I chose to go to Toronto because the thought of spending so much money to go to treatment in Iceland, with zero ability to sight see, bummed me out. So the tickets were purchased and travel plans made back in July 2019 for September.
As the date approached I was required to do a screening and intake with the facilitator. Based on her questions and her experience, she decided I was “late stage” food addicted. She assured me I would be able to speak to my children at some point during the treatment. She encouraged me to email her with food needs.
The date came and I traveled to Toronto, Canada - took a Lyft to a meet up spot - and was shuttled to a “cottage” 2 hours north of the city. The cottage sleeps 18, is on a lake, and is on a long gravel driveway that takes you through a deeply wooded area. I hoped there were bears - instead I got squirrels and chipmunks.
Have you ever been to the area? It is humid and heavily treed. Frankly, it’s beautiful - and thankfully so. I needed that backdrop to survive the requirements of the 5-day intensive that was to come.
The participants trickled in car by car. Most knew each other- we are all students/classmates in a program for certification in food addiction counseling. Others were there for treatment only. The nerves were obvious, the anxiety was very real. Eventually they fed us dinner and asked us to convene in what would become the “group room”. There we were asked to hand over our phones, told we would be under communication “black-out” and that we would follow their meal plan unless we had a pre-approved meal plan coming into the program. I immediately had a panic attack, but I made it through and by the morning I was ready to tackle the program head on.
Our days consisted of 6:30am wake-up, 7:00am mandatory group walk, 7:30am weigh and measure your breakfast to have ready for 8:00am silent, “gentle” breakfast. Group started anywhere from 9-9:30am each day. We would go until 12pm, break for lunch and start again at 1:30pm. At 4pm we would end group and have an hour of silent writing time. We were allowed to sit outside - so I would hightail it to the lake- as long as we were SILENTLY working on our assignments. All readings and writings during the week were Step One work. Dinner was at 5:30pm and we would be back in group at 7pm, ending for the night at 9pm. Some nights it was process group, other nights it was an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
We were graced with two lectures from Vera Tarman (Food Junkies) during our time in the north. Those hours were invaluable to me as Food Junkies was the book that made me realize there was more going on with how and what I was eating than “just overeating”.
The time spent away from my family was stressful. But it was also eye-opening, soul healing, and rich with the connections that were made. It changed me in ways I’m sure I don’t even understand yet. It was worth it, if only for the souls that I met and grew to know.
Now I’m home and I’m learning to navigate life after treatment. I have the support of the intensive group on the WhatsApp, I was assigned a “two hatter” sponsor, I opted in to the 30-day Aftercare group, and am following an Aftercare plan. I have assignments from my sponsor and my Aftercare counselor. I am doing my best to be there for my group AND I am trying to balance that with my personal and professional life. I’m exhausted. Recovery is NOT easy folks- something I knew before, but understand on a whole new level today. It’s NO JOKE and requires courage and support on a level I could not have known if not for this experience. I’m here for you!!
If you are thinking about treatment, but have questions or concerns - please feel free to ask! I wish I had someone to ask before I went - I think I could have avoided the panic attack in front of a room full of strangers. Ha!