I have been talking to some of my clients and feeling uncomfortable with what has been going on, so I want to share it with you. Hope you don’t mind listening to my concerns, please leave a comment if you wish.
So, my client has picked up again and her sponsor wonders if she is being helpful to her. She saw me first in 2008, was working a recovery program, then left and came back in 2017 at the same weight. So, I asked her about her history in those nine years. What did you do in that time? “Tried every diet and weight loss plan under the sun” she said, “and they all did not work for me for weight loss.”
Listening to her, I know she has a lot of other problems in her life that need attention – now please – but her focus is weight loss. Why does she need to start at Step One again?
Another client called. She has been around the bush a hundred times, tried a whole lot of rehab experiences, and done a whole lot of things. She says, “I can stay abstinent for a little while, then something happens, I don’t know what, and I lose it again”.
The most powerful thing anyone has said to me in a long time: “I am circling the drain; I need your help.”
Suddenly I had a rude awakening. Now I understand, on a really deep level, what powerlessness is. And I always thought it was a bit sad, when you relapse, to have to go back to Step One, and maybe even with a new sponsor.
But now I see it. That’s where the answer is! Acceptance of my powerlessness over my drug is the place I find the freedom to heal.
If we really want to stop eating long term, we need to be absolutely convinced that there are certain foods that our body just can’t tolerate. There must be no reservation of any kind, no hope that someday things will change.
In Philadelphia, SEPTA is having advertisements that say, the train can’t turn away, it takes nearly a mile to stop it; if you don’t want to be hurt, get off the tracks. Somehow, some of us believe that the train will stop for us. It won’t. Accepting the reality that it won’t is what leads us to safety and freedom. And as soon as my clients put down the food, they come face to face with whatever they have been using the food to hide; sometimes they have no clue what it is; some traumas happened before we had words to describe them; sometimes we just do not want to look at or deal with certain other struggles. And we are usually powerless over some of those things, too.
But powerless is not helpless. Once I get my body off the tracks, I can begin to deal with the rest of the world and its problems. That is why our wise sponsors and programs take us back to Step One. In the powerlessness is where the power is.
“It is only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions (and acceptance) of our personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock on which happy and purposeful lives may be built.” (12&12, pg. 21)
Powerless is not helpless; acceptance is not approval; surrender is not failure.
I don’t know what you will think of this, so please comment below and tell me your truth.
Thank you for this gem!
You are so very welcome! I am glad it is helpful to you.
Love the blog.. Powerless .. Right on time with family and friends in the path of hurricane Irma and other personal issues. Thanks for the reminders !
Surrender to win !
YES! Surrender is not failure, it is the path to freedom!
This blog is so insightful! Thank you. I gave away a 12 year abstinence about 8 years ago and have been on and off the wagon since. I know it is a Step 1 issue. Always seems like something sabotages it all (probably me). Anyway, I am thrilled that you will be starting on-line classes!! Thank you for this too!. I hope to jump on them as soon as they are announced. Love and hugs!
So sorry you have had so much trouble, and for so long! Would be delighted to have you in the classes, but if you need to talk individually, be welcome to call me. I would want to help you sooner.
I’m getting ready to join OA and reading as much as I can in preparation. Any clarification on the Twelve Steps is appreciated. Thank you for sharing this – it was very helpful to me.
Wonderful. If you call the office tomorrow, I will talk with you about some resources that might help.
I look at it this way. My trying to be more powerful than my addiction to certain types of food is like me trying to pick up poison ivy and not have it affect me. I admitted that I had a “problem” with food for a long time before I truly accepted it. Once I accepted it and came to terms with it, my abstinence has not been such a struggle. I’m not saying that it’s always been easy over the past 29 years, but understanding the consequences of returning to the food has helped me to stay abstinent.
Twenty nine years! Congratulations! I suspect you have hit a bunch of poison ivies along the way, and I am glad to know you are still safe, sane, and abstinent! Theresa
I have an allergic reaction to certain substances that once I consume I have no control over!!! I am in a relapse now and I know that I have to return to sanity through absence!! I am not able to eat like other people without gaining large amounts of weight! What’s sad is I now have to watch my adult child experience food addiction for the first time with a weight gain of 45 pounds and then to stop eating for 45 days to lose it and gain it right back. Just like I did and my mom would do and my 2 sisters have done in the past . I had 5 years clean and will get back there again through the support of the 12 steps and my kind loving food plan that will nurture my soul to health again. I am powerless over certain substances!
You are so right! But I am sorry you are suffering so much. And it is so harf to watch the ones we love suffer too.
