You may be asking yourself how I came to understand I had a compulsive addiction and what brought me to treatment. The answer to that is complicated, but I will do my best to explain it: you see, my love-hate relationship with both myself and my addiction to food ended up in hospitalization in January 1992 for Cellulitis of the leg. My doctor was called into the emergency room, and almost dropped my chart when he noticed my swollen left leg with its' purplish-blue tint. He proceeded to methodically measure both calves, noting that the left one was something like 22½" in circumference while the right leg was about 19". I'll never forget the words he said to me in the following moments: "Jeff, either do something about your problem with your weight, or be prepared to lose your legs within the next couple of years. If you lose your legs, you'll become even more inactive. If your body does not get some form of exercise, the next thing you'll lose is your life!"
He turned to make preparations for my hospitalization, leaving me to my thoughts. Over the next three days, I cried more than I ever have in my life. I did a lot of soul-searching during this time, finally realizing that I was out of control with not only food but many other aspects of my life. I knew I was both desperate and beaten, so I gave it all to my Higher Power.
This phase of my recovery is what I now call "the reckoning," where I had to face the cold brutal facts that I was definitely on the road to a rapid self-destruction. The stillness of the hospital room I lay in was eerie; the silence in my mind was so loud it was deafening. I finally realized I had nothing left to lose but my life; and by God, this time...it was going to be either me or death that won... but I wouldn't go quietly; not without a fight.
As the hours unfolded, I lay there watching television; attempting to find some hidden meaning in the various talk shows...and barely noticing the nurses as they walked in and shot my stomach with anticoagulants for my blood, and antibiotics for my system. If I had known at that time how close I was to losing that leg, I probably would have been a proverbial basket case. "Just what good have I been to myself, or anyone else?" I remember thinking. The self pity monster was present, and threatened to devour me.
As fate would have it--no; make that as my Higher Power would have it, a talk show came on with guests from two Burlesque groups...one from the United States; one from England. The U.S. Burlesque group was tanned and muscular; the English group.....well, the smallest man weighed 385 lbs.. I can look back on it and laugh now, as I remember asking God if he wanted me to join the English Burlesque group. I felt a strange calm; don't ask me to explain it--I can only say it was the hand of my Higher Power directing me to lie still and be calm; the answers I sought would be forthcoming.
Some time passed, and yet another talk show was broadcast promoting a group which promotes acceptance for obese people. The president of that group made lighthearted jabs at himself over his weight....and somehow I sensed it was merely a front...a cover up, if you will for deeper problems. Then, a commercial was broadcast with the answer I sought....and in a scant second my fingers were dialing my bedside phone.
The rest, as they say, is now history....with my Higher Power's help, I have slain the demons in my past....and come face to face and heart to heart with the real me..and do you want to know something? He's not bad guy, after all.
Some who've known me the way I was before recovery have told me that I'm courageous; even heroic. I say I'm not. It is my opinion that the real heroic people are the ones out there who are still attempting to come to terms with their food addictions. It takes a lot of energy and courage to keep up a vicious cycle of self-loathing and compulsive behaviors while attempting to maintain the facade of a normal life style.
To my fellow compulsive eaters out there, I love you. I hope my words will offer you a ray of hope or comfort in your lives. I also hope all of you can make your way toward your higher power and your inner selves; both of whom can help restore you to sanity and help separate your emotions from your eating disorder.
May the God of your understanding bless you and crown your efforts with success and happiness.