  Today’s meditation talked about the laws of nature which I liked, but also letting go.  Some members also talked about envy, especially of people that you don’t know, or thought you’d like to be because you think you’d have it easier or would be happier if you were skinnier.  I swear it was like I was listening to me talk to my therapist.

another obsession

Warning: some sexual content and obscenities below (no pictures, just text).  Please do not read unless you are comfortable reading about sex, masturbation, pornography, and what might be considered sex work. 

So, this week has been a busy one:  I went to my first OA meeting and wrote a bit about that.  I went to my psychiatrist and agreed to give Zoloft another try, with the addition of Ritalin to keep me from jumping around in my head from anxious thought to anxious thought, and to perhaps snip some of the expected weight gain in the bud.  Still getting used to the Ritalin though; I do feel a bit too hyped-up, and when I took it first thing in the morning it made me feel panicky, so I ended up taking a half a Klonopin, which might have defeated the purpose.

I went back to my chiropractor since last October, since I had been doing physical therapy for my hip and was feeling overwhelmed by appointments and stressed by missing too much work or home stuff.  Then had some mild kid sickness issues, but ending up having a nice afternoon with the girls.  Glad my workplace is so flexible!

Which brings me to a phone “interview” with a mutual acquaintance at a big insurance company.  She really liked my resume and wants to shuffle some things around in her department to accommodate my leadership and analytical skills!  Going to meet her for coffee in two weeks after her vacation to see if it’s as good as a fit as it sounds.  I might be able to do more stimulating work (which I seem to need since I spend too much time at my current job blogging and doing personal things online…), get paid more, and be able to work remotely 2 or 3 days a week!

Since I confirmed with my hip surgeon today that I can stop PT, I joined a Planet Fitness  near my office (only $10/month!) and went one morning before work.

Now that I’ve gotten through the usual, let’s get to what’s really on my mind this week: sex.  Posting those pics of me over the years reminded me that there was a time before I started dating my husband when I was seriously addicted to online porn and masturbation.  I had lots of fantasies about being double-penetrated and tied up.  I took anonymous (no face) sexual pictures of myself and posted them on some amateur sites and even messaged with some people.  I bought lots of sex toys and felt so much pleasure, but I still had conflicted feelings about my body image.  On the one hand, I thought I looked hot in some of the pictures I took (and LOVED getting positive feedback from others), but on the other hand, I was still ashamed that I was overweight.  I was even “size-prejudiced” in my own porn consumption:  I loved looking a pictures of slim, busty women and buff guys.  I almost considered meeting someone I met online to have a sexual encounter, but didn’t go through with it.  I was having a bad time dating on traditional sites, but still craved contact…

Then I started dating my husband and slowly masturbated less and less and hardly looked at online porn.  I threw away my vibrators and dildos.  I thought we should be “enough” for each other sexually.  We picked a date for our wedding even though I loathed the thought of dress shopping and having pictures taken of me at that size.

Then when I was pregnant for the first time and had those awful panic attacks for four weeks, I found a picture of a naked skinny girl on our computer.  I confronted my husband about it and cried and cried.  Here I was suffering: unable to work, eat, read, sleep, or doing anything but rock, shake, and pace–with our unborn child inside of me–and my husband was jerking off to a small-titted bitch.  I felt so betrayed.  He apologized, and I implored him to not download pictures to our shared computer for me to see.  I realized he probably needed a major release from the constant worry of taking care of me those 4 horrible weeks.

Since then, I’ve had serious ups and downs with my sexual desire, most likely related to adjusting to parenthood, lack of sleep, my continued anxiety, depression, weight gain, and negative body image, and my semi-alcoholic and majorly panicky brother living in our living room.

But…now we’ve been having amazing sex again.  In May I had an orgasm that lasted for what felt like 5 minutes, I saw colors and was almost paralyzed by pleasure.  My husband had expressed interest in the past of taking sexy pics of me, but I was always too ashamed, and didn’t want my face in the picture, in case someone I knew found the pics.  But I’ve been watching Orange is the New Black, Younger, and reading some chick lit (normally I’m more into the New Yorker!), and feeling my kinks bubbling up again.  In both OITNB and Younger, the characters start or attempt to sell dirty panties.  Vice reports that

“Google trends shows the search term “sell used panties” experienced the biggest global spike ever following the June 12 premiere of Orange Is the New Black‘s third season.”

The idea instantly and crazily appealed to me.  I like to blog & design simple websites, I always wanted to sell something online, I wanted to make money creatively, I love the smell of my dirty underwear, and I need some external positive feedback that my overweight body is still sexy and that many people would want to have sex with me or fantasize about me.  Wait.  Does that sound like crazy low self-esteem talk?  As a happily married, intellectual, feminist, working mother of two girls in the 21st century, do I really want to start doing what is essentially sex work?  Maybe I do.  It can be anonymous.  I can involve my husband in taking the pictures of me in my panties–which he’s always wanted to do.  I can do it all by mail and never in person.  I can create a separate user account on my computer so that my kids and babysitter won’t see naked pics of me. It gets me really excited just thinking about it.  In fact, I’ve been obsessing about it the last week.  Researching other sites and methods, ordering new panties, picking a pseudonym, setting up a new email account, website & twitter account, etc.  I used my phone at work so much yesterday that I ran out of power at 3pm.  That never happens to me.

BUT. Thinking about the OA meeting and podcasts, and seeing my therapist later today, I can’t help but think that I’m replacing my obsession with food with an obsession with sex.  And I still have an unhealthy/disjointed body image.  And I’d be contributing to the objectification of women, right?  But if we’re all aware and willing it’s ok, right? As Dan Savage would say, I’m trying to be “sex positive” and GGG (Good, Giving, and Game) about this.  And Googling him I just see that he was named Humanist of the Year in 2013.  I’m a Humanist, too!  Now I’ll be really crazy and think that this is a sign that my OA Higher Power is telling me to trade this obsession for my old one until I can learn some non-obsessive coping mechanisms…

tried OA yesterday

Yesterday afternoon I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting.  I think I liked the vibe better than WW since there is more intense sharing, although I’ll need to get used to the higher power aspect.  I ordered some books and materials to read through and listened to the Step One podcast on the way to work this morning.

I cried a lot listening to other people’s stories and then got two people’s phone numbers at the end for support.  Going to check out another meeting later this week or next.  Interested in using the tools and learning more about the 12 steps and 12 traditions in order to help me learn to recover from binge eating.  I’m a little worried about whether I need to totally eliminate my trigger foods from my food plan, or whether I can ever learn to eat those foods in moderation.

Anybody else out there go to OA?  What worked for you?