Pattern of Pain

I am allergic to certain foods such as sugar, caffeine, onions and corn. Even though these foods made me physically ill, I was unable to avoid them. My pattern was to begin a diet and, within a short period of time, be right back where I started. I realized I needed help.

I called OA, thinking perhaps it could help. “I am a sugar and caffeine addict,” I admitted to the woman on the phone. “Can OA help me?” She answered affirmatively. With hopeful enthusiasm,  I attended meetings, picked a sponsor, settled on a food plan and began working the Steps. As a result of maintaining abstinence for one and a half years, my digestive problems have disappeared, I fall asleep easily, my memory has improved, I no longer feel lethargic and I have energy to do things I enjoy.

For my exercise program, I started walking each day for 20 or 30 minutes. In the fall, I purchased a bicycle and went on short one- to two-mile trips. Then, for some reason, I decided to take a seven-mile trip. Biking along the path, I felt great. During the last mile, I felt some discomfort in my calves but finished the trip.

Upon returning home, I was extremely fatigued and my calves were cramping. I sat on the couch and was hit with strong cravings for sugar, caffeine and chocolate. I did not act on the cravings, because with OA, I have made a commitment to myself to work my program rather than pick up these substances, no matter what.

My sponsor has taught me to ask myself “Where did these cravings come from? Why now? What is going on with me?” instead of focusing on the cravings. As I prayed for God to take away these cravings, the thought came that this is a lifelong pattern for me.

I exercise to excess. Endorphins release into my body, which gives me a feeling of euphoria and takes away the pain. Later, when I stop exerting myself and the endorphins cease, I experience extreme pain and fatigue. As a response, I look for caffeine and sugar to take away the fatigue, and I eat chocolates to release endorphins for the pain.

I continue this pattern for a couple of days. These foods are high in calories, so I neglect nutritious meals because I am looking for relief. By the third day of this pattern, I am physically sick from eating massive amounts of junk food while neglecting valuable nutrition. I spend a day in bed, and the next day I feel well again. This cycle goes on and on.

With new awareness, I have now surrendered to a sensible exercise plan. Goodbye to the slogan “Go for the burn.” Hello to the slogan “Easy does it.”

~ Darlene H., Tampa, Florida USA
From Lifeline Magazine, July 2014