Sharing My Experience, Strength & Hope


My Highest Weight 365 2006

On My 65th Birthday  With Sister and Nephew  ♦ On The Church Steps ♦ Gorilla Riding

Sharing My Experience, Strength and Hope (ESH)

     I am John, grateful recovering Compulsive Eater. Today I practice the 12th step: Having had a spiritual awakening I will share what I used to be like, what happened and what I am like now! My story is not unique, I am just another bozo on the bus, just one of many compulsive eaters recovering in our fellowship of the spirit.

What I Was Like 

     Since joining recovery, I have realized that I helped create the bondage which imprisoned me. I choose the bars which became so strong and deep-seated in me that they depressed my life for 73 of my 76 years and at times drove me completely insane in my actions.  I am so grateful for recovery, the abstinence it offers us and the release it provides from the bondage of self.

     Early in my life I began to imitate who I thought my father was. I idolized him for his strong work ethic, physical strength and quiet manner. It took me years to understand that he deeply loved, talked freely with and expressed his emotions to my mother. From what I could see of him, though, I came to believe that real men worked hard, were silent towers of strength and kept their feelings to themselves. I realize now that that belief was the beginning of my isolation, fear and internalizing my feelings.  My mother was a great match for Dad, hard-working, emotionally and spiritually strong like my father and they worked easily together to set an example, tempered by love and kindness. We were taught to love and serve God, to be kind and loving to others, and to work as hard and achieve as highly as we were capable.    The 4 of us siblings eventually joined our mother as valedictorians of our respective classes and my sisters went on to achieve at the highest levels in University, sister Linda graduating as a Fulbright Scholar, receiving a PHD at London’s Queens College.   

     Unlike my sisters, who seemed to embrace life as it came to them, I wanted very badly to serve God. I believed that God expected me to be perfect as the Bible says and I thought that meant be perfect in all my actions. I did not understand that there are no mistakes but only outcomes.  We learn many times by trial and error, experimenting and if the outcome is not what we want, we simply change and try something different. For me making a mistake was incomprehensible. I took on responsibilities that were not mine to bear and fell into a stinking thinking black hole believing I was doomed to repeat my misery with no means of changing the outcome for the better. When mother asked me to watch out for the girls, I wanted to be obedient and helpful but I over-reacted being overly watchful and started agonizing and worrying that the girls might be hurt. My parents saying do your best always translated into my feeling I had to be the best. Over-achieving and stressing about life soon caused me to be fearful of women, police and other authority figures. My failures to be perfect always came, and I reacted with anger toward myself, which caused depression with its associated guilt, feelings of unworthiness, and self-loathing.    

     The reading Just for Today recommends that "I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my “luck” as it comes and fit myself to it."  I was one who could not do these simple things.  These were things that I was simply clueless about in my early life. I did not even understand that I had a choice. What I used to be like can be best summed up by an experience I had when I was 5 years old, which I call The Outhouse.

     I was playing out behind the well house and was making mud pies in old tin pans and letting them cook in the sun.  I got the idea that I could do it better if I had eggs to mix in like I had seen mother do.  So, I went next door and told Aunt Stellie that my mother needed to borrow 2 eggs.  She went and got them for me and I hurried behind the wellhouse and cracked them just like mother and mixed them in my now better mud pies. I might have gotten by with it but I was not satisfied with my two pies, and I went back and borrowed another 2 eggs.  Aunt Stellie began wondering why my mother needed 4 eggs and so she knocked on our back door and asked.  When I heard my mother call out “John Aldon” I knew I wasin real trouble and I got really afraid and ran and hid in the nearby outhouse. Mother and Aunt Stellie began searching for me and when my mother was heading toward the outhouse Aunt Stellie said No need as she had already checked there and so their cries became louder and they began running here and there with mounting concern …finally retracing their steps mother opened the door to the outhouse and stepped up and saw my brown curly head down in the right hole.  Fear proved to be devastating for me. Living in an outhouse came to be a type and shadow for my life. As I grew older fear continued to grip my life, oft times overwhelming my thoughts, and stealing my peace of mind. I could not distinguish between the things I could not change and the things I could change, so I tried to be perfect in everything. I became the classic overachiever with straight A’s in elementary school and was valedictorian of my graduating class. Failures always came and they caused me to begin to hate myself. So much so that as a freshman I scored in the 100th % ile on self-abasement on a standardized test. I could never do anything well enough to stop the rush of negativity that riddled my thinking. I truly lived in the outhouse, my self-created hell hardened by fear.

