Food obsession and bulimia took over my life.
For forty-six years I was obsessed with food. My weight, and eventually my life, was overtaken with bulimia. If only I could stop eating and be slim I would be happy and love myself, I thought. But I was a prisoner in my own head and driven by cravings in my body. Food addiction and what I thought of myself controlled everything I did. Nothing helped me. I felt doomed to die a food-related death. I imagined choking in the toilet or collapsing from a heart attack, unable to stop my self-destruction.
In the early days of my eating, I never thought I would have absolutely no life because of food. Then I started to lose my self-respect, a lot of money, and my peace of mind. My loved ones suffered too. If I had plenty of food, I was ok. But if I couldn’t access food, I would be miserable and everyone would suffer under the lash of my tongue or my sulking. I berated myself constantly for being so horrible and weak. One weekend, when I visited my brother with my wife, my young son and his best friend, I spoiled the occasion. As we were heading home, I demanded that we eat out for lunch as a nice treat. Feeling sick, my son and his friend asked if we could go straight home instead. I shouted in a burst of anger that ruined the weekend.
I made countless attempts to stop binge eating and vomiting.
If only I could eat and behave like other people. I saw others eat freely, without a care, but I could never do it. The search was always on for foods that I craved and making sure there was a working toilet available nearby. At my Gran’s funeral, my brother told me that I demanded everyone wait until I had dessert before getting on the road. I made a spectacle of myself, getting angry at the possibility of missing dessert. My young son whispered to my brother, “Just let her have it.”
As my bingeing got worse, my anger did too.
One time, a friend bought my son a crystal when we were shopping together. He then gave it to me and said, “Mum, I got you this. It’s for your anger.” I screamed at him in the shop. “Anger, what anger?” He turned to my friend in shock and whispered to her, “When does it start to work?” I felt devastated that I couldn’t stop my reactions. I didn’t want to be like that, but I couldn’t stop.
Who would have thought that at forty-six years old, I would meet a woman from a Twelve Step food fellowship, now called Addictive Eaters Anonymous, who could help me stop eating and vomiting? I came to understand that I suffered from the spiritual disease of addiction and that I had used food—my whole life—as a solution to dampen the pain of living as a sober person.
Each day I stay sober in Addictive Eaters Anonymous, I grow in gratitude and understanding.
Step nine of the programme showed me how to make amends with people, particularly my wife and son who suffered a great deal through my addiction. My young son, who is now an adult, asked me recently, “Mum, do you still have Mars bars under your pillow?” I had forgotten how I hid food and didn’t know that he knew. I am grateful to know this today and for the awareness that my journey of becoming well is just beginning. It has taken me a long time to understand the spiritual malady of food addiction and what I need to do to recover from this disease. Each day I stay sober in AEA, I grow in gratitude and understanding.
-Member, Addictive Eaters Anonymous
For more information about Addictive Eater’s Anonymous (AEA), visit www.addictiveeatersanonymous.org or call (657) 999-3303.