Compulsive overeating has plagued me, but I have never stopped searching for recovery. I am an adoptee, and the trauma of being separated from my birth mother, and other factors, set me up for this disease. My adoptive family didn’t know how to help me, nor could they relate to my compulsive tendencies. To cope I turned to food.
Compulsive overeating helped calm my anxiety but also drugged me, inhibiting my mental and emotional clarity. I never grew up. I bonded with food, and it turned into a faithful but false mommy. My addiction kept me from wanting or receiving help from people or God; therefore, I became needy and isolated. Food and compulsive overeating kept me attached to something so I wouldn’t feel like I was going to float away and die. I was, however, maiming my body and possibly sentencing myself to an early death. Numbed by bingeing, I did not know who I was.
I found Overeaters Anonymous in 1980 at my top weight of 210 pounds (95 kg). I was bingeing several times a day and could not stay on a diet for more than a few hours. I cried and ate all the time, yet the only problem I believed I had was stretch marks.
At OA meetings I discovered open and honest communication from people who had lived the compulsive eating nightmare and were trying to get well. I was home. My binges grew further apart as I worked the Steps and received love from members. I did three inventories in eight years, but still binged once every three weeks. Remorse and self-pity filled me because I couldn’t find back-to-back abstinence.
Then one of my best friends died of this disease. She had used bulimia to solve her weight problem, blacked out, and drowned in her bathtub. I became abstinent from bingeing soon after. Two things changed me. I realized that even if I was still bingeing, I had another chance to recover and she didn’t. And I came to understand that my disease was life threatening. I started to feel gratitude and humility instead of self-pity and humiliation. I surrendered at a deeper level and allowed my Higher Power and the OA Fellowship to help me stay abstinent. It was a difficult but life-changing turning point.
Overwhelming anxiety surfaced. I used the resources Higher Power brought my way to get the help I needed. OA taught me to be willing to go to any lengths. Long-term abstinence has allowed the deep truths inside me to surface. Sometimes it has been painful, but my truth has set me free. I have no desire to binge today and now live with a deep, unshakable inner peace I never thought possible. These are only two of the gifts I’ve experienced as a result of 23 years of recovery and discovery in OA.
I wear a size 8 and maintain a 65-pound (30-kg) weight loss. I met an incredible man in OA, and we have been married for years. I have two beautiful children with whom I bond in healthy ways. I have reunited with my birth family and have healthy relationships with them. I have found my passion in life, and my dreams have come true and continue to unfold.
I work my program simply. I tune in and follow my Higher Power’s guidance even when it is unconventional. I’m still willing to go to any lengths. I take care of myself as best I can, but sometimes I need help. I have a daily food plan, and if I have trouble with a food or eating behavior, I talk about it and make a choice to abstain. Sometimes that takes a while; I am still a compulsive overeater. I sponsor, attend meetings and have intimate friendships with other members. I continue to uncover issues and work to change problem behavior. I practice acceptance daily.
I am now the woman God intended me to be, traveling on my unique path through life. My motto is “Never give up.”
— Reprinted from Lifeline magazine