TRG SPEAKER PROGRAM
Personal Stories of Recovery
~ Millie ~
My name is Millie; I am a Compulsive Overeater and Food Addict in recovery. Thank you for being here for me and the opportunity to share.
Let me give you a quick bio on who I am and where I came from. I came to OA in 2000; moved to Canada from Europe in 1992 and binged my way around the world. I saw many hospitals inside all over the world due to the way I ate and what I did to my body. I became abstinent right away in 2000; stayed abstinent for about 3.5 years then went into relapse for about 12 months. It was a different relapse; not so much the food. As they often say the food was the last thing to go. BUT all the behavior, the fat between my ears, the constant thinking on how to get food, the worry about enough/not enough food finally lead me to food relapse. I called my sponsor right away and got my abstinence back shortly ... the rest I will tell you about later.
A bit about my childhood: I am a single child. I grew up in a family with several generations of bakers. My extended family is full of award winning bakers and pastry chefs. So my favorite binge foods were always available FREE & plentiful. My father lived in the fear of me being hungry. So my requests for food from for me meant requesting love. Food meant love. Sharing food meant sharing love. It took me a long time in OA recovery to relearn; relearn that I can show love in many different ways. My mother has been anorexic for as long as I can remember. She used to get up in the middle of a meal hop on the scale to find out if she can eat more --- call that insanity.
I was underweight as a child due to unknown food allergies and as a result my body not digesting food properly and getting the right nutrients. My parents had their own very successful business. The only time we had together was usually mealtimes. As a child, that was quite joyful - as a teenager it was hell. My father gave me lectures on what a rotten teenager I was during mealtimes - as a result I learned very quickly to wolf down my food as fast as possible so I could run from the table. I was raised by a hired nanny whom I loved, admired and idolized. She died when I was 12. All of a sudden I became hungry all the time, wanted to eat more and more. The only satisfaction/peace I found was when I felt full ... usually a very short-lived experience. In order to feel full all the time I needed to eat all the time. I went on my first diet in Junior High School. And once again ... the people pleaser in me got very unhappy. The terror continued at mealtimes. My mother was pleased that I ate less due to the diet; my father lived in fear that I would die of starvation. So no matter what I did, I could not please them both at the same time and again... I lost out. I have lost and gained a lot of weight over the years... I guess I forgot to mention that my HP decided that I carried 60 lbs too many on my body and decided to take that away from me once I became willing after I joined OA and even though I fluctuated within about 10 pounds, I have been blessed with a healthy weight since.
People pleasing was my greatest asset as a young person ... I tried so hard I lost myself in the process. After my nanny died I did not feel loved by anyone and. as a result, food gave me comfort. And so did many boyfriends ... however I was never happy joyous or free. I got married the first time at a young age. I was immature and insecure just like my ex-husband. I believe today that I attract what I reflect and that my relationships always had to fill my needs. I was a very needy individual and as the literature says, I could not be in a relationship as partners. I could only take hostages... so that was what my friendship with men and women were like. If you were my friend/lover I OWNED YOU. You were only to spend time with ME ... nobody else. I did not know how to be a friend or how to be loving, patient and tolerant. My first marriage ended as fast as it started. I was afraid of commitment. I gained about 80 lbs in my first year of marriage since my ex and I could not talk nor share with one another. We shared food ... lots and plenty. As long as my mouth was stuffed with food I did not have to talk. I was terrified that if he would truly get to know me he would not like me anymore and leave. The funny thing was that this was the theme of all my relationships until I came into recovery I did not allow myself to show feelings LLLLLLLLLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV ...LOL The only time I can remember feeling close to anyone was around food. Lots .... and preferably sweet stuff.
