Step One in Addictive Eaters Anonymous states we are powerless over food and our lives are unmanageable. Well, I knew I was powerless over food, because of my eating. I could see how powerless I was, but I didn't understand how my life was unmanageable. By the end of my eating, I was dreadful at looking after my home and struggled with simple housework tasks. I always had a pile of washing sitting in a basket needing to be put away. I had two small children and, if someone came to the house, I would hide the washing. I would hide it around the house, shoving it in wardrobes and in places so that people couldn't see it. At the end of my eating, I struggled to find a matching pair of socks for my son to wear to kindergarten.
After I came into the programme and got a sponsor, I told her about my washing piles. She calmly said to me “I suggest when you bring your washing in off the line, you fold it and put it away”. I remember realising that I had never thought of doing that. Soon after, my husband couldn't find a shirt to wear, and I sort of snapped at him saying, “Well, it's in the wardrobe.” Since they had never been there before, it didn’t occur to him to look for a shirt in the wardrobe. This was such a small beginning, but it was all part of transforming the unmanageability of my life. As I continued to get well, so many other areas of my life have improved as well.
Today, I am more outwardly focused and connected with others
When I was eating, I was depressed, lonely, and isolated. Now I have a sense of joy in my life. There is a real joy in freedom, freedom from addictive eating, but also freedom from myself and food obsession as well.
The feeling that I was different, like I did not belong or that I was a square peg in a round hole, has gone and I am grateful today to feel a part of life.
I always felt like I was looking in from the outside and I did not know how other people managed life. I felt like I was born without the instruction manual and didn’t know how to do anything. No longer do I feel that overwhelming shame and guilt and remorse. I'm lighter. I have got a sense of humour. I can remember the first time I laughed out loud in a meeting. It surprised me. I don’t know if I ever laughed when I was eating.
In sobriety, I am able to be a mother and a grandmother. I am able to do my job today. I am able to be a sister and a daughter. I feel a sense of connection and a part of life today. It is really lovely.
From an unmanageable life to physical, mental and spiritual recovery
I found that diet clubs focused just on weight loss, whereas the 12 Steps are about physical, mental and spiritual recovery. This wonderful transformation to a sober life all started for me by going to meetings.
In meetings, we talk about being beyond human aid and I know from my own experience that I was indeed beyond human aid. When I came to the fellowship I had tried so many things that hadn't worked. I just couldn’t stop eating on my own willpower. My understanding of the spiritual programme started with being open to believing in a Higher Power, a Power of my own understanding. Initially, I had a very traditional concept of God, but as time has gone on and I have got further into recovery, my belief has grown and broadened. These days, I believe in a Spirit of the universe and have a sense of knowing that whatever happens, it will all be all right. I have been through many challenging times in recovery and was given what I needed at the time. When I was eating, I always worried about what would happen to me and felt a lot of anxiety about things that never eventuated. Far worse things have happened to me in sobriety than they ever did in my eating, so now I know and trust that whatever happens, I will be able to stay sober and it will be okay.
Prayer and meditation are part of the programme of Addictive Eaters Anonymous and part of my daily programme as well. Every day, I need to seek conscious contact with a loving, Higher Power, a loving energy that helps me in so many ways. Today I am not eating addictively and my unmanageable life has been transformed.