Epiphany in Recovery

OASV Blog Editor

October 13, 2023

Epiphany in Recovery

An epiphany in recovery is a deep realization of an important truth. In my experience, an epiphany is often accompanied by goose bumps, tears, or other physical sensations. In recovery, epiphanies are described as “aha” moments and can be very powerful. I once heard that an epiphany is a thought in the form of an experience.

When I first began my recovery journey, I was in a group therapy program for adult children of alcoholics. I filled journals with my thoughts, memories, and, occasionally, poems. At the time, I suffered from a genuine phobia (hyperventilate and faint) of mice. As I wrote a poem (since lost) about this fear, I realized that “mice” actually meant “myself.” I was afraid of myself and what might happen if I did not cower in the shadows constantly nibbling on food. This realization was so powerful that the phobia immediately disappeared! I even enjoyed having pet rats for several years.

Sometimes in meetings, people refer to epiphanies as a “two-foot drop,” which is the distance from the head to the gut. Unlike intellectual knowledge, this kind of epiphany is felt in the body. Recently, a friend described having this kind of physical experience as she read that we replace  “alcohol” and “alcoholic” with  “food” and “compulsive overeater in” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

When my teenage son went to an east-coast program for troubled youth, his distress regarding his father’s failure to write to him broke my heart. A therapist’s question, “Does your son’s relationship with his father remind you of a relationship in your life?” triggered a ton-of-bricks epiphany: My son’s relationship with his father was NOT my disappointing childhood relationship with my father!

In another epiphany, I realized that I tell myself stories and react to my own stories when (yet another) skilled therapist helped me realize the power of taking responsibility for my behavior and feelings. I had been a victim for so long, that I truly could not see my part in a situation. The deep realization that I was telling myself stories and reacting to my own stories was gut-wrenching, and, yet, it sounds rather obvious in the retelling. However, the power of the “two-foot drop,” a well-aimed “two-by-four,” or a proverbial “ton of bricks” has been instrumental in my recovery. I have also learned to pay attention to more subtle messages from my Higher Power to avoid escalation of the consequences

A gentle disclaimer: I am a recovering compulsive overeater with 30 years in OA. These comments are based on my personal experience, strength, and hope gained through working the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions and using the tools of the program.  ~Julie T. 2023

Call for articles: Have you experienced a powerful epiphany in recovery? Please send your blog submissions to blog@oasv.org. We look forward to hearing from you and to sharing your story of experience, strength, and hope with others on this amazing journey of recovery from compulsive eating through the Twelve Steps.