I start my day with a meditation on the Twelve Steps of the OA program. Sometimes I also meditate on the Serenity Prayer and ask my Higher Power to help me let go and turn my day over to him/her. The quality of my day is a reflection of how sincere I am in this request.
I have followed this pattern for the past 21 years. No matter what happens, I know that food will not solve my problems or fill any void I feel in my heart. Some days I have to keep reminding myself that I have a “living problem” and food is the drug I use to handle it.
My feelings of being fat and not accepted surfaced in my teens. I thought weight was my problem, so I tried most of the advertised diets. I usually lost weight, and then waited for my life to begin. Unfortunately, nothing changed since I did not change inside. Back came the weight, the unhappiness, and the self-loathing. Compulsive overeating became the means by which I tried to handle my fears and unhappiness.
I learned about OA while completing graduate work in the US. I found an OA group, concluded I was a compulsive overeater, and started to attend OA meetings. I acquired a sponsor but was unable to achieve abstinence. My compulsive overeating continued, and the stress associated with graduate work and trying to fit in with my American friends made abstinence seem elusive. I was unaware that everything caused me stress, leading me to overeat over happy or sad events. After many years in OA, I learned that I wouldn’t accept myself. I did not believe I deserved to be happy.
When I returned to Canada, I found OA in Alberta and began attending meetings. I found a kind, loving, and accepting sponsor. She required I be honest with her regarding what I was eating and what was eating me. I became abstinent in the fall of 1980. With the strength of the program, OA literature, a loving Higher Power and OA friends, I spent one-and-a-half years in Malaysia working at a job I loved. Shortly after returning to Canada, I met my loving husband and began a family.
Being abstinent does not make all life’s problems disappear nor make every day happy or exciting. Neither has being thin made me well. I still struggle with self-acceptance and my overwhelming need to please everyone. But I am getting better. Not abusing food allows me to deal with the issues I meet. I attend counseling sessions, where I continue to work on self-acceptance.
My husband, who met me when I was abstinent, does not understand why I read OA literature, keep in touch with OA members and believe that OA saved my life. He loves and respects me, however, and accepts that I do what I need to do to keep well.
Some days, abstinence seems to be the only thing I have going for me. I usually find that I have slipped into emotional bingeing and tried to take back control of my life. Giving up and letting go of my need to control is hard for me.
Fortunately, I have many more good days than bad days, and the bad days bear no resemblance to the bad days I had while bingeing. Abstinence is easier some days than others, and holidays are more difficult than regular days. On those days, my Higher Power and I keep in much closer contact.
Years ago I heard the saying, “There is no problem so large to make me so small to eat about it.” I am a recovering compulsive eater, grateful to my Higher Power who showed me the way to OA.
Reprinted from Lifeline magazine