After some years in another recovery program, I discovered I had substituted food for the alcohol I was no longer drinking.
From childhood I had been using food for comfort and as a cushion against the discomforts of the world. I was a heavy child and lost weight just before entering high school. In my teen years I was distracted from the food by boys, drugs, and alcohol. I starved myself to get the boys’ attention, but when I got it, I had no idea how to handle it.
When I was on my own and my parents weren’t there to oversee my conduct, I went overboard with everything. I quickly gained weight and struggled with it for at least sixteen years before the program found me. During those years I rebelled against formal diets and withdrew from life. I avoided social activities where others might comment on my food or weight.
My favorite place to binge was on the couch, in front of the TV, into the early morning hours, with bowl after bowl of whatever I wanted. I thought it was healthy eating, but I lost control over my weight.
Through my other recovery program, I learned about the Twelve Steps. The day came when I realized I was doing the same thing with food as I had done with alcohol. I prayed for help, and people who had modified-grey-sheet abstinence began showing up in my life. They were happy and healthy living life in normal-sized bodies.
I made plans to attend a meeting and proceeded to eat everything in my house that was not on the modified grey sheet my friends had described. Years earlier I had visited OA with a friend and knew I didn’t need it. When I attended my first grey-sheet meeting in 1992, I was ready. I got a sponsor and set about a new project of getting an “A” in OA. That momentum served me well. I reached goal weight in four months and have been at a normal size since then.
I remember challenging my first sponsor about why I had to continue to weigh and measure my food. She asked me whether I was going to do this program or not. I was angry because she “had me.” I knew I could no longer control the food or weight on my own. My thinking about food was not normal or healthy.
I have celebrated many years in this program. I am grateful my abstinence has not been perfect since my first day. When it has been sloppy, I’ve reported it to my sponsor and followed her instructions on recommitment. The Steps have given me freedom.
Using this approach to clean abstinence has kept me free. I am learning as I go, and I’m grateful my life experiences have become gentler through the years. Today I am living my dreams: performing as a singer, dancing weekly with a wonderful new husband who has many years of recovery in my other program, overseeing my successful business, and serving as a teacher for my church.
I didn’t know my life could be this good, and it keeps getting better all the time. It is not problem-free, but the quality of my problems is much better than in the past.
With the exception of a few grey hairs, I feel and look much younger than before my OA recovery. Life keeps getting better as I go, and I think I’ll keep coming back, one day at a time.
— M.B., Modesto, California USA