Promise to My Granny

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When I was young, my granny always told me it’s what’s on the inside that matters, but I couldn’t help but see myself as ugly, fat, and disgusting. In seventh grade, I weighed 145 pounds (66 kg), and I started restricting my food and exercising two hours every day. I lost 20 pounds (9 kg) in three weeks. People flattered me about my looks, so I tried to lose a bit more. After a few weeks, I was too tired to keep exercising, but now I was addicted. I started bingeing and purging, consuming 1,200 to 2,000 calories and throwing up afterward. Within two months, I weighed 95 pounds (43 kg). My mom noticed and took me to the doctor, who diagnosed me with bulimia.

In eighth grade, I was hospitalized. I learned new coping skills and how to meal plan, but when I returned to school, the attention I received for being at a healthy weight made my head spin. I resumed binging and purging, now ten or twelve times a day.

The summer before my junior year, I voluntarily went back into treatment. In the fall, my granny, who had been sick a long time, got worse. She begged me to stop my eating behavior, but I couldn’t. In December, I researched support groups online and found Overeaters Anonymous. I called in to a meeting and listened. I heard amazing stories— like I was meant to be there. I was abstinent for a few days afterward and then relapsed.

Every night I cried, praying to God for help. I started throwing up clots of blood and knew I was going to die, but I couldn’t stop. Then a miracle happened. On January 1, I made a promise: I would do anything to keep from relapsing.

At school, my best friend stuck with me constantly. When I ate, she was there; when I went to the bathroom, she was there. For the first month, someone signed off every time I ate, and I did not go to the bathroom for an hour after eating. I planned each meal and did not exercise. I reached my thirty-day abstinence milestone.

At my eight-month milestone, I lost my grandmother, and I didn’t relapse. I have reached nine months of abstinence and am holding strong. I have an OA sponsor. I do the Steps, work my program, make amends, and set goals. I live one day at a time to the best of my ability.

I have so much to look forward to now—my senior year, college, volunteering, and giving all I can. Most important, I am living today not in a bulimic’s body, but in a healthy body. I can look up and say, “Granny, I promise I will have children one day, and I will teach them everything you taught me.” I am so blessed; I want to help others who still suffer. I can live happily without bulimia and be free.

— Samantha

Ready for the Journey

I am a 58-year-old male. I have been on the “diet yo-yo” five or six times in my life. Each time, I lost weight and kept it off for about a year; then I gained it back plus more. I’ve learned this is a progressive disease.

Before OA, I was full of despair and frustration. I was hiding in my apartment, bingeing and isolating. At 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) tall, I weighed 277 pounds (126 kg). I could walk only one block and then had to rest because my back hurt so badly. I was having trouble doing my job. My next step was to become housebound or have a heart attack.

I was never into organized religion, but I knew there was a Higher Power; good and bad things happened in the world, and people had no control over them. That was as far as it went for me.

After coming to OA, I learned that OA is a physical, emotional, and spiritual program. I heard a story from OA literature about a woman who did not feel spiritual. OA members told her to think and act spiritually, and the feeling part would come. I tried that too, and it worked for me. I now trust in a Higher Power who runs things. Thank you, OA.

Before OA, I had not heard the word “abstinence” or given sayings like “easy does it” and “one day at a time” much thought. I now understand OA’s definitions, and the sayings help me a lot. When I’m having a bad day at work or someone is trying to give me a hard time, I re-read the passage on acceptance on page 417 from the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed.). When I am impatient about being at my ideal weight, I reread pages 510–511.

In 1989, I went to an OA meeting and ran out of there. (Me have an eating disorder? You’ve got to be kidding!) I did the same thing in 1994. On October 31, 2014, I started my diet. On January 28, 2015, I went to an OA meeting, but this time I stayed and never left. It only took fifty-eight years to admit to myself that I had an eating disorder and was a compulsive overeater.

Today I attend three or four meetings a week. I do lots of service. I’ve lost 100 pounds (45 kg) and do a lot of reading. I am open to learning new things and am thankful for the Tools.

I know everything in my life happened just the way it was supposed to, in order to lead me to where I am right now. ank you to OA, the Big Book, and the Twelve Steps for giving me my life back.

Like the Big Book says, “true happiness is found in the journey, not the destination” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 511). I am ready for the journey.

— Anonymous, Phoenix, Arizona USA

Try Writing

At sharing time in OA meetings, I sometimes read thoughts I have written down. Sharing thoughts and speaking out loud what I have written helps my recovery.

Other members used to say, “You should submit that to Lifeline.” But I thought, “If what I write is rejected, I’ll feel rejected” or “What if it isn’t good enough?” My fear of submitting to Lifeline was really all about me because I was still living in my disease. I was missing the point, which was, “Wow, that really helped me—I bet others could be helped by it too!”

After a few years, I finally realized what others meant by saying I should submit to Lifeline, so I sent in my first item. It was published in April 2015. Shortly after that, I submitted an- other and then forgot about it. Today I opened a letter that said my second submission would appear in the March 2016 issue of Lifeline.

I’m telling this story to encourage you to take ten or fifteen minutes to write down your thoughts about something that means a lot to you. We walk in each other’s shoes. Others can be helped by what we honestly, willingly—with HP’s help—are able to say.

