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Keep Coming, or Just Stay

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I am a compulsive eater, bulimic, and anorexic, and I have found a home in OA. I came through the doors in April 2001 at age 19, weighing 90 pounds (41 kg) at 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm).

I didn’t come to OA because of my low body weight; I came because I could not stop bingeing. My head told me I was overweight and that just needed to control my food to have the life I wanted.

You listened to me and welcomed me with open arms, despite the insanity of my thinking. Even when you could not relate, you kept an open mind. I judged you at first because you did not have ideal physical recovery, but I kept coming back. I started to understand we were one and the same. I soon found other meetings composed of members with all kinds of eating disorders. I heard stories like mine and started to hope things could be different after all.

My food did not immediately get better when I came to OA. Initially it became much worse. I see this period as my search for willingness. Only when I reached new and incredible lows was I willing to work this program. That included getting a sponsor, attending at least three meetings a week (and sharing), reading program literature, writing, making phone calls, doing service, and working the Steps.

I did not get the immediate result I desired—abstinence. It eluded me for many months, even when I was working this program to the best of my ability. Many times, I wanted to leave because it obviously wasn’t working. But where else could I go? I continued to go to meetings despite frustration and hopelessness. The Fellowship kept telling me: “keep coming back;” “don’t leave before the miracle happens.”

It happened in God’s time, not mine. Two days ago, I passed one year of consecutive abstinence. I never thought that would be possible. It’s hard for me to believe who I was when I first came through these doors. Food was a blatant symptom, but it was not the problem. In the past few years, I have confronted feelings, fears, and character defects I never knew I possessed. I had to thaw out the anorexic inside myself so I could feel again. The bulimic and compulsive overeater in me needed to deal with these newfound emotions that would lead me at once to food.

Today, with the help of my Higher Power and the Fellowship, I am learning to deal with life on life’s terms. I now know food is not the problem and never was. But if my spiritual void had never manifested itself the way it did, I never would have found you or fallen onto the path of recovery. I am grateful to be included as one of you today. Thank you for giving me my life. For those who are struggling, don’t keep coming back; just stay. Recovery is yours for the taking, one day at a time.

— M.H

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