I was totally obsessed with food when I came to TheRecoveryGroup many months ago. I could not stop eating, binging or thinking about what I was going to eat; planning a binge, or shopping, cooking and baking for the next binge. Thoughts of food consumed my every waking moment. I could not stop eating. I had tried every diet known to mankind, and the results were total demoralization and many excess pounds on my body.
Hi, I'm Tami, and this is how my life was before I found the Twelve Steps, and the way out of hell that I found myself. The Twelve Steps literally saved my life and gave me hope. I was in so much pain and misery that I could not see a way out of that suffering except to die.
I had given up on diets before I came in. I had given up hope. The disease of COE had progressed so much in me that I could not get through a morning before my resolve to loose weight melted undefeated to a binge and out of control eating. Then there were the stupors and sleeping off the effects.
I am honest about how suicidal I was. Working this program as hard as I can and going to any lengths to get well and recover has changed my past so that I regret not the past or wish to shut the door on it. I also know that God can use my past now to help others to know hope. But first you must know that I was devoid of hope for many months before I actually found OA and TRG loops online. I also did not have the courage to end my life.
I had experienced years of suffering chronic depression. I would work for awhile, until the depression became so debilitating that waorking became impossible. I had anxiety attacks, and panic disorder. And yet, I resisted taking my antidepressants that did at least give me some relief and the semblance of a life. I was ashamed.
The year preceding my entry into this program seemed to be one disaster followed by one equally bad. My daughter's fiance was sent to prison. We began planning prison trips instead of a wedding. Our family experienced 3 miscarriages in 6 months (these were my grandbabies) and I had not gotten over the pain in my heart from my beloved dad's death from cancer 5 years before. Two of my adult children were not speaking to me, and another barely. Did I mention the problems with my in-laws?
I was in such inner pain, I could not look at myself in the mirror. The pain I saw in my eyes reminded me what I could not face and wanted to forget. I did not take good care of myself or my hygiene. I wore old ugly clothes and just did not care how I looked most of the time. Finding attractive clothes when you are large, male or female, is hard. I stopped trying.
Every joint in my body ached. My mind was in a stupor, sugar or food fog the major portion of the time. I was in great pain after binges from the huge amounts of food I ate. I couldn't concentrate or think. I felt stupid.
I hid food, I stole food, I ate in secret. I thought it was secret. I was in denial that every ounce of it showed up on my body to announce to the rest of the world my "dirty little secret".
I did not answer the phone or the doorbell. I avoided family and friends alike. I turned inward, and did not join in conversations, or talk much, share or converse. The noise in my head from the disease drowned the rest of the world out, and thinking thru my self induced food anesthesia was nearly impossible. Then to the other extreme, when I did try to I was easily offended, flew into a rage at the slightest provocation, or felt sorry for myself.
My world kept getting smaller and smaller from the compulsion that drove me to eat and shut out the world; to isolate myself. Most of my family just stopped trying. I turned inward and felt rejected. I felt like a big fat zero.
Sometimes I remembered to pay bills, and then would start the shopping sprees as I switched compulsion. I could not find important documents, or papers. The clutter was piling up. I stopped doing the things that I used to love to do. Gardening, needlework, walking, bird watching and laughing at a joke were things from the past.
I had high cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. but I could not stay on the preventative diet plan and walking prescribed to lower it to save my health. I was truly frightened, so I ate something to deaden the fear.
Just before trying OA and TRG, I attended a retreat with my husband where the speakers were recovering alcoholics who worked the Twelve Steps of AA. They all glowed, had a serenity and peace that I did not have. But I wanted what they had so much. They spoke of how their lives were before and after surrendering to their HP and working the Steps. Here was a small glimmer of hope.
On the way home my husband and I talked of trying OA for my weight problem. If working the twelve steps could keep my husband sober for 21 years, and these people, too, then perhaps there was hope for me. I was so ready, and I admitted to him that I could not stop eating. I didn't know it then, but I had just taken a step in accepting that I was powerless. I admitted that I had a problem with food, with living.
Then I had a real problem, for there were no OA groups in my area. But, I was ready and not about to give up. I had just a seed of hope that pushed me to try online. I found The Recovery Group, began to read and a little more hope grew in me. I identified with nearly everything I read. There were other people like me and they understood what this disease was like. They presented hope to me in ways I could grasp. I began to feel a little less alone.
When I worked Step One the first time, I had to commit to be willing to live. It was basic. Then I committed to being honest with myself and my HP, whom I call God. The third commitment I made was to do whatever was suggested or recommended. If they said stand on one foot and twirl, I would do it.
Today, my life is not perfect, but it is manageable. All I can promise you is hope and a path out of the chaos of unmanageability that addiction and compulsion can bring to a person's life. The twelve steps has given me a road map to find balance, focus and self responsibility. I have a close connection to God that has enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams. Food is in it's rightful proper place in my life; as fuel and nutrition.
I want to live, not merely exist or survive. That has been my goal from the beginning of my recovery journey is to move from survival mode into thriving. I wanted to experience all of my feelings, to identify them, and not be afraid of them or to allow them to become dictators.
It is not easy to change, but it is worth it to find serenity, peace and freedom. Today I am free of the compulsion to overeat. I've been given a reprieve from the ravages of this disease, as long as I am spiritually fit and work the twelve steps. This has come from having a committed spirituality.
I found a long time ago, that I did not have a dieting problem or failure, I had a life problem. I avoided reality by using food to medicate me, to numb up, to escape and avoid what I was feeling. I can't swallow my feelings anymore, and hope for the oblivion that eating certain binge foods gave me...that high or vacant condition. Today, I find that facing my feelings and my problems brings me ultimate comfort, not food. There is no such thing as instant gratification, using and abusing food does not bring me comfort or peace. Serenity comes from facing reality.
Admitting that I had a disease and that I was powerless to stop eating compulsively was the hardest thing I have ever done. But, I have never regretted it. I was ready for this lifesaving program. It has given me a life worth living.
I have a quote from the AA BB that I refer to frequently for inspiration.
"Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." (p. 98, paragraph 2)
Thank you for the honor of being your Step Study Leader this quarter and the privilege of sharing my experience, strength and hope with you.
Blessings, Tami WTS Step Study Leader
STEP ONE ~ QUESTIONS
1. Have you tried to control your eating and wound up demoralized? Were you happy if you succeeded? Briefly explain.
2. Are you in touch with your feelings, or do you turn to food to alter your mood?
3. Have you ever talked about a certain food(s) in orgasmic terms? Or made comments that you can't live without a particular food? Have you had an anxiety attack at the mere thought of living without a certain food?
4. In what ways is your life unmanageable?
5. Make a list of particular foods that give you trouble. Be honest and thorough. Send this list to your sponsor.
Make a list of eating behaviors that give you trouble. Send to your sponsor.
6. List the rationalizations that you use to deceive yourself that you don't have a problem with food. For example: One bite won't hurt me.
7. Do I acknowledge that my current methods of managing have not been successful, and I need to find a new approach to life? Explain.
8. Are you ready to change and to learn? Why?
9. Are you convinced that you can't handle life through self-will alone? Explain.
10. Are you still holding out hope for one last diet to work? Be honest.