A Story of Recovery:

Working A Strong Program

I found Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) in Vancouver when I was 30 years old. I was 5’ 6” and weighed 189 pounds (86 kilos). I lost 60 pounds (27 kilos) and have consistently stayed the same weight for the last three years. I was on the frontier [term previously used to describe an area far away from an established in-person FA fellowship] from the start but was lucky enough to have two small meetings at the time.

When I came into recovery, I was desperate. I had again ended up lying on my bed in the fetal position after a binge. The negative voice in my head had become so painful to listen to. I was done!

I searched online for “help for binge eating” and “counselors” popped up, but I had been to many of those. FA also popped up, and this was new. I called the FA office next day from work, so scared. I connected with the fellow who answered because we shared similar childhood experiences. I went to a meeting that night.

I walked into a dark room in a community center with two older men, which felt strange. They were skinny. Where are all the overweight people? Am I in the wrong room? I was to learn that people in FA had their right-sized bodies and they were happy too.

Halfway through the meeting, a woman came in whose background was both Irish and English, and I connected with her story. She told me she couldn’t sponsor me but would help me. At that point, all I wanted was the food plan, which I tried for a month by myself and found that I couldn’t do it alone. So, on the long weekend I had my last binge and started on Tuesday.

That began my journey. I picked up the food a few times in the first year. I was to learn how cunning, baffling, and tricky my disease actually is. It will tell me anything to get me back to the food.

When I was in FA for eight months, I decided to do some things FA members suggest one not do in the first year of recovery. I moved twice—first to Ireland and again to another house within Ireland—and started a new job. Lastly, I took a road trip with my parents along the west coast of America, which turned out to be a big mistake.

I ended up back in the food. I had bought a buffet card for Vegas and convinced myself that, as a food addict, this was the most sensible thing to do. By the end of the trip, I was having a full plate of protein, full plate of grain, full plate of cooked veg, a full plate of salad, and a full plate of fruit. I truly convinced myself I was still abstinent. Before long, I had snack packets of abstinent food in my pockets and I still thought I was abstinent.

We got back to Ireland and I went back into the food after a visit to my auntie. I ended up in a car park at midnight binging on quantities of abstinent food. I threw the remains in the bin but, when I got home, I snuck some food out of the kitchen, hiding it behind my hot water bottle, and I continued to eat.

It was insane. At that moment, I knew I was in big trouble so I sent an email to America, Europe, and the United Kingdom in a desperate search for a sponsor who could take a morning call in my time zone. I was so desperate and willing to do anything.

I got the most amazing sponsor who was close to my age and was living on the frontier in South Africa. I wanted someone with a high-powered career and a strong recovery program. With previous sponsors I had tried to manipulate them to get my own way. But that obviously hadn’t helped me, so I needed someone who was firm but loving and who would be completely honest with me.

I hated a lot of what my sponsor said to me at the start, but something in me knew I needed to trust her and try something different, as nothing else had worked. I am truly grateful to that sponsor, as she gave me a rock-solid foundation for two years. I learned to work all my tools every day and I started to gain more peace.

Fast forward, I now have over three years of back-to-back contented abstinence, thank you God. I have an American sponsor whom I met at the business convention. I am still living on the frontier today with no meetings, but I am abstinent.

I now can see that living on the frontier is a total gift. I had no choice but to work for my recovery and work a strong program. For me this includes getting on my knees in the morning and praying for and abstinent day, reading the 24 Hours a Day book, taking 30 minutes of quiet time, and weighing and measuring three meals a day. I make at least three calls a day to fellows and I attend three meetings a week, which include two Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and a phone AWOL (A Way of Life, a study of the Twelve Steps). I fly to the UK for meetings as much as I can and attend the business convention in Boston. I regularly practice gratitude and use the tool of writing, and at night, I read two pages of AA’s Big Book and get on my knees to thank God for another abstinent day.

At the start of my recovery doing all these things seemed overwhelming, but now they are just part of my routine and I arrange the rest of my life around them. I know that, if I don’t do my tools, I will end up back in the food and that there is nothing left in the food for me but pain. In recovery I get more peace. Just for today, I’m choosing peace instead of pain.


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.