I hate diet books. I was supposed to be reading Pam Peeke’s The Hunger Fix in order to pay her back for favors she has done me and I was slightly resentful that ponying up $29 to contribute to her advance wasn’t enough. She’s on the best sellers lists, for crying out loud! There are numerous reader reviews at Amazon and she has a close-knit group of patients who would pitch in at the other venues where the dialogue about the addictive qualities and brain changing results of sugar are taking place.
The only thing going in this assignment’s favor was that it was a chilly weekend and I could read it in bed with my dog snuggled full-length up against me, breathing belly-to-belly, the most comforting sensation I know.
First I fell asleep.
Then I nodded in agreement with the research I’ve done and written about in my last book.
Then I cried.
As Peeke addressed the need to address the demons that got us hooked on cheesecake in the first place and followed up by describing hit the moment of truth – the epiphany – when we saw ourselves for what we are and decided to take matters in our own hands, I found myself crawling at the quilt to get out of that bed and over to a bakery as quickly as possible.
It was demons versus recognition and hope, and for the last nine years the demons have been winning. I’d lately given up on the notion that I want to re-lose however much of the 188 pounds I’d once dropped. I don’t have those giddy expectations that I did fourteen years ago. I want to sell my small clothes because I’m never going to be the person who spent so much money on them again: jeans and a couple of dresses are more than I need. I’ve lost interest in men through the attrition of heartbreak. I can’t even afford to join a gym or get the electronics Peeke suggests for making a video diary. So when I read her list of possible life goals that could come through retraining the ventral tegmental and losing weight, I heaved out a shaky sigh and turned my face into the pillow.
I don’t want anything. I have no hope that my life will improve. To all her other cute handy phrases – epiphaME, 3 Ms, et al – I wanted to add SOFT: same old f—ing thing. That would describe my life at the moment.
It’s an odd epiphany to have, this desireless dreary heavy listlessness. But she also coaches banishing negative self-talk: isn’t that place on a high plane of no beauty and no interest also something I should want to get away from?
I wished I had hope. I was crying for the desire of hope, which seemed several steps away from my lack of it. Some energy would be good, too, and some courage about going out in world more than my anxieties let me do.
In general I'm pretty aware that being several steps away from a feeling is close enough to begin the journey and for weeks I’d been praying, to a God I highly doubt exists, to get in touch with my sponsor, this for the ninetieth time. It felt doomed, though. I’d get abstinent for a minute, lose ten pounds and then get overwhelmed with the obligations of my 12-step program and feeding myself and I’d wander off again. So what’s the point?
The point, I knew, was there on the page and in my dreams at night: the demons. I need to get back in the Rooms and under mentorship not because I want to wear a lace dress next summer or impress my friends and have revenge on my enemies, it’s because the demons of resentment and anger are alive and kicking me 24/7. Therapy hasn’t eradicated them, sugar causes nightmares and abstinence throws me into revenge mode. The only thing I haven’t done is a complete, by-the-book Fourth-through-Ninth Steps:
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I got out of bed and emailed my sponsor that I wanted to come back if she would have me and that I didn’t want to play around among the various diversions from this extremely hard work any more. It is Time to turn on my demons.
That negative space looks ripe for a stillbirth of depression. The core of the 12 Steps is all about how harmful I’ve been and how I can correct it. What if, to take some of the onus of guilt off the process, I start by facing my angels?
The Big Book lays out the Fourth Step as a list of people we resent, the reason we resent them and the what about those people threatens us. Twelve Steppers refer to this as the resentment list. I fished around for a good antonym for resentment and came up with “encouragement,” “stimulated” and “uplifted”. I think I like uplifted best.
I emailed my sponsor that I want to do my Fourth Step as an encourager list first and was surprised when she wrote back, “In the fourth column, write what it is in you that helps appreciate them. Very often we have some of the same qualities that we admire/love in others.”
I’ll battle my way to wanting something and I’ll get through the admission of the bad things I have done, but I think I’m going to try doing it with my acknowledged angels to inspire and reassure me along the way.
Thanks for the positive energy, Peeke.