As a food addict, my experience in a 12-Step fellowship held the key to finding serenity and meaning amidst life’s uncertainty.
For years, my bingeing and vomiting and my personal life were out of control, and my loneliness was profound. My emptiness had led to promiscuity, and an overwhelming sense of shame.
As a child, I remembered saying hurtful things about my only friend in primary school – in exchange for a bag of butterscotch lollies. I stole from my family to buy food. Before recovery, I had spent many years of my adult life obsessing about food.
Today, I attend Addictive Eaters Anonymous (AEA) meetings several times a week. I accept I am powerless over food and have stayed surrendered since 2004. How this has happened, I am not certain.
Initially, I only ventured into the group to tell my story of despair. At the time, I thought my parents were to blame for all my problems. The group just told me to keep coming back. I did – and accepted I was an addict, let go of my control of the food and began to embrace AEA’s principles and steps for recovery. After a time, working the 12 Steps led to the realisation that many of my old ideas needed to be abandoned. In the new void within, a spiritual connection was able to falteringly flourish.
In the early days, sobriety from food and other mind-altering substances seemed challenging. My son had a mental health diagnosis, and I found his behaviour more and more difficult. I cried at meetings for almost 10 years. I learned how to accept the unacceptable, how to make changes where I could, and how to stop reacting. I asked for help within and without and eventually, the storm of early sobriety broke.
I am now thriving as a health professional – working on the cutting edge of the COVID-19 response. As uncertainty, anxiety and distress wash through the community, my connectedness with the fellowship of AEA is a safe harbour. The group’s strong message of sobriety uplifts me. The gratitude and wonder at a life free from addictive eating is central to my ability to remain present, calm and trusting. I know storms have been weathered before and will be again.
I am keen for others who may be struggling with food and with life to consider the solution of the 12 Steps of Addictive Eaters Anonymous.