Today, I understand that submitting to Lifeline is not about me. It’s about throwing an emotional rope to others. It’s about sharing over isolation. By writing what we think and sharing what we write, we speak out loud, just as we do in meetings. After I took the first step, the next seemed easier. I think it could be that way for you too if you will try writing to Lifeline.

~ Donna R., Urbana, Illinois, USA (from A Step Ahead, 3rd Quarter 2016)


 

The WSO staff creates Lifeline from OA members’ letters. Monthly topics are suggestions. You may write about any subject important to your recovery from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors.

For a list of monthly topics and more details on the submission process, see the Share Your Story section of the Lifeline webpages.

Send your letters to:

Lifeline
PO Box 44020
Rio Rancho, NM 87174-4020

or email myoung@oa.org.

Back and Digging Deeper

I’ve been in OA twice. The first time was for seven years, 20 years ago, with successful food abstinence. I made it back eight months ago, and I am struggling. This time around, I see how much more deeply I am working the Twelve Steps. I went to many meetings 20 years ago, sponsored people and was thin, but I did not work the program like I am working it this time. We live in a small town and are lucky to have three to four people at our meeting regularly; but we are there, and we work those amazing Steps! I have experienced abstinence off and on, but it sure does seem like I am learning much more about myself in the process this time. It is painful and scary, and those emotions will send me to food in a heartbeat. But I am learning to call my sponsor, to write and to turn things over (sometimes each moment) to my Higher Power. I didn’t take these actions much in my first seven years.

Recently, my sponsor asked me to write down what I wanted food to be in my life. I procrastinated about this for a while, but Higher Power sat down with me this morning, and I want to share what came.

I want to be grateful for my food, not obsessed with it. I want to eat to nourish my body and only when I am hungry—not to stuff down, run from and avoid my feelings. I want to enjoy food, not feel angry because I can’t eat more or eat when I want and feel deprived. I want to know my food is a blessing and not feel guilty because I ate too much. I do not want to use food as a weapon to abuse my body, mind and spirit. I want eating to be a choice, not something I reach for when I “need a fix.” I want to be able to eat normally, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. I don’t want to be afraid of food or feel victimized by my addiction to it. I want to give my relationship with food over to my Higher Power daily and let him show me, through the Twelve Steps and OA, how to listen and hear how to eat in a sane, healthy manner. I want to appreciate the food I am given, my support system, Higher Power, my friends in OA and anyone else I can talk with to help me get a clearer relationship with food.

Lifeline Nov. 2009

After the Miracle

Before OA, food overfilled and expanded my body.

Now food and exercise nourish my body.

Before OA, food covered a hole in my heart.
Now people fill my heart.

Before OA, food filled my time.
Now service, friends, and relaxation fill my time.

Before OA, food covered a hole in my spirit.
Now grace fills my spirit.

Before OA, food covered my feelings.
Now I feel my feelings.

Before OA, food masked my low self-esteem.
Now I believe I am worthy just because I was born.

– Lifeline

Top 10 . . . Things I have received through the use of my OA program

Top 10 . . . Things I have received through the use of my OA program

  1. Quiet mind: the committee in my head is on break
  2. Increased self-confidence
  3. Good body image, more realistic body image
  4. Humility, on equal footing with peers
  5. Returning sense of humor
  6. Returning love for self
  7. Better relationships with family and friends
  8. Better quality time with family
  9. Ability to give back to family, friends and OA members
  10. Ability to thrive in life with God’s help

— Anonymous
From Lifeline Magazine, July 2014

For Discussion . . . AND JOURNALING:

What’s on your top 10 list? Feel free to share in the comments section below!!

Step Seven – with humility

Step Seven – Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Toward the end of June last year, I came through the OA doors with some skepticism and resistance, but it melted as I started working the Steps. I identified early on with the words “Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home.” I’m currently working on Step Seven, humbly asking my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings. So much comes into the journey. So much is important. And it all seems to be connected.

There are four attitudes or qualities that make a big difference when I can tune into them: gratitude, willingness, acceptance and humility.

For me, Step Seven involves exploring humility, the quality of being humble, and learning to surrender to a Higher Power. Humility doesn’t come easily for me and often is absent, but when it’s present, it’s a source of spiritual strength. It seems to be acces- sible when I feel gratitude, willingness and acceptance.

When I’m feeling humble, I don’t feel unlovable, unworthy, ugly or not good enough. I don’t feel self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish or superior. My ego isn’t running the show. In other words, I’m no longer the star in my own drama. It’s not all about me.

With humility I can say, “I need help. Please help me.” I can reach out to people and to my Higher Power. When I’m being humble, I can listen to other people and hear what they say. There is connection. I don’t take myself so seriously, thank goodness!

With humility, I don’t try to carry the load by myself. I don’t feel like I need to control things. I can admit my mistakes and admit to being wrong. What a relief. I let go of judgment and criticism about others and myself.

When I’m humble, I don’t think I know what’s best for someone else. With humility, I can let go of resistance and release the struggle: “Let go; let God.”

When I find humility, I have more patience with people, situations and myself. I have room for curiosity and learning. I have space in my heart for love and compassion.

— Janis C., Canada
From Lifeline Magazine, July 2014

For Discussion . . . AND JOURNALING –

Where has your Recovery Adventure taken you? As you explore a new world of recovery, what changes do you see in your mind, body and spirit? What footwork enables your recovery adventure to unfold? For fun, try drawing a map of your recovery.