TRG SPEAKER PROGRAM
Personal Stories of Recovery
~ Ruby ~
Hi Everyone :)
I'm Ruby and I'm a COE. By the grace of God I am in recovery. I'm so grateful to be here today to tell some of my story. I need the reminder of where I was and of the depths to which this disease took me, because today, by the grace of my Higher Power, I have a life of peace, freedom, and love. I have a life that is far beyond that which I could ever have dreamed of: a life of recovery.
I have been a COE as far back as I can remember. I think it started when I was around 7 or 8 years old. I can remember when food took on a life of its own in my world. A neighbor girl would steal money from her mom's purse and we would go to the corner store on our way to school and buy all we wanted. We’d stuff our faces on the walk to school. This started to become an every-day thing. It became what I looked forward to. It was my source of excitement and was a big secret. This must have filled a void in me because it quickly became everything to me. It was a high I would seek out for the next 20 years. I weighed 200 pounds in grade 4.
I have a heritage of a very large family. Eventually I was put in a hospital for sick children where none were like me. Some had mental disorders, some physical. I was put on a strict diet and my family was in counseling. The doctor had my family sit around me and he told them to tell me why they were ashamed to be seen with me. I think this is when the disease took a big hold and became a secret. I knew then I was something to be ashamed of.
Food was my source of comfort for two decades. I didn't need hugs or touch -- just food. As a high school student I had to face not fitting into the desk. I was full of anxiety. I had a physical reaction and my face got hot as I just wanted to hide from the world. I didn't need to hear any names I may have been called because I called myself those names and worse. I constantly bullied myself and the only relief was to numb myself with food. I never had a date or a boyfriend, and I told myself that I didn't need one because I had food. I couldn't go shopping for nice clothes or shoes, but I told myself I didn't need it because I had food.
At 27 I found myself alone because I had chased everyone away from me. I didn't know until looking back that I had everyone walking on egg shells. They were afraid to say a word about my weight or the way I ate. They were too afraid of me lashing out -- too afraid of me trying to control them. I smoked up to two packs a day. My weight was above 800 pounds. I could barely move. My body was full of burns from falling asleep while smoking, and I had a lot of sores from not moving and from sitting in my own waste.
One of my only friends confronted me. It was funny because she was someone I was kind of scared of. She yelled at me, “Look at yourself!” I yelled back in tears and said “Get out!” How dare she! But for once I didn't feel sorry for myself. The next day I went on a diet. I cut out junk food, but after a month I was drawn back to it. This was the first time in my life I looked outside of myself for help.
Two doctors told me about OA. I was homebound because of my weight and anxiety, but I made plans to go to a diet centre. I asked a friend to go with me but she never came, so I looked on my computer for help. Around this time I was watching TV (that's all I did), and I heard a woman answer the question: "How did you get the motivation to win this contest?" She said "I wrote on a paper that I was going to win, taped it up on my computer and looked at every day." She went on to say it was something she knew she wanted throughout her whole life. I don't know why at that moment this broke through to me, but it did. I asked myself, “What do you really want?”
My answer at first was “more of this food or that,” but a voice in me said "No, beyond that. Look deeper." I did. I learned that day that what I wanted was a husband and a child. What? I wrote this on a piece of paper and hid it away in my wallet, looking at it from time to time.
One day my goddaughter came over. Being a typical child, she was playing with my wallet and came across this paper. I was scared! Fear coursed through my veins. I was sure she would laugh at me. No one knew I wanted this. I was sure they would look at me and would think me a fool. I yelled at her to not look at the paper, but she did. She said "Wow! You want to get married and have a baby?" I prepared myself to be laughed at, but she looked at me with big eyes and asked, “Can I babysit?" What? No laugher, no shouting, “You’re not good enough, look at yourself!”
I mention this because these three things happened in the same time period and they were the steps that led me to this Program. When I first came to Program I was afraid to type because I'm dyslexic. I was sure that everyone would be laughing at me. I didn't have faith and I was full of fear. If they had immediately asked me to believe in a Higher Power, I would not have been able to. But I was just asked to be willing and I realized I could do that! I'm so thankful for those before me who made my path smoother.
After having a few wonderful guides, there was a man in Program who scared the **** out of me! At first I didn't realize that when he was sharing I would move to the side of the computer screen and try to hide. What got to me was that he was telling my story. He knew me like no one else did, but he didn't even know my name. One day he spoke about his wife and what a great sponsor she was, so I played detective and found out who she was and she became my sponsor.
She led me through the Steps as laid out in the AABB. Slowly I started to understand with my heart. That's why even in fear I came back. I guess it’s the same with us all. My dear sponsor led me on the same path she had been shown, and she helped me to clear away all the stuff that blocked me from God. When I was told to pray (that was not a request, LOL) I felt like a phony. Feeling like a fraud was a familiar feeling, but I was told to “act as if,” and I could do that. Then one day I was no longer acting. I started to feel God’s light on my face for the first time.
I felt like playing the way I did as a child. I started to see the beauty in the world. It was no longer fear that led me, it was God. He has given me a second chance and now I am living a life I could not have ever imagined. I live in peace and freedom as long as I put forth the effort to work the Program. What a gift! I have been given a new way of life. I have not lost all the weight, but I have lost some and I'm at peace with where I am today. I know the physical recovery will come. As I’ve learned in these rooms, this disease was in my mind, not in the food. Today God is the centre of my life.
When I came into this Program I was emotionally about eight years old. I understand today that for most of my life I thought I was "bad." I even came into Program saying I was "bad," just like a child would. But here I find the freedom to know that I am not a bad person trying to become good, rather I am a sick person trying to become well. I learned I am not the disease. Yes Ruby, you are not the disease! For the first time in my life I believed that I was not bad. I know now that I am good and free. What a gift God has given us in this fellowship! We can say just a few words that can change someone’s life. Many people did that for me.
Today I accept Ruby as she is, and the world as it is. I'm so grateful for this chance to pass my ESH on to you. "We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men." AABB pg 46
I could go on for hours but I will end here. I'm Ruby. I'm a COE in recovery, by the grace of God. I love all of you sisters and brothers in fellowship.