It Really Does Work by John Y.

in: recovery

DSC_3539In April 2007 I went on a mini vacation to an NA convention in the Florida Keys.  I was tired and needed a break.  When you hear that “recovery is hard work” I can tell you they are not kidding.  We in the rooms of recovery see so many newcomers come and go that I wanted to tell this story about my Keys convention experience.  There are many recovery oriented fun things to do in this new way of life, conventions, and roundups being a couple of my favorites.

We aren’t rough campers so many of us have motor homes or travel trailers.  We caravan down each year and set up camp as a group.  We go to meetings, workshops, and there is the usual talent show, Karaoke contest and dances.  This year one of the people in our group brought his diving experience and gear to share with the rest of us.  He took us to Loke Reef.

The water was crystal clear and any where from 10 to 75 feet deep.  I was diving with my dive partner when we came upon a 6 foot shark.  We followed behind the shark for a while.  I was amazed to see a fish this size moving through the reefs, peaks and crevices.

After following the shark for a while we turned and headed back for the boat.  As we came around one of the reefs peaks, I saw a woman kneeling on the sand bottom and she was praying.  I recognized the girl as a TPOT alumni.  I got goose bumps when I realized that when I first met this girl she was living a life without any purpose or hope and here she was 3 1/2 years later clean and sober and praying on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.  I was immediately filled with gratitude for recovery.  Later that evening while at the main speaker meeting there were another 12 TPOT alumni with anywhere from 6 months to 3 1/2 years clean and sober.

I sometimes get caught up in the drama of people who choose to go back to living life in their disease and forget to focus on the ones who do the foot work to stay clean and sober.  I need to remember with the help of a higher power, the good start that they got here at TPOT, meetings and the help of the fellowship, we can recover.

What’s Food Got To Do With It? by Clara W.

in: recovery

Before abstinence, holidays meant food, birthdays meant food, vacations meant food, socializing meant food and waking up in the morning meant food.  Basically, there wasn’t anything in my life that didn’t mean food.  I was either bingeing or planning my next binge.  Life was passing me by without my awareness.

From Halloween through New Year’s, it was one long food fog.  Then on New Year’s Day, I would wake up and a black cloud would descend because today was the first day of my diet.  I found it hard to get out of bed because how could I get through the day without my “support system,” my best friend, my security, the solution to all my problems and the comforting presence of food?

Today, 27 years after that last “black cloud morning,” it’s a joy to get up every New Year’s Day, every holiday and every birthday.  It’s a joy mixed with gratitude to wake up abstinently and not be filled with self-loathing and hopelessness.

How did this miraculous transformation happen?  I decided I needed a different “support system,” a different best friend, different security, a different solution to all my problems, and a different way of comforting myself.  I found all of that, and more, through Overeaters Anonymous and other 12-Step fellowships.

Abstinence is the most important thing in my life today, without exception, because it is the doorway to my Higher Power, and my Higher Power is the solution to all my problems today.

When the pain gets great enough by Cassandra V.

in: recovery

I will never forget the day I got clean. I was more broken than I had ever been in my life. I hadn’t lost anything on the outside, but I was completely dead on the inside. I hated everything about me and everything I had become. At this point in my life I was willing to do anything, and so began my journey.

My clean date is April 27th, 2009, but I’m not here to talk about how I got clean. I remember thinking that when I got clean, this horrible eating disorder I had been suffering with my entire life was just going to go away. I remember thinking that once I put the drink down, all my other problems were just going to go away. That was the farthest thing from the truth. My first two months of being clean, I didn’t purge but I was beyond obsessed with myself, my body, and the way I looked.

Eventually I started the horrible cycle of my bingeing and purging. It didn’t take long for me to start where I left off in my addiction: stealing food, buying food from multiple fast food places at one time, throwing up everywhere and anywhere I could, lying to people about what I was doing with my food, and being completely and utterly consumed with myself.

