I arrived at Tampa International Airport in October of 2007. I was a woman who would describe herself as being a very active sober member of AA since October, 1993. This woman has had the same sponsor since the beginning of her recovery. She also sponsors women and would express with conviction that the 12 Steps has changed her life. She would tell you that her marriage of 35 years was better than she ever believed possible. This same woman, however, was filled with fear upon her arrival to treatment. Her weight had climbed from a size 6 when she got sober to a size 22, a climb that she realized she was powerless over – she simply could not stop eating!
I’ve always had problems around food, my behavior being to overeat, then to restrict – extremes. But when I got sober, overeating become dominant and my weight just climbed. This constant gain led me to attend some OA meetings. I had endless conversations with both my AA and OA sponsors about my fears of gaining weight. Brief periods of sensible eating were always followed by compulsive overeating – a vicious cycle. I quit smoking in October 1997 (a 30 year addiction); consequently, my weight climb took on “a life of its own.” Having a few days of healthy eating, I spoke at my OA meeting about how I felt “on the recovery beam.” That same afternoon I binged. I really needed treatment.
At Turning Point of Tampa I worked with the nutritionist and my therapist, along with my Higher Power. They were able to guide me and support me with my recovery. I left Turning Point of Tampa with tools for continued recovery, tools which included a relapse prevention plan that I started implementing immediately after getting off the plane back home. This was a good thing, as I came back home during the holidays. Following Christmas, I had my own personal crisis – I broke the largest bone in the human body, the femur. Extensive surgery was done, which entailed placing a large rod in my right leg. My goal is to walk without a limp.
Through all of these challenges, I have remained sober, smoke free and abstinent. I’m glad this program is about progress, not perfection. With God’s help in these 12-Steps and the help of my support group, I am back to the basics.
Abstinence is freedom, freedom from the slavery of obsessive/compulsive drives to the kitchen. I’m convinced that gratitude is at the core of my recovery from compulsive overeating. When I’m grateful for all the small things in life, when I’m consciously aware of the abundance all around me, then I am not feeling the negative force that catapults me straight to compulsive overeating. When I acknowledge that my abstinence comes first and I act on that knowledge, all of my life, my relationship with my Higher Power, myself and others, just unfolds without a great deal of effort. Because of abstinence, I am experiencing, as Bill Wilson once said, “a quiet place in the bright sunshine.”