After my marriage my dates continued in the same style .. if you want my body you have to feed it first. Most times I was too stuffed afterwards to let you have it. BUT you paid for the food so I had to pay you back with my body. I felt like a food prostitute on most of my dates. I only attracted losers and abusers because I wanted to be a victim so I could feel sorry for myself and binge. I remember meeting two guys who truly cared about me and loved me with all my excess weight. And I ran as fast as I could, of course. My top weight was measured at 199 lbs. I say measured because after I got the number from my doctor I stopped weighing myself ... because in my opinion at 199 lbs I was still slim but at 200 lbs I would have been fat. So even at that time, the fat was between my ears. I had very low self-esteem when I came into the program and I had lots of opportunity to do step work. My low self-esteem about my physical appearance came back from a 30 year old resentment. My then family doctor told my mom in my presence that I had child-bearing hips... which to me immediately meant fat/big hips. I believed that until some time after joining OA and doing the step work.
As I said earlier, I came to OA in 2000. I was one of the (un)fortunate people who had to end up in the hospital several times I had bleeding bowels prior to coming to OA. The good COE that I am, I immediately decided to research my family history of bowel disorders, which one - does not exist - and two - the family has many adoptions in it. But I was in denial that the bad things that happened in my suffering bowels could have anything to do with what I put into my body.My body was near the end of its capacity to digest. I believed at the end that I was allergic to so many things that I lived on soy milk shakes and French fries (sorry to mention the food) for months on end. My poor body just shut down. I became anemic and bled inside out. I was in the ER on average of three times a week. And again ... I kept researching bowel disorders. No answers.
The answers I found in OA. I did get medical help. As the BB says, there are things we need outside help for. The specialist told me about the state of my bowels and put me on a special plan of eating. But once again ... I came home from the Specialist and told my now hubby NO WAY! My hubby was my guardian angel. He committed to eating the same things I had to for the 30 days the doctors asked. I immediately got better but I did not get any better inside. Happy feeling - I found that in OA. I knew that there had to be more to live for than to worry about what and when to eat and if there is enough. I had been on so many diets and different food plans - always with great obsession and conviction. I was always good for about a 30 pound weight loss, medically monitored, starving, bingeing, purgeing. Whatever you asked, I could I deliver.
I suffered from bulimia for a while. As mentioned earlier I had great difficulty expressing my feelings and being vulnerable so I used manipulation via bulimia to do so. My (now) hubby and I had to attend many public food events. I was always terrified since I believed I was not pretty enough, smart enough, good enough to go. When I tried to back out at the last minute he would not go because of my attempt to manipulate him (he is very smart). So we would go to the event and after the meal I would go to the ladies room and stick my finger in my throat. Result: He took me home because I was sick.
On the outside I was physically sick. But as the BB says, this disease is spiritual, emotional and physical. Before OA, I did not allow myself to feel, to be vulnerable or honest with others, to show my true self. I was terrified of myself and others. I remember I relapsed after my initial piece of step work which was followed by an extended family visit. I could not stay abstinent. Again, I was terrified to confess BUT when I came back and told my sponsor she gently told me "You had a difficult time and family creates tension that makes it difficult to remain sane and abstinent". Her very gentle and NON-JUDGEMENTAL approach gave me the courage to open up. My first year with her as my sponsor I would call her with a problem and she would suggest that I do step work. The 2nd year I did the step work before I called her.
What is my life like today? Today I have a very peaceful abstinence. I have been blessed with the gift of time. I can appreciate this gift for myself and share it with others. The OA tools are part of my daily life: I sponsor (full), I am a sponsee, I give service, I read, I write, I meditate, I maintain a conscious contact with my HP. I enjoy life and I am at peace. My HP gives me a positive outlook upon life. The promises on BB 83/84 have come true for me. I recently learned that my fear of financial insecurity is just another addiction/way to cope ... basically I focus on that rather than do the step work about the fear I really have ... (Loss, grieving, medical results) So, for today, I know that as long as I stay close to OA and my HP, my life is going to be ok no matter what. Before OA my only way to cope with life was to eat and binge and cheat and lie. Now in recovery I have the Steps that teach me how to cope with life. I am powerless, I accept that! I write it out, I share it, I recognize my part, and I work on changing it and have a new awareness. To me that is a simplified process of doing the steps.
I am blessed with 2 years and 2 months of abstinence, a very loving marriage, great friends inside and outside of OA, a wonderful family of choice and the gift to be comfortable in my own skin.