I wish I had more space to write in for this. When I interviewed all types of addicts for “The Intervention Book”, I was amazed at the number of people who described a food addiction or food disorder as a part of their story. There is also a strange stigma that these folks feel. In other words, they had no problem talking about their alcohol or drug addiction but kept the food addiction very private.
We are in recovery from alcohol and/or drugs and truly our bodies absolutely do not need these. Can you imagine how difficult a food addiction is? Food is a part of life. Like any addiction, you can’t just stop and say no. It is not about will power any more than any other addiction. And, so, when a reader gave me the opportunity to share her story, I wanted to take advantage of her kindness.
Before you read her story, here a little background material I have permission to share. Maureen was a binge eater. Her binges occurred a few times in any week and they centered around sugar. She kept it a secret. Because her activity level kept her weight from becoming excessive, people didn’t believe she had a food problem. She felt very alone in her illness and she said her soul was “morbidly obese”. Today she knows that pain caused the binges and food was her relief. The 12 Steps taught her “how to feel the pain, process the pain, and heal from the pain.” “Feel, deal, and heal.”
I am sure there is a lot more to Maureen’s story but for now please enjoy what she has written. Thank you so much, Maureen. I know there is something you have written that someone out there truly needs to hear.
“My name is Maureen and I am a grateful believer who is in recovery for food addiction. For most of my life, I relied on a sugar- induced peacefulness to cope. Mistakes from the past, fear of the future and difficulties in the present drove me to eat. I prayed to God to rescue me, fix my life, or perform a miracle because I had been taught that if I asked I would receive, in His good time. But I didn’t know how to wait without my mouth full of food.
My obsession began in early childhood without my awareness and I embraced it until it began taking over my life. I tried fixing myself through diets, exercise and countless self-help books, never guessing I was only fueling my addiction. It was never about the food.
I heard about Overeater’s Anonymous and for the first time realized I was not alone. I found God in the Big Book and a personal relationship began taking root in my heart. When OA was no longer available, I tried to work the program alone for many years. I continued seeking God through prayer and meditation and my peace increased as I learned to surrender more and more of my life and will to His care and control. The Serenity Prayer became my mantra and with His help I found the courage to make some painful but necessary changes.
Although the behavior was modified, I couldn’t bring myself to completely give up the food, the dieting, the exercise and obsession with appearance even though my body was never above normal weight range. I was afraid of life without it. I was afraid of the grief and self –recrimination buried under it. I was afraid that once the food circus left my life, I would be consumed.
When our church started a 12 step program, I joined. I worked though a step study four times and learned to allow others to see more of the real me. Their acceptance helped me to feel it for myself. They did not see me for the terrible person I feared. I worked on people pleasing, codependency, perfectionism, and busyness behaviors, using the 12 steps to cope more often instead. Through daily study of His Word, I came to know Him as Father, Comforter, Friend, not the author of the bad things that had happened to me. I began to forgive myself and believe that I had always done the best I knew how.
As more and more of the guilt of past mistakes left me I could feel His presence. He had always been there but I had hidden in my shame. In a leap of faith, I handed over the food completely. I knew what had been covered by it for so long would begin to surface and I would have to face it and work it through before I could finally let it go. I was scared, but confident that if I humbled myself and fully trusted Him, He would help me do what I could not do for myself.
On June 28, 2010, I was freed from my life long struggle with food addiction and it has been maintained to this day by His grace. I continue to work my program, look for opportunities to serve others, pay attention when I eat, eating what I want and stopping when I begin to feel satisfied. It is not perfect, but it is enough. I deal with troubling thoughts, feelings, and life events as they occur in the absence of food, because doing otherwise would jeopardize my recovery.
Slowly, the debris of my past is clearing and I am able to live in the present. I trust God will take care of tomorrow. Stuff I have feared facing for 40 years has been lifted from me through the healing words of the most unlikely sources, messengers from God, reminding me of His ever present love and personal interest in my life. Never has it been so effortless, as long as I stay focused on Him. Like Peter in Matthew 14:28-30, I have to keep my eyes off the high waves of the storming seas, have faith, and hold Jesus’ outstretched hand, so I do not drown as I walk with Him on the turbulent waters that life sometimes brings.
My relationship with Him continues to be strengthened, and often times I feel like the “trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Trees not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they do continue producing delicious fruit. “Jeremiah 17:5-8.
Most rewarding of all, I have found a way to really hear God speak to me. I know it is Him because of the overwhelming peace it brings.
It has been a long journey and I am grateful He didn’t give up on me, that He never really left me alone. I am grateful that I am a food addict, because without it, I may never have known the miracle. And I am grateful for our 12 step program which has been crucial in helping me get to this place.”
Thanks, again, Maureen. Namaste'. May you continue to walk your journey in peace and harmony.
Like Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of “The Intervention Book” (Conari Press)