It is spring of 1996. I'm in the habit of getting two chocolate fixes a day. I don't keep it in the house, because actually that's impossible. Whatever I have, I immediately eat. So I go out to get my fixes. I run a bead shop in my studio, open by appointment. Today I have a morning customer and one in the afternoon. Between them, I plan to go buy myself a treat (always it's chocolate, although I use the word treat rather than naming it).Well, that lasted for about 3 years. Then I started sneaking chocolate once in a while when I was in town. Once in a while soon became a daily fix. Then twice a day. WAKE UP! OK, back to abstinence for a few more years.
Morning customer comes late and stays late. Afternoon customer comes early. They overlap. No treat. I am fidgeting and irritable. I want Ms. Afternoon to leave. I don't care how many beads she'd like to buy; I want her gone. I'm short with her, nearly rude. Finally she goes.
I race to my car and am driving away mere seconds after she leaves. I drive to the closest grocery store. I rush to the bakery/deli to see what they have. OK... triple-layer, double-chocolate cake! I tell the clerk I need a big piece because two of us are splitting it. She puts it in a to-go box. I grab a fork and a napkin and bee-line to my car. In my car, I slink down and eat the whole piece of cake. Two minutes and it's gone. I've gobbled it.
I realize I didn't taste it after the first bite. I feel remorse. Remorse for being rude to my customers. Remorse for telling a lie to the clerk about splitting the piece of cake. Remorse for hiding in my car. Remorse for continuing to abuse my body.
It dawns on me, sitting dejected in my car, that I am a chocolate addict, exhibiting all of the behaviors of an alcoholic only about chocolate rather than alcohol. In that moment, I realize chocolate had a grip on me that makes me feel crazy and that I can not control my intake. I decide on a course of abstinence.
Then I decided I would have chocolate only one time a year... on my birthday. Didn't work... One time became the first of many times and the fixes ruled me once again. Quit again. Fell off the wagon one more time, binged repeatedly, lied, hid the stuff, sneaked around eating it in my car.
Always during periods of chocolate abstinence, I continued to crave it... big time! I thought about it every day. I spent hours in the grocery store looking for chocolate substitutes. I tried every type of lemon dessert there is... cookies, ice cream, cake, pie, cheesecake and tarts. I tried peanut-butter cookies and raspberry bars. I tried butter pecan ice cream and apple fritters. You name it. I tried it. Always I wanted and craved chocolate... tried to find a substitute... something else to give me that same buzz.
I never found it. And I never binged as badly on the substitutes, rarely had to get two fixes a day like with chocolate. But I did binge some. My craving for chocolate was incessant and nagging.
On April 3rd, 2010, I finished reading Holy Hunger by Margaret Bullitt-Jonas and realized fully and without a doubt that I am a compulsive overeater and that I can not control my eating and binging by myself. On April 7th, 2010, I attended my first meeting of Overeaters Anonymous and sensed I had finally found help.
I've been on a sensible food plan and abstinent (with one slip) from all chocolate, cookies, cake, pie, cheesecake, ice cream, candy and pastries ever since then. My body is slowly changing... when I started I wore a snug size 18 jeans. Now I'm wearing size 12. My mind is changing a lot. I don't feel crazy anymore. I'm learning to feel my feelings. I'm starting to work the 12-step program and feeling positive about the progress I'm making.
One of the most interesting things in my OA experience so far is about chocolate. Since being abstinent about chocolate AND other binge foods, I no longer crave chocolate or even think about it much. If very good quality chocolate is right in front of me, I might find myself thinking it smells really good. But then I move away from it both physically and mentally. I'm not looking for a substitute. It's hold on me is finally breaking. One day at a time, I am becoming a sober person!