I have changed many things in my life, including myself, since I began my 12-Step journey in 1987, but one thing has never changed. What best defines my recovery is still this: abstinence is the most important thing in my life without exception because it is the doorway to my Higher Power.
Although my abstinence today looks very much like it did 28 years ago (sugar/flour-free, weighed and measured), my food plan has undergone some changes over the years. I don’t make changes to my food plan without first talking to my sponsor and often my nutritionist.
The first few years of my recovery, I was very rigid with my abstinence and I needed to be. I found something that was working for me and I was holding on tight. I’ll never forget visiting my brother and sister-in-law during the first year of my abstinence. We were fixing dinner and I was standing at the counter measuring green peas into a cup. Fran, my sister-in-law, was standing beside me at the sink. As I was pouring the peas out of the cup measure onto my plate, a couple of them fell onto the counter and Fran moved her hand to swipe them into the disposal. Well, I yelled and grabbed her wrist as if she were going to throw away a priceless heirloom or something. Those peas were part of my portion and I wanted them. They WERE priceless to me. Of course, she looked at me as if I were crazy!
I’m happy to report that I’ve loosened up some since then. Over the years I’ve been able to safely add more flexibility. I’m still sugar/flour-free and l still need clear boundaries with my food. I weigh and measure when I’m home and I usually weigh and measure my protein and starch in restaurants. I no longer call in my food to my sponsor but I still write it down daily, and if I make any changes during the day, I make note of it.
At the beginning of my abstinence, I needed to fit my lifestyle around my food plan. Now I can fit my food plan into my lifestyle pretty easily most of the time. But if it’s ever a choice between the two, my abstinence will always win.
I love my abstinence. I love the freedom I feel by surrendering to my food plan. I love the Steps and this program. They have given me life, a wonderful life. They have given me my relationship with my Higher Power. I existed before recovery but I didn’t start living until I admitted my powerlessness, came to believe, and made a decision, a decision that opened heaven to me.