I grew up with a mother that ended up 450 at her top weight. Food, obesity, contempt, fear, dismay and hurt were the strongest aspects of my life. There were a couple of times that I managed to drop the obesity but “thin, cute and crazy” ensued. My sense of entitlement caused these periods to be the most self destructive.
In July 2009, I entered Overeaters Anonymous for the third time. This time I made the psychological recovery my top priority. I had devoted my life to Christ about eight years before. I was hoping an awesome/powerful/consuming God and a little bit of age would lead to success. I had turned 43 in February, and was ready to give OA an other shot.
In early May 2010 I finished up my fifth step. In step four and five, you write out your inventory and read it to someone you trust (my sponsor). The inventory I chose consisted of “the person; the incidents; the characteristics I exhibited; and the beliefs valued, learned or held.” When I listed the characteristics involved, I kept listing the characteristics I thought the other person was exhibiting. I quickly learned I was totally disassociated with how I felt, what I thought, and what I experienced. I was consumed with what others felt, thought, believed, did and experienced. Everyone was unkind, selfish and out to get me. It seemed unlikely that so many people were set to persecute me and more likely a problem with the way I thought about things.
In May my brother invited me to a leadership program with a life coach. The coach and I spoke once a week one the phone. It was a six week program. In addition to being a sub preschool teacher, I got a second job with the census for the month. Finally, early May was the one year anniversary of my mothers death. It fell on Mothers Day.
Between OA, the census, and teaching I had rich atmosphere to carry out social exercises from my sponsor and coach. I had lost 60 of the 140 lbs I needed to lose. Teachers were finally calling me for jobs. I was having a blast. I felt different about everything and everyone. I decided I had been wrong in general.
The preschools have a great number of adults to work with. A different school every day. Staff increases, separates, exchanges, converges and decreases as children arrive and depart. With the census my boss had everyone come in at the end of the day for paperwork. We sat at coffee house visiting for an hour or so every night. Finally, the people I interviewed with the census were delightful company. I was profoundly having a great time.
I could see the deep negativity in my inventory. The spiral down ward in back and forth interaction with other. I needed to spiral back up. I began appreciating myself as well as others. I began to embrace the notion they would appreciate me and themselves as well. Those appearing to fail in the second notion I embrace with understanding and acceptance. I know how much suffering there is. They may change their mind, I did. Spending time with others was a joyful experience. I had always lost weight and became very affectionate with men. In negativity it was the only connection I was capable of. I was coming to a new understanding of friendship or companionship.
Many days I worked 13 hours. I started having difficulty sleeping. If I got five hours a night it was amazing. During May my mood escalated up ward. My brain started to seizure in passion. Before, I had been totally shut down emotionally, including sexually. By the end of the month I was in ecstasy all the time. The hyper sexuality had me convinced that I was possessed by a demon.
I thought I was the reincarnation of Gomer, a biblical prostitute. My possession was a sign that nations would be turning back to God as I had. This was the symbol of Gomer when Babylon carried off Israel. They would return to their county and their God. All I was experiencing was the result of a desperate attempt by Satan to wage spiritual warfare. I was the living symbol of the reconciliation about to happen between God and His children.
In the census my boss was an immigrant from Africa, We were meeting in a deeply Islamic community. I was sure the coffee shop was full of invisible demonic entities. The men were beautiful and exotic, and I was in heat. (I did mention I was having a blast, right? Besides, I‘m on the winning team. There‘s no reason to not enjoy.) I just kept trying not to pant. Several times I couldn’t read the paper work I was supposed to be finishing. My boss thought I was the most interesting woman he had ever seen. Women tend to think of men as being superficial. However, when a woman is experiencing waves of ecstasy so much is forgiven. Over weight, middle aged, poor, confused: You’re almost panting; no problem. I thought the men were clients from my past life. It appeared I had been popular. Financially I have experienced a lot of hardship. I thought
maybe greed was providing the spirit with the power to continue its possession. So, I quit my job with the census a little early.
