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Gateway to Freedom

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I began OA at age 28 after attempting suicide; I’d gained 3 pounds (1.5 kg) after a bulimic episode, peaking at 107 pounds (49 kg). I was nuts; absolutely lost in the mental illness of food preoccupation and self-obsession. I began OA that next day and never left the rooms, our community, and my life of recovery.

What I noticed when I began OA was that older OA members had some history with older OA tools that I was not going to be given, such as worksheets with specific food plans, absolutes about can/cannot-eat foods, and language that sounded much like dieting.

I threw myself into service, getting a sponsor, setting up meetings, and completing the OA Twelve-Step Workbook with my sponsor. Once I became abstinent, I led meetings and sponsored others. I made and received OA calls—my life depended on being one thousand percent full-time with OA recovery.

My sponsor told me early on, “You are keeping it too green for me.” She meant, if I did not take abstinence seriously, if I did not take OA recovery one meal and one day at a time successfully, she would not be able to sponsor me because my relapses created a trigger for her. I thanked her for that message. Together we get better, but if I did not commit to getting better I risked provoking my sponsor’s disease with food. I wanted what she had, so I did what it took to combat the disease of compulsive overeating daily and began my lifelong journey of OA recovery. I thank God for her.

What have I gained by being in OA? Life. I’m convinced I would be dead without OA. Through OA, I found freedom from food, self, and the havoc I created for others. I found the Higher Power of my understanding whom I live each moment with daily. (This relationship has evolved and continues to evolve over time; I love HP!). I have gained reliable friends and a family that believes in me again. I have gained steady work, security in practical matters, self-esteem, courage—the benefits I have gained through OA are endless and eternal. Whoever you are, reader, keep coming back!

My therapist is the one who told me about OA. At age 28, in February 2000, I went to my first meeting—and left, thinking the room was filled with freaks from whom I wanted nothing. In October of that year, after trying to end my life due to the hell of bulimia, I attended OA again and found everything I’ve always wanted and needed: sanity, hope, understanding, and Higher Power. I continued with therapy for a while as I found my ground within OA, and I thank God for my therapist, who never gave up on me and told me about the gateway to freedom: Overeaters Anonymous.

— Maggie M., Fort Wayne, Indiana USA

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