For most of my life, and deffinitely before recovery though abstinence and Overeaters Anonymous, I spent my time first looking at others, next at myself, and then throwing up my hands in despair.
Other women were always better: better body; better boyfriend; better hair, clothes, brains, job—you name it. I was the loser.
It first started with my older sister. She was thinner and smarter, had more trophies, and was just better than me. Later, all women “became my sister,” and my feelings of worthlessness and “less-than- ism” grew and grew. Naturally, being fat was a sure way of feeling “less than.” Other women had the secret. They could eat what they wanted and not be fat. If only I could get on that plan! But of course, I failed and ended up in the kitchen with a loaf of carbs, a vat of desserts, and a knife of self-hate through my heart.
Finally, driven to the brink of insanity, I came to OA again last year and got abstinent. Even so, this defect of comparing myself to others did not stop. If anything, it became more apparent once I put down the food. Now I was feeling the unmanageability of my comparisons. It sure wasn’t fun! My colleague at work was brilliant, while I was the frazzled, part-time working mom. My sponsor in OA was thin, gorgeous, and full of answers, while I was the crazy, chubby one trying to stay abstinent. Seldom did I see myself as another comrade in this journey of life, recovery, and abstinence.
Finally, through Steps Four and Five, I started to see how the pattern of compare/despair started in my life at a young age. As the middle of three girls with a busy working mom, I learned early on to fight for attention and measure my worth in relation to others. It was all I knew.
But Steps Six and Seven told me there was a different way. I began to realize that by comparing myself to others, I was staying separate from them too. I could remain anxiously apart instead of peacefully together. I began praying to stop comparing, to accept people as God’s children, and to see that we all have gifts, each special and worthy. The turning point came when I started to work with others in the program. We were teammates, compatriots, survivors, and soul mates. It wasn’t about comparing; it was about sharing. What a revelation!
I’ve found that by opening up my true self to others in OA, I am more open to life in general. When I meet someone, I no longer measure myself against him or her, but instead seek our common ground. It’s all about connecting.
Thanks to abstinence and Steps Six and Seven, I pray today to humbly share—not hopelessly compare.
~ Lucy R.F., Palo Alto, California USA (from eLifeline, October 2015)