The door to the plane closes, and I sigh. It’s the end of an almost three-week trip to the U.S. While visiting family in Cleveland, I attended my old FA meetings, and was welcomed by lots of familiar faces as well as a few new ones. I sat next to people who have been in their right-sized bodies, and growing in their recovery for years now. During my time in Cleveland I was invited to a bridal shower for one of the fellows I used to see at my weekly FA meetings. This fellow joined the program at age 19, and has literally grown up in recovery. I got together with FA friends that I saw regularly in the past for walks, tea dates, and shared abstinent meals. Although I didn’t have great cell-phone reception (after all, my phone plan is no longer from a U.S.-based carrier), I did manage to get in some great FA phone calls. In the morning, no less — when I could then feel spiritually grounded to continue into my day. These days, living on the other side of the world, morning calls with FA fellows of long-term abstinence is an unheard-of luxury!
For the past three years, I have learned to cherish things that I once took for granted. Numerous FA meetings, an easy car-ride away. Meetings with rows and rows of chairs. Meetings filled with people eager for the rewards of this program. Phone calls to FA fellows all day long which meant no need to plan out my day by consecutive time-zones. Morning phone calls to my sponsor!
These details aren’t meant as complaints. I have been given many opportunities to grow in my recovery since choosing to move abroad with my family in 2014. I have had the chance to help start an FA meeting in a country that did not have any meetings. Our tiny meeting has been a destination for many FA fellows traveling to our part of the world. We are always happy to hear a new voice sharing a story of FA recovery from the front of the room. Some FA fellows have visited our country, but have not been able to make it to the meeting because of a busy itinerary. Many of them shared that just knowing there was a meeting here gave them strength to stay abstinent while traveling.
I heard the adage early on, and it has definitely been true for me: service keeps me abstinent. There have been many weeks when it was cold, or raining, and I would have rather stayed home. There have been events I have missed, and trips I have purposely scheduled in order to not miss my FA meeting. After all, I’m the one with the key and the literature. What if a newcomer shows up and the door is locked?
I have had the opportunity to attend AA meetings and benefit from the recovery of AA fellows with decades of recovery. While I am always aware that I am a food addict, and have yet to feel truly at home in those meetings, I have come to appreciate the warmth and the love I feel in those rooms. I have come to appreciate that addiction is addiction, and no matter what the physical manifestation of our addiction may be, the answer is always the same: God, the Twelve Steps, and working the simple tools of recovery on a daily basis.
There is that rush of excitement when my phone rings and it is someone calling to inquire about our meeting; perhaps someone who saw the FA flyer I recently posted on a bus stop or a community billboard. Or someone who heard about the program from a friend. I am always happy to explain my Tupperware during the occasions I have to bring a meal along somewhere. Those fresh, colorful meals often lead to long conversations about food addiction and recovery. Some of the inquirers show up to our little meeting. And some tell friends whom they think might benefit. So far, most have not stayed long enough to experience the rewards of FA recovery firsthand. But every time I tell my story to someone, I remember why I need this program, and I am strengthened in my resolve to stay abstinent. Every time I see someone sitting in the meeting, trying to figure out which parts of the program really apply to them, I am grateful that I know I need every bit of the FA program. Every time I see someone heading back out there to continue “doing it on their own,” I am grateful that I don’t need another 70 lbs (31.75 Kilos). weight gain, along with the despair of uncontrolled binging to prove my powerless over food once again. I am grateful to know that I don’t have to wrack my brains trying to figure out this disease on my own. I am not alone anymore. Even if I sometimes feel isolated, living on the other side of the world, I know I am not alone. I know that a bit of planning will connect me to my sponsor, or another FA fellow who will support me in my journey. And a bit of quiet time, or a quick prayer, will connect me to the real source of my ability to stay abstinent and grow.
I admire FA fellows who have gotten abstinent on the frontier. I am not sure I could have done it. When I first started in FA, there weren’t many meetings in my city. But there were enough for me to attend three a week, and see firsthand what FA had to offer. I saw the pictures, and I listened to the shares from the front of the room. I stared in awe at the multiple people in front of me who had really lost all their extra weight, and had maintained their weight loss. People who had managed to refrain from eating sugar and flour and quantities for ninety days, or more. Some of them for two, three and four years. (That was ten years ago. Some of those same people have been in their right-sized bodies for well over 10 years now!) If I hadn’t actually seen it, I don’t know if I would have believed it possible.
When I wonder, from time to time, if or how our tiny fellowship will ever grow, I have to remember that it is in God’s hands. Perhaps I needed that much abundant evidence in front of my eyes because I didn’t have enough imagination or faith. But I believe that God puts each and every one of us exactly where we need to be, exactly when we need to be there, in order for us to learn the lessons we need to learn.
So here I am, buckling my seatbelt as the plane taxis toward take-off. I have gotten a good dose of FA fellowship, and I am taking it all back with me. God has planted me exactly where I need to be for this phase of my recovery. Maybe it will involve just that much more faith.
Rachel W., Israel