Every day I woke up and said that I was going to stop purging today and every day I threw up my food. I had no choice in the matter, it was the only way I knew how to live, it was the only way I knew how to stay skinny, and it was, for me, unacceptable to not be skinny. I threw up anywhere between 5 and 10 times a day and I lost a lot of weight very quickly. I also became very sick, very quickly, and this whole time I was trying to stay clean.

I look back on this time in my life and I have zero idea how I didn’t pick up a drink?? I had a sponsor and I was working Steps with her. I was honest with her about my bulimia and I shared about my everyday struggles. She was so loving and she never judged me, but she had no clue what to do with me. I was stubborn and I didn’t want anything to do with going back to treatment or going to food meetings. So I worked my Steps and threw up my food day after day after day. I was miserable and I was watching people around me enjoy their lives, enjoy being clean, and they were happy overall. I was the farthest thing from being happy and I was beyond resentful towards the fellowship and everyone in it.     Something, though, told me that I needed to share my struggles and so I started to share at meetings about how I was clean but I was dying from bulimia. People were warm, loving, welcoming, and supportive. It was the first time I actually felt loved by others and felt like I could share my pain. My eating disorder, however, still kept me from getting too close to people, but I kept going to meetings, I kept sharing, I kept doing my Step work, and I talked to my sponsor every day. I didn’t have any relationship with a Higher Power because at that time I didn’t believe in God and wanted nothing to do with any of that.

Although I had all this going on, I had this feeling deep down in my gut that one day this was all going to get better if I just kept doing the next right thing, if I kept working hard on my Steps and if I kept getting honest with the fellowship.

Right before I celebrated my first year clean, I went to a women’s spiritual retreat. I finished a Fourth Step and something happened to me, something switched in my head. I guess you could call it a spiritual awakening but at the time I didn’t see that. I just knew something was different.

I celebrated my year clean and decided that things were going to be different for me. By no means did everything get better right away, but I started to make an attempt to stop putting my face in a toilet. I didn’t eat much and I exercised a lot in the beginning, but I didn’t purge and for me that was so huge. I had long stretches where life was like this, and then I would go back to purging again. This lasted for awhile, but for me the long periods that I had without purging were amazing and they were making me stronger and stronger to fight this illness.

Eventually I wasn’t purging at all, but the mental obsession with self and the endless thoughts of food were driving me crazy, so I decided that I needed to find something that was going to give me some structure. I found a food sponsor, I started to see a nutritionist, and I was weighing and measuring all my food. I broke my scale and got rid of all the clothes I was “going to fit into again one day.” It’s been a couple of years now since I have purged and I am beyond proud of that.

I don’t know how I didn’t drink through all of this. I guess I always knew in the back of my mind that if I drank I would never stand a chance against this illness. Most days are good for me, and others are really hard and I want to give up on everything. Sometimes I push my lunch back later then I should or I think about skipping a meal. I sometimes over-exercise out of fear, and I stand in front of the mirror and tell myself how horrible I am, even though I know I have no business doing that!

My point is, I am not perfect at this food thing, far from it, but I am proud of me and proud of the progress I have made. I am finally happy and I am doing a lot of different things to better my life! I am on my Fourth Step in the OA Workbook and look forward to finding out some things about myself and my eating disorder. I no longer let my eating disorder control my life.

I have realized over the years that the reason why I went through all of this was to be the voice of the eating disorder in the rooms. At meetings I talk about my eating disorder all the time and I am not ashamed of who I am. I believe that we need to talk about the eating disorder in the rooms more. So many women and men are clean or sober and they are dying like I was, and all they need is someone to listen, to hear them out and love them through their struggle.

I am proud of who I am and who I have become so far, and I have to thank God and the rooms for all that I am and all that I will continue to be.

Abstinent Recipe of the Month

in: recovery

IMG_1477Turning Point of Tampa supports 12 step recovery for those suffering with an eating disorder.  Eating Disorders are progressive, addictive, dangerous and potentially fatal.  Please enjoy this recipe and share the hope that recovery is possible.



