The More It Pushed
Seven years ago, I was plummeting toward my compulsive overeating bottom physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was 260-plus pounds (118-plus kg), my mental state was one of absolute denial, and food was my higher power. I had high blood pressure, excessive perspiration, aches in my joints and bones, a racing heart, and trouble breathing. I was depressed, lonely, miserable toward others and myself, and afraid of everything and everybody. My only thoughts were of food: When would I have the next bite of anything? How long until I could leave work and go home to eat alone? Would anyone notice if I finished all the cookies in the break room at work? Do I have enough money in my bank account to stop on the way home for all my favorite foods? When will I ever be able to stop eating so much and lose weight so I can be happy?
Today, it is interesting to look back at that time in my life and realize that my physical self was only the apparent reason for attending my first OA meeting. Now, when I think of how I felt then, I know my physical self was a side effect of the mental and spiritual torture I had been undergoing for years. Whenever I had a disagreement with someone, spoke out of turn or made a mistake at work, I ate. Whenever I felt frustrated with my family, friends or colleagues, I ate. Whenever I felt victimized or alone, I ate. Whenever I felt uncomfortable with my own behavior or the behavior of people around me, I ate.
I was tortured with my mental state of denial. I was denying that I didn’t like myself, that I had anything to do with my problems, that I was as unhappy as I was and that I was obese and uncomfortable in my own skin. The only way to keep these things in that state of denial was to stuff them down, so I ate.
Now don’t get me wrong; I know I ate because I’m a compulsive overeater. If I had been a drug addict, I just would have been skinny and high instead of fat and depressed. The side effect of fat caused by my disease of compulsive overeating made me seek help for all my afflictions, not just my physical size.
Today I find humor in that. Why? Because I know my disease wants me dead. I know it wants me to eat and eat until my stomach tears open or until my heart gives out and I die from a stroke, diabetes or some other debilitating fat-person’s disease. I can laugh at my disease because while I think it has all this power over me, I realize it couldn’t even keep me from getting to the place that made me seek help. It didn’t even know that the more it pushed me, the closer I came to finding my solution in OA.
Once I came into the rooms and got abstinent, my disease continued to try to get to me by bringing up painful memories from my past, pushing my character defects to the surface, and making me think everything was too hard to face without a sugary snack or dessert. The more it pushed these things in my abstinent face, the more I turned to the solution by following the suggestions of my sponsor, calling other recovering OA members, attending meetings, doing service for the good of the OA groups, reading the literature over and over, and praying. The more I did these things, the closer I came to finding a Higher Power (whom I choose to call God), and that has nothing to do with food!
When I first arrived in OA and heard members sharing that they were grateful to be compulsive eaters, I thought they were crazy. I thought, “I will never be grateful to be a compulsive overeater!” I was so wrong about that. Today, I am grateful to be a compulsive overeater who has found recovery. In recovery, I have found acceptance; a healthy, normal-sized body—I weigh 140 pounds (64 kg); a peaceful heart; and conscious contact with God, who guides and comforts me at all times.
I am also grateful to have found real friends, relief from the insanity of food thoughts, and a way to live with dignity and grace. All I have to do is stay in the solution. Sometimes that solution may seem difficult, but it is so simple. Surrender. Ask for help. Follow suggestions. Let go and let God. When I do those things, not only are the food thoughts and obsessions gone, but I can live, breathe, and sigh with God in my heart. Not a bad way to go through life!
Thank you, everyone, for being there for me until I could be there for myself.
— Reprinted from Lifeline magazine