     The pressure of life was simply too much for me. I was one of those people That How It Works describes as suffering from grave emotional and mental disorders.   By the time I was a freshman in college, I had come completely unglued, I simply could no longer compete academically let alone reach for excellence. Over the next 40 years I experienced 4 mental breakdowns, one which required me to be heavily medicated and locked in a mental hospital for 30 days and one which required 8 years of 30 hours a week group therapy along with weekly individual counseling, and a host of anti-depressant and anti-pyschotic drugs. At my lowest point I was taking 13 prescriptions and was  self-medicating with food. I was clinically diagnosed with a spectrum of Affective Disorders, including Anxiety and Panic disorders, Binge Eating Disorder, Fibromyalgia, and Major Depressive Disorder with obsessions & ruminations. I was told by the staff psychiatrist and the psychologists in the mental health service where I was being treated that I simply would never recover and I believed them.  My life such as it was was riddled and devastated by ISMs, character defects and negative stinking thinking; they dominated my thinking, and they fed and fueled my dysfunctional life and propped up my illusion of happiness! 

     An “ism” is all about how we cope with the many things encountered in life.  Bill W. and Dr. Bob, were clear about the ultimate problem of alcoholism. They called it “spiritual bankruptcy” which is just another way of saying alcoholism is an ism (internal spiritual malady).  Good acronyms for ism are: I Sponsor Myself or Incredibly Short Memory or I Sabotage Myself or Internal Spiritual Malady (or Maladjustment),  I feel you would not have liked what I used to be like - I know I didn't. In fact, I hated myself and most of the time I just wanted to die... or at least I just wanted the pain to end. Whether my unhappiness originated in compulsive behaviors, my perfectionism or my religious belief system, from my misunderstandings or incorrect perceptions, or from cognitive distortions or just from the human condition of life, its effect on me was the same . . . isolation, self loathing and miserable loneliness. 

     The good Life was for other people but not me, I just did not deserve it, my life was at best an existence filled with struggles, disabling stresses and stressors, with little or no self-love or self-acceptance.  Negative thinking was my insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results; Feelings of inadequacy, isolation, restlessness, anxiety, depression, fear and guilt are just a few of the “isms” that victimized me daily. I perpetuated my misery because I held onto those isms, defects and irrational beliefs as if they were the fountain of youth...the source of what I believed was right and good and I kept doorways to the past wide open for an easy escape.                                    

     I got my start eating compulsively in Junior High and was so fat that the kids called me "Sugar Belly". I was eating whole boxes of cereal with plenty of added sugar and baptized in gallons of milk. I was told by my elders that I was just a growing boy, that eating was a good and normal thing. I had a temporary reprieve from compulsive eating when I had a 5-inch growth spurt in Junior High growing to 6’3” and 175 lbs. in High School. I held that weight until I was 30 and then the Yo-Yoing began almost immediately. My weight jumped to 200, then 225, 250, then all the way to 300, and beyond, with me struggling to lose, only to regain and add more weight… Anti-depressants did not help me but only added more weight and I still thought that I just ate too much and exercised too little. I tried various diets including fasting, the Lemonade diet, the Cabbage Soup diet and even tried paid weight loss programs, but all those half measures availed me nothing.

     By 2006 I had eaten my way to my highest weight of 365 lbs. I felt like I was going to burst but I continued the see-food diet, medicating with food, using any excuse to eat and my life was built around self-abasement, grazing and pigging out. By 2013, I had somehow struggled my way down to 270 lbs. and in August of that year I realized a dream by accepting an invitation from a friend to visit Florida. I offered to cook and keep house to help my friend with expenses. I thought I will be able to eat healthy Florida produce and fruits and lose weight here. I had a wonderful time, even attended 3 recovery meetings a week but when I returned to Kansas City in May of 2014 I weighed in at 320 lbs. My interpretation of healthy eating had added 50 lbs. in those 9 months.

What Happened
     I went to a Monday noon Al-anon meeting my 1st week home. After the meeting I talked with a friend who was there. She told me that there was a Compulsive Eaters recovery group meeting on Tuesday in the very same Al-anon room, that she was a member and she asked me if I would like to go to the meeting. That is how I got into recovery! I joined that day, June 26, 2014 and began working on my 1st Abstinent day. The MAGIC of true recovery had begun!

A miracle happened to me when I finally found recovery. The blindness and negativity that I had endured in my life began to fall away from me. I began to both see and understand that my compulsive behaviors were because I had an internal spiritual malady, that not only did I have life-threatening diseases but I had also been spiritually bankrupt!  What happened to me is given in The Promises, page 84 BB: "We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves."

I will use the word MAGIC as an acronym to share the insights and understandings that recovery has brought to me.                                      

     “M” stands for Message: Zig Ziglar wrote, "You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind." When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.  We often ask each other, "Do you have your ducks in a row?"  Spiritual awakenings in recovery come in many ways! Today it is with joy and freedom that I know I am powerless over sugar, flour and quantities. I have loved learning to say to every one of those, "That's not my duck!" Recovery delivers a powerful and very useable helpful message!

     “A” stands for Acceptance: Page 417 BB says “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.”  Paraphrasing that quote for CE it continues "Until I could accept my compulsive eating, I could not stay abstinent; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."  Acceptance truly has been the answer to all my problems!