4 oz. diced beef or chicken, cooked weight

1/2 cup tomato sauce

Chili powder to taste

Simmer ingredients together for 20 minutes.

Servings: 1

Portion Size: 4 oz = 1 protein

**1 oz. cooked beans can be substituted for 2 oz. beef.

The Real Gift by Joan B.

in: recovery

01.27.14 BlogNow that the holidays are over and all the store-bought gifts are given, we can focus on the “Real Gift.”

In recovery, it is important to continue to give of ourselves; with these gestures we enrich our own lives. Stopping and helping a newcomer, or sometimes an old-timer; listening and sharing the principles of the program; or giving out our phone number or maybe a ride to a meeting and fellowship; these are all selfless acts of kindness. We alcoholics and addicts tend to be selfish, self-centered people. It is part of our problem – it’s the nature of the disease of addiction. So taking any opportunity to get out of ourselves is a good step in our recovery. There is a really good chance that we will remain sober today if we think about someone else’s needs rather than our own.

Working with our sponsors, going to lots of meetings, sharing our experience, strength and hope may help someone stay sober that we don’t even know.  Here lies the “Real Gift.”

It usually happens like this: Someone approaches you after a meeting and says, “what you shared last year, last week or even last night, really helped me make it through another day sober and I just wanted to thank you!”

The tingling, that awesome feeling, is “the Real Gift,” which by the way we cannot create in ourselves.  It was just given to us freely. I love that feeling! I am going to keep carrying the message and I encourage you to do the next right thing and carry the message also. You deserve the benefits of the “Real Gift.”

Whats food got to do with this blog?

in: recovery

IMG_1477Turning Point of Tampa supports 12 step recovery for those suffering with an eating disorder.  Eating Disorders are progressive, addictive, dangerous and potentially fatal.  We will be featuring one abstinent recipe each month in order to share the hope that recovery is possible.


Johnny Marzetti

½ cup steamed spaghetti squash or 1 cup of vegetable of choice

2 oz. cooked ground turkey, seasoned to taste

3 tbsp. part-skim ricotta or cottage cheese

1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup no-sugar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 16-oz. casserole dish with vegetable coating (Pam, etc.).  Simmer spaghetti sauce with turkey for 15 minutes.  Layer the following:

  • ¼ cup squash or vegetable of choice
  • ½ of the turkey/sauce mixture
  • ¼ cup squash or vegetable of choice
  • All of the ricotta or cottage cheese
  • Remainder of the turkey/sauce mixture

Top with 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake until hot and bubbly (about 20 minutes).

Servings:  1

Portion size:  4 oz. protein, 1 vegetable or 1 starch

Suggested Substitutions for spaghetti squash:  Eggplant, zucchini, broccoli or spinach.  Cook before measuring.

** Turkey can be substituted for ½ cup (total) ricotta or cottage cheese.

Getting clean, coming clean & staying clean by Ashley N.

in: recovery

2DSC_3538I got clean when I was 25 and definitely did not think I had a problem with alcohol.  I came to treatment at Turning Point of Tampa with one goal in mind:  stop using drugs.  Alcohol was not even on my radar as a problem.  I remember making several phone calls to friends from college, crying about this crazy treatment center telling me that being clean meant being sober too.  Long story short, I came to believe that alcohol was a drug just as much as anything else I had used because it was mind and mood altering and I couldn’t ever have just one.  About the time that I realized alcohol was a drug, my Higher Power saw fit for me to realize that there was yet another drug in my life.  Food.

My first rationalization for why food was not a drug was that I didn’t HAVE to take drugs or drink alcohol, but I did HAVE to eat.  It is essential to life.  But after every rationalization, I normally have a rebuttal that makes everything as clear as mud.  In this case, my rebuttal is, to me, as clear as rain:

When I was using drugs I hid it from people.

When I was eating copious amounts of food I hid it from people.  Literally, I hid in bathrooms, closets and my car.

