Bill’s Story: A Compulsive Eater’s Identification

When I first joined OA, I was amazed to learn all the ways I identified with Bill W as a Compulsive Eater and alcoholic. My life was very different than his, but the overall arc was the same.

I feel different. I didn’t belong. So I turned to food. Later, like Bill, I discovered alcohol (and later pot) were chemicals that helped me feel as if I belonged. Yet through the years of hard eating, alcohol and drug use, I became more and more isolated.

Like Bill, I pushed away loved ones in order to pursue my addictions. Like Bill, my education and career stalled and I was crippled by my compulsions. I had no self confidence, was afraid all the time and suffered periods of deep depression complete with suicide ideation.

Just like Bill, in desperation, I turned to the medical community for help. I initially had relief and was able to put down alcohol and pot completely. Yet I didn’t do that with food. Instead I went to the diet and exercise regimen that was sadly destined to fail for me. Because as a compulsive eater, I was drawn in again and again by all the insane reasons to eat.

Ran 13 miles in half marathon training? I get to drink half case of beer (yes I had also returned to drinking by that point) and eat a whole pizza.

Stayed away from binging for a few weeks? I get to hit all the drive thrus and eat myself to sleep

And eventually the period of sporadic control ended and I returned completely to drinking, eating and drugging.

Just like Bill, I was powerless over the obsession and allergy. I lived in what he describes as a “morass of self pity and despair”. All the obsessions were my master and even though I had a child by that point, I lived for when he was asleep and could drink, smoke and eat as I wanted.

Yet, my poor son suffered nonetheless. Because I was mentally and emotionally unavailable during the day. I was obsessed for when I would be free of the responsibility of motherhood and had trouble being present, calm and loving for him. Yes, I was present, calm and loving sometimes, but I would also rage for no reason and withdraw into extreme self pity where no one could reach me.

So just like Bill, I was broken completely.

When I came to OA, I was driven by fear. I had gotten medicated for my mental illness again which helped me come above the water and have a bit of clarity.

I realized my eating was killing me. It was a slow suicide by spoon.

So I turned to the twelve steps. It has been a long journey dotted with relapse and unwillingness to give up all the various crutches.

First, I gave up sugar and while flour as the key ingredients in my binge foods. I also gave up my compulsive food behaviors like grazing and night binging.

I had physical recovery of 100 pounds released. But I was still 80 pounds overweight and the longest period without a binge was 90 days.

So I eventually also gave up alcohol.

The relapses continued even though I was also working the steps. Yet I was still holding on to some crutches and not being honest with my sponsor about them.

Then last February, I discovered a process of working the steps by the Big Book and I got more honest with my compulsions. I admitted the pot use and also gave up high fat foods. Now I don’t eat any fried food and my meals are less than 10% fat.

And I worked the steps in complete abstinence by the Big Book.

And I didn’t binge for 10 months though I did have a few nights of pot use and ate a few bites of high fat or sugar foods. After each of those slips, I again got 100% abstinent and worked the steps.

Then I got lazy with my 10th steps in early December as work became more and more stressful. I opted to work rather than work recovery and stay with HP.

So the relapse of Christmas Eve then occured.

Now I have gotten even more honest and gave up artificial sweetener and caffeine, both of which had become crutches.

I am now 100% abstinent since midday on 12/27 and working the steps by the Big Book. I have a 5th step scheduled to keep me working with momentum.

So my story differs from Bill once we found the solution. Because he never relapsed while I have.

Yet I can now be grateful for my relapses because they forced me to be progressively more honest. And without honesty, I can never truly recover. The relapses have also forces me to deeply acknowledge that I can’t afford to get complacent and put off HP time and 10th steps.

Just for this moment, through the headaches of caffeine withdrawal, I choose recovery.

One moment at a time.

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