As far back as I can remember, food had been a problem. I always wanted more food when I was a child. Every night after our evening meal, we would have dessert but by eight o’clock I would be saying I’m hungry. My mother was flabbergasted. It was like I was born without an off switch. I would get up in the night, sneak down to the kitchen, very carefully lift the lid off the cookie containers and steal a few. I’d go back to bed and then return to the kitchen again several times during the night. Realizing how many cookies had gone and that you could see where I had been, I would sort of spread everything out, trying to hide what I had done. I didn’t know I needed the solution to my food obsession.
Food was always my main focus. Parties were really difficult because of the games and chatting in between while I just wanted to eat. I was only there for the food and didn’t want all the other things that went with parties. As far back as I can remember, I had a problem with food.
My addictive eating and my life got progressively worse
As a result of my eating, I was overweight as a child. As I got older, I became obese and prior to coming into the fellowship (Addictive Eather Anonymous), I was morbidly obese for a period of time.
I always needed more fatty and sugary food and bigger amounts of food, just to hit the spot. Along with my eating, there was my unmanageable life. The misery of my eating brought me to the fellowship of Addictive Eaters Anonymous. I have since come to see my anxiety, my paralyzing shyness, my crippling sensitivity, self-obsession, self-hatred, and depression were all part of this disease of addiction.
Along with my eating, there were these other issues that I had in my life. I didn’t think they were related to food, but they were there nonetheless. During a doctors visit, I was prescribed antidepressants. They were of no help so I got diet pills, which did not help either. I still wanted to eat all the time. My eating kept progressing and getting worse and my life became more and more unmanageable.
All efforts to control my eating were futile even losing weight didn’t fix me.
When I left school, my first job was in a bakery. I promised myself, I wasn’t going to eat anything. Well, that lasted probably a day and a half. I had absolutely no willpower when it came to food. Counseling or therapy wasn’t an option because I was ashamed of my eating. The guilt and remorse were overwhelming and I wasn’t able to tell anyone about it. I tried a number of diet clubs and exercise a few times, but I wasn’t an exerciser. I felt too self-conscious about my weight to exercise.
Eventually, I lost weight and was a normal size. But I was still shy and sensitive. I didn’t suddenly know how to do things like how to communicate well, to get a boyfriend, or to know what job to do. People talked about travel. I had no idea how they knew where they wanted to go. My thinking was if I lost weight then miraculously life would change. I’d be fixed, but instead, I still wanted to eat all the time.
People said I looked wonderful and I must feel great. And yet I felt no different. I remember asking myself, what is the answer? At last, I realized that whatever was wrong with me, losing weight wasn’t the answer. It appeared I still hadn’t found the solution to my food obsession.
I knew that when I started eating I couldn’t stop. Generally, I had two states of being; I was either eating or I was thinking about eating. That is basically how I was. I can remember thinking in my late teens, I am like a drug addict with food. Once I started, I couldn’t stop and I needed larger amounts to achieve the same effect.
Thankfully, the 12 Step recovery program found me.
I had tried enough things that hadn’t worked to know that I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Then one day, I came across a library display about food addiction. After checking yes to 14 out of 15 of their questions, I asked my husband, “Do you think this sounds like me?” He said, “No, you’re not that bad.” He really did not know how terrible it was for me because he never saw my addictive eating. It was all done in secret as I felt too much guilt, shame, and remorse to eat in front of people. Thankfully, I rang the number on the pamphlet, spoke to someone, and went to my first meeting. This changed my life and gave me hope for the first time.
Here were other people who were like me sharing their stories honestly. I was struck by how they no longer felt guilty. They weren’t ashamed. They were very matter-of-fact about how they ate, how they had been affected by food, and what they were like now. I could see they were different and thriving.
At my very first 12-Step meeting I knew I belonged – here was the answer.
It was the most wonderful day of my life. Until then, I had lived in isolation and loneliness. I thought I was the only one in the world like me. Here was a room full of women and men who were just like me. They were a normal size but I knew it wasn’t about the weight. There was something about them, a glow, and lightness about them. They were different and they lived wonderful lives with a sense of purpose and serenity that was very attractive.
In meetings, I heard people talk about addiction and it fitted my experience. Today I know I will always be an addictive eater but I have been given a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. I am just so grateful to know this about myself and what I need to do daily to keep my disease of addiction in remission.
Meetings are key and I keep coming back. Every time I go to a meeting I know I am home. It is the same feeling of belonging and knowing that I am in the right place. In Addictive Eaters Anonymous, I have found the answer to my problem with food.