Desperate As Only The Dying Could Be
Abstinent in GSA since 25 March 2006, a meal at a time, a day at a time.
I would steal food as a child and eat it in secret. Not normal behaviour for a 5 year old. I felt ashamed and hated myself for behaving like this, and couldn't understand why I couldn't stop doing these "crazy, shameful" things with food. This behaviour followed me into my teens, twenties and early thirties. I didn't know it at the time, but I started to use alcohol to try and numb the pain of the shame I felt for the way I ate. Clearly there was something wrong. The shame and self-loathing I felt because of this was horrible. I knew there was something wrong with my relationship to food but I didn't know what it was. I had no idea that I was being driven by the phenomenon of craving and that this craving for the foods we don't eat on GreySheet was as a result of an allergic reaction my body has to these substances – mainly sugars, grains and starches. I did not know that this was why I could never sustain control over the amounts or quantities I ate of these foods. As I got older, I would try and control the amounts of these foods I ate. My iron-strong will and "fierce determination" would work for periods of time and my life would bumble along appearing normal and in control. Then after a period of this fierce control I would reward myself for good behaviour. Guess what the reward was? Yip, you guessed it – the foods we don't eat on the GreySheet. "I'll just have one. It can't do any harm." The vicious cycle would begin again. The cravings returned, the wanting more, the self loathing for having more, the restraint, the control, the "going on yet another diet," followed by a period of control, followed by a reward, followed by a binge.
This cycle became a living hell for me. I was constantly thinking about "giving up" x, y and z forever. It was going to be on Monday or tomorrow. I was constantly going on the wagon in preparation for a binge. I didn’t know this at the time. At the time I believed that the next diet I went on was going to be the diet to beat all diets. I was going to lose all my weight and then go back to eating normally again, this time being careful not to eat those foods that would cause the weight to come back on. Having got sober in AA and experienced the magic of the 12 steps to keep me sober, I fell into the rooms of regular OA hoping for the same miracle with food. Here I was told to decide what abstinence meant to me and it was suggested I avoid refined white sugars and starches. I was given a number of suggestions, all different, some conflicting. I was frightened and confused. The volume in my head was turned down for a while, but I had no physical recovery in OA and soon the insanity returned. I was still eating the foods I was allergic to without realising it. My idea of abstinence in OA was avoiding the foods that I thought caused my weight gain, the refined white sugars and starches and to try a variety of crazy combinations of healthy eating – from just fruit to three meals with the "brown stuff" a day, convinced that these were healthy "whole" meals that were good for me - to just one kind of brown stuff and one protein etc etc. Without realising it my addiction was choosing unrefined grains, starches and sugars, which was having same effect in my body as the white stuff.. Insane. The obsession was back. The weight inevitably crept back on, the self-loathing returned, the manic trips to the gym returned, the quest for control again. In the end the binges got closer together, my iron-strong will and self-control only lasted for a few weeks, then a few days, then by the end not even a few hours. I couldn't stop bingeing, starving, dieting. I thought God had turned His back on me. Why did He help me put the alcohol down but was keeping me in the food (not realising that I had to stop eating my drug of choice before He could help me)? I couldn’t get off the sofa, I didn't want to go out and be seen in my hideous condition. I stopped answering the phone. The noise in my head was so loud, I thought I was losing my mind. Bloated, miserable, baffled, confused and in a lot of pain - desperate for the madness to stop, I cried out for help.
Not long after this cry for help I was at my first GSA meeting, desperate "as only the dying could be for a life preserver." I was willing to go to any lengths to get abstinent. I was done with the debating society, done trying to work it out for myself. Sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just wanted you to tell me what to do. Thank you God. GSA defined abstinence clearly and simply. You told me to get a sponsor. You explained to me that we have three weighed and measured meals a day, written down, planned and committed to a sponsor. You clearly told me we don't eat between meals, no matter what and without exception. You clearly told me what we eat and how much of it we eat. None of it contained the food I’m allergic to which took care of the phenomenon of craving. You clearly told me how often we eat. You said that we stay abstinent by picking up the phone before we pick up the food. You told me we weigh and measure in all circumstances, at parties and restaurants etc. You told me that if I was in doubt about whether a certain food was abstinent or not, to leave it out and to call another GSer. You told me to get to 90 meetings in 90 days to begin with, to make three outreach calls to other Greysheeters per day and to pray for an abstinent day.
I did what you told me to do on this first day and continue to practice these principles. I haven't had to take a compulsive bite since my first meeting, 1,365 days ago today. My life is completely different to the one I was living before GSA. I've been restored. Today, I will go to any lengths to protect my abstinence. And I love my new GreySheet body. Thank you God.