When I was using drugs I lied.  A lot.

When I was purging I lied about it.  A lot.

When I was using drugs I NEVER just used a little amount for a short period of time.  I used a lot.

When I was binging I NEVER just binged a little.  I binged for hours, days and weeks.

When I was using drugs I avoided my family, friends and God.  If I wasn’t cursing God, then I was begging God to not let me die over an overdose.

When I got on the scale multiple times a day, I always said a little foxhole prayer to God for the number on the scale to be just what I needed to get me on that self-esteem high for the day so that I didn’t want to kill myself.

I could go on, but I think you get my point.  What I have learned through 12 Step Recovery is that anything that I use to make me feel different is a drug.  After I got clean I was able to be honest with myself about my addiction to food.  Today I am willing to look at all aspects of my life and for that I am grateful.

The Bondage of Self by John B.

in: recovery

Having spent the last several days in my head, by myself, I thought it would be a good time to share….

“I have been thinking about how much it has been raining in recent days.  In addition, the humidity has been RIDICULOUS.  When it gets like this, mushrooms begin to sprout on my lawn, which I personally detest.  I think it’s weird, too.  I am originally from Southern California where it is nice and dry, mostly, and mushrooms definitely do not grow on your lawn, no matter how much it rains.  The reason I hate mushrooms is that they are ugly and useless for anything.  Also, I miss California.  Yes, I do regret the past, thank you very much.  I mean Florida is OK and everything, don’t get me wrong.  I just wish I had chosen to stay in southern California and not moved here, even though I own a home and could never have done that in California.  And don’t EVEN get me started on the people in my life and their shortcomings!

Buzzzz buzzzz buzzzz goes my brain.  Day in, day out, on and on it goes.  Whether or not I am doing something that requires my full attention or just sitting doing nothing.  It is an automatic process, always waiting patiently for me, as soon as I wake up…..buzzzz buzzzz buzzzz.

Keeping it simple is the solution, of course.  To keep it simple means that I have to remember that my number one problem is not you, or you or YOU.  It is ME.  My thinking is at the root of my problems. THE BIG BLUE recovery manual tells me that my main problem resides in my mind.  Although I frequently reject this notion, I have found that it is nevertheless true.

Why don’t I just stop thinking so much, you may ask?  Just say no to the buzzzz buzzzz buzzzz?  Because I am addicted to it, that’s why!  I can’t stop, can’t live without it.

Gosh, if only there were a way of stopping this thinking?  Or at least of putting it to good use?   It would be so great if there were a place where folks can get together with others who are like them, who understand how difficult it can be sometimes.  Maybe a place where there is experience, strength and hope?  Where there are people to share my insanity with?  A place where people help each other and where there is a clearly defined road map to recovery from my affliction?

Wouldn’t that be great?  Anyone?  Anyone?   Beuller?

Only The Good Die/Get Sober Young? by Logan C.

in: recovery

DSC_3532When I came into recovery I was 19 years old.  Well, let me clarify this, I was 19 but turned 20 a mere 15 days later.  For some reason 19 sounds much more dramatic and awe-inspiring, like I am the Doogie Howser of recovery or something.  But I digress.

When I came into the rooms, I frequently had well-intentioned old-timers say something to the effect of, “You are so lucky to get this thing so young, kid!”  After this statement their eyes would typically roam towards the ceiling, gazing steadfast into the past, shifting through the wreckage of their early 20’s, the “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  Me being the newcomer that I was, would look these well-intentioned old-timers square in the shoes, mumble something unintelligible and shuffle away.  The whole thing was painfully awkward.  Then again, my early recovery was painfully awkward in general.

After dodging a handful of these conversations, I was left with a disheartening question to ask myself, “Am I really that lucky to get sober young?”  Here is the thing, when active addiction has meticulously and menacingly unraveled that last strand of hope that held it all together, I can promise you age is not a factor.  The day in my active addiction that I finally couldn’t fool myself any longer with trite thoughts that things will get better, I came to a gut-wrenching truth about myself.  I am a junkie; I will die a junkie because I cannot live without this stuff.  Again I promise, age was not a factor.

