Peace Between My Ears
I grew up in an alcoholic home, the sixth of seven children. Our home was chaotic, with yelling, blaming, and one crisis after another. I probably overate as a child, but I was told it was baby fat. I remember eating inappropriately. I drank heavily as a teenager, and then it was sex, drugs, and rock and roll when I went to university. I’m lucky that nothing bad happened to me. I was at my top weight, about 180 pounds (82 kg) on a 5-foot-2-inch (157 cm) frame. I had three chins.
Later, when I came into OA, I realized that most of my Step Five amends came from my actions when I was 19 to 24 years old. I felt angry, rebellious and resentful about what I didn’t get as a child.
After I married, I lost my first job. I ate and started to sneak drinks. I moved to the other side of the country to get another job, and I told myself that I could lose weight now, since I didn’t have to cook for my husband. At first, I gained weight. Then I went through a short anorexic phase. I weighed less than 100 pounds (45 kg). I was as obsessed as ever with food. I thought I looked and felt good.
When my husband and I reunited, he was shocked at my appearance. I started to gain weight. I quit drinking, but under stress I couldn’t stop eating. I ate in the middle of the night, ate food out of the garbage, and sneaked food. I was out of control and felt horrible. I was ready for OA.
I felt at home at my first meeting. I was told to come to six meetings and get a sponsor, which I did. I love the concepts of humility and gratitude. All my life I thought humility was humiliation and gratitude was groveling. Now I could let go of those burdens. Before OA, I’d thought I was either the coolest thing around or the other extreme. I thought if you knew some of the nasty, selfish and petty thoughts and feelings I had, or some of the bad things I’d done, you would have thought me a fake and a failure. When I came into OA, I learned that I’m just another grain of sand on the beach of humanity and that we’re all imperfect. That’s the way it is, so I guess that’s perfect.
OA has given me the gift of stable weight for the last fifteen years. I have a better marriage, I’m a better worker, and thank God, I’m a better mother to the two children I had after I came into OA. I’m grateful I don’t have huge amends to make about my children. Meetings have given me a place to remember who I am and what’s important. Sponsoring has given me a chance to tell someone else about the program, so I remember too. The best part of being in OA, though, is that most of the time I have peace between my ears. I like myself. I can make mistakes and forgive myself. I deserve to be here. OA has given me my life, a life of sane and happy usefulness.
— Reprinted from Lifeline magazine