A Story of Recovery:
You Ruined My Life!
I’m sitting on the edge of my 13-year-old daughter’s bed just before bedtime. This is a special time and I value these moments when I am alone with my little girl—present, available, and fully focused on her. But this night, unlike others, she announces half-jokingly, “You and your program have ruined my life.”
She is the younger of my two daughters and she was one-and-a-half years old when I found FA. At that time, I was working full time, my baby and her five-year-old sister were in day care, and my job was about to be cancelled. I was overwhelmed, overworked, and overweight. I had achieved most of my life goals. I had a loving partner, we had our two gorgeous daughters, and five years earlier we had successfully relocated to Australia from California in order to support my father who had vascular disease. And yet I felt alone, furious with myself and miserable most of the time. Of them all, the strongest feeling was about being alone and deeply lost. I was spiritually bereft but not spiritually abandoned, as I would come to realize.
My moment of surrender came when I was accepted into a Rehab center based on my compulsive eating problem. I was told I would be admitted for six weeks so they could help me with my eating disorder. That was crazy. I was our primary source of income then and I had only stopped breastfeeding my littlest girl a couple of months before. I was not going to let them lock me up and take away any sharp objects for six whole weeks.
The shock of being accepted into rehab cut through my denial about my eating, my weight and the impact it was having on the lives of those who loved me. So I increased my Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and that was when I experienced a miracle. I was at an AA meeting I’d never been to before. I was asked to share and from the floor, I found the courage to talk about how empty my sobriety was because of my uncontrolled eating and my life-limiting obesity. I was 45 years old, 5 foot 5 inches tall and weighed 192 pounds.
After the meeting a man approached me. I don’t recall his name and I never saw him again after that night, but he gave me a name and a number to call and he told me a little about FA. He was my angel. I made that call, went to my first FA meeting, and on the way home I had my final binge. The next week I asked someone to sponsor me and, although she wasn’t available, she said “Yes.”
That was 12 years ago. My recovery hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but today I am eight-and-a-half years abstinent and have maintained a 72 pound weight loss for the last 11 years in FA.
So, why did my daughter accuse me of ruining her life? As it turns out, her complaint was that whenever someone at school is annoying, or her friends are complaining about another classmate, my daughter hears my voice in her head and finds herself suggesting that perhaps compassion is needed, or that her friends could try to be more tolerant of the annoying person.
If this is the legacy that FA has given to my children, then I am content.