A Story of Recovery:

Living Without You

It was the spring and I had been in Program for two weeks. Waiting for the meeting to start, I heard another newcomer share how she loved the program and how she was never hungry. “What’s she getting to eat?,” I wondered, because my hunger pangs were ever-present. “My sponsor is great! So loving and understanding,” she continued. Really? Give me a break. I felt like my sponsor was a dictator. Just that morning, she talked to me about how to do the required reading correctly. Yesterday she said I had to weigh my food precisely—4 ounces of protein, not 4.1, not 3.9, but 4.0 exactly!

As I sat there, that song started in my head again. Michael Bolton’s voice singing nearly non-stop for almost a week now: “How am I supposed to live without you now that I’ve been lovin’ you so long?” His song was about unrequited love; mine was about food! For 59 years, sweets had seduced me. Mix sugar, a little flour, and fat, and I was giddy! I had an actual love affair with food—it meant that much to me. But like many romantic affairs, it was not healthy.

I had known for a long time that I was addicted to sugar. A quick trip to the drive-through for a treat never satisfied me. I wanted more. I memorized the locations of fast-food restaurants that were on my normal driving route, buying desserts at each location until I reached my destination. “This is crazy,” I thought on more than one occasion. I was walking evidence of that definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If I had the money that I have spent getting my sugar fix, I could have retired years ago. The concept of being a food addict was easy for me to accept. I knew years before coming into FA that I was addicted, but I just didn’t know what to do about it.

Those first two weeks were rough. I didn’t know it then, but the hunger, the anger, and the crying were all symptoms of detoxing. Slowly my body was recovering from the damaging effects of flour and sugar, and I was paying the price. The discomfort felt so unbearable that I had to reach out to others to tell them what I was going through, convinced that my experience was unique. What I learned in phone conversations was that others had been gnawingly hungry as well. One fellow shared that she cried non-stop through her first few meetings. Another couldn’t figure out what to do with all the extra time now that she wasn’t eating 16 hours a day. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t unique. I was just a food addict detoxing.

In time, my anger dissipated. I stopped crying. A sense of peace replaced the hunger, and I found I started to like myself again. My loneliness was supplanted by closer friendships with FA phone buddies. Amazingly, I found I actually appreciated my sponsor! She was right in her assessment of my reading habits. It wasn’t a good idea to read Twenty-four Hours a Day at a stoplight on my drive to work. Weighing my food was no longer a chore, but it was just something I did every day to take care of myself. Putting my food on the scale brought with it the added benefit of learning to weigh and measure my life: measuring how I spent my time so I could attend meetings, make calls, and still meet daily obligations; weighing options before taking action; checking my words before they left my mouth. So many benefits for such little effort on my part.

Those first two weeks weren’t easy. But with help from my Higher Power, my sponsor, and my FA friends, I made it through, one day a time. I have been blessed with back-to-back abstinence since I came into the Program and am maintaining a 90-pound weight loss. And that Michael Bolton song? I still hear it occasionally, but on the radio, not in my head, and when I do, I smile. It’s a humorous reminder of those first two weeks in Program. I hope I never forget them.


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.