Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Root of the Problem

It’s high time that I posted another blog. I find it so hard to write. At some level I’m still “letting the best be the enemy of the good,” as my husband has said.

You’d never know it by looking at my life, but I’m a perfectionist. I completely identified with Karen Anderson’s post on perfectionism. Read it. She says it much better than I could.

Anyway, if I can’t do it “right,” I won’t do it at all. Then nothing gets done. Let’s face it: I have a family of excellent writers. The pressure is ON! But why? I’m not even telling people that I have a blog. And, let’s not forget that my first post (ok, my second) was all about the fact that it’s not about “them.” I’m writing for me.

Today I wrote a letter to a friend of mine. (I’ve changed her name to protect her privacy.) I’ve decided to post it because I don’t want to forget where I am today. And I want the accountability of having this in writing—in “black and white,” for my own sake. If, at some point, you read this, maybe it will be of some help to you. (I can use the word “you” because YOU wouldn’t be reading this if YOU weren’t ... anyway ...)

By the way, you will discover while reading this, that I talk about OA—Overeaters Anonymous. I began going to OA last January 2008. I have committed to going for a solid year. I realize that I have a problem with food. I want to understand what it is and change the way I relate to food.

I’ve tried lots of diets, therapy, supplements, etc., etc., but my weight continues to increase and my self-image continues to decrease. I believe that OA is going to help me get to the real root of my struggle and give me the freedom from compulsion that I long for. Time will tell. In the meantime, I want to be a good student and learn everything I can about this area.

So here is the letter—not written for prime-time—just written:

Hi Julie,

Great to hear from you. I haven’t seen Lisa since she’s gotten back, but from a few conversations we had over the phone she said she had a GREAT time on vacation with you. You are a very special friend to her!

You asked how I was doing. I’ll tell you what I am doing (OA-wise) and what I am very excited about. I am reading the book HOW TO LISTEN TO GOD by Wally Paton. He’s the one who wrote BACK TO THE BASICS, the subject of that “seminar” I went to a few months ago which was two Sunday afternoons for three hours each. He’s dedicated to helping AA people, etc. get back to the spiritual roots of AA. He’s done a lot of study on The Oxford Group, the original group through which Bill Wilson (founder of AA) got sober. Anyway I HIGHLY recommend it. Buy it today! You can get it off of Amazon or from http://www.faithwithworks.com/index.html. You might consider getting the book BACK TO THE BASICS as well (from the same publisher).

Seriously, I am loving this book and I am trying to figure out how I can lead a study group on it.

Otherwise, the thing that is helping me this week, while I’m at the beach, is not having ANY junk in the condo. Mike and I went to the grocery store yesterday and I was “internally obsessing” over wanting to buy brownie mix or something. I said to him, “Hey want to get some ice cream to take back?” (It is a vacation after all!) He said, “No, not really. Let’s get some of those grapes, they look fantastic. And how about that watermelon?” (He really meant it. He wasn’t thinking of me—trying to “help” me. He was thinking of himself and was just wanting more healthy stuff.) So, no brownies, no ice cream.

I’ve been reading non stop since I got here. When I crave a snack, or I’m just tired of reading ... I head straight for the kitchen ... and grab a handful of grapes, or some trail mix which is sitting out in a bowl. Choosing something healthy is a no brainer. On one level I hate it. I find myself getting angry about it—craving something else. Then I remind myself that this is the problem. This is what I am NOT happy about in my life and I get thankful that the temptations aren’t there. I get thankful that there are some really good alternatives to helping me brake this vicious cycle I’m in. 

I also remind myself of what I really want, to obey the Voice within me that says “No. Make a different choice, a better choice.” But I feel like I’m going through the DT’s. (I guess I am ... detoxing from SUGAR!! ... and detoxing from control ... wanting to be in control) and I don’t like it one single bit. But I know it’s what I want - to be free from the power of sugar, (and self) etc. And it’s what God is leading me to do. I just need to obey His voice within me. That’s my problem! I want to obey my own voice—rationalize, make excuses, make exceptions—and look where it’s taking me.

Truly obeying and trusting God’s voice is what I have such a hard time doing, but only HE can show me what is the right and the best thing for me to do. Only through Him can I break free from my compulsions! But I’m not a puppet. He won’t do it FOR me. I am the only one who can make the choices and take the action. I have to be WILLING to trust Him and do what I know is right. Then I have to DO it. I have to match my prayer with ACTION. HE WON’T DO IT FOR ME ... dang!

Until I started reading this book, HOW TO LISTEN TO GOD, I never before saw or admitted how stubborn I am and how rebellious I am. I cringe as I even say those words because I don’t want to see myself like that. I am the good one. I am the one who loves God and follows Him ... or am I?

Do I really follow Him—in every area? EVERY area? Am I waiting for Him to intervene and do it for me? Am I really lazy, when it gets right down to it? Let’s get honest, Gail ... Well, I am just BEGINNING to get honest. I hate it, but I also am really hopeful for the first time in a long time. I think this has been one of the missing ingredients to my “success.” I have never completely surrendered to Him. I still want to hold on to certain things—to keep control.

So there you have it ... a long answer to a short question. Get the book today! Maybe we can study it together long distance.

(Today I am also making a point to get out and walk. I want to get really consistent with that. I know “moving” is crucial! and good for me in so many ways ... not the least of which is emotionally and psychologically.)

Love you. Make good choices ... “just for today.”



Anne Jackson said...

I am so glad you are blogging!

I can relate to this post SO MUCH. When I am stressed, or bored - I EAT! And could reach for something healthy but prefer the brownies each and every time.

During my first few years in ministry I gained 30-something lbs. It was not a good time! Last year, I lost 40, but since returning from Africa and the ensuing journey, have gained about 10 back...due to stress and boredom (now that my book is written, I don't know what to do!)

Very much looking forward to your journey! Thank you for sharing it with us.

Colleen Coble said...

Gail, you are an inspiration! I am just like you in the store--looking for an excuse to bring home brownie mix. LOL Chocolate anything is my comfort food. But I could learn to love grapes. . .

I'm going to get that book!

Karen said...

Gail -- how right you are, sister! For those of us with weight and self-esteem issues, it is ultimately about control, an issue that goes back to the Garden (no pun intended!). I want to be God and control my life. When I have to make hard choices about food, I realize I am not in control and I have to surrender to God to make the right choices. Sigh. You'd think after all these years I would have gotten it by now! Hang in there, friend. We're in this together!

Karla Akins said...

Hi, Gail! You're a GREAT WRITER! :-) I follow Mike on twitter and that's how I found your blog. Now I'll be following your blog! I have the same food issues and it's a struggle for me every single day. I am going to check out those books you posted. Thanks! I, too, struggle with perfectionism. Hmmm.

Thanks for stepping out of the boat and writing. I needed your words today.

Me thinks we may be kindred spirits! Write on, new-found on-line friend!
Karla in Indiana

BeyondJEMS said...

Gail, we haven't met yet, but I hope we do soon! You may not feel that your words are perfect, but they are perfectly designed for me right now. I am struggling during this transition in my life to really know how to listen to God and understand what it means to give it ALL up to Him. It is comforting to know that others struggle in this same pursuit.
Karen Anderson & I had coffee last week and discussed the 'food' thing too. I understand where you are in that arena as well. I have always struggled with it. And continue to.
The this that I love best about blogging is that it reaches so many people in little & unexpected ways. English was my worst subject in school. I am not a writer by trade. But I have women approach me personally & write to me to tell me that my words mean so much to them and help them heal or inspire them to run. Now I can do the same to you. Perfection has very little to do with it. Thank you for blogging.