One July morning I led a meeting on part of Chapter Three in the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pp. 30-43). I thought about my eating career and the umpteen times I had rationalized that all I needed was the right diet and I’d be okay. Wrong! I had to concede to my innermost self that I was a compulsive overeater.
July is long past New Year’s Day, the start day for whatever new idea I had in mind, be it a new diet, exercise plan or strategy. My first sponsor took me through Step Five, then left OA. We spoke two years ago, and she told me she had found a medical solution to lose weight. I have found a solution to help me with the basics of life, and I’m still learning.
What was it about me that pulled me to food so much? I wanted to eat, yet felt sick afterward, so why did I keep doing it? Did other people do that? I had no idea how to eat like a normal person, and the only real guide I had was a diet I’d followed in high school.
After too many tries, I finally stayed with something healthy and lost 60 pounds (27 kg). Yet in between dieting, I binged, drank and used laxatives when I ate too much.
Who knows if I looked like a compulsive overeater when I came to OA in 1987? What does a compulsive overeater look like? I was in terrible shape from the previous 10 years of bingeing and purging to maintain my weight loss, yet no one knew because I didn’t say anything.
My appearance was normal if you looked past the bloodshot eyes, pale skin, split- end hair, black and blue marks, and overall sadness. I told myself I had nothing in common with people in the room, and they couldn’t possibly understand me.
The woman who became my second sponsor was my mother’s age. Oh, no! How could she know what I was feeling or listen to me without judgment? She could and did because she had the same trouble with food, and she took me through the rest of the Steps.
My eating career is full of experiments with the latest fads, including two summers of fat camp that helped me lose weight. I regained that weight, plus more, rather quickly. I tried this diet and that remedy. Food is the substance I picked up first to help me face life or run from it.
Today my life is not orderly, and things can still get messy. I still don’t eat like other people, nor do I live my life like other people. How do other people live? Do they have to stop, think and pray when they hit a wall or are stumped? Do they go to meetings and talk with others when something’s pressing on their minds? What do normal people do?
While I can’t answer for others, I can share what I do: meetings, writing and sharing. When the going gets tough, I attend more meetings, make more phone calls and send more emails. I pray more and remember that food will change nothing.
Someone told me to PUSH—Pray Until Something Happens—and I do. God has given me so much for which to be grateful, and the promises have materialized in my life.
One woman in my meetings used to say she didn’t know if she had another recovery in her, and she didn’t want to find out. Neither do I.
~ Janie, Westchester County, New York USA
From Lifeline Magazine, July 2014