Thank you for your article!
We focus upon losing weight but that is almost always a secondary problem. Step One helps us to deal with the truth of our problems. We are powerless, need a Higher Power, and working the steps to keep us awake to reality. It’s such freedom in admitting that you are powerless, it actually gives me relief and a sense of power to admit that I am powerless. It also helps me to realize that if I’m powerless someone has to be Powerful for me. I’m new to all of this and I’m loving it all!!! Thanks for sharing.
You’re describing me in your article…guess I’m powerless and back at Step1…I think I might still be unwilling to truly accept that I will never be a normal eater and that sugar always always triggers me…it will never be okay. Where can I get more information about the online class you mentioned?
That is so true! Accepting powerlessness is really hard. But acceptance is not approval; it means to stop struggling against the truth. We don’t like it, but we need to deal with what is true for us. I am sorry you are struggling so.
I am setting up the classes for next year now; if you sign up for our mailing list, or are already on it, I will be sending information out as soon as it is ready.
Thanks for this comment.
Thanks for your insight. I’m in the throes of active food addiction. So many excuses. The biggest one being that if I give up the foods I’m allergic to and that trigger me my husband will shrug his shoulders and think “here she goes again” and it will impact what he cooks and what restaurants we go to. So if I peel away the onion skins, the bare truth is that I will feel unloved, rejected and isolated. And how will I live giving up so manyy foods. The physical and emotional pain will be unbearable. That’s my truth for today. I need help.
Shelley, I am so sorry you are struggling so much! When we go back and forth with the struggle, those who love us struggle too. It can be painful for a short time, but I believe that you can create a life you love in recovery! What would help you now? Theresa
There are ways to help with that. Please let us help you.
Thank you for the article. I know I’m powerless but still pick up. It seems out of my control. I need help
Iunderstand how hard this is. I am willing to try to help. Please call the office at 610-275-3699 so we can discuss it.
This was posted a long time ago but im grateful for it.
Im so glad it is helpful to you.
Theresa, I a really liking your blog. So much truth in it. Could you explain compulsive eating behaviors and I’m interested in you online classes seeing I live in ala. Thanks
Compulsive Eating behaviors can be described in many ways and have widely varying levels of severity. Compulsive eating behaviors usually means frequent episodes of uncontrollable eating, rapid “stuffing food down” eating, often, a person continues to eat food long after they feel full and sometimes to the point of feeling bloated or nauseated. Often there are particular foods that the eater chooses to eat at these times. I hope this helps. Call if you want more information.
And I hope you will be able to join us for the online classes.
In 36 years, I have been in program when I had problems and out when I didn’t. For 18 years and more, I was out. Imho, 12steps for food does not work. I have not tried to diet though. The program is a ghost of what it once was. I think that’s because of the fact that it’s food and the way women judge each other.
How can we help?
I love finding myself back at Step 1. It keeps me humble and looking towards my Higher Power for guidance.
Yes it surely does! A welcome visit!
I’m wondering if it is at all possible to be able to eat when hungry and stop when moderately full? Is it possible to eat mindfully and intuitively blessing your food and chewing very slowly.? My problem is overeating even healthy food. I was successful when I reported my food that I ate at the end of the day.
I find it impossible FOR FOOD ADDICTS! Food addiction is a PHYSICAL change in the way your brain neurons function. If you have had that change, you must do something else to be able to manage your eating effectively. It’s kind of like, do you need to wear glasses? If you do that means your eyes have changed and you cannot see clearly without glasses. The other question I have is, could you be eating some foods that trigger you? What makes reporting your food successful?
This is the first time I’ve seen your blog as I’ don’t read email daily or weekly at times. Im having trouble saying no to foods, disciplining myself & identify “ trigger foods” as an allergy. I am an addict & have recovered from various drugs over past 32 years. When I found the nerve to use and work with a sponsor they said I didn’t have the gift of desperation but we’re unable or willing to help me get to that “ desperation”. Sponsorship must be exhausting as “ they watch a fellow traveler struggle through recovery, abstinence, identification of trigger foods & various ups & downs of a sponsees life styles.
Powerlessness & God are # 1 for a reason. Biblically speaking I’m working out my wanting to be closer to God & that is an on going process of Him perfecting me.
That’s not to say I don’t have power to say no to “trigger foods” & mean no. I’m a work in progress.
The blog should come to your mailbox on Tuesday evening or Wednesday by 6 pm. If not, just please go to the website at https://www.sanefood.com and sign up. Glad you enjoyed it. Sorry you are struggling.