I have never been much of a testimonial guy. I have the feeling that if I do the best I can and put my heart and soul into every endeavor (within reason of course), it will work no matter how long it might take. I have been blessed with the opportunity to write (or assign someone in my practice to write) a monthly article for Our Town, and I must say that it has been an interesting and soul-searching process. I became a counselor because I have always wanted to help people and to inspire them to make a difference in their own lives.

    When dealing with addiction, we have a saying… “Progress, not Perfection.” We all have times in our lives when we simply survive and exist and other times when we live and grow. Addiction is a shame-based disease of denial, so the key is to get rid of the shame. The best way to do this is to put yourself in situations where you can receive love and fellowship; the feelings of camaraderie and connectedness are so beneficial to our well-being. The following story was written by a wonderful person who has taught me more than she can probably imagine.

Andrew R. Warnecke, MA, LPC

A Story of Food Addiction

My earliest memory of my food issue was at the age of 13 when my mother brought me to our family doctor and I took my first diet pill. My second recollection that food was my friend was when I ate a whole cake the day of my father’s funeral. I was 15 years old.

I wake up every morning asking myself, “What can I eat? What should I eat? What should I not eat?” and I spend my life following this program. I did replace it with alcohol for a number of years, and when I started a 12-step program, I was warned that food is another place to hide, but because it is not a mind-altering drug, it is not treated with as much seriousness.

It all owns too much of me and I know it, and I don’t know what to do about it. I have come to believe that if I stuff my feelings and keep this armor on, no one can hurt me. Going back to drinking is not an option. My awareness of the “stuffing my feelings” was not something I came to on my own. In fact it has been through years of help. In 1999 I was invited by a friend to a closed recovery group, and it is there that the most incredible relationship began. Andy Warnecke was a young therapist who had sympathy with everyone who spoke. It is the first time I ever heard the phrase “in relapse comes recovery.” How could it be OK to make a mistake? After watching him and listening to him for five meetings, I actually told him he would be my therapist. Even though I had no money or insurance, he said yes. This is not only the most daring thing I have ever done, but it is the longest male relationship I have ever had. There is no doubt that God is the facilitator, because I can’t explain why I go back, except I have come to learn that it is in the staying that I can get up and fight the battle again.

Even with Andy’s support, after 12 years I am just coming out from under my covers. I have decided I want to deal with this demon one more time. My weight is higher than it’s ever been, and at my age it is life-threatening. I went back to my nutritionist who reminded me that I have lost ground in these past years and at my age it will be harder to get back to where I was. It seems I am either saving my life or killing myself, so because I want to live, I called my personal trainer to help. It was encouraging to hear that my flexibility is still there, and he promised me that with work it will all come back. I joined Weight Watchers, and the only commitment I made is to show up every Tuesday and get on the scale. As you can see it takes a village, but the truth is the only constant with all my relapses has been Andy. It must be hard to do what he does and watch me under my covers and leave me there. Our love and respect for each other has not been a smooth road. I have tried to leave him many times and that’s how I know there must be a God because surely it is not a conscious decision on my part. It is when I get up to fight again that I realize Andy is like one of those punching bags that you hit and it pops back up. He watches, he waits, and he loves. What more can a girl ask for?