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Through a Glass, Darkly

I went to the wedding, and my parents were there. Both parents were visibly glad to see me, pinching my cheek etc., but I found myself getting sullen and defensive, and depressed merely by seeing them. Yet when they asked me to do errands for them (eg. going to the store to get more camera film) I ended up doing it, angry with myself.

I did confront my father somewhat, but it was inconclusive. He at first was apologetic over having fought with my mother, but maintained that he had had no choice, he was "provoked". When I pressed him further, about his verbal abuses of me, he brushed them off as "minor" incidents. He also asked why I was only focusing on the negative, what about all the good times we had together? Why had I been such a loving son, never complaining all these years if I was unhappy? he asked. I could only retort that I owed him no explanations, and that I considered him an abusive parent. He was startled; I don't think he has even considered that possibility. He asked what he could do for amends. I gave no answer. He then offered to forgive the $2,000 I borrowed from him earlier. I said nothing, but on second thought I will keep this money. I made no confrontation with my mother, and avoided both for the rest of the evening.

After that I was very depressed. I sat in a chair all alone, heart turning to stone. The dances began. I never dance (I think I am too fat, and everyone will laugh at me) and besides I felt exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I felt crushed, like a crumpled piece of paper. I watched the others dancing and having fun, feeling envious and miserable. The bride beckoned for me to join her, but I sadly refused.

I wondered if I could ever be free again. I saw young children, adorable and thin young children, dancing and laughing, and I remember when I was seven, when I was thin, and laughed, and giggled. And I wondered what happened to that child, and where this fat, misanthropic, miserable man had come from. I saw other adults smiling, and relaxing in the music and the atmosphere, and I wondered what it would be like to have fun, truly have fun, and not wrestle with demons all the days of my life. And I looked at my massive potbelly, and I saw a chain, a giant shackle to a way of life of isolation, loneliness, and despair. And I felt too drained, too weary, heartsore, and empty to smile or talk to anyone.

Finally at 11 pm, unable to stand any more, I told the bride and groom I had an event the next morning (technically this was true, the Sunday morning OA meeting, in fact) and left.

On the bus ride home I felt physically drained, as if some vacuum had sucked all power out of my muscles. I collapsed into bed, in a fetal position. The next morning I felt terrible, hung over even (although I had not, in the end, touched alcohol the previous day). I crawled out of bed, every movement agony (not physically, but in a curious sense emotionally) and somehow dragged myself over to the bus stop and went to the Sunday morning OA meeting, arriving 30 minutes late, as usual. I shared about all this diffidently, not looking at anyone. Afterward one woman came to talk to me, but I found myself unable to speak. She said to stop thinking of myself as a victim, and that I was in fact powerful over my emotions, and to stop overeating. I felt judged again, but didn't say anything. By the time I had finished talking to her, everyone else had left.

Some people who greeted me warmly the first time I came to the meeting now don't talk to me. I wonder if they aren't getting tired of hearing about my non-abstinence, whether they think I'm not going to enough lengths to get abstinent. I feel ashamed.

I spent the day wandering around downtown. I am 22 but walked like an old man, slowly and in short, weary steps. I felt like a giant open wound ran down me, a bleeding sore with my mind flowing out. I saw the families walking on the streets, the bright lights of the large record stores, the buskers plying their wares, the hot dog vendors calling out. All these are a part of the city and its atmosphere that I would normally take delight in, but I felt detached, as if I was in a dream. Nothing was real.

I binged a total of four times that day. The binge food felt good. If it weren't for the fact that it is high-fat, high-sugar junk that makes me obese I would be content to spent the rest of my life with it. I luxuriated in its texture and taste. I worshiped it. I let it flow down my throat and I felt comforted and affirmed, and the pain was eased, if only for a moment.

I went into a newsstand and looked at the politics magazines I normally enjoy reading. Now I had no interest. I didn't care anymore about news and current affairs, and I am normally a political junkie. I stumbled into a bookstore and bought two recovery books, and skimmed through several more, but still felt detached, tired, and weary.

I slept in the subway on the way back home, and collapsed into bed again, at 5 pm. I lay there, feeling ill, and yet no physical malady was present. I had no energy to move. Fortunately an OA member called me, and after she finished I called two more people, lying in bed the whole time. After that I scrumped together enough strength to cook supper, albeit a non-abstinent one at which I overate yet again.

I feel terribly immature, and childish - is the mere sight of my parents enough to throw me into a 24-hour black mood? Am I a baby? And today, as well, I have had little motivation to work. I don't know what to do next. I was given the phone number of one potential sponsor a week ago, but have been unable to reach him, and he has not returned my calls. I have no other potential sponsors as yet. I wonder if I'm not being seen as too pitiful to merit a sponsor.

So there I am. Not as suicidal as before, but not even close to being abstinent. The urge to eat is like a command. When I hear it, I obey; instantly, without thought. The idea of reading literature, calling etc. does not even arise. I simply go, like a madman, straight to the food. Always I feel I am unworthy.

Oasis, Aug. 26, 1996.