I was in trouble and I knew I needed help. It had been a long day at work and it was going to be an even longer drive home. Traffic was terrible and it was raining. My disease told me that my planned eating would help. I stopped at my planned binge store and bought the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie and coffee with cream I had been obsessed with all day. I was in the food, but I thought I was in control this time. I would stop after this …but how did I get here? The rain was pouring, and it was late. I found myself driving across a strange bridge and I suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was. I told myself it was fine but I knew deep down that I was lost in a food fog. I had no recollection of how I got on the bridge and it was not the way home at all. I was so confused.

I was now in full-blown relapse. I could not stop eating. I knew that if I did not get help immediately I would weigh 300 lbs. I was desperate and this time I knew I needed professional help. I wanted to attend a SHiFT event. I had never been but I had learned about SHiFT from my recovery community. I never thought that I needed ‘that’ kind of help. I could do it myself. I knew this time I could not. I was beaten. I called SHiFT earlier in the day and as I drove, ate and cried I was expecting a phone call from Phil. The phone rang and as I answered I prayed that he could not hear the cellophane wrapper of my Little Debbie. We spoke for several minutes. I could not believe that the owner of this place was actually calling me and talking to me like a human being. Much less a human being that understood the pure hell I was living. I felt relief and hope. I made arrangements to attend the 3 Day workshop and I cried the whole way home – a mix of relief and desperation.

The next days were a blur. I remember lots of fear, anger tears and my last binge. Just one more – my disease said. On the drive to the event my binge had grown to two Little Debbies and 2 coffees and cream. I gagged as I drove. I could not get the food down fast enough. I was scared and ashamed as we started the weekend I had no idea what to expect. Phil tenderly and empathetically led our groups. He always gave us everything he could emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I learned that I am not my disease. I learned that I am a charming lovely person whose disease has become enmeshed with my personality. I learned that my feelings and my thoughts are two different entities and that I can feel my feelings and work on myself without the use of extra food.

I am constantly being judged by my disease and Phil taught us so many things. Mostly he taught me compassion and trust. He did this by allowing each member of the group to be met where we were. No one was judged and he did not expect us to be anywhere but where we were. Phil’s unconditional positive regard helped me face the fear and shame I felt. This level of acceptance allowed me to begin my abstinence and journey towards recovery once again.

Phil emphasized that once we truly accept that we are powerless over our disease there is no shame. The hope he instilled in me is that right on the other side of despondency is surrender.

Today I am surrendered. I have 4 months of weighed and measured abstinence and I am so grateful for the beginning that SHiFT allowed me to have with Phil. I never want to forget my confusion, my sad last binge and the pure deprivation that I felt. I want to remember this so that I can learn to give that same unconditional acceptance I learned from Phil to that sad woman inside of me.

I am a food addict – I need love and care – I can go to SHiFT and get what I need. We call can. Deep roots growing.