What "It's the food" means to me
Hi, everyone. My name is [Anonymous] and I'm a compulsive overeater. I weigh and measure 3 meals a day off the Grey Sheet, write them down, and commit them to my sponsor. I don't eat anything in between meals no matter what. Abstinence is the most important thing in my life without exception, and a day at a time I work to put my program first. Before GS, I was in denial. I didn't want to believe that I was a compulsive overeater, even though I'd never had a normal relationship with food and was pursuing ever richer, sweeter, bigger, more, more more in an attempt to get the same rush I'd once gotten from something small and simple. Oh, and my life was falling apart and I hated myself. But no, that couldn't be because I was a compulsive overeater. The addicts in my family were my parents, not me. If I just dealt with my family of origin (Al-Anon/ACOA) issues, I'd stop overeating and lose weight. It's a variation on the theme I've heard from others in the rooms: the belief that if I could just get spiritual enough, I'd stop eating compulsively. But I, at least, can't talk to God with my mouth full. As long as certain substances are in my body, I'm going to react to them in a programmed way: a rush followed by a low and a craving to repeat the cycle. Until I put down the food, the only response I have to *any* event or emotion is to eat.
There are some things it's not safe for me to eat at all, because of what they do to my brain, body, and spirit. I don't cease to be an addict when I'm abstinent--I'm still pretty compulsive, and I want things my way and right now. But I don't have to act out, either with food or with anything else. And I can develop other methods to cope with feelings and events. Human existence has a lot of loss and pain in it. Everyone experiences grief, anger, fear, frustration. Some people go through things which are truly horrific. But none of those things is the cause of compulsive overeating. The compulsion comes from that combination of an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind described in AA's Big Book. I've had a much more emotional day today than I expected or wanted to. Somebody pushed my buttons a couple of hours ago and I found myself furious and sobbing, balling up tissues and tossing them across the room at the wastebasket and forcibly restraining myself from saying things I'd have to make amends for later. That outburst, and my efforts to recover from it, have put me behind schedule and given me a stuffy nose. I'm still feeling irritable. But here's the amazing thing. I didn't eat. I didn't even *think* about eating. It's not life which makes me overeat. It's the food. That doesn't change the fact that the 12 steps, the program, are about how to live abstinently, not how to *get* abstinent. But you can't work the Steps in AA if you're drinking, and you can't work the steps in GS if you're eating.
Anonymous, December 1, 2005
In California, Abstinent since October 7, 1990