Afters Years of Alcohol and Drugs Rita Finds Recovery—and then God

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Rita was 14 years old when she started drinking. Being the 6th youngest of 8 children, she realized that by drinking, where she became animated, funny, and charming, she could gain her parents’ attention. Through the bottle, she could shed her shy persona and became that outgoing girl who was no longer “lost” or “forgotten” within her family. However, her casual drinking habits would change drastically when she was kicked out of her strict Catholic parents’ house when she was 18 because of her decision to no longer attend Mass on Sundays. It was at that point when her drinking took a turn for the worse.

“I was a blackout drinker and I was drinking all of the time. I was doing inappropriate things that women do and I had no regard for anything,” Rita shared.

This bout of rampant drinking lasted until she met a man when she was 28, with whom she married and had four children. Although she didn’t quit drinking altogether, she had a more controlled relationship with alcohol as she raised her kids. Things turned sour, however, seven years into their marriage. And during her 14th year of marriage, Rita and her husband got into an intense argument that resulted in him pushing her. She called Child Protective Services and their relationship was over.

“He left and I have these kids and I started binge drinking. I hit the bars. I’m drinking and smoking a lot of pot,” Rita said. “One day I fell asleep with pot and booze on the table in front of me and my kids find out what’s been going on. I had been away from the Church for about 12 years but after that, I decided to go to church because I knew God could help me.”

Although she had a vague sense that God and the Church could help her, she admits that she had a poor understanding of God, one that held Him as a domineering and heartless judge. Yet, upon going to church she heard about a 12-step program and mustered the courage to attend. She would find sobriety there, yet wouldn’t find God fully until years later.

“When I got sober I had faith only in AA. I was desperate and didn’t have much faith in God. It came slowly at first only after I began listening to other people share at meetings about God and I started thinking, ‘Wow, I want to know more about this God thing,’” Rita said.

Her desire to know more about God led her to a spiritual director, and after uncovering who God truly was—a loving and merciful Father—she fell in love with him.

Struggling with a New Addiction

However, although Rita was not drinking or doing drugs and was growing closer to God, she had taken on another addiction: food. In fact, during her first year of sobriety, she put on 60 pounds, eventually getting up to 300 pounds until she received the lap band in 2009. Although that helped her lose weight, she was still addicted: she would throw food up so she could eat ever more sugar and carbs.

She knew she had a problem, even if others in the recovery world didn’t necessarily see it that way. However, God’s grace was at work.

“While at my daughter’s wedding in Louisiana, I met a man who attends Monday’s Catholic in Recovery meetings and I started attending those meetings the very next month,” Rita shared.

It was at these meetings where Rita found another woman struggling with food addictions, and also where she was able to find support to face this addiction to food.

“I’m in a Catholic in Recovery meeting and I met another woman with a food addiction and I just felt really safe, comfortable, and able to share about my food addiction in those meetings. It was the first time I admitted I had a problem and once I admitted it I was ready to seek help,” Rita shared.

This would lead her to attend FAA (Food Addicts Anonymous) meetings. On June 1, 2017, she cut out all sugar and flour from her diet. She hasn’t eaten them since, maintaining a weight of 143 pounds since this last November.

God’s Grace and Catholic in Recovery

“In Catholic in Recovery there is no shame and there is joyfulness when I share about my experience with God,” Rita shared. “Some of the members of the group have a great relationship with God and have a lot of knowledge. I can go to meetings and ask them to pray for me. I really look forward to Mondays and don’t miss them.”

Rita appreciates that Catholic in Recovery creates the space to talk about all addictions and unhealthy attachments—not just alcohol and drugs—which can wreak just as much havoc in one’s life. Not only have these meetings encouraged her to seek recovery for her food addiction, but they provided a fellowship of Catholics to walk with her on her recovery journey.

Rita is grateful for her four daughters, all committed Catholics who continued to pray for her throughout all of it, and Catholic in Recovery, which has drawn her closer to her Catholic faith and Jesus Christ.

“Catholic in Recovery is the only place where I can go to share about my addictions and talk about my faith,” Rita shared. “I talk about God all of the time in those meetings because everything in my life has been God’s grace.”