Mike's Story of Recovery

By the time I arrived at COR my disease was like another limb. It was beyond an abnormal attachment to food. Stopping at a gas station for gas or a pharmacy for medication meant I never left empty-handed. I had my stash of food. It was just something I was entitled to, something I needed. Many times I would sit in my car in a doctor’s parking lot near my home, to be alone. I would eat and then hide the wrappers underneath the car seat. Then, one evening my wife’s doctor swung by in her car. I was seen and humiliated. I needed to find another spot.

A family member had gone to COR Retreat about a year and a half before. It was suggested that I might find it helpful. “Yeah, well, I am not much one for retreats. Yeah, you feel good for a few days but they don’t generate lasting change,” I thought. I had been in and out of the OA rooms for many years but I was tired. To me, it was nearly all women, not a lot of abstinence, and it didn’t work for me.

Amid the craziness I was able to semi-manage my weight, so it seemed. At 6’5” I thought I could “carry it”. I had become adept at crash dieting, and a low carb, high protein diet worked for me a few times a year, although it seemed to work less and less. I had accumulated multiple sizes of clothes which I thought was rather crafty. 

For the past few years my wife and I were in a 12-step program for couples. Our dear friend Jon was one-half of our sponsor couple. He knew us intimately and had really helped our marriage and my recovery. Jon and I were quite alike, our personalities and diseases very similar. Then one day, without warning, Jon took his life. It was devastating.

A few nights later, I was driving home alone after we were visiting his wife. I needed to stop for gas. I thought perhaps I should wait until tomorrow, as I was in danger of eating compulsively. I was about a mile from the gas station when I decided it would be OK to stop. I could get gas and not purchase food.  Less than a minute later I was debating whether I can purchase food or not. Then, I was debating which food to get. I was going to eat. It was a foregone conclusion. 

I filled my tank, replaced the nozzle and turned to go into the store for my food. Then it was as if lightning struck, for a moment that seemed like forever, my feet didn’t move. I felt something in my heart, a quiver perhaps and I felt so, so sad. I decided I didn’t want to medicate what I felt about the loss of Jon. I didn’t want to medicate anymore. I went home and I told my wife I would go to COR.

A few weeks before I took the trip across country to COR I started to back away from the decision. But I had already bought my plane ticket.  I thought, “Oh well, I’ll go I guess.” 

I sat in the COR living room as we gathered and glanced at the table in front of the couch. I thought how nice it was that they put cookies out for us! Then I realized those were decorative stones.        

It was quite out of character but somehow I felt like I belonged there. Earlier in the day I realized Jon had been from Fargo and lived a good part of his adult life in Minneapolis. I couldn’t introduce myself, because I began to sob. I am not a crier, but it just poured out. 

We got down to business and I took one look at that food plan and I knew it wasn’t going to work for me. I couldn’t survive on that little amount of food. I actually had to say to myself, Michael you probably won’t be dead by the fifth day. I was also terrified of putting something between me and my food. 

I ate the food. It seemed to be OK. At one point during a break, I thought to myself, “I wonder if they have anything I can snack on upstairs.” Then I remembered where I was. 

I did the exercises. I shared, listened and laughed. I realized while this program seems to work for other people it wasn’t going to work for me. I am a champion isolator. That was going to be a lot to overcome and probably not going to happen. Also, I can’t possibly do all this planning with all this food. I never learned to take responsibility for my food. I hated the work and was quite lazy in this area. In fact, my wife had bought us a pepper grinder for our kitchen table. I hated it, because I thought it was too much work. “Just give me the thing to shake!,” I thought.

Mike After COR Retreat

So here it is 6 months later. Yes, I continue to use the COR food plan and that really works for me. Yes, I have lost 13% of my weight, but that’s not even half the story. I learned at COR, and from my sponsor, that planning my food is an act of spiritual nurturance. I am worth the work. Suddenly, I was cutting up vegetables, weighing and measuring, putting lunches and snacks in my new glass containers. I have an awesome sponsor whom I speak with daily. I go to meetings, make phone calls, do service and work the steps…all very imperfectly. I do tell on myself always. 

I forgot to mention, I am 56 years old. I have 2 advanced degrees in the mental health field. I started reading self-help books at age 14. I have been to therapy, retreats, and people always comment how thoughtful and insightful I can be. However, none of that got me abstinent. 

For the first time in my life I am abstinent. It hit me a few weeks ago, and I turned to my dear wife and I said “I think I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.” A few days later, she asked me what was the most significant change for me. Almost without hesitation, I noted, “It’s the fear. It’s way down, much less intense and not a guiding force in my life.” The abstinence is a miracle, and that feeling of fear fading is also a miracle. 

Thank you COR and the fabulous community. 

Thanks for letting me share part of my story. Godspeed all!

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