A Story of Recovery:

Yours (Truly)


I ate addictively because I am a food addict. I believed it to my core.  Yet, knowing this truth, why did I continue to pick up that first bite for all those years?  During the first 90 days in recovery, I found out.

In those first 90 days, I was told to remember my last binge. I pictured how I felt after that binge. I recalled lying on the couch in the fetal position with a bloated stomach, gas and cramps. I cried and prayed for some physical relief. I ached all over. I felt like I had squeezed into jeans three sizes too small that cut at my belly, waist and hips. On many of those first 90 days, I remembered what it was like to binge and see no way out of my hopeless dilemma.  I recalled the insane, insatiable desire to eat flour, sugar and quantities, while craving the recovery and peace I witnessed at every FA meeting I attended.

I had been trying to attain 90 days of abstinence for four or five years.  At one point, I made it five months, but soon found myself stuffing in the food and packing on the pounds again. My top weight was 240 pounds, and I know I could go well beyond this number should I ever return to addictive eating.

Recovery in FA did not come easily for me. How did those other FA members do it?  How did they stop eating “one day at a time,” and make it for 90 days without flour, sugar and quantities?  I was truly baffled. I was extremely jealous of those newcomers that achieved 90 days when they first walked through the doors. I even suspected they were lying about their abstinence.

Finally, something shifted for me that day on the couch when my temporary sponsor called me back.  I answered the cell phone in desperation. She was just returning my call, yet for me it was an act of Providence. For the first time in all the years I had been trying to get 90 days of continuous abstinence, I found myself telling the truth to this would-be stranger on the west coast. I heard myself begin to rationalize and lie about the way I was eating and the destruction it was causing my family and myself. Then I stopped mid-sentence and told her what was really happening. I told her I was purging again, which I hadn’t done for over ten years. I had not admitted it to anyone. I was finally honest about my individual binge foods, too. There were foods that my FA fellows could eat with impunity, yet for me they lead to a binge. On that day, I even had to give up decaf coffee. I told her I was desperate and finally willing to be rigorously honest. She agreed to sponsor me, and we began walking this path of recovery together.

My sponsor explained that the first 90 days could be “brutal.” No one had ever told me this. She told me that even on difficult days, DON’T EAT NO MATTER WHAT, NO MATTER WHAT DON’T EAT!  Making three phone calls was often not enough. I made as many calls as were necessary for me not to eat. I made a promise to my sponsor that I would call BEFORE I took the first bite. I had made this promise many times in the past to sponsors, but I had never followed through. When the craving would rear its ugly head, I wouldn’t call. I was terrified I would binge again because that is what I had always done. So, this time I picked up the phone.

During the first 90 days, my sponsor told me that abstinence was the most important thing in her life. What about a Higher Power?  What about family? I now believe abstinence is the most important thing in my life, too. When I am not abstinent, all of my relationships suffer. In those first 90 days, I had to face the truth that when eating addictively, food becomes my Higher Power. If I even attempt quiet time, it is spent thinking about what I’m going to eat for breakfast.  When I’m eating flour, sugar and quantities, the food is my primary relationship. I will choose to be alone to eat, rather than spend quality time with family.  During the first 90 days, my sponsor and I discussed all of these truths. She helped me to see that the disease lied to me, and I lied about the disease.

I believed that when I stopped eating, I would feel wonderful.  However for me, not eating brought up all of my fears about the past, present and future. I felt extremely anxious. I would call my sponsor in the morning, and she would assure me that I could get through the day abstinently. At times the fear would grip me. My food cravings were intense.  I kept thinking the cravings would be removed, but for me, I had to just hang on and not eat. I believed the lie that if my Higher Power wanted me to be abstinent, my Higher Power would immediately remove my desire to eat. Now I believe I had to fight for every day of abstinence in those first 90 days, so that I would appreciate this most precious gift.

At 120 pounds, I am half of my top weight, and for the most part, I am happy, joyous and free.  I am available for my family, and we enjoy hiking, skiing, playing at the beach, and traveling together. I am extremely grateful for all I learned in those first 90 days. I learned to remember my last binge. I came to realize that I am a food addict who must always be mindful of my individual binge foods. I learned that some days are difficult, but that I don’t eat NO MATTER WHAT!  I came to believe that abstinence is the most important thing in my life. I learned that I must use all my tools every day, and make as many outreach calls in a 24-hour period as needed. Most importantly, I learned that if I am to keep my abstinence and keep growing in my recovery, I must be rigorously honest in all my affairs.

 

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.