     “G” stands for Gratitude: I am reminded of a favorite gospel song "Prayer is the key to heaven, but faith unlocks the door." I believe that to be true. I also believe that Gratitude is the key to Recovery and the Attitude of Gratitude unlocks the door. Your subconscious mind determines what energies, experiences, and people you attract -- therefore, the only foolproof way to know what you want is to see what you have. That is why having an attitude of gratitude is so important. Melody Beattie's writing has strengthened my resolve and determination to live my life with an attitude of gratitude. She writes, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. . .Gratitude isn't a tool to manipulate the universe or God. It's a way to acknowledge our faith that everything happens for a reason even if we don't know what that reason is. . .”  The Big Book echoes that in the Acceptance statement saying Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake!  I trust so much in the power of the heart and the soul; I know that the answer to what we need to do next is in our own hearts. I believe that all we have to do is listen, trust what we hear and then take that one step further.  God will provide and we will be taught what we need to learn.”

     “I” stands for Insight: My recovery program explained in a way that I could understand and accept that I am a Compulsive Eater, a Food Addict, a Compulsive Stinking Thinker and that I have an addictive personality!  My life makes more sense now – I have a disease and a disease that will kill me if it goes untreated.  I thank God that I have a program and that I can Abandon myself to God, Admit my faults to Him and to you, my fellows. Then I can Clear away the wreckage of my past and Give freely of what I have found and that I can KNOW that I will never again be alone, that you will be with me in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and We WILL do together what we could never do alone. It has been a major insight that the Promises ARE coming true for me: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

     “C” stands for Character: Character is a combination of attributes that determines a person’s moral and ethical actions and reactions.   Character is all about our assets - mine and yours. Character is how we act when we think no one is watching. Character is what Teddy Roosevelt described when he said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  Most of all Character is the good and welcomed result of the Magic of Recovery!  Reviewing then, THE MAGIC of RECOVERY: Message ~ Acceptance ~ Gratitude ~ Insight ~ Character.  As an acronym it could represent  "Mastering Abstinence Generates Incredible Character!"  The MAGIC of true recovery was happening!              

I will finish my share with two questions

which help me stay the course and remain abstinent:

    IS ABSTINENCE MY PRIORITY?  ♦  AM I WILLING TO GROW ALONG SPIRITUAL LINES?       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I believe with all my heart that God, You and I, Must Work Our Recovery Program Together, with God doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. 

In Star Wars the Jedi Master Yoda taught, “Do or Do Not. There is no try.”

                                   I believe if  'I Am Just Trying' that I am thinking more about myself                                      than our program and that indecision could unlock the door to a slip;

S.L.I.P. = Sobriety (Abstinence) Loses Its Priority 

               So I strive everyday to  “Let Go of self Absolutely”,  Just Stop Trying                                   and Actively Do My Recovery  Program and that has brought to me                       hope for sanity, serenity or sustained abstinence.

Every Day I Remember to Do 6 Things


2.  GIVE SERVICE – as it releases me from bondage of self.


4.  Always GO TO ANY LENGTHS necessary!

                                                          5.  Always TAKE G-D WITH ME!                                                                       I Pray the Serenity Prayer, Step Prayers and other like Help me G-d, Thank You G-d.       

6.  My ideas did not work.  I Let Go of Self Absolutely and Let G-d

                                                          I Always Pray  "Thy will not mine be done”!                                                            I Remember F.R.O.G. which represents that I "Fully Rely On G-d"!

 What Am I Like Now

                   I am wiser now having lost my first 17 abstinent days to a Slip because I failed to read an ingredient label. I follow the Sugar Rule zealously now, never failing to read those ingredient labels, even ones I have read hundreds of times before.  Food manufacturers are diabolical , adulterating their products with sugar and/or one of the 324 forms, I've found, that sugar can take.

Abstinence is the keystone of a Happy+Joyous+Free Life!

Today May 12, 2018 I am Gratefully Abstinent 3 years 9 months and 25 days!  

Calculate Your Recovery  Big Book Recovery Calculator

                         I am a FISM Sponsor, presently available only for outreach calls                                                                             at my cell 816-489-8033, call or text                                                                               or email at                                        I strive everyday to live Happy, Joyous and Free!

Using HAPPY as an acronym helps me to remember important key principles:


Remember -  PPPPPP - Prior Planning Positively Prevents Poor Performance

I YIELD and become YOKED with YAHWEH (Old Testament name for G-d YHVH)

G-d has blessed me with a Great Desire

                   to carry the message of recovery, by doing all the good I can,                   by all the means I can, in all the ways I can, in all the places I can,                at all the times I can, to all the people I can, as long as ever I can.                               



120 lbs Program Weight Loss

                  Overall I have lost 150 lbs, 18 sizes off my 58" waist;                            from a 3XL shirt size down to a large size, oft-times a medium.

      Grateful To Clean Up Good    ♦   Looking Really Good

~ John U  Independence, Missouri


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