The Void

At times when my life seems out of control, I close my eyes and imagine that I am floating in a total void.  I used to think it was escapist, a fantasy of being alone.  But it also occurs to me that for an instant, the void was the last moment when all that is was a singular point

It is not a fantasy of isolation, but of homecoming.

By Ben Posted in Life

My name is…


…and I am a compulsive overeater.

I decide that my diet is not the issue.  The core issue is that no matter what I eat (healthy or otherwise), I eat too much.  The reason I eat too much goes way beyond mere hunger.  Just restricting my intake may work for a while.  But if I do not get at the reason for the behavior, history will repeat itself.  I will be right back where I started.

So I started attending Overeaters Anonymous or just OA.  While it was a bit uncomfortable at first, attending a 12 step meeting.  I very quickly realized that this was the prescription I needed.  Every time someone opens their mouth to speak, I find myself saying, “Yep, that’s me.”

I have been attending meetings for a little over a month now.  I have the basic gist of the program.  Now I have to journey through the 12 steps*.

*I find the word step to be a bit of a misnomer.  From what I have observed, you never completely finish a step.  The minute you check off all 12 “steps” you are not done.  If you stop working the program, you are likely to slip up.  I prefer the work cycles.  One cycle leads to the next, but each cycle continues throughout recovery.

Now What?


So I am overweight, now what?

Weight for me has been two vastly different stories. For the first half of my life, it was no issue at all. I ate what I wanted with little or no thought given to my daily intake. My sophomore year in college, I went away to school in California. At the time, I was considered underweight. I was at roughly half my highest weight. Very quickly I began to pack on the pounds. But because I was so thin, it was of no concern. As I gained weight, I actually looked better. My childish features faded and my appearance became more masculine.

It was during this period, I first began to notice my weight. I did not have a scale in the dorms, but I could see the change in my appearance and clothing size. For the first time in my life, I took notice with mild concern that I needed to ease up on my food intake. So I ate more salads and cut back on soda.

Walla, problem solved.

Every time I gained a bit too much, I eased back a bit until I was back at my target weight.
But it became a bit more difficult when I got married. I had to add exercise to the regimen. And each time I gained, I lost a bit less. Gain 10, lose 8. And we were off to the races.

When I was about 30, I went on my first real diet. I joined Weight Watchers. And because I was still exercising, the pounds rolled off quickly. But I could never lose those last 10 lbs. I yo-yo’d back and forth. But I was still just overweight. And I was not too concerned.

At age 33, my stress went through the roof, my sleep patterns were radically altered, I stopped working out and I began using food to comfort my unease. In a little over a decade, I packed on an additional 80 pounds. I tried and failed to regain control. I tried cutting back. I tried to exercise. I tried to get more sleep. I tried dieting. I got a surgical Lap Band. And then I just gave up.

I was and am convinced that dieting does not work. Evolution is working against me. The less I eat, the more I crave. The more I lose, the more I gain.

Getting out of this morose required a shock to the system. It happened a little over a month ago. I was having bronchitis and I needed to see my Dr. When the technician weighed me in, I had crossed a threshold. My doctor sat me down and told me that something needed to change.

New Direction

I have two blogs: One devoted to my experience as a VACTERL parent and one devoted to life in general. It is this blog, the one that is devoted to life in general, that I wish to take in a new direction.

But first, a word on why I write. I don’t consider myself a typical blogger. I don’t write purely for the joy of writing. As can be seen by my frequent breaks, I do not feel the need to constantly write. Writing for me is about clarifying my own thoughts. There is something about the writing process that makes me confront my beliefs and helps to focus them. My positions change over time and I use writing as a tool to explore my personal evolution.

It is because I am making a fundamental change in lifestyle that I feel the need to pick up the “pen” and write again.

I am overweight.

Not just overweight, obese.

At my highest, my BMI was 37.7. One month into my recovery, my BMI is 36. In order to be considered merely overweight, my BMI would have to be 29. That is roughly 56 lbs. less than my current weight. To be considered healthy, I would need a BMI of no more than 24 or a total loss of 96 lbs.

That is all I am going to say about numbers for now, because numbers obscure the real problem. The problem cannot be measured by a scale, though this is a useful tool. The problem is I have lost all control over part of my life. No simple change is going to lead to a course correction. I can no longer tweak some habit and return to health. I am not merely off the path, I am deep in the wilderness with no path in sight.

So this is the beginning. This is where I start.


