We're still working on step twelve, by volume, the biggest step in the big book. This week we'll look at the chapter, "To Wives", starting on page 105.
Do as you have the first seven chapters, going through and crossing out the alcohol and alcoholic and write in food/alcoholic food/binge foods, etc and food addict/COE/bulimic/anorexic, etc. You might even want to cross out man and write person or woman. Then go back and read it slowly, highlighting what you relate to. We've really been working on relating and taking care not to compare ourselves to the alcoholic. This chapter will really stretch your imagination, because the majority of COE's are women and the majority of alcoholics (at least when the big book was written) were men. Asking you to put yourself in the alcoholic's place in this chapter is going to be a big stretch. But you can do it. Remember, we are seeking to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God.
Right as we start reading, the plot is laid out others are always involved. Your children? Husband? Job? With a modicum of honesty, we can see that our overeating has affected many people in addition to ourselves. Those who were in our lives indeed had a rocky path too, if you honestly take the time now to look at the effect we've had on others.
I isolated. Did you? In the end of my overeating days, we no longer had people in our home. My main intent was getting my food and eating it in peace. My housework suffered too. Did yours? And as I surpassed 250 pounds, it was physically difficult to clean.
Oh boy, and eating out. I'd have to chow down beforehand, so I could eat demurely in front of others. Weren't parties painful? All that food and how could we "sneak" it without being observed? Who was I kidding? There is nothing anonymous about a compulsive overeater who's in the throes of the disease.
I have to honestly say that my eating had a financial impact on my family budget. I spent money on my binges that should have gone on bills. Bet you did too. Funny, today I'll look at some fruits in the store and think, "I'm not paying THAT!" But did I ever think twice about spending money at the fast food places? I always had money for my beloved food.
And since I didn't flat out binge in front of my husband, he had no idea how I could have been so fat. I didn't understand it either. My own little private world of food my lies.
On page 107, paragraph one up from the bottom talks about how the wives could have been so wrong when marrying their husbands. I know why they were so wrong. I was two different people. I starved myself to be attractive and once I married, I headed out to the kitchen and my ex-husband picked up his bottle. He was military and went on temporary duty assignments. He'd be gone for 3 to 6 months at a time. I'd either binge while he was gone, or starve. The Military was quite good about dispensing diet pills too. Combined with alcohol, I was a walking, driving time bomb in those cycles of my addiction.
On page 108 it talks about how the food addict was so inconsiderate when eating. I sure was. That man just did not understand. Heck, I didn't understand. You know, I never say that anymore since I'm food sober. It says that our loved ones should treat us like we had pneumonia. There are many references throughout the big book about this being a disease. I really respect that and treat my disease as a fatal illness. My "treatment plan" keeps me well. The steps, the tools, prayer, all necessary parts of that treatment. But back in the days before recovery, I too was positive I could handle my eating. Tomorrow I'd get it back under control, but tomorrow never came. I could not do it on my own.
The bottom of page 109 and forward talks about the four types of overeaters:
First, the "heavy eater", who's overeating may have been constant or heavy on occasions, positive we could control it.
Second, unable to stay on a diet, now losing friends, wanting to stop but not able to.
Third, it's now affect health. For me I was arthritis ridden from the strain on my joints, bone spurs, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart palpitations, approaching diabetic level.
Four, out of control, mean, nasty overeater. I was there. A mean, self centered, blaming, ego-ridden b*tch. Do you relate? My family had suggested treatment. Treatment? I just was getting ready to star a new diet. Always in denial.
My husband was always making suggestions of a new diet or program which would help me to lose weight. And of course, I thought he was a nag and I was resentful. I'd try another new diet, and another, and another. All were followed by the fateful day when I fell face first in a pizza and the diet went bye-bye.
As you read on in this chapter, you'll get an idea of what our families went through when we were in active food consumption. And then you'll see what they went through once we found OA and started to get food sober. I don't know about you guys, but I was all over the map! Depressed, then giddy, excited about losing weight maybe even a bit high off that. It took a long time for me to settle down into an abstinent, recovered way of life.
And the chapter ends with these words to our loved ones, "Good luck and God be with you." It is hard to look at how we may have affected our families. But we did!
Maybe this is the first time you really looked at how your eating affected your family. I was for me. Painful to think of how my husband was affected. I did not have children, but have sponsored people with kids and it was extremely painful for those mothers. The good news is that you are changing. You are now an upstanding member of your family. Congratulations.
Here are some questions for your reflection:
Which type of eater were you? Can you see yourself in one of the four categories?
Did your family nag you about your weight or your eating? Did it sound like they were trying o be helpful? How did you react to that?
Did your family express worry about your health?
Did anyone in your family suggest Overeaters Anonymous? Were you enthusiastic?
What other diets or remedies did they suggest?
Did your family ever threaten to leave you or kick you out if you didn't stop your insane eating?
Did your children need protection from you when they got into your stash, or they interrupted your eating?
Did your family "call you in sick" or make excuses for you to your boss?
Did your family ever resent it when you went to OA meetings?
Wow, did you ever look at that chapter quite like you did today? Pretty powerful, eh?
Have a great weekend. More step twelve next week!
Abstinence first, absolutely