I stood in the middle of the living room as my mother pinned my new jeans to hem them. (I was about to enter the seventh grade.) The front door opened, and a neighbor walked in. The neighbor took one look at me and said, “She’s getting fat!”
That was the beginning of my first diet. I began to starve myself, eating only a piece of fruit or lettuce daily. I would lose 10 or 15 pounds (5 or 7 kg) and then decide I could eat again. This starving-and- bingeing cycle went on through college. One time I ran a high fever, but I refused to eat or drink anything since it was not an “eating day.” That night I wound up in the ER getting intravenous liquids. Did experiences like this wake me up? Of course not. I was back starving myself in three days.
After getting married and having children, I found it much more difficult to starve myself. Raising kids and taking care of a family required energy. So I decided to try more civilized ways of dieting. I joined weight-loss programs, read every book on dieting, and tried all the doctor- approved methods to lose weight. I lost and gained many pounds during that time, but I never found peace or stability with my weight.
As my late 40s approached, I was exhausted from dieting and trying to maintain any weight loss. I had given up hope of finding a solution when I started seeing a psychiatrist who specialized in addictions. At this point I weighed 203 pounds (92 kg). I felt hopeless and worn out. One day the psychiatrist suggested I go to an OA meeting. I didn’t think it would help to attend a meeting that didn’t even have a diet plan or a specific way I should eat; however, I chose to try it.
It was a Monday night when I nervously walked into the meeting. People smiled and spoke. I was given a Newcomer Packet. People began telling stories that sounded like my life. I relaxed and shared a little about myself. At the end they said, “Keep coming back.” I don’t know why that phrase resonated so much, but I did keep coming back. That was August 2014, and I became abstinent in November of that year.
It is now August 2015. I have lost 28 pounds (13 kg) and am the treasurer of my home group.
I can’t explain how it works. All I know is I have found peace with food. The compulsion to eat constantly has been removed. I am not compelled to stop at every drive-through I see. I am able to say “no” to food that previously I couldn’t stop eating.
I’m working on the Fourth Step and have developed a new relationship with my Higher Power. For the first time in my life, I can put peace and food in the same sentence.
~ Debra M., Memphis, Tennessee USA (from eLifeline, January 2016)