Home Anorexia & Bulimia Most of All, Hope

Most of All, Hope

11 min read

I grew up as an only child with alcoholic overeaters for parents. For the first seventeen years of my life, I dealt with two drunken “rageaholics” acting crazy. I never knew what would happen. I walked around in sheer panic and terror, afraid my parents would divorce, afraid Mom would drink herself to death, afraid Dad would kill someone on his way home, and afraid of their screaming arguments.

I started out skinny, and my slightly overweight mother made a big deal out of this. She had to buy me slim pants, which never fit right, so I internalized that my body was not right.

The first memory I have of binge eating was at age 10. Dinner could be late, depending on how many cocktails my parents drank, so I got good at sneaking into the kitchen, grabbing whatever food I could find, hiding it in my clothes, and running back to my room to eat. I never invited anyone to my house. Food and TV became my best friends. Food was always there to love and comfort me. It never yelled at me or abused me.

Then the doctors diagnosed Mom with diabetes and put her on a 1,200 calorie diet. I decided to go on it too and successfully starved so much that I became intensely thin. I weighed myself countless times each day; I refused to eat out or stray from my diet. I received positive attention from boys, and the girls accepted me. This was the only time I felt in control. It felt good. But my rigid diet threw off my electrolytes, and I started to see black. Still, my obsession with food, weight, and my body grew like a hungry monster. Food and alcohol comforted me through the pain of adolescence. Slowly, I cut myself off from my friends and often isolated myself in my room.

At age 21, I had my own job and apartment. I was bingeing every night after work and had no tools to deal with my emotions. For the next eight years, I binged, starved, exercised, and tried every diet program. When I was 28, I married my first husband: a food buddy who also came from a dysfunctional, alcoholic family. We were quite a pair. We had two children quickly and bought a house, but the responsibilities of kids and finances soon broke us down. I became bitter, resentful, and self-righteous; I blamed our problems and bad marriage on him.

I thought I might try a Twelve Step program but got scared by the religious/ God talk. I just didn’t get it, so I didn’t go back. After my divorce at age 35, I went on autopilot: working, eating, and feeling sorry for myself. I reached my top weight in the 180-pound (82-kg) range. I did keep “praying” to God, just like I’d done when I was a child: “Get me out of this mess!”

Finally, things started to turn around. I got a job working at home, which was a godsend. Then I met my present, supportive husband, with whom I communicate well. I trust him and don’t think I need to fix him. He is my best friend first.

Last September, God led me to OA online. I joined some online meetings, and the incredible shares overwhelmed me. The people were so honest, and I felt accepted. I’d found a home! I quickly bought several OA books, started a food plan on my own, and found that I felt better without sugar or caffeine.

I thought if online meetings were making me better, face-to-face meetings would probably be even more helpful. Fear kept me away for four months, but I knew I needed to go, so in January, I went to my first in-person meeting.

It was a great experience. I found a food sponsor and a different food plan. I noticed I was eating more at meals, not setting myself up for binges. I got abstinent. I’ve had a couple of slips, but I’ve recovered immediately. (In the past, I’d use one slip as an excuse to give up, beat myself up, and continue to binge.) My key to success is working the program. This is what that means to me:

  • I pray and read Voices of Recovery when I wake up.
  • I write in my journal or an OA workbook in the morning.
  • I attend three meetings a week.
  • I commit my food to my food sponsor every night.
  • I work with a Step sponsor.
  • I attend online meetings occasionally too.

And my life has changed:

  • I’ve lost 25 pounds (11 kg).
  • I’ve met all of you, the most incredible people I’ve ever known.
  • I’m learning to forgive.
  • I can see my parents as the hurt children they were, who did the best they could.
  • I’m learning to be honest.
  • I can laugh at my mistakes.
  • I’m learning I can’t control people, places, or things.
  • I’m learning I’m not God (and he doesn’t need my input).
  • I’m learning how to be a friend and connect with people.
  • I’m learning how to support people without trying to fix them.
  • I’m learning how to communicate my feelings.
  • I see that my life has become more balanced.
  • I have days when I feel at peace and am not plagued with anxiety and worry.
  • I’m happier.
  • I’m deepening my relationship with my HP; it’s built on faith, trust, love, and inspiration.

Most of all, I have hope that I can recover, really recover, from my disease of compulsive eating. I’d never had hope before. This program is the only thing that has helped me for this length of time. Thank you for letting me share my story.

— Anonymous

Come out of the madness and into an OA meeting. Go to oa.org/find-a-meeting to find face-to-face, telephone, online, and non-real-time meetings, plus meetings that focus on more than forty special topics of recovery in OA.

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