Perspective: Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business

Perspective: Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business

Officially I don’t belong to a 12-step group; I do have a sponsor who has become like a sister, and a team of incredible women who inspire, mentor, entertain, challenge, and have continued to love me on my best and worst days over the last 8 years, 10 months. Some may say that because I don’t have a home group, I am not a member of AA. I remind them the only requirement of membership is a desire to stop drinking.

For the past 8+ years, I have lived my best life. I am the same woman who could not stop drinking for anything or anyone; I was hopeless and destined to die until I finally “surrendered” in January 2010.

I am growing up in AA and was actively involved in service for a number of years. I still say I owe everything to AA, my higher power, and the people who showed me the way. This includes people outside of 12 step and the people who stick around the rooms, make coffee, and open the doors. I have experienced my parent’s funeral and my child’s wedding, and I didn’t drink — this is truly a miracle. I have found a recovery program that worked for me, and I have persevered. I still consider myself in early recovery, and I don’t hide my recovery from the public. Whenever I can put a face to recovery, I do it with pride as a person with lived experience of a substance use disorder and long-term recovery.

What I’ve learned along the way is there are many roads to recovery, and recovery looks different for everyone. What I measure as success may not be what you consider success. One of the very first teachings in AA was “to keep an open mind” and when I was in early sobriety, I was very opinionated about the quality of other people’s programs even though the next thing I was taught was “live and let live.” It took time, patience, pain, and practice to stop looking at the quality of other people’s lives and focus on my own.

What prompted me to write this is that I want to — as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous — provide an alternate perspective when it comes to harm reduction, abstinence, cannabis, methadone, suboxone, and other mood-altering substances. What people choose to do is none of my business; I want my friends and members of the fellowship to live their best lives. I don’t care if you smoke pot, I don’t care if you drink, I don’t care if you come to meetings drunk. I care that you’re happy, I care that you’re whole, I care that you’re not suffering, and I care that you’re alive.

Letting go has been a process, and for me that means freedom.

Wishing you peace, love, and happiness.  

 

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.

Alumni Perspective: Recovering from Food Addiction

Alumni Perspective: Recovering from Food Addiction

I turned 70 three months ago. Now generally speaking, a woman would never divulge that she would be entering that decade. However, this is the first time in fifty years that I am free, sane, and liberated from the world of dieting, calorie counting, purging, bingeing extreme exercising and all else associated with society’s vision of how weight loss should come about. All of this changed a year ago, November 23, 2016 a year where I dropped the shackles of dieting and began to truly live.

I started my first serious diet in my mid twenties. For almost all of my entire life growing up I was the chubbiest in the class, the fattest among my group of friends and the one that was either pitied or taunted. It was in this realm that I sought comfort, predominately in bread, pasta, donuts and chocolate bars. Isolation and secret eating became my way of life.

In my twenties I wanted desperately to fix all of that and so I entered the false promises of the weight loss industry. Diet pills, fasting, Herbal Magic, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers (I have more shares in that than Oprah) and a myriad other plans that promised a quick fix. When all these failed and only more weight piled on I turned to the ultimate quick fix of all times, Weight Loss Surgery. For almost a year I rode a high of quick loss only to come to a screeching crash. You see, I gradually began to transfer my food addiction into alcohol. On came back the pounds and again began assuaging my pain with baguettes, bagels, bonbons, and booze. I was suddenly a fat, malnourished, diabetic, alcoholic with high cholesterol and blood pressure. It was at this point that I thought I was hopeless, helpless and at my age not worth saving. I was an ashamed failure, a mentally and physically sick woman.

By the Grace of God as I call it, I found a comment online about a woman who was entering Renascent for food addiction. I inquired about this and found out that this program was literally in my back yard. I made the phone call.

A year later, I no longer take eight metformin to control type 2 diabetes, my cholesterol and blood pressure is normal. The greatest reward though is that I no longer obsess about food or alcohol. My mad cravings are gone and I religiously follow the food plan given to me during my stay at Renascent. Diet is not a part of my vocabulary any longer. No carbs, no sugars, no alcohol is truly doable under any circumstance. Case in point, to celebrate my seventieth birthday I went for a week to the Grand Canyon to whitewater raft and hike. With advance notice and preparation I was able to stay on plan. Eating out is a breeze as is any social event. What a gift I’ve been given: Health, peace, and well being.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the visionary pioneer of food addiction, Dr. Vera Tarman and all the counsellors and staff at Renascent. I was also the fortunate and last client to be the beneficiary of a generous donation to the Food Addiction Program. I am truly, humbly grateful. Oh and as an extra bonus, I lost forty pounds and am in the normal BMI range. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.

Food Addiction and Recovery: Ending the Food Fight

Food Addiction and Recovery: Ending the Food Fight

 

My problem with food started as far back as I can remember.

I learned to hide it when I got disapproving comments from family and others. I always wanted to be alone to eat and I would hide and hoard it. As I got older it only got worse. I used food for everything. When something bad happened, I would use it for comfort. When something good happened I’d use it to celebrate or as a reward. I would use it to alleviate boredom.

I got sicker and sicker. I began to binge every day in secret. It made me so ashamed of myself. I would have to be sure to have my binge foods already in the house for each night because I knew I was going to need them. Every day I would buy or bake lots of terribly unhealthy sugary/salty foods and every night I would gorge myself until I felt so sick that I could hardly move.

I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. I would even become angry that I couldn’t keep eating. Each night I would promise myself that tomorrow would be different, but each morning I’d wake up with the obsession still there just as strong as the day before and I’d have to do it all over again.

I lost and gained hundreds of pounds dieting and then giving in to the cravings and quitting. I was in chronic pain. I had to go up my stairs on my hands and knees many times. I didn’t want to go out. I had nothing to wear. My job became almost impossible. It was no way to live. I was desperate.

I decided to have Gastric Bypass Surgery but when I lost some weight ahead of time they said I didn’t need the surgery. That upset me and sent me back to the food. I quickly regained everything I’d just lost plus.

I went to a support group where I heard about a Pilot Program in Toronto for Food Addicts at Renascent. I called them the very next day. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I was accepted into the program and I went into the house on October 12th 2016 for 3 weeks.

It was an adjustment at first but I soon found myself really benefitting from their program of healthy, prepared meals, classes, meetings and counselling sessions. I learned for the first time in my life that I’m not a bad person but that I have a disease. I learned that I’m not like other people. I learned that when I eat my trigger foods, my mind and body undergo actual physical changes that are a chemically induced abnormality or illness. I learned that it is a progressive disease and that it only becomes worse without treatment. I learned that unless I abstain from these trigger foods I cannot recover.

I was helped by counsellors to make changes that have literally saved my life. I have been able to remain abstinent since leaving treatment by using all the tools that were given to me. I work this program every single day and it has become a way of life for me. I have a plan of eating that I follow each day. I have a sponsor who helps me and I have a support system of people in my life that have gone through the same experiences, and who are also in recovery. I now have freedom from the mental obsession and physical cravings that used to plague me relentlessly.

I’ve lost at least 100 lbs. and I feel better than I have ever felt in my life. I’m active and I can do things I only dreamed of doing before. I believe in this program. It has worked for me. The key for me was willingness. I am so grateful that I have been helped to understand that recovery from eating compulsively is possible.

Learn more about Renascent’s Food Addiction Program. To speak with a food addiction expert, call 1-877-230-2918 or email foodaddiction@renascent.ca.

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.