A Story of Recovery:

Real Hunger

Desperation came calling again. The first time was a week before Thanksgiving  when my weight was 326 pounds (148 kilos). My highest weight was 331 pounds (150 kilos).  Sadly I was not ready to live in my right-sized body. I started eating within days of reaching my goal weight and left FA shortly thereafter. This first attempt was about being on a “diet.”  In my second FA attempt, I had ten months of abstinence and was sponsoring. Being attractive, sexually desired, and in a thin body took me off course.It was Halloween when I broke in round three. Two weeks later, I had gained twelve pounds. I kept telling myself this was ok, since I wasn’t eating flour or sugar. Round four only lasted a few months. I allowed my feelings to get hurt by a sponsor. He didn’t have time for me, so again I left. I continued this pattern with three more attempts over the next eight years. I would lose weight, break, and then leave. 

I moved to Portland the year before and lost two jobs. Each time I lost my job, I got heavily into the food.  I withdrew more and more from life. The bigger I got, the smaller my world kept getting. I kept trudging through because I felt invincible. This is probably the biggest lie I have told myself over the years. When I’m in the food, I get bloated and inflamed. I had to regularly spend money on clothes as I continued to go up in sizes. I grew out of some clothes so quickly that they were never worn. I was spending around $1,000.00 a month on food; $300 just at Starbucks. 

I never stayed and continued to be part of the program after breaking because I was embarrassed. I know that many people succeed if they stay when they have a break. People share that staying in the rooms helps them get back on track.  I didn’t stay because I felt I had a reputation to uphold. This of course goes back to my wanting to look good to the world. I have learned how adept I am at making things appear to be good. People have an image of me that my life is grand and I have few problems or hurdles to work through.  

I came back 9 yrs later, but I was not sure what would be different. All I knew was that nothing else worked. I had just been fired from my job of one year—a job that I was completely devoted to at the expense of taking care of myself. I knew being in the food was a major contributor to my unmanageable life, and I knew it would get worse if I did not return to FA. 

 Surprisingly, these 90 days in FA have been different. This time I feel more real. I have surrendered, and I now can see how unmanageable my life was. I was aware that my life had crazy moments, but I always seemed to coast my way through life’s difficulties. Now I am no longer able to hide.  This time in FA, the food has been relatively quiet. There had been a few moments in the past when I almost decided to eat because the food had been screaming to get my attention. In these moments, I wanted to eat my way through my feelings. This time when I don’t eat, the feelings subside. 

 I’m also discovering that I am an all-or-nothing addict. When it is something external, like a job, I give it everything, and I crave external accolades. When it comes to doing something for myself though, I fall into the “do nothing” category.  This time I recognize that I cannot do this alone. I am able to stay on track when I allow myself to be in the program and receive support. I don’t pretend to work a perfect program, but I work it to the best of my ability, and some days are better than others. Each time I have returned to FA, something has been different. And each time has built on previous attempts. I now have 123 days of abstinence, have released 43 pounds, and have dropped two sizes.  

The most important piece of my program today is Step One: admitting that I am powerless over food and that my life had become unmanageable. I have increased clarity. I see myself and my life for what it truly is. Life is not about the lies I tell myself in order to get through and look good to the world. I do have a fear that I will repeat the same patterns again, but the difference this time is that I am no longer in denial. I have stopped running away from my life.  I am clear that food does not fix anything. I am now more aware of what the real hunger is– a need to connect with people. The food was a substitute for that connection. Now I am more aware of what I really need to fill the space. Food stopped working to fill that space a long time ago. 


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.