I came into Overeaters Anonymous on August 25, 1986, weighing 250 pounds (114 kg) and bingeing daily. Today I weigh 128 pounds (58 kg) and stand 5 feet 5 inches (165 cm) tall, but because of the changes I have made, I feel much taller than I did 19 years ago.
I am a relapse survivor addicted to sugar, flour, artificial sweeteners, caffeine and my own way. Thanks to OA and a sponsor who wouldn’t tolerate my self-deception, I believe today that one day at a time and through God’s grace, I never have to eat compulsively again. It all started with honesty.
Honesty is about reality and my relationship to it. Manipulating, misrepresenting, pretending, rationalizing, omitting pertinent information and outright lying were part of my life as an active food addict. My goals were ease and comfort, and I rearranged facts or feelings to feel okay about the world and my place in it. The lies my disease told me gave me permission to overeat.
My sponsor had to teach me how to be honest. She called me on a lot of my stuff in the beginning. First, she taught me to be accountable in my actions with food. If I committed to 12 ounces of broccoli, it needed to be 12 ounces of broccoli—no more, no less. In the beginning I did it to please her. But as I committed my food to my sponsor and honored that commitment, I became more clearheaded, and the food wasn’t in charge.
That allowed me to see the dishonesty (or errors) in my thinking—blame, fear, control and people pleasing. My sponsor had me on my knees twice a day, asking my Higher Power for abstinence and thanking him for his help. In my three weekly meetings and three daily phone calls, I heard others talk about the strength they received from God to endure life’s tribulations when they put the food down. Reading a spiritual meditation in the morning and the Big Book in the evening showed me how others had a spiritual awakening and gave me direction for my own awakening. Today, honesty is one of my most treasured assets.
My growing sense of a power greater than myself has rekindled my conscience and supports rigorous honesty and integrity. I began to realize it was okay to be imperfect. I didn’t have to lie to others and myself about who I was. Working OA’s Twelve Steps with a group of people who put abstinence first has allowed me to view myself with more honesty and compassionate. I am okay!
Today I realize the beauty in a quote from The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous: “We must change if we are to recover. Change begins with honesty” (p. 30).
Reprinted from Lifeline magazine