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!

About COR Retreat
COR Retreat is a residential retreat program that teaches a way to live free from the obsession with food through a 12 step program. COR Retreats are 5-day programs, scheduled each month at the McIver Center in Wayzata, MN.

Learn more about the COR Retreat Experience, and register online to attend an upcoming retreat

The McIver Center

  • The McIver Center, Wayzata, MN
  • The McIver Center, Wayzata, MN
  • The McIver Center, Wayzata, MN
  • The McIver Center, Wayzata, MN
  • The McIver Center, Wayzata, MN

COR Retreat participants spend five days and four nights together at the McIver Center for Spiritual Development at The Retreat in Wayzata, MN. The McIver Center is located just 15 minutes west of Minneapolis, MN.

COR Retreat Philosophy

COR Retreat Experience

COR Retreat Daily Schedule

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