As I approach my tenth year in a 12-Step programme, I appreciate how many blessings have come into my life that I could not have even dreamed of before I joined the AEA fellowship. I have been reflecting on the last decade and how I live as a sober person now.
I was morbidly obese, full of despair and hopelessness
When I came into the programme, I witnessed the miracle of recovery in members and heard about the solution to this often fatal disease. What I saw and what I heard was that if I were completely willing to surrender to a Power greater than myself (which was based on my own understanding), my obsession with food, my addictive eating, and the chaos in my life would be removed. I learned how the disease of addiction rendered me completely powerless to control my eating and the other substances I had picked up along the way including alcohol and prescription medications. I came to understand that my addictive eating is a progressive disease of mind, body, and spirit.
During my long eating career, I persistently tried to manage my life by controlling people and circumstances. I could not handle life as it was too overwhelming. Feelings of shame, frustration, envy, resentment, and emptiness plagued me, no matter how much I had or attained. After many years of failed dieting and bingeing, I felt complete despair and hopelessness. I was morbidly obese, contemplating gastric bypass and rushing toward death, due to my inability to stop eating.
It took effort to constantly surrender my self-seeking ways
With the help of a sponsor, I took actions that were simple and clear, but not easy for a person who was obsessed with controlling everything just to feel alright. This required being willing to stop addictive eating, to let go of self-defeating behaviors and to let go of lifelong ideas - like trying to manage my eating on my own. Fortunately, I was so desperate and tired of the misery of being completely powerless to not eat even when I wanted to, that I accepted the first step 100%. I sought a Higher Power of my own understanding and began to rely on that Power to do for me what I could not do for myself. Miraculously, my obsession to control and enjoy my eating was removed, including the need to use other mind-altering substances.
I learned that my eating and substance use were just symptoms of my real problem (my self-centered thinking). Going through the 12 Steps was a painful journey, at times, especially in the beginning as it required the constant surrender of my self-seeking ways and motives, but I was no longer alone on this road. And my life began to change dramatically and kept getting better. By the grace of God, I found myself changing in ways that were impossible when I was living in addiction.
To trust I need to let go fully and thoroughly
Recently, at an AEA meeting I attended, a person shared about trusting her Higher Power in every area of her life. She had a deeply rooted certainty that no matter what life situation was happening, she would be all right. My immediate thought was “I don't have that level of trust.” It was suggested that I ask myself, regardless of how deeply I think I believe in a Higher Power, do I really have faith in a Higher Power to run my life? Do I trust myself and God or not? I realized that my strong belief in a Power, a strong feeling inside me for this Power, isn’t equal to the faith that is needed to fully entrust my life, all of it, to this Power. That requires being willing to let go thoroughly, and let God.
I am not cured of this fatal and progressive disease
I imagine that I haven’t completely surrendered the idea that, somehow, it’s up to me and me alone to manage outer conditions in certain areas of my life. There is a part of me still that is driven by self-centered fear. The message that is continuously shared in Addictive Eaters Anonymous, is to help someone else. I don’t need to know how this works; it just works every time. I was also reminded recently in a meeting where someone shared that if we try to live by spiritual principles and do our best to trust God, clean house, and help others, we are growing. I’m not cured of this disease, but I do have a daily reprieve and a way of living that allows me to live a peaceful, sober, and useful life. I make mistakes, mainly in succumbing to my thinking, which blocks me from receiving the gifts of my Higher Power and sharing them with others. The gifts of this programme, of sobriety, have been freely given to me time and time again for close to a decade. I look forward to the next decade living the best life I’ve ever had, being a sober member of Addictive Eaters Anonymous.