Hi, my name is Lily Joy. I am a compulsive overeater and anorexic.
This is my story. It does not represent Food Compulsions Anonymous as a whole. It is just one member’s experience.
Many addicts, when reading a recovery story, look for differences between themselves and the storyteller. Then they decide, “I’m not like her, so I am not an addict.” Early in my “food sobriety,” I was given a suggestion you might find useful: Instead of looking for ways my story differs from yours, look for the feelings behind my words, and any other similarities. Recognizing ourselves in others can begin our understanding that we are, in fact, addicts. Then recovery can start.
For me, sugar is a drug. It makes me “evaporate.” I was numb in my sugar-eating days—the first thirty years of my life. My light bulb was out: I didn’t know what I felt, thought, liked, or wanted. Except I felt pain. I didn’t know happiness was possible.
I bounced back and forth from food compulsions to my drug and alcohol addictions. For example, when not secretly eating sugar from the box, I was at the bar. If I took pride in leaving the bar early instead of drinking til 2 a.m, I ignored the fact that I bought food at corner stores all the way home, to keep myself doped as I walked.
I was unmotivated and unfulfilled. I had no life, just despair and anguish. Sugar and refined carbs induced nervous breakdowns, starting at age 12. My later addictions of alcohol and drugs eventually left me homeless with chemically-induced psychiatric problems. (A therapist diagnosed sugar as one of the chemicals.)
I suspect I was born into food compulsions. As a child, the weekly groceries arrived Friday. Saturday morning amounted to tv-watching accompanied by binging on oranges and other newly purchased goods.
For over thirty years, I’ve basically been off sugar and other foods that are drug-like for me. Freedom from addiction allowed me to have a career I love, establish an international reputation in it, travel extensively, be of service to community, and buy a little country home.
My recovery from addiction started in Alcoholics Anonymous, where I stopped drinking and drugging. Mind you, Food Compulsions Anonymous (FCA) has no affiliation with any other organization, including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I am simply telling my story.
AA’s solution to addiction—their twelve steps—works for me. Shortly after getting sober, I went to a twelve-step program for overeaters. In that major metropolitan area, the program had many members. But few of the city-wide fellowship abstained from compulsive overeating. Few worked the steps, or at least all the steps. A successful handful took me under their collective wing.
I’m not knocking that program or its members. It took a lot of thinking and praying to decide whether to mention that group here. But I believe my story might help someone.
I cannot speak as to their choices. I did wonder whether those not working the twelve steps were as desperate as me. Perhaps their food problems were not as damaging as mine? And therefore they were not as motivated to work all the steps? AA says the steps are too difficult to work unless you must. I knew I must, to escape the despair and utter demoralization that was my ongoing and default state, hour after hour, day after day.
Working the twelve steps solved that and more. I know happiness. I know who I am, what I want, what I think and feel. The steps are also amazing tools to deal with life’s challenges. When you clean up an addiction, life still has its difficulties. The steps keep me balanced despite.
For over thirty years, except for one break, I tried various twelve-step fellowships that focus on food recovery. None of them provided the support I need. They might work for others, but not me.
What kept me “clean” re my food all those years was 1) AA’s concept of addiction 2) the realization that sugar and refined carbs are addictive substances for people like me and 3) the application of the 12 steps as explained in AA’s early literature. In order to share that specific approach with others who suffer from eating disorders, I started Food Compulsions Anonymous.
My motivation? One of the twelve steps suggests we “carry this message,” said message being the twelve step method of recovery. In other words, communicating the steps helps me maintain my abstinence from food compulsions. My other motivation is that AA taught me I cannot fight addiction alone; I hope to create recovery fellowship.
If you do not identify with my addiction, check out our meetings. Everyone’s story is different.
If you do not quite understand my terminology, or my discussion of sugar and refined carbs, feel free to ask questions at our meetings.
You can also contact us with your questions. Click “Contact” in the nav bar.
Thank you for reading this. I hope, in some small way, it helps you overcome food compulsions.
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