Today I do consider myself lucky, and by lucky what I am really getting at is that I am completely surrounded by grace.  Not so much for the fact that I now have been blessed to experience four years of recovery at the young age of 23 (I’ll be 24 in 10 days; I still like the dramatics) but lucky that just for today I get to be a junkie in recovery, just like the rest of you.  Just like the 60-year-old fumbling into a meeting for the first time, just like the 42-year-old soccer mom who didn’t expect to have a trip to rehab scheduled into her agenda, and just like the 19-year-old asking himself the same questions that I once did.  We are all surrounded by grace together.

I was carried through this program by the experience of others, carried through when a conversation equated to a panic attack, when hope was this foreign, unattainable thing and when “being lucky” was a long-lost concept.  Today I get to carry this thing.  I get to tell you that regardless of absolutely anything, you deserve grace, just let us carry you.

An Attitude of Gratitude by Meredith D.

in: recovery

06.25.13 blogWhen I was invited to write something for Recovery Bytes, I thought for a while…what is there left to say about recovery that hasn’t already been said? What could I offer that is truly fresh, inspiring, and provocative?

Following a spate of prayer and meditation, I realized my contribution does not have to be any of those things in order to qualify…it just has to be true, and given from my heart.

My recovery has been a long, strange trip…one that I believe was meant to happen
just as it did, with all the drama and suspense of a good mystery novel. At the same time, it is the story of what is available to any addict seeking recovery…ordinary, miraculous, terrifying, mundane…and absolutely fabulous recovery.

Born in Greenwich Village, I was a musician before I had language~my mother told me I was singing, on pitch, from my crib. I pursued a singing career, and had some notable successes, including singing opera at Carnegie Hall at 12 years old. I was also born with multiple skeletal birth defects that required numerous surgeries and assistive devices (such as leg braces and walkers) until I was 14. Singing on one of the most famous stages in the world while teetering on crutches was quite a surreal experience, and one that fed my belief I was simply a freak of nature, and would never be “normal.”

I come from a long line of addicts and alcoholics, and I earned my place in my family album. My substance use began at 11 months old, when I had my first of dozens of orthopedic surgeries and was given morphine…and continued, almost without respite, until I was 36 years old. On the way, I lost everything that ever meant anything to me~my career, my husband, my dignity, myself~and was left believing I would simply die a using addict.

After a series of unfortunate events (thank you, Limony Snicket), 22 years ago I surrendered to the reality that I was powerless over the disease that had brought me to my knees…and, in Narcotics Anonymous, I found the solution to what had become a wretched, unrelenting, madness-driven existence.

In recovery, I have experienced many difficulties, some so painful and raw as to threaten my belief in my loving Great Spirit’s care for me…among them three bouts with cancer, almost going blind, and losing both my parents. Ten years ago, when my mother passed away, I thought my heart would just cease to beat, the grief was so deep. But I was never left alone, in any of those times of fear and anguish…I was always surrounded by members of my NA family, holding me up and guiding me through the terrible darkness back into the light.

I have also had some of the most amazing joys~watching a sponsee’s baby being born, speaking at a World Convention of NA, caring for my elderly and fragile father until his passing, forging friendships so strong and enduring as to be mistaken for blood kin~none of which would have come to pass without the freedom from active addiction that is the result of working the program of recovery.

In tragedy or celebration, and every moment of my recovery, I am increasingly aware of the presence of a power greater than myself (that I do not understand in the least), to which I pray, every day, the three prayers I learned from a favorite author, Anne Lamott~”Help,” “Thanks,” and “Wow.”

Life is as colorful and textured as one of my beloved mother’s intricately-woven tapestries, and I am, truthfully, the richest woman I know.


In loving service~

Meredith* D.