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Available to Feel

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I am so grateful for OA.

It’s September 12, 2017, and I have thirty-nine days of abstinence after being in program since January 21, 2017. I will never forget that date: it’s eight days after my mom passed away due to her disease of drug addiction. Her death marked a turning point in my compulsive overeating. What was once a hunch, getting more and more obvious bit by bit, suddenly became a punch to the gut. It’s what I did to survive the week following her death, but I knew the buck had to stop here.

For years, after getting sober in another program, I’d lost weight and controlled my weight by purging through exercise— or exercise bulimia. Not until my body started falling apart did it dawn on me that my obsessive working out wasn’t normal. “Why did I do it?” I asked myself over and over again, never once realizing it was because I was binge eating. I’d always thought it was the other way around. Only when I couldn’t lose the last 10 pounds (5 kg) for more than two years did that ball of yarn start to unravel. It brought me to OA on January 21, 2017. I managed to attain a couple of weeks of abstinence right off the bat, but looking back, I know it was merely because of fear. I’d spent the previous week stuffing every possible feeling I had about my mom’s long and painful death by stuffing my face like I never had before.

Staying abstinent out of fear doesn’t last long, not for me. And after that, it was cycle after cycle of even worse binges and not being able to purge. Because of neck and spinal problems, I could no longer exercise two to four hours a day. My mind would race and keep me up at night. What was I to do? What would my bottom look like in this program? Why couldn’t I trust my Higher Power to take care of this for me? Why didn’t I believe he could help, the way he had with other substances? Would I turn to food until I was once again obese, then turn to other substances as I had as a young person, ultimately dying a long painful death like my mom?

No, I was told. Just keep coming back; keep coming back. My HP sure does work through others to help me be able to connect with him! I shared these thoughts at meetings. I continued to work the Steps with my sponsor, finally coming around to getting going on my Fourth Step. And as I kept coming back, as I kept plugging away at Step Four, a miracle happened. I stayed abstinent for a day. Then two days, then three—and so on and so forth. Before I knew it, and without a lot of struggle this time, I found myself today on my thirty-nint

h day of abstinence! And I have found my Higher Power in this program.

My life has kept on happening, but I haven’t had to “fix it” by bingeing. I have worked out for only an hour each day, sometimes even less. By not binge eating, I am available for spiritual work, service work, and reaching out to other suffering compulsive eaters. I am available to feel the feelings that have surrounded my mom’s death. I have felt feelings about people, places, and things that go beyond anger. I am looking for happiness in healthy places instead of taking my comfort in foods. Life is real, and not always easy or fun, but binge eating uncontrollably without knowing when I’d stop is not part of my list of fears anymore. OA works, we just have to work it. And we just keep coming back; keep coming back.

— Jackie B.

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