A Story of Recovery:

Birthday Bliss

I just had a very interesting birthday. My husband and I had plans for a “double dip” celebration for my birthday and our second wedding anniversary. We made reservations two months in advance at our wedding hotel. The anticipation of a wonderful, intimate weekend sustained us through the end-of-semester stresses both of us faced with our jobs. I was going to see my family on Friday night to get the weekend rolling.

We had planned an anniversary dinner with special friends on Saturday, then a romantic private lunch for my birthday on Sunday. The weekend would be topped off with a visit to my dear favorite aunt, who is 90-years old.

In the past, I would have just eaten over the stress. I would have been busy planning all the favorite binge foods I was going to reward myself with on my special day. Birthdays were always an excuse to go to wild excesses, justifying that it was my birthday only once a year. Of course, I ignored the fact that these wild excesses extended for months afterwards. I guess that’s one of the many ways I got up to almost 300 pounds. I’m only 5’3,” so “rotund” was an apt description of me. This year, just as in my previous 11 birthdays in recovery, I knew my special day was a day to celebrate being in recovery.

My husband started coming down with a cold early in the week. By Friday night, he knew he was feeling poorly. We made the decision that I would go see my family, and he would stay at home and rest. Hopefully, this would allow him to be ready for the dinner Saturday night. Instead of going out to an all-you-can-eat buffet (like I would have done in the past), my family and I ordered simple take-out from a place where I could get the food I needed.

I visited a shorter while than normal so I could go home and see my husband. Before FA, I wouldn’t have cared how sick someone was. As long as I was feeling fine and celebrating, well then, that just meant more for me—too bad you couldn’t indulge, too. Now I know that I have to consider someone else’s needs. My family wanted to see me for my birthday, but I didn’t need to stay all evening. We reached a comfortable compromise, and nobody was left feeling hurt or cheated (especially me).

On Saturday, my husband had a little more energy in the morning and wanted to keep our reservations and plans with our friends. Before I even took my bags up to the hotel room, I had asked to speak to the chef. It was about 4:00 p.m., the perfect time to talk to the chefs/cooks about meal plans before they got busy preparing evening orders. We worked out a wonderful meal for me. Thank you God, this program teaches me, “First things first” – my food was much more important to work out than whether we had enough towels!

As the weekend progressed, my husband became sicker and sicker with a cold. All the little activities we had planned had to be postponed for another time. In the past, and even earlier in recovery, I would have harbored deep resentments about having to sacrifice my plans. How dare someone get sick and take the attention off of me? Thank God, I don’t react that way anymore. I did not have to eat extra to quiet a rumbling stomach or to soothe a bubbling resentment. I was able to accept that people get sick, and it has nothing to do with my birthday or anniversary. We came home early, and just relaxed around the house.

I was ready to go see my aunt to salvage some of the special activities planned, when she called to say she had experienced a flare-up of an intestinal illness. We scheduled a rain-check date, and again I was able to follow Program principles and “let go and let God.” I did not have to feel resentment or anger. People get sick, especially 90-year-olds! I had a weighed and measured lunch and dinner, read a wonderful book on the couch, and made my sick husband some nice hot tea. I was able to take care of myself, my feelings, and my husband. The best part was that I could still wear my clothes the next day, and the day after. No rapid weight gain from “pity partying” or “I’ll show them” attitudes.

I’ve been in Program for over ten-and-a-half years. Every year, the best present I get is the willingness to do this program one more day. I get to stay in a normal-sized body and work on getting normal-sized emotions. My 40s have been absolutely fabulous. I came into FA at age 38, afraid I would not live to see 40. Now I’m 49 and feeling and looking fine. I know my 50s will be fantastic. I don’t dread the years anymore, and look forward to all the “readjustments” my HP keeps tossing my way.


This story was originally published in the connection Magazine. Subscribe to the connection Magazine for more stories of recovery. Or submit your own story of recovery.