At Corrine’s house when she was a child, the refrigerator was in a separate garage. When it was dark, her seven siblings were too afraid to go out to the garage to fetch the ice cream from the fridge for dessert. But Corrine wasn’t.
“I would volunteer to get the ice cream and then I would eat some in the garage, bring it back into the house and scoop out a portion for me and everyone else, and then bring it back to the garage and continue to indulge, eating as much as I could. So, my compulsive overeating tendencies were there as a child,” Corrine said.
Her compulsive overeating tendencies continued through her teens and twenties, where she alternated between binge eating and restricting her diet. She was able to keep this up until her 30s, which is when things started to spiral out of control. In 1984, she set foot in her first meeting of Overeaters Anonymous (OA).
“When I went to OA the first time I was in a stage of real confusion. I was a fractured personality and I had crossed a line and could not control it anymore. Eating was a drug, and it numbed my brain. I would have food blackouts and would start eating a box of Cheez-Its and suddenly the box is empty and I have no memory of eating it,” Corrine said.
During that first year, she went on a retreat and was asked to write a list of all of her binge foods. At the very top of the list was alcohol. She began working the steps and by the grace of God became sober from alcohol. She hasn’t had a drink since.
But when it came to overeating, the struggle continued. This went on for several years, during which she would occasionally start a 12-step program but would not stick to it.
She sought healing through her Catholic faith, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. However, while she received God’s forgiveness for the sins of gluttony that she confessed, she needed more concrete strategies and approaches for overcoming her addiction.
“The frustration was that confessing the sin of gluttony wasn’t a cure for compulsive overeating and there was no one helping me address the issue or telling me to do anything about it. It felt like it was a struggle that was just impossible,” Corrine shared.
It was in 2011 when she finally returned to OA due to her increasing health issues.
“I came back to OA In 2011 and told myself I was never leaving again and that I have been humbled and am ready to do the work. That is when my recovery journey began,” Corrine said.
She kept her word. Through doing her fourth and fifth steps she experienced a tremendous amount of healing, realizing the sheer power of those steps when infused by God’s grace. While she had been praying to the Lord for healing for many years, it was then when she realized her prayers needed to change.
“I had been praying for help with my overeating for a long time but my prayers were more, ‘God, help me wake up thin,’ as opposed to, ‘God, help show me what changes I need to make.’ I had an inherently messed up view of how God could help me until I began really working the steps of OA,” Corrine said.
A couple of years ago, someone in her parish mentioned Catholic in Recovery. She began attending meetings, excited to expand on an understanding of a “higher power” according to the Catholic tradition. She was grateful to be able to help others in recovery by leaning on the countless gifts available through the Catholic Church.
“The Catholic tradition is so rich. We have so many graces, such as the angels, saints, and Mary as well as the Eucharist,” Corrine said. “Our religion is so beautiful and since I haven’t been able to express it in normal recovery meetings it has been nice to be able to express it in Catholic in Recovery meetings.”
She is also grateful for the unique gifts that Catholic in Recovery offers to all those in recovery. She is especially grateful to have fellowship with those who not only understand the scourge of addiction but also share her Catholic faith.
“Being understood is the biggest gift that we get from a recovery meeting where people have a similar addiction. I never felt that my family understood what I was going through with my addiction and that I had no one who grasped the pain of not being able to stop overeating even when I prayed about it and the shame and the guilt associated with it,” Corrine said. “Sharing the pain is a way of opening up to each other and having a common experience allows us to let our guards down a little bit with people who share something with us other than our addiction, which is our Catholic experience. The more things we can share with others the safer and more understood we feel.”