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I Am Powerless Over Food
I am not what I was. I am becoming what I will be
I am a compulsive overeater, sugar addict, carb infested survivor of abuse. Now that I said it, I am stronger. I am more empowered to go on with another minute of sobriety. This article documents what I have already gone through and what I am still struggling with. As you read this it is my sincere hope that you will feel less alone. I pray that you will feel less ashamed. I ask my higher power to grant you the serenity to feel less remorseful.
I am old. I have fought many fights; some of them good, most of them bad and all of them gifting me with scars. It would be easy to compare my psyche to the back of a Galapagos tortoise. Over the years of my active addiction, people told me all the usual stuff. “Just quit” they would say. “Stay away from the thing you can’t eat” I was counseled. “Control your emotions and you will not eat so much”, was the advice of all those who don’t struggle. It doesn’t work! They don’t work! The wise counselors are not my addiction.
I have friends and accountability brothers who struggle with drugs, alcohol, sex and food. When I ask them how they feel when they are ready to go off the wagon, I find that the same emotions, the same compulsions and the same spirals happen to anyone who suffers. It begins with the cold sweats. The blankets are shrouds containing hot popsicles of despair. Butterflies flitter and whisper “just one bite”. “It’s only 300 calories” “Just one hit- 20 potato chips” which morph into two 12 ounce bags.
Phase three is head trauma. I tell myself all the things that people in recovery say at meetings. “It will pass”. “Do something to occupy your mind” “Call a friend”. “Just say no!” Yup, it’s all easy so to say. It is so Auschwitz impossible to live.
The telephone weighs 700 pounds. The car keys are hidden and even if they weren’t, the GPS is locked into bakery, food store or garbage can in back of the Fill in the Blank Mexican Restaurant. “Your location? “ Screams the witch in the box. “Hell!” I scream back. “Destination?” Anyplace but here, as long as anyplace has food. Yes, I indeed dumpster die, or is it dumpster dive, so that my family does not recognize that their own food is missing.
Of course there are the times when my disease is so great that I don’t make it out of the house. Those are the adventurous episodes where I use the self talk of an addict to convince my body that taking three scoops of peanut butter, four chocolate bars from the Halloween stash and a measured cup of milk will not be missed.
I cannot help myself. I am powerless over food. I lack the ability to stop. I am a compulsive overeater.
Three months ago I got out of my head and into my heart. A fellow addict invited me to a Christian recovery meeting. Prior to this particular session I was a professional meeting attendee. Do you know me? Name the meeting, I have attended. AA, NA, Al Anon, I could go on but you get the picture.
All of these programs work for some, but not for me because have the one character flaw that precludes 12 Steps from helping people with my trait. I have pride. I don’t have ordinary pride however. Mine is the kind that would fill Noah’s Ark and not leave any room for the animals. Thanks to my pride, I was able to stay in my head and say all the right things while sitting attentively, seriously, at meetings, but go back home and have a quart of ice cream to reward myself. “Good boy, you’re not like those weak fatsos.”
My pride taught me that God could heal and forgive everyone except me. I was too dirty, too far gone, too messed up to be worthy of His grace. “You are exactly who should come with me, brother”, was the word I heard from my addict friend. With nothing to lose, I went. For twelve weeks, I went. Every single Friday night, for twelve weeks, I went. Strange as it sounds, it is stranger to write that it took 12 weeks of going until God ( That’s who I call Him) smacked me with a 2x4 and refused to stop hitting until I said “Enough already. I give up! I can’t stand your love any longer. I accept”.
I am nothing without the Lord Jesus Christ. I am powerless without His grace. Call your higher power anything you want. I know people who call him “It” or “HP”. The point is not religion. It’s faith. As you read this, you may be saying, “I am an Atheist”. Great, that makes you a believer. You won’t get an argument here. Just believe with all your heart.
I am a Catholic Christian as well as an addict. I embrace my Catholicity as I embrace my addiction and my recovery. Frankly, my abstinence and sobriety are more important than my 8:00 AM mass on Sunday. Spooky Pooky people, shame on me. I embrace my Catholic tradition; I just see the forest for the trees and look at the balderdash while I think of His two maxims. “Love God, and love others as I have loved you.” Oops one more- “Follow me”. My God loves me in spite of myself. He loves me despite how I hate Him.
My God loves my heart. He loves my faith. He looks at me with smiling eyes and laughs His head off because I get worked up about all the really important things like time tables, deadlines, meetings and popularity, while He gets worked up when I don’t talk to Him. Funny thing is, when God gets worked up, He gets really quiet, until I come back and look for Him. Then He giggles, “Hey dummy, I love you, but I hate this hide and seek game. Just keep your eyes on me so you don’t get lost in the dumpster again”. Imagine that God loves ME! He loves my brokenness, He loves my snot nosed whininess that screams “I want my way, and I want it now Poppa”.
God loves that I have a relationship with Him. That concept blows my mind even more than the thought of a triple scoop frozen custard turtle sundae- no nuts please; I have all I need when I look in the mirror.
Having reconnected with a son to whom I was lost for 17 years, I get that. All I want is a relationship with my kid. Imagine that! God says the same thing to me every day. “Hey, you…all I want is a friendship, a relationship. Is that too much to ask?” When I am crazy, relationship with God is too much to ask. When my eyes are on the prize of sobriety and abstinence, sometimes I think I can make it through another night of insanity.
What does this article have to do with 12 steps? I am powerless over food and I have made a decision to turn my life over to the God of my understanding. I have come to admit that a power greater than myself can help me. I have begun to believe that the belief in God’s power to heal, can change me for the better, in ways that the belief in my disease never could. I have begun to surrender.
At least for right now I am abstinent. At least for right now I am sober. At least for right now, I am safe. I am loved.
- Newcomers - Overeaters Anonymous
There is hope in the group