A New Reaction to Stress

The last time I was out of work was 14 years ago, and I stayed unemployed for almost a year. I’d quit my job because I couldn’t function in the world. I did hard drugs instead. I also drank heavily and binged on junk food most days and all through the night.

What a horrible, terrified existence. My biggest fear was that I could never find or hold a job again and would never be able to support myself. I told myself I was nothing, useless, incompetent, stupid and lazy.

Once I put down substance and went through the 12 Steps, I got my life back – well, actually, I got a whole new life (hallelujah). And have been gainfully employed for the last 13 years.

Today, I find myself unemployed again, having quit my job. But it’s a whole new world. I am confident, excited and ready for a new opportunity.

Yes, there is some trepidation, but does that mean I have to drug or drink or eat ’til I can’ breathe? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Instead, I have to get to work!

Michael

I went to my brother’s house tonight – it’s a little haven where MSNBC runs 24/7, my brother is ALWAYS cooking something delicious, and the sweet dog, Bo, sits on my feet.

So there I am, Chris Matthew interrupting his guests; Cajun brisket stewing on the stove and Bo nuzzling my boot…, when I get a Facebook message from Michael, my crack dealer from 15 years ago. What? Yuck? and He’s Still Alive?

That man introduced me to drugs, stole ALL my money – over and over, destroyed my apartment and my life AND I was so madly in love with him I would have AND did do anything for him. Crazy madness. Terrible times. I can’t even believe I’m alive!!!!

Fifteen years and here he is on Facebook, wanting to make an amend. What do I do? My instincts tell me to stay away, don’t trust him, he’s nothing but trouble.

And yet, I was nothing but trouble and everyone accepted my amend. How can I not afford him the same opportunity that was so generously given to me?

Still, no. Just way too much damage done. Can and will never trust him.

Can’t Eat

I got some sad news early this morning about a dear, dear friend and am heartbroken. I spent most of the day on the phone with her, listening to her, letting her cry and, simply, being her friend. I refused to let her hear me cry (not easy!) – she hates that!. She’s been pretty sick for a while, and everyone is always crying around her. (But every time we got off the phone, I wept and wept. )

At about 6 pm, I noticed an odd churning in my belly. Hmmm, why was my stomach growling? It hit me – I had eaten nothing all day and had not thought about food once!!!! Not once. (What, ME, the compulsive eater, anorexic and bulimic?!)

My body was telling me it was really hungry, and I went to the refrigerator. Staring at the shelves of food, it felt like everything would taste like cardboard. It kind of made me sick. I walked away.

A little later, my belly rumbled louder. And I thought – I guess I should put something in there. But what? Nothing looked or seemed appealing.

I spotted a package of saltines sitting on the counter – maybe I could swallow those? I forced myself. Yuck. Cardboard.

I gave up on the eating idea. I’ll live. I have more important, real things to do. Like actually experiencing pain and sadness, being in the moment, and most of all, being a friend to a wonderful woman with far greater problems than my own.

For most of my life, I would have eaten and eaten and eaten and eaten – gorging myself until I could barely breathe or move. Then, I would have felt MISERABLE and disgusting and terrified and so sorry for myself </and I would have started binging again.

Today, I am here, experiencing life. AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL – I AM HERE FOR MY FRIEND.