Do I belong in OA? Absolutely! At the age of 3, I got up in the middle of the night and ate my aunt’s lunch for the next day. I’ve never practiced anorexia or bulimia but have done everything else—sneaking and hoarding food; lying, cheating and stealing for and about food; taking food out of the trash; eating enormous amounts of food—and denying it all.
Food was my comfort and friend. My Air Force family moved every two to four years. When we moved, my weight increased. After becoming part of the new neighborhood and school, my weight decreased. Then we moved again, and my weight went up. I reached my top weight in college—somewhere around 213 pounds (97 kg) (funny how I didn’t weigh myself often then)—when I again used food as comfort and protector.
I knew something was wrong for years but thought I was the only one who had such thoughts and behaviors. I considered myself a “foodaholic,” a glutton. I loved my profession but hated my job. My past discouraged me, and I saw no future. I felt helpless, hopeless, angry and depressed.
Sometime in the 1980s I heard about OA. I am sure it was through my Higher Power’s intervention. After I received a meeting list, it was more than a year before I went to my first meeting. I had to become more desperate, angry and lonely first; I had to go deeper into hell.
Did I become abstinent that day (June 18, 1989)? No, but I knew I was home, and I believe my emotional and spiritual recovery started that day. I was at a large meeting with people of all sizes who were talking about feelings and actions I thought only I had. I went to three meetings that week because it was the only time and place I felt peaceful.
Six weeks later I was still in program, bingeing on occasion but losing weight. On August 30, 1989, I found my first sponsor and my abstinence. Since then, I have not binged or harmed myself with food. Thank you, God—I certainly didn’t do it my way, which got me up to 213 pounds. My plan of eating has changed periodically depending on my lifestyle, sports injuries or need to lose or (can you believe it?) gain weight.
Shortly after finding my sponsor, I began attending an OA meeting that studied the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. I have continued to attend these meetings, and the Steps and Traditions have become the foundation of my program and one of the main reasons I keep coming back.
I have done Steps Four and Five numerous times, each time moving to a new level of honesty and experiencing spiritual and emotional growth. My relationship with my Higher Power is the other main reason I stay. It continues to evolve in a way I could never imagine nor fully express.
I try to learn from everyone who comes to OA: the newcomer, the longtimer, those struck with abstinence and those in relapse. Each person I meet gives me a special gift, helping me to better understand the program, my Higher Power and myself.
I try to live and work the Steps and Traditions to the best of my ability—not only at meetings, but also in all aspects of my personal and professional life. As I do so, I continue to find growth and recovery in a way I never imagined possible. Each morning I ask God to help me protect, preserve and cherish my program. Each night I say thank you. I believe this is a one-day-at-a-time program. I pray to be here for a million and one “just for today’s.”
Reprinted from Lifeline magazine