Knowing Who I Am

The 100-pounder (45 kg) telephone meeting brought me out of a relapse I had thought would never end. During my re-lapse, my father committed suicide, I was in an abusive relationship for three years and I became disabled by chronic illness. But the phone meetings remind me my pain is not unique. I’ve lost 60 pounds (27 kg) so far, and my abstinence is better than it’s ever been.

I used to be terrified of being a 100-pounder (45 kg). I was anorexic or at a normal weight during my years in program prior to my relapse, even though I struggled to find abstinence. I remember I didn’t want to walk past a plus-size clothing store because it filled me with dread. I now know my disease is more powerful than my fear of fat—I couldn’t scare myself skinny.

I can remember encountering discrimination in OA in my early years because I was thin. People said to me, “At least you’re not fat,” and even self-righteously screamed, “You will never know what it’s like to be 300 pounds (136 kg).”

They couldn’t hear the pain behind my thinness: how I was fired from several jobs because I felt too fat to leave the house; how I used expired checks and closed credit card accounts to access binge food after I gave away my cash and food stamps in an effort not to binge; how I consumed gargantuan amounts of food. Lots of exercise kept me small, but the self-loathing of this disease was the same regardless of my weight.

After years of struggling in program, albeit at a normal body weight, I found abstinence. I then moved across the country, began a rigorous graduate program and stopped attending meetings. Food crept back in, commencing the relapse that would bring me to nearly 300 pounds (136 kg). It began to feel almost laughable that I ever worried about losing 10 pounds (5 kg) in my thinner days of active OA membership.

Society’s hatred of fat people makes recovery at this size a unique challenge. Doctors shame us, blaming every problem on our weight and making it a moral issue. Finding clothes that fit and doing self-care like cutting toenails is difficult. And of course there is the pity, rejection and humiliation from friends and family who tsk-tsk us for gaining weight, their embarrassment and shame palpable.

I ate a lot more when I was at a normal weight than I did as an obese person, yet people didn’t seem to believe a thin person could be a real food addict. This fed my denial and sent me into the food even deeper.

Though being morbidly obese has been painful in every way imaginable, I have a sense of belonging in the 100-pounders (45 kg) telephone meeting like none I’ve ever felt. I have found my people, many who were once anorexic or bulimic too. I am not unique. It feels really good to know who I am.
— Anonymous
From Lifeline Magazine, July 2014