A woman I sponsor recently asked me if she was kidding herself by deeming herself sober when she is still acting out in other areas of her life. "I may not be drinking or taking pills anymore," she said, "but I am still doing things I am ashamed of doing."
Did I relate? I told her a story about my fourth year in recovery. My boyfriend, or shall I say my obsession in recovery, had recently broke up with me. I thought I had recovered from my bulimia during my second year and was suprised when the obsession to eat and the compulsion to throw up returned with a vengeance.
Bulimia, while you are drinking, taking drugs and doing multiple others things to distract yourself from the shame and pain of being a puker, is one thing. Bulimia, when you are stark raving sober and clearly see how your behavior is out of control, gross and insane, is another thing. I needed to throw up and my awareness of what bulimia did to my psyche and body was life altering.
I threw up for a good six months more before I was in so much pain I was desparate for relief. I showed up at one of my regular AA meetings and decided to pick up a white chip as a sign of my surrender on this addiction. When I stood up and walked to the front of the room, friends gasped. I was so gung ho about my recovery they could not believe I would pick up a drink. They ran over to me and said, "What happened??? I can't believe you of all people picked up."
"I didn't drink alcohol," I replied through my tears. "I just cant stop binging and purging and I need help." A few of the staunch AAers got annoyed with me and said it was totally inappropriate for me to pick up the white chip over food. This is an AA meeting," one said. I already felt bad enough over my powerlessness. Now, someone thought it a good idea to kick me when I was down.
Just in time, another woman came up to me and said,"It's gonna be alright. I am glad you didnt drink. This is about progress, not perfection. When the inner spiritual malady is addressed, the eating disorder will be lifted."
She reminded me that the literature promised that the steps could work on any addiction and it would take patience, tolerance, self-love and time.
That has been my experience in AA. I came in with bulimia, cocaine addiction, alcohol dependency, cigarette addiction, co-dependency and unhealthy love relationships. In the first year I went to several different fellowships to focus on each of my addictions individually. It was very confusing. Eventually, I prayed and I was led to a sponsor and meetings which focused on the spiritual problem (my defects of character and pride), instead of my symptoms (the various addictions).
Wishing you all a slow and incredible ride in recovery,
P.S. Everyone who recovers in AA speaks about teachers. Let us know if you have someone you would recommend for our