On the morning of September 4th, 2013 I awoke feeling like I had been beat with a baseball bat during the night. I had binged heavily on greasy meat and dairy fast food the night before and whenever I ate meat and dairy my joints always felt inflamed and ached for a few days but especially bad the following morning. My stomach was still bloated and I awoke feeling overstuffed like a normal person would after indulging on too much Turkey on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, feeling like this was not something that was new too me. Its a feeling I have known my entire life but during the summer of 2013 it had become much more severe and much more frequent as well. I had a text message from my older brother when I awoke. We often talked on the phone in the morning for the past year or so. We have both gone through a lot of emotional turmoil and have become exceptionally close and have leaned on each other. Even though we are both doing a lot better emotionally and not suffering from nearly as much anxiety we still talk quite often. I have often told him about my overeating trying to compare it to alcoholic drinking which I knew he would understand since he is like me in that respect but I don’t ever think he has been able to wrap his mind around it or more likely I have never really been completely honest with him. When I tell him that I overate I never include the specifics since he is a vegan and I strive to be vegan. I am always too ashamed to really detail out what exactly what and how much I ate when I say I binged. This morning was no different. I spoke in generalities about not having a good food night and spoke with him about my therapy session with my daughter which I discussed in my last blog post. This morning he was a little more aggressive then usual. Giving me the same advice he usually does about how I need to put myself first and how I have been doing everything for everyone else at the expense of my own health and well being and how now I need to make myself and specifically my health a priority. Prior to going on vacation a week prior I had made the mistake of telling him that when I was back from vacation I was going to join a gym and start taking care of myself. So he reminded me of that and actually told me that he was going to call me later in the day and I had to have taken some action towards getting back to the gym and report back to him.
Since I had missed the 7:00 meeting I looked through my meeting list and saw that there was a meeting at noon at a nearby retirement home. I had never been to a meeting there but I knew that some of the locals went and so I was likely to run into someone I knew from the morning meeting. I arrived at 10 before noon and made my way to the meeting room. There were about 10 people there, none of whom I had ever seen before. That’s actually not true I did know one guy but was not a huge fan of his. I found a seat alone at a table with no one else sitting by it and took my seat. As luck would have it the seat was a little too small for my body and so my ass and hips were packed in very uncomfortably as I waited for the meeting to begin. A few more people trickled in and noon came and went without the meeting starting. I was hot, still full from my binge, uncomfortable and impatient when I realized that the meeting was actually a 12:15 meeting and not a noon meeting. This was just the icing on the cake, excuse the pun. By the time the meeting began the room had become quite full and there were several folks I recognized from other meetings but I was still in a shit mood. Since there were a few new comers they decided to focus the topic of discussion on the first step. Since the first step is all about admitting we are powerless I figured that I could apply it to my food. As the meeting wore on my mood worsened. I was thinking about my brother and getting more and more pissed off at what he had said. I decided that I was not going to cave to his pressure and that I was going to push back on him and explain that until I got my eating under control, going to the gym was clearly putting the cart before the horse. At 12:30 I was livid. I was sweating because the room was heating up. The sharing so far was completely uninspiring and I was physically and emotionally uncomfortable. I started to think about binge-ing again. Close to the nursing home is a brand new Fried Chicken restaurant that recently opened called Chicken Addiction of all things. I have binged there several times this summer. My mind was wandering with thoughts about my order and how much I would order and since it was so early in the day perhaps I could binge twice this day. I was at the point when I wanted to actually get up and leave the meeting to go and satisfy my craving when I realized that I was basically trapped. There were so many people in the room that there was no effective way for me to leave the room without causing a bit of a scene and making several people move their chairs to make room for me to pass. I was an expert at scoping rooms to determine these kinds of obstacles and I knew that I was clearly trapped for the rest of the meeting. Luckily I noticed an extremely attractive young woman across the room who I was able to stare at to kill some of the remaining time.
It was about 1:00 and an old timer at the table next to me began to speak. He had celebrated 30 years of sobriety earlier in the week and so I knew that I ought to pay attention to what he was saying. One thing he said really jumped out at me. He said that in the beginning he didn’t do very many things correctly. He said he didn’t follow his sponsors instructions, didn’t make phone calls, never arrived early or stayed late at meetings. He said he did do 2 very key things that he thinks is what kept him sober, he didn’t drink and he went to meetings. When he said the words, I didn’t drink he actually paused and said “I really really wanted to though”. It was one of those moments for me, my obsession was immediately lifted and my craving went completely away. I realized an extremely important thing at that moment. I had been praying and asking God to relieve me of my obsession with food but I wasn’t willing to not eat. In reality the way it works is that I have to refrain from eating first then God can remove the obsession. I had really been trying to put the cart before the horse. I didn’t have a spiritual experience with white lights and heavenly breezes but I was instantly relieve of the physical and emotional discomfort that I had been in for the previous hour. The last 10 or 15 minutes of the meeting flew by and when it was over I mingled about a bit, waiting or there to be enough room for me to walk out and also just wanting to make some small talk with some of the old timers. When I made my way to the elevator I ran into a woman I knew from another meeting. We had never before said two words to each other but here we were together in the elevator and we struck up a conversation. In the parking lot we continued talking for about 5 minutes when a guy who I knew from the morning meeting came jogging out of the building, not a guy I was very close with but someone who I have said a polite hello to a few times. He ran up to us and asked if I could give him a ride to his next appointment which was close by but he was afraid if he walked he would have gotten there late. I drove him to a nondescript warehouse looking building where he said he had his personal training business. He asked if I would like to go inside and take a look around since we were a few minutes early. So a minute later there I am in a gym I have never seen before talking to a personal trainer from the program who had randomly asked me for a ride. I just looked up at the sky and said “really?”. I asked my new friend what he recommended for someone just starting on the path to health and wellness and he suggested that I make an appointment to come in for a free training session where he would stretch my body and determine where I was physically and recommend some exercises I could begin at home. So I walked out with a plan to return to the gym the next day.
For the rest of the day I was on a bit of a pink cloud. Although non of the coincidences that I experienced taken by themselves are anything amazing for me the combination of events that transpired really left me with a feeling that my higher power was looking out for me personally and doing his best to orchestrate events to get me to have the light bulb go off. There is an old story about a person in a house which is flooding waiting for God to rescue them. First there is a knock on the door and it is the firemen on their truck advising him to leave the house with them, he replies don’t worry God is going to save me. A while later the water is up to the windows and the rescuers return in a row boat again begging the man to jump into the boat, again he sends them away confident that the lord will save have. The water is now up to the roof and the rescuers come back in a helicopter, yelling to the man to grab onto the skid and they will carry him to safety, again he says no, he is waiting for God to save him. The man dies and goes to heaven where he meets God and screams at him. I trusted you to save me with all of my faith and you just let me die in the flood! To which God simply replied, first I sent the firetruck, then I sent the boat, then I sent the helicopter, what else could I have done. That was how I felt on Wednesday afternoon like I was the man standing on the roof and the helicopter was there and I finally decided to grab on.
The last thing that I found really significant and serendipitous about Wednesday September 4th is that as an addict I am forever telling myself that I am going to stop my addiction on the next special date or occasion. Its like the old I’ll start on Monday theory of weight loss, or New Years Day or After the Big Party or when the Holidays or done etc etc. I just always want a significant day to mark my major transformation. Wednesday September 4th, 2013 did not immediately jump out at me as a very significant date until I remembered that it was the day my daughter started High School and given her struggles for the past year and the events of September 3rd I realized that it was an incredibly significant and meaningful day to begin my recovery from food addiction.