For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband and I decided to let each other pick out our own gifts. We went shopping together and paid for each other’s new purchases. His was a new pair of Dr. Scholl’s gel inserts. Mine was a FitBit. Not too romantic, I know. But we got what we wanted and that’s what matters.
I’ve been using my FitBit for a few days now and have to say, I’m really impressed. Not with the technology, although it’s quite amazing. But I’m impressed with my motivation to walk more and eat less. The FitBit tells me how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories I’ve burned and provides a mobile or online dashboard that lets me log my food intake. This way, I can see the number of calories coming in and going out.
My weight has always been an issue for me. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I never thought I was thin enough or fit enough. Today, that undesirable body is the one I strive to get back. I was so blinded by illness and addiction and the disease of “less than” that I never realized what an amazingly healthy and beautiful body I had. Youth is definitely wasted on the young.
I have tried countless diet and exercise programs, only to give up after not getting the instant gratification I needed to keep me motivated. But with this FitBit, I can see my progress in real time. I can see how much I’ve moved and how much I haven’t. I am acutely aware of what I’m eating and burning off. My nutritional conscience (which I didn’t even know I had) has started kicking in and saying, “No Jen, you worked too hard to cave in to that craving.” It tells me to park farther away, stand more than sit and pick better foods. In essence, it is making me accountable to myself.
Accountability is a key component of my recovery. I couldn’t get better on my own. I know because I had tried. I couldn’t stop drinking, stop lying, stop crying or stop living in denial. I needed to hold myself out to others and say, “Here I am, here is what I struggle with.” Eventually, I was able to say, “I’m willing to do this or that to get better, and you can call me on it if I don’t.” This didn’t happen all at once, oh no. If I had to say those things the first day I walked into recovery, I never would have come back.
My process started with simple sharing to a group of complete strangers. Every week, the women in my group were required to make three phone calls to each other. This was really hard for me. I didn’t know these people and I was still stuck in the “better than – worse than” mode of judgement. But that painfully simple act was the beginning of my accountability. The following week in class, we had to report the number of phone calls we made to the group. This was the beginning of my honesty.
Over time, these women, and men and women throughout various fellowships, have become my accountability partners. I have discovered that when I share my struggles with a group who have similar trials, not only am I welcomed and understood, I’m supported. Better still, I’m offered suggestions that I hadn’t thought of, methods of getting better, stronger, healthier.
It never would have occurred to me that I could start my day over if I screwed it up. That was awesome. I never knew that I had the option to dismiss my first thought and wait for a rational one to show up. Wow. These are the exercises that were taught to me by others in early recovery. They helped me get stronger so that I could continue on. In time, I felt my emotional sobriety strengthen. I could sense the definition in the muscles of my mind. Before long, I was able to run through an entire day without feeling like a complete failure.
I also became accountable to myself and a sponsor. She would ask if I had been taking my spiritual medicine and doing all the exercises she suggested. My first thought was to embellish or lie. But because I had been taught proper form, and how to dismiss the first thought, I waited until I felt the courage to be honest and then told her the truth. I also found that after getting to know and trust her, and getting to know and trust myself, that I felt pretty crappy when I wasn’t honest with either one of us. I know now that that was my moral conscience in its infancy.
Today I try to be accountable. I’m accountable to my group, my fellows, my forever family, my immediate family, my sponsor, my friends, myself and God. It may seem like a lot of accountability… but this girl needs it. If I don’t put it out there, I will keep it hidden. I will keep my fears, my lies, my struggles and my diseases buried inside where they will eat away at me. They will wither my heart, brittle my soul and weaken my spirit. And my God did not make me to be weak.
How do you stay accountable? Share your tips for staying real, honest and real honest in the comments and help others find their path to accountability and recovery. Thanks!