My Binge-eating Story

It was 2010, and I was 45 years old, probably 250+ lbs, not married and hopeless. Oh, and I was also unemployed at the time.

A year or so earlier, my older sister got “the surgery.” I knew for sure that my family MUST be talking about me. If SHE could get “the surgery” and lose weight, why couldn’t Kim?

The truth was that I wasn’t ready. And I didn’t have insurance, so surgery was out. But I wasn’t ready. I KNEW food. I KNEW what it did to me. What I knew, even though it hurt me, was more comforting than what I didn’t know.

So, what did I know?

Here’s what I knew:

Every time I ate that huge brownie after a huge lunch I would get so drained from the sugar rush I would want to pass out. So, instead of that, I ate more sugar to keep the rush coming.

Every time I ate the large ice cream cone from Carvel, I had to eat it in my car, since I didn’t want anyone to see “the fat lady eating again.” I had shame enough to hide, but it never stopped me from eating.

Every time I ate, I didn’t eat to hurt anyone or to stuff my feelings. I ate because if I didn’t eat, I would be obsessing over the food. Eating the food stopped the obsession, for just a few seconds. Then it kicked in full force after that and I couldn’t stop.

In other words, I ate the ice cream because my mind spent a lot of time thinking about it and I needed to stop that. The only way I knew to get rid of the obsession of the moment was to give in to it.

This vicious cycle went on for years, and it didn’t matter what I ate or how I was feeling at the time. If I was at a wedding I obsessed over the cake. If I was at a funeral, I obsessed over the influx of food sure to follow.

If I had a long day at work (which was everyday since I commuted to NYC for many of those years), then I looked forward to the food waiting for me at home. But before that, I looked forward to the candy bar waiting for me at Penn Station.

During my commute, I loathed sitting in the middle seat. I was too big. So, I had to hang off the edge of the aisle seat. That’s just what it was like. I was just surviving, not thriving.

In 2010, I got sick of living this way. So, July 17th, I put down the food for what I hope is the last time. I was at a music festival and that was the last time I had an ice cream cone. I ate it in public this time, because there were plenty of people there who looked like me and ate like me. But I put it down that night.

There’s a twelve step program for people who eat like I did. I didn’t go to it right away though. I didn’t want to. I had been in that fellowship in the 1990’s and felt it wasn’t for me. Instead, I took these fat blocker pills. Overeating while on those things scared the bejeezus out of me. One side effect was “having oily gas.” Well, I always had a lot of gas but I didn’t want oiliness! LOL.

Fear really is a great motivator. I kept on those pills for a few months and I stayed on that food plan. Those pills were expensive and I was unemployed. I knew soon enough that I could no longer keep buying them. I needed to do something.

Always being a praying person, I turned to my faith. Then I turned to my friends. We all agreed that I should give the twelve steps another try.

I can’t remember the exact date that I walked back into a meeting, but I know it was the Thursday afternoon beginner meeting at the local library. Some guy named Tony gave me a copy of the book that shows addicts how to recover. I told him I didn’t have any money. He said that was alright, the cost was on him.

I didn’t really understand the importance of that gesture until much later. I thought he was being kind. I realize now that he also did that so he could survive himself. That is also the reason I am sharing this story. I do it so that I, too, can survive. I still have that copy of the book and use it even now, 10 years later.

My story isn’t usual, but I know I am not unique. Most people put down the food after going to their first meeting, but I did it before. It doesn’t matter, really. As long as we put down the food and keep it down.

It’s been 10 years now and it’s been one hell of a ride. I have not worked the program perfectly, but I work it. There is no magic to it. I simply work with a sponsor and work the steps. I started with the first step and try to live my best in steps 10, 11, 12.

And today, I am 56 years old, abstinent for over 10 years, maintain and 90+ lb weight loss and I am happily married. But most importantly, even if everyone of these things were to cease to exist, I would no longer live in hopelessness, because I know there is a solution.

The Peace of Wild Things: A Wendell Berry Sabbath Poem

One of my spiritual practices this Lent is to meditate on one of Wendell Berry’s Sabbath Poems. I thought I’d share one of them here. The film is by the On Being Project.


%d bloggers like this: