The Big Five-Oh

A half century old. Five decades. When the clock strikes 7:55 am Pacific Daylight Saving Time on March 27th, that's how old I will be. Fifty. I should feel blessed that I made it this far. After all, I have my (cough, cough) "health". Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows how much of a joke that is. There's very little that is healthy about my body. The best thing I can say about it is that I have is that I have a pulse and a heartbeat. And my brain does function, albeit in a food and fantasy addicted state. So much for my health to be grateful for.

I have my family, which includes my children and my grandson. Now that's something to be grateful for right there. My kids have been amazingly supportive of the changes I've been making in my life. They seem to know how to encourage me to keep going, and to let me know that no matter how grouchy and irritable I may be on some days, they still love me. All they ever wanted is for their mom to get better. My prayer is that I will do that, with God's help one day at a time.

I was able to spend a lot of with my grandson Xavier today, and he is just a pure delight. I felt a little bad because I can't hold him or roll around and play with him on the carpet because of my health issues. But my daughters made sure that I got to enjoy the time I had with him. These are moments that make life and all of its disappointments and tests worth the expenditure of energy required to keep moving through difficult times.

My parents and sister, I hate to say, represent the more negative aspect of having a family living nearby. When I told my father that I wasn't going to have a traditional celebration/feast, as in NO cake and ice cream, chips and dip, barbecue, homemade mac and cheese, greens and cornbread, or alcohol of any sort for my 50th birthday, he was stunned. He just couldn't understand why I had to be so "difficult" concerning my birthday. What kind of person would invite friends to her birthday party and NOT serve cake and ice cream? He didn't understand why I would "punish" my guests by "just having them show up to sing me happy birthday."

"You don't have to eat cake, but you should have some for your guests," he told me.

Yeah. Thanks, Dad. I'm not putting poison in my body these days, but I should deal out high concentrations of sugar, white flour and fat to friends and family. Not to mention how dangerous it is for me to be in close proximity to my drugs of choice while I'm still in the early stages of recovery. But somehow, I should just push all that aside and make other people happy on MY birthday!

My life as a member of an alcoholic family--it's a series of nonsensical behaviors and rules that promotes the basic guiding principle in the lives of its members: you must keep denial of reality going throughout your lives, no matter what.* Even if your oldest daughter nearly died on several occasions from complications related to morbid obesity, you insist that she has extrememly dangerous foods available during her birthday party. It's the right thing to do, the proper thing. Of course, my parents aren't completely aware of how many times I've almost departed this world via excessive eating. They thought I had "female problems" or that the severe osteoarthritis and bone degeneration of my left hip are the result of the physical abuse I went through with my ex-husband. It simply CAN'T be because of food. Food is love; it can't kill a person, especially when all you need to do is eat less and exercise. And if you gain too much weight, just go on a diet and lose it. That's all. It simply isn't serious enough to take a person's life.

You're welcome, dear readers, to this level of highly disordered thinking. If nothing else, it keeps the pain of facing reality at a miserable distance. No doubt, however, you have family issues of your own to handle. Nearly everyone does, it seems.

My sister Tam, who is eleven months and six days younger than me, suffers from the family denial problem, too. She has all kinds of food allergies, especially to wheat, which makes her break out in a pretty nasty rash. And she's definitely morbidly obese. But everytime I see her, she has food from Pizza Hut, Burger King, La Bou or Popeye's. I was particularily disturbed when she picked me up from ER last week with a box of Popeye's chicken and biscuits. I hadn't eaten for over 12 hours. And I have always LOVED Popeye's spicy, crunchy fried chicken and those soft, buttery buttermilk biscuits. Oh, God,I'm veering way too close into food fantasy here. Time to pull up. Anyway, Tam can't afford to eat that stuff anymore than I can, but since she's never experienced the devastating effects of eating too much of the wrong food, she is convinced that her weight and food allegies are just temporary annoyances. Soon, she will tell anyone, she will get back on her diet and the problem will be solved.

I used to say that, too. But I've given up telling my sister about my experiences with food addiction. I just have to do recovery, and if she wants what I have, she can pick up the program from the meetings and the recovering people as I do, one day at a time. But losing weight isn't impressive to her. She's seen me to do it way too many times, and she's also witnessed the rapid descent back into the food. I would have to be a normal weight and stay there for a number of years before she would consider doing any kind of a 12 step program. She doesn't need help, like those "weak-minded" people. I guess that includes me. Hm.

So, back to turning 50. I'm going to have a gathering at my little apartment. I've asked my daughter Chenelle to gather up some of her actor friends to perform a staged reading of my play, "Maddy Rose", for my guests. I will have coffee, jasmine, green, black, white and herb teas available. And lots of filtered water with lemon slices. After we watch the staged reading and discuss the play, my friends can either eat what I'm eating for dinner, which will probably be four ounces of poached chicken or fish, four ounces of brown rice, six ounces of broccoli and six ounces of salad with 1 tablespoon of oil with seasonings (lemon, balsamic vinegar, whatever). Or they can eat whatever food that I patiently explained that they need to bring for themselves. Or they can take off for Kentucky Fried Chicken or whatever else suits their palates. And then...that's it. The "party" will begin at 3pm, and probably end around 8 pm. Then I have to do my regular routine of getting ready of the next day, which includes preparing my three meals, writing down what I'm going to eat so I can report that to my sponsor, reading recovery literature and doing my prayers and meditation.

Wheeee. Whoo hoo. Big fun will be had by all. You're all invited, by the way, if you can find a way to make it to Rancho Cordova, California on March 27th. Just let me know via email, and I'll be glad to have you join the...celebration. Come one, come all from England, France, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Ukraine, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, China, Taiwan, the Philippines--even Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland! However, I won't offended if you decline the invitation. Trust me. After all, there will be no cake.

*You don't have to be have member of alcoholic family to have disordered thinking or rules of behavior. Plenty of people have the same experiences who come from families with mental illness, drug addiction, nicotine addiction, food addiction, workaholism, sex and love addiction, addiction to dogmatic religion--the list seems endless. The good news is that people have found that the same family traps that alcoholic family members fall into are present in families with the previously mentionsed issues, and that there is recovery from these potentially lethal mental and emotional traps. For more information, do the copy and paste thing into your browser:

http://alcoholism.about.com/od/adult/Adult_Children_of_Alcoholics.htm
http://www.recovery-man.com/coda/codependency.htm
http://www.adultchildren.org/
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