Setting Limits

I have been in the OA program four months, with three months of abstinence. My self-defined abstinence is three moderate meals a day, one snack if I am hungry and no sugar. One miracle that occurred as a result of not eating sugar was my “fall” from perfection.

I had gone out of town with my partner. While she participated in an OA assembly, I enjoyed a break from life. Then life happened: income taxes, property taxes and the need to shuffle money around to cover them. Those were already there when I agreed to go out of town; I just didn’t think about them. In addition, two tenants had given notice for that same month. Still, I gave no thought to handling all this while I was out of town taking a break from life.

At the hotel, I purchased a device and service to connect to the Internet. I thought I could take a break from life and continue my work at the same time. But I could not send email, print or look at faxes that were coming in at home. And I had filled my schedule for Monday with showing the house and getting bids from lawn and construction workers.

Usually in these situations, I would buy a large bag of sweet stuff and push through what I thought I needed to handle while stuffing sugar in my mouth and body. The rush would give me an invincible feeling, a driven energy. My body would run at full throttle with no driver.

But there was no sugar in the hotel room, and a miracle occurred. I paused, I thought, I reflected. I realized I couldn’t do everything at once. I have limits. Sitting in a hotel room was not serving me. I had put everything in motion, and I needed to change it.

I decided to go home to work. I told my partner when I saw her that I needed to go. Once home, I called and canceled the appointments I had made to show the house on Monday and heard disappointment in people’s voices. I received feedback from the reality of disappointing others, of changing their schedules and possibilities. I sat with my participation in reality, hoping to do better next time. Wonderful, life-giving breath returned.

The next morning life seemed lighter. My actions the day before had put me at the same level that I put everyone else on my priority list. I realize I can’t do it all. I can set limits on what I accept and learn to be mindful of what I set up for myself. I am now more gentle and accepting of myself and others. Life is good. Life is actually sweet most of the time.

— Beth M.
From Lifeline Magazine, July 2014