Network Marketing


When I was about 25, my boss invited me to a breakfast with “local business leaders.”  I was kind of honored.  I thought he might be sponsoring me for the Rotary or Elks club.  Everyone was dressed in business attire.  We arrived a few minutes late, but the guy who was speaking was very inspirational.  I was trying to figure out what “club” this was.  But since I was late, I put that question aside.  I figured I missed the introduction. 

The next guy got up and was equally dynamic.  He was talking about how he had made a substantial fortune using something called “network marketing.”  That was the first time I had heard that term.  I was intrigued.  He was drawing diagrams with concentric circles.  When he got the last circle, he used the dreaded word…Amway!

But my boss assured me that Amway was an outdated concept.  This was not that pyramid scheme my parents had warned me about.  This was a new paradigm.  I bit.  I should have run.  My parents told me it was a waste of money.  But I knew better…  

…Six months later, I moved.  I did not leave any forwarding information. 

It was in fact: a pyramid scheme.

But I am nothing if not naïve.  Fast forward twenty years later.  I was burned out on religion.  I was twisting and torturing my mind to hold on to my faith, but failing miserably.  Then a friend came along and started talking to me about the “nones.”  People who were spiritual but not religious.  Really?  Go on…

And so it began.  My 2 year attempt to re-brand my Christian faith into a new paradigm.  But wait you say, “Isn’t that the same ‘Ole Time Religion’?” 

Why no!…

…No, this is completely different…

…The clergy are not the drivers…

…This is about people…


…until its not.  At the end of the day, it is still about putting butts in the seats.  It is not about building up people.  It is about drawing a crowd and getting their money.  And if you do anything that threatens the bottom line, you will be tossed aside like a bad penny.

It is my own fault.  I let the parasites in.  I believed the hype. 

It stung like hell, but I think I am getting back to some sense of normalcy. 

Next post….12 steps to free your mind.

There are people who by their very presence make you want to want to be a better person.  There are others who make you feel small and insignificant.  Engage with the former and flee the latter.

By Ben Posted in Life

Eleanor Rigby


Last Sunday, I attend a new church for the second time. During the sermon, I found myself thinking, “Why do I do this?” 

Why indeed.

I can think of dozens of “Why nots.” But I am running short on “whys.”

The only thing I could come up with is that I am lonely. But is it worth the emotional investment?

No answers…just questions.

Of Santa’s and Saviors


I am not feeling it this year, Christmas that is.  Secular or sacred, it does not matter.  I just want December to be over.  I just want 2014 to be over.  I just want winter to be over.

I wish life came with a Tivo remote so that I could fast forward through the unpleasant part and replay the good stuff.

There I go, desiring stuff again.  Second noble truth ignored.  I suck at being a follower of at least three religions and several philosophies.

I should go eat something.

Sky Cake:  The Middle Weigh


Before reading this entry, watch the video that inspired it.

I love cake.  My middle can attest to this fact.  Red velvet in particular is very tasty.  But as I am sure you can already guess that this posting is not about actual cake.  Rather it is an appreciation of Patton Oswald’s routine on faith.

I love this act, not just because it is funny, but because he articulates something that I have not heard.  Christians and Atheist often behave in similar ways.  Too often the rhetoric we hear is that the world would be better off if one of these ways of thinking were annihilate.  I am not comfortable in either of these camps.  Like a growing number of people, I find myself somewhere in the middle (where the cake is stored).  I do not take the bible literally, but I see value in many of its passages.  I accept science, but I do not pretend to know all the answers.

That is why I love Sky Cake.  It recognizes the societal value of religion while poking fun at its excesses.

I don’t know if there is a creator.  But the universe as a whole does behave like a living thing.  Whether or not that thing has consciousness or not is unknowable, at least to me.

But it has become quite fashionable in the last few decades, to blame all of society’s ills on religion; while completely ignoring the good and civilizing influence religion has brought.  Blaming religion is just (to use a religious phrase) a scapegoat.  Wars, poverty, disease, hatred, etc…these things are not caused by religion, but by a scarcity of resources.  Religions and gods are often the mascot war, but the absence of religious sentiment would not make these problems disappear.  People will always find a convenient banner to march behind (brown eyed people unite!).

My problem has always been what to say to people when they displaying intolerance.  Thanks to Patton Oswald, I now have a concise response, “Oh sky cake, why are you so delicious?”  If they care enough to google the phrase, they’ll know what I mean and hopefully take the hint.

…or possibly be they’ll be horribly offended and kill me.  Guess we’ll see.