Thursday, September 30, 2010

Charlie's Comment

Charlie at Diary of a Mad Overeater 2.0 left a great comment on my last post. It made me want to get on the computer right away and respond.
"Well, here I am. So even if it's too late, somehow I felt moved to contact you. I would be happy to put you on my list of people to call, believe me. I really believe in talking on the phone as a tool of recovery. I'm experiencing some awesome recovery right now, and I'd be happy to share some of my experience, strength and hope. (What else do I have to share?)  
It's OK that you don't believe in a Higher Power. The reality is that you actually do, you just don't realize it. You acknowledge, I'm sure, that there are things more powerful than you, right? That's the beginning step... Are you or are you not the most powerful being or thing in the Universe? If you're not, then you believe in a Higher Power."
My initial thoughts were that it would feel awkward speaking to a complete stranger on the phone. Then, I thought "maybe Charlie is a nice, jewish, single guy," which was completely overshadowed by "if this stranger were a normal, interesting guy, there would be no chance he would even want to talk to me."

Oiy. Am I crazy or what? Charlie, unfortunately I do not believe in a higher power. I know there is SOMETHING more powerful that me, but that is all I've got. I tried the whole 12 step thing at residential treatment and post treatment, but felt that it was not my thing. I am not religious or spiritual, although I very much connect with my religion culturally. Looking back, the whole thing (the 12 steps, treatment, etc.) felt "fake," like that system of recovery could never work for me. I am trying the intuitive eating thing still and it has been okay. I'm doing fair. But, I am still lacking that social support which the 12 step program offers. I am not ready to go back to OA. I still don't think it actually works. Is that bad do say? I guess this is my own blog so I can be honest.

I am off to read "Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia" by Safer, Tech, and Chen. Woooo. :)


  1. 12 Step isn't for everyone, and it won't work for everyone -- but it does work, at least for some people. There's proof of that.

    But if you think about it, if you remove the Higher Power aspect of the 12 steps, you're still working on those deeper issues that brought you to the ED in the first place:

    Steps 1-3: Admitting you have a problem and that you can't do it alone.
    Steps 4-5: "Cleaning out your closet." Getting rid of all that baggage (the resentments, the hurts, the fears, the trauma, being able to see your faults/let go of blame, etc.).
    Steps 6-7: Being willing to change your negative behaviors.
    Steps 8-9: Making amends to people you've hurt.
    Steps 10-11: Taking care of yourself and helping others.

    So even if one technically didn't believe in a Higher Power, I still think the steps would be beneficial to those on a journey of recovery.

    But....hopefully in time you find something that works for you.

  2. Wow, a whole post about my humble comment! :)

    First... You must know that I am not single, nor am I Jewish. I'm a happily married, 39-year-old Christian. Now nice... *That* is true about me.

    And I totally appreciate your honesty. No point in "believing" something you don't believe. And no, it's not terrible to say you don't believe OA works. But I see it working in people. I see my sponsor 190 pounds lighter than she was four years ago... and more importantly, she's at peace. Interestingly, she does not have a concept of a personal God. Hers is more of a "collective consciousness" kind of thing. And it totally works for her. Two more of my program friends, here in my face-to-face home meeting, are atheists! And it's working for them.

    So. Your choice. And you may not be a 12-stepper. I'm cool with that if you are. :)

  3. Also, yeah, the phone thing is sometimes awkward at first, but it's really cool once you're used to it. I just use it to check in with people. So, the offer still stands if you ever want any extra support.

  4. Charlie, funny, I've been thinking about starting with the "do you believe that *something* in this world is more powerful that you?" approach for the past two days... seems like our brains are in synch.

    BD, I agree with Charlie that it is not "bad" to say that you don't believe that OA will not work for you. It is not a question of "bad" or "good." You may have no reason to think it will work for you, and maybe you are right. I don't know if I can get behind your saying that it doesn't work in general, because I have seen incredible evidence that it does work for many many people. When I started, I also thought that it was fake, silly, ridiculous, not my thing, not compatible with the sort of God I believed in or wanted to believe in. I wasn't going to say that it didn't work, because clearly it worked for some people, but I felt like I was too smart, to sophisticated for it to work for me. I disliked anything that reeked of "simple faith."

    The thing that changed my mind was when I ran out of options. It was try or die. Unfortunately for us, most of us will only make a real change in our lives when we are at rock bottom.

    One of the great things about Judaism is that there is very little by way of theological dogma. Mordecai Kaplan, for example, the great Jewish Reconstructionist theologian, didn't hold by a supernatural idea of God at all, but rather saw the power of "God" in Jewish society and peoplehood. If you connect with Jewish culture, maybe that could be a starting point for turning to the forces behind Jewish Culture, like the support network of Jews throughout the country and the world, for help.

    Again, it is entirely possible that 12-step is not for you, and that is ok... I truly hope you find what you need, one way or another. I only want to provide you with more information about how some of us have come from possibly a similar attitude as yours and come to find that OA did, in the end, work for us when we were able and willing to try.

    Oh and also? Charlie is AMAZING phone support.

  5. Thanks for your great comments everyone. It is great to hear that the 12 steps are working for all of you. I guess its just hard because I did not see much abstinence in the meetings in my city. I kept trying and I just didn't like the meetings or the big book or the reading it over and over. I am working on this DBT method and I am going to try to go to an eating disorder support group to see how that works. Anyway, stick with me! I appreciate all of your comments and support.

    And Charlie, I know you aren't Jewish and single, but that was the first thing that popped into my head... that "OMG why would he want to talk to me" thought :)

  6. I don't believe in higher power nor 12-step, either. I participated in a binge eating study at Stanford about 15 years ago, I don't recognize the names, but it's been a long time It was based on dialectical behavior therapy for some mood disorder that I can't remember the name of, either. And I hate talking on the phone. I think that dbt worked, though it took a few years, and some uncomfortable work. I haven't binged in years, though weight is still a struggle

  7. Just read this over at Mr. Sponsorpants and thought of sharing it with you...

    "Sometimes there is a lot of sickness in AA meetings.

    That's because it's a place for sick people to come and get better.

    And because they are trying to get better -- or even just trying to try -- there can be a lot of recovery, a lot of wellness in meetings, too.

    If you feel like you see a lot more sickness than recovery... well, maybe it's because that's what you're choosing to focus on.

    Very often in life, we see what we look for.

    But, if you look really, really hard for the recovery, and you feel like you still don't see any...

    maybe you should raise your hand and create some."


  8. Very interesting. I have a lot to think about!