Taste of Recovery – Step 01 – Powerless, but not over everything.
Today’s podcast number … 1901
is entitled … STEP ONE: POWERLESS, BUT NOT OVER EVERYTHING
My name is George C. I’m a food addict. That means I’m powerless over food.
Some people say I’m powerless over everything. But I’m not so sure.
Not long ago, I became aware that I could not maintain control of my eating … at least not 100% of the time. Sometimes, I simply lost control. I binged.
Now, when I say I binged, here’s an example of what I mean. I would drive home from work on my lunch hour. On my way home I would stop by a pizza parlor and pick up a large pepperoni pizza. Then I would stop by a grocery store and buy the biggest bag of M&Ms they had. Then I would go home and eat all that food in 20 minutes.
I always loved pizza and candy. But this extreme behavior came on fairly suddenly, over the course of a few months. Toward the end it was happening daily. And it scared me.
Once in a while, right before I started a binge, I would become aware that my overeating was wrong. Yet at the same time I was aware that absolutely nothing was going to prevent me from overeating. I couldn’t stop myself.
My logical mind knew overeating was bad, but my addictive mind craved the food so much… it was irresistible. It felt odd to be aware of both mindsets, at the same time, and be helpless to do anything to stop the binge.
A long time ago, I could resist overeating 100% of the time, using will power alone. I could promise myself in the morning I would eat healthy, or not eat at all, and live up to the promise all throughout the day, 100% of the time. Oh, it was definitely a struggle, but I could do it.
But usually, right after I exerted all that will power, I binged again.
Over time I gradually lost more and more control. Eventually I couldn’t even maintain my resolve past mid-breakfast.
Some days it did feel like I was powerless over everything.
But really, it only seemed like I was powerless over everything, because food was my “everything.”
I guess I never realized how my life revolved around food. I never made the connection between my eating and my troubles. I felt bad about my troubles, and I ate to feel better. But I started piling on the weight. I became socially awkward, and medically sick. Eventually eating became both the cause of, and the solution to, my worst trouble, obesity… it was a perfect vicious cycle. Eating to feel better about being fat. UGH!!
Becoming aware of this vicious cycle was my start on Step One.
Step One suggests that I admit I am powerless over my addiction. But it does NOT suggest that I admit I am powerless over everything.
When I think about it, if I were powerless over everything, what would be the point of doing anything, let alone the Steps?
No, certainly I am not powerless over everything. I am powerless over many things, above all, my cravings, my addiction to food. But I can go to meetings. I can call fellow over-eaters. And I can do the Steps. I’m not powerless over those things.
At this point I don’t just want to lose weight… temporarily. If I don’t find a permanent, lifetime solution, I know I’ll just gain the weight back again later. So I don’t want another diet. I don’t want another exercise program. I don’t want another self help book. And I definitely don’t want surgery. These are all short term solutions to a long term problem. I NEED to stop overeating, permanently.
Sometimes I feel depressed because I know, in my current state of mind, I will occasionally feel the urge to overeat. But I don’t believe there is nothing I can do about it.
It says all throughout the Big Book that alcoholics are “powerless over the first drink.” Well, “I” am powerless over the “first bite.” I accept that as a fact. What can I do about it?
What do alcoholics do? They trust in a Higher Power in Step Two. They clean house in Steps Three through Eleven. They help others in Step Twelve. And at some point along the way their cravings just … disappear.
Yes. Page 85 of the Big Book talks about “neutrality.” It says, “We are not fighting [alcohol], neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality–safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.”
That means, for recovered alcoholics, cravings just go away. Alcoholics stop WANTING alcohol.
Maybe alcoholics remain powerless forever over their cravings, but what difference does it make if they stop experiencing the cravings, and instead start experiencing neutrality?
I WANT to stop WANTING to overeat.
Is neutrality possible for me?
I know my problem is lack of will power. I’m powerless over food. I can’t battle my cravings. The cravings always beat out my logical reasoning.
Will the Twelve Steps remove my cravings, permanently? I hope so.
The Twelve Steps focus me on cleaning house, on fixing my life, NOT on resisting my urge for food. I don’t know why this works, but it does.
I’ve been working the Twelve Steps of recovery from food addiction since April 2017. I was 228 pounds when I started, and within 6 months I got down to 175 pounds. So I’ve kept off 50+ pounds for over a year, so far.
Will the Twelve Steps work permanently? I don’t know. All I know is they’ve worked better than anything else I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot.
The Twelve Steps show me … what I am powerless over… and what I’m NOT powerless over. The Twelve Steps give me things to do that I’m NOT powerless over. The Twelve Steps give me hope that the effort I put in will work forever, because they work today, and for me , for now, “forever” just means one day at a time.