I was in church worshiping when I saw smoke rise out of the man in front of me. I thought he was possessed as well and my presence had exorcized his demon. The demon must have returned where ever to confer with its friends. There was sensational awareness of power. I was involved in waging war against the gates of hell.
I thought Dominic Balli’s song “The Road to Zion Morns” was a prophetic message announcing my destiny. It discusses a princess engrossed in wickedness hearing God’s call and returning to her kingdom. She comes out of Babylon, and the road leading to Zion changes to gold. It seamed the ground its self knew to rise up under my feet in obedience. Oh, I really liked this song. I still do. Great memories.
And yes, the humor in this does not escape me. The good nature I came upon during recovery had me laughing. I later joked with my couch “That child (my boss at the census was 26) was just waiting for me to come across the table and take him by force.” While others have sensations of grandeur as a prophet, Christ, Mary, God, etc; I set myself into the role of a great prostitute. LOL. At one point, I decided in humility I should get on my knees and pray. It was not a good idea. Humility is NOT the surging feeling that grips a women in hyper sexuality when she gets on her knees.
The worst of this went on for about a week. Believing I was possessed I went on the Daniel Fast. I know I’m not sounding stable, but this diet had a dramatic effect. The episode was clearly a biological condition. The fast is more than just vegan. As well as no animal protein, there is no yeast and alcohol (live cultures). It was about 20 hours later I felt it. I was at home and there was a flood in my head. I was afraid there would be physical repercussions. I looked at my arms for any discoloration. I focused on my balance thinking I might pass out. I checked my face and eyes in the mirror, but there was nothing unordinary. The flooding went on for about 2 seconds. I believe the fast closes down receptors. I still experienced hyper sensitivity in many ways, but the worst of it all came to an abrupt end. The following day my legs began to ache. Pain and Tylenol escalated over three days. On day three I finally connected the aching with coming out of mania.
I’ve been encouraged to seek professional advice, but I keep putting it off. If I did I think it would be an activity in educating the educators. Professionals don’t really enjoy this. It’s a little ego bruising. Coming out of an intense episode, it seamed a good idea to give myself a year to settle down. At first I withdrew and waited to become “normal” again. The withdrawal was mostly at work and church. I was forth right in OA, with my sponsor and family. I figured I couldn’t be deeply bi-polar because I was just finding out at 44. I wasn’t thinking of a spiritual awakening. After two months it occurred to me I was changed. It was time to act in my three primary notions. 1) Both myself and others are wonderful and valuable. 2) Others recognize themselves and me and wonderful and valuable. 3) When there is a default in the second notion have compassion, understanding and acceptance. Without doubt they are confused and suffering. (It’s enough to know I am right.) My brain convulses in joy and passion, and I like it. I can feel the muscles in my scalp, temples and forehead gently contract and release with the brain activity. I am not too happy. Others should be as happy as I am.
Eight months later I’m on step eight; become ready to make amends. Surprisingly, this is not about bad things I have done. This step is about resentment and anger I still carry. In becoming ready I’m doing exercises in forgiveness and healing, prayer, meditation and writing. This is so I don’t end up telling someone “Hey, f*** you. Let‘s take a minute and talk about what an a** you are.” There are stories of amends going badly. This letter is another attempt to practice personal growth. To reach out express another story of how varied experience can be. I feel there are some ideas in how I dealt my manic awakening that may be helpful. Tolerance, self acceptance, patience, not rushing to judgment or decisions, are all important. I’m so glad this did not happen when I was 20. Certainly I would have been medicated immediately. As I type the last two line I’m crying with relief and sorrow. Relief for myself and sorrow for those who may have gone through exactly that. I’m sorry. Ben's Response:
Thank you for sharing your story - for your courage in telling it - and for your sense of humor and compassion. I wish you health and happiness.