Getting emotionally right-sized is something that comes up in almost every conversation I have with my sponsor. I suspect that leveling the playing field of life will be central to my recovery from alcoholism, but it recently it occurred to me that getting right-sized is the literal goal of my food recovery.
One of the reasons I cited for my drinking is that I felt overwhelmed by the task of living. The day-to-day stuff you have to do to keep life moving forward for myself, my kids, my husband felt so monumental. Sometimes it seemed to me like I was responsible for making the earth revolve. I saw myself failing at a responsibility I didn’t even want. So I drank and ate because it numbed the feelings of failure. Plus, didn’t I deserve something for all my hard work?
This perspective I had of being the one in control, the one keeping everything and everyone moving forward, was a result of an inflated ego and it lead to the inflation of my body. And you know something, I’m not alone in this. In talking to others who struggle with overeating and being overweight, I think we all share this notion of having more power and control over life than we actually do. The most common thread I see is that we view ourselves as being able to manage the happiness of others. I can’t tell you how many overweight women I’ve heard identify as people pleasers. And there are those of us who don’t even realize we are doing it.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think people pleasing, controlling and manipulating life, doing doing doing, etc. are symptoms of an enlarged ego. Not ego in the sense of self-esteem, but ego in the sense of believing I have that much power over others. Ego in the sense of believing I can make life turn out the way I think it should be. My sponsor calls it playing God. I don’t know if ego gets much bigger than that.
Then there is the flip side. I had a bout of anorexia in my teens. It was brought on by a distinct feeling of powerlessness. It felt like I had misread the rule book of life. It felt like nothing I did or said mattered to anyone. It felt like life was slipping through my hands. The women I have known who struggle with anorexia have said similar things to me. I don’t know about them, but preceding this feeling of uselessness was the idea that same belief that if I did x, y, z that I was somehow guaranteed something. When things didn’t go according to plan, I started to believe that maybe there was nothing I could do to get the life I wanted.
Two opposite sides of the coin, but both founded on the same mistaken belief. I can’t say it more perfectly than the Big Book does, “Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well?” I think putting some cracks in that delusion was the beginning of me getting right-sized. Not everything is up to me, but I’m not a victim of life either.
It’s a half-baked theory, but wondering what everyone’s experience has been with this.