I can’t believe I’m celebrating three years of abstinence! When I came to my first OA meeting at age 19, I didn’t want to stop bingeing and purging. I wasn’t interested in a Higher Power. I just wanted to get skinny fast. I felt that my eating and my weight were cheating me out of fully being in my life. While I was studying theater at a prestigious college, my professors, directors and classmates made it clear to me that I was missing out on theater opportunities because of my weight, low self-esteem and propensity for self-sabotage. I had talent and a beautiful face and figure, but at over 200 pounds (91kg), I wanted to disappear! I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted, and I had no idea that a spiritual sickness was at the root of it all.
My eating was out of control. I hit bottom hard and fast (thank God; perhaps this spared me years of low-grade eating-disorder misery). I came to college with high hopes for academic success, popularity and romance. The reality was very different. I gained 50 pounds in three months. I wasn’t showing up to class and risked failing. I wasn’t interested in people. I spent my days shut in my dorm room, surfing the net and bingeing on $50 worth of groceries. I sneaked into the dining halls and stole food. I stole care packages from friends and laxatives from drug stores. I organized my days around bingeing and purging. Food came first. What else did I have? I had decided I was a fat failure. My life was over at 19. If I couldn’t muster the courage to kill myself, I hoped I would die.
It’s a good thing Higher Power is in charge. Even though I had lost hope, God must have planted a seed of faith and hope in my heart, because deep down I think I always knew there was a way out of this hell. It took me several months to get to my first OA meeting, but from the second I walked in, I knew I was home. At first I wasn’t willing to work the Steps or get a sponsor and a food plan, but I kept coming back until I was. Now I have a sponsor, I work the Steps, and I make time for sponsorees. I go to meetings, use the tools and follow a food plan— one day and one action at a time. I never do anything alone anymore. I pray and call my sponsor and other OAers. I have people and intimacy in my life for the first time.
My recovery journey has been about exercising my willingness. How far am I willing to go today for recovery? Am I willing to leave my comfort zone? Am I willing to turn off the TV to take or make an OA call? Am I willing to say yes to service and sponsorship and give back what’s been given to me? Am I willing to take my sponsor’s suggestions, no matter how wacko they sound, just to exercise my willingness? Am I willing to replace positive with negative thinking (yes, it is a choice)?
For me, I say yes to all this, to God and to life, instead of saying no, I don’t want to go to a meeting; no, I don’t want another sponsoree; no, I don’t want to feel better and be happy. I still think these thoughts, but I feel the fear and the no and do it anyway. No one is more surprised than I to report that today I have a beautiful life, a healthy body, a purpose and an opportunity to help someone. I used to think only of myself, and I had no idea how much pain that caused me. Today I experience genuine freedom and joy by coming to HP on my knees and asking what he would have me be. Thank you, God and OA, for my life today—imperfect and gorgeous!
Reprinted from Lifeline magazine