My disease doesn’t take the holidays

My disease doesn’t take the holidays

So I said to my sponsor, I won’t call and bother you on Sundays or holidays, ok?

Oh, she said, that interesting, what kind of disease do you have that it doesn’t show up on those days?

Needless to say I now make sure I’m in contact with her every day and especially during holidays and celebrations when there is a lot of food around, plenty interaction with family and all sorts of things to contend with.

I was told that holidays like Christmas and Easter are no different from any other days for me as a compulsive overeater and that my disease is doing its press-ups outside the door on any given day. But, if I work my program and rely on my Higher Power for grace, and do the footwork myself of course, I can be sure that I will stay securely in my recovery regardless of which holiday it is or how many mountains of food I have to face.

I have a physical allergy and mental obsession when it comes to food. That fact remains the fact every day. The answer for me is to steer clear of those foods to which I am physically allergic one day at a time, and to avoid taking that first compulsive bite no matter what. To help me I write out a food plan for each day which I commit to a sponsor. If I’m going to a function or out somewhere and I don’t know what is to be served, I will sms from the function and make sure that I keep connected to program people.

My sponsor often says “Go back to basics”. For me, this means being prepared to go to any lengths to stay abstinent and to remain in recovery. One way of doing this is to make sure I have my emergency parachute equipment with me at all times – but its no use me having it and not opening it to use and it’s these things that keep me sane.

I go to meetings, and over holidays there are often extra meetings that I can go to because usually I’d be at work and not able to attend. I take strength and support from the group and hear how others are working their programs over the holidays. I commit my food plan to my sponsor, and if I’m struggling, I bookend my food. That means that I sms before the meal and again after the meal to say that I am done eating – that way there is an end.

I keep in touch with my sponsees. This helps me to get out and stay out of my own head as I might be feeling a little bit sorry for myself about the things I can’t have on the holiday. I read my books as there is more time for this. I write out my gratitude list. I read how others have remained in recovery over years without binging or starving

I write down the pay offs of being abstinent and try not to focus on the costs such as what I can’t eat and I rather say “Thank You God” that I do have food to eat and people with whom to celebrate. There are so many other people less fortunate than me.

I also try to see what I can “bring to the party” – so to speak! Can I try and help an old person, or can I clear away the dishes without eating the leftovers? What can I do to make myself useful instead of focussing on what I am missing out on or what I can get away with.

Just like there are trigger foods, so there trigger situations and people. My trigger people are usually around on the holidays and often that involves their using alcohol. So I keep my cell phone on under the table (on silent) and I sms program friends. If I am really battling I go to the bathroom and try to get hold of my sponsor, my first port of call, and if she’s not available I call other OA members. Even if I can’t reach anyone and that seldom happens, I leave a message on someone’s voicemail and the compulsion seems to lift by just taking that tiny action.

I talk about how I’m feeling to program people who speak my language, which stops me me binging over feelings and I also write about how I feel – anticipating the event and working out an action plan to help me manage my way through it – I guess I try always to focus on the solution to my problem.

Amazingly I no longer schlep little containers of special food around with me, and I am able to trust that my HP will have something for me on the menu that is safe for me to eat. This is a big win for me. I used to avoid functions totally or take dishes of my own special food and in so doing draw attention to myself in my early days of recovery. At that time it was was what safe for me and I had to do it.

But thank God I am now able to celebrate with people and to be part of the celebrations without people pleasing and selling my soul by breaking my abstinence.