A Story of Recovery:

Gratitude in Airplane Mode

As I sit in my airplane seat I am grateful for the plenty of room I have to rest comfortably – even with my seat belt on!  I sit here at 131 pounds, heading home from the Business Convention.  Ten years ago I came into program weighing 318 pounds – having been heavy my whole life.

I believe my highest weight was almost 400 pounds. Before program I gave up on flying because I had been humiliated one too many times as a morbidly obese woman on an airplane.

My dad traveled internationally for his job, and I have fond memories of my mom packing my sister and I into the car to send my dad off, or go pick him up at the airport.  From a very early age, flying was a wonderful event and came with compelling stories of unique places and people around the world.  As I grew up I found that I love the experience of an airplane taking off, flying, and landing.  I have developed great memories of my own traveling abroad adventures.

But I let go of all that joy after one particularly embarrassing flight, many years ago.  I had discreetly asked the flight attendant for a seat belt extender, and was trying to keep my request quiet.  She appeared to be stressed and rushed off attending to many tasks before take off.  At one point she grabbed an extender and asked a few rows of passengers in front of me, to pass the extender back to me.

I was so mortified to have the passengers look back as they passed the extender row after row – looking to see who it was for.  I quickly received it, and tried to be very pleasant and kind to those now involved in my dilemma.  Inside however, I was so angry at her.  “How dare she embarrass me!” became my obsessive mantra on that flight.  Building a resentment of indignation, I kept thinking “Isn’t it embarrassing enough to have to walk down the aisle of a boarding plane knowing that everyone is praying the morbidly obese woman doesn’t sit next to them?!”  I vowed never again.

I did not fly again until an FA Business Convention in the first year of my abstinence.  While I still had weight to lose, I had already lost a significant amount to where I no longer needed a seat belt extender!

It’s been ten years of abstinence now, and I weigh and measure my food, work my tools, and study the 12 steps – with as much dedication and sincerity today as ever.  The fatal disease of addiction keeps progressing each day.  I need to work a strong program that stays a step ahead of my disease – one day at a time.  This allows this food addict the miracle of enjoying life in a slim, healthy body.

But the best gifts of the FA program have actually been beyond the physical gifts.  I’m so grateful my relationship with my Higher Power has grown deeper through FA.  I love getting to know myself better, focus on keeping my side of the street clean, and maturing emotionally with each AWOL (A Way Of Life).

I am freer to move around the airline cabin today and even more free to live my life without addictively hurting myself with food, alcohol, credit card debt, wrecked relationships and work-aholicism.  Thank you, God!


This story was originally published in the connection Magazine. Subscribe to the connection Magazine for more stories of recovery. Or submit your own story of recovery.