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Looking Forward

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I spent the past three years mostly unhappy. I lost both my parents, my second marriage failed, and my children had issues with the separation. I avoided any intimate relationships and, in spite of three years of therapy, still didn’t have a firm idea about why. I also hit my all-time-high weight of 285 pounds (129 kg). I was bingeing two or three times a day, and I was abusing one of my diabetes medications to keep my blood sugar from skyrocketing while I binged.

I’ve never considered myself a religious person, but one day I decided to go to church. I hadn’t been to church more than four times in thirty years, but I woke up one Sunday morning and decided to go. When the service was over, I did feel better, though only briefly.

The next morning, I checked the church’s website for any social events. (I tended to stay isolated when I was without my kids.) I noticed the church calendar had meetings for something called “OA.” Having belonged to a scouting organization that used those initials, I thought the meetings were scouting-related. But then I noticed they were meeting almost every day, so I clicked one. It said, “Overeaters Anonymous.”

I quickly closed the browser window and went about my day, but I kept thinking: I’d spent thirty-one years of my life dieting and trying to control my weight, but never had any long-term success. Maybe I was a compulsive overeater. After taking the quiz on oa.org and only “missing” two questions, I had my answer. I was a compulsive overeater. I checked the schedule for local OA meetings and found one I could make with regularity. So I made the commitment to go.

The rest of the week, I was nervous and scared (though I only binged three times that week). The night before the meeting, I was a wreck. I could barely sleep and I kept crying, already mourning the foods and behaviors I would have to forsake.

The next morning, I drove to the meeting. Even though it was only a couple of miles from my house, it seemed like the longest drive ever. I must have looked like a total basket case when I sat down—I don’t think I’ve been that nervous in my entire life. But the people there were incredibly welcoming. Several said to me, “You’re in the right place.”

When everyone introduced themselves, I did so as well: “I’m Stu, I’m a compulsive overeater.” I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I did. I had just admitted to a roomful of strangers something I’d been struggling to admit to myself for years.

After the meeting, I felt great! I set my phone’s schedule to remind me I have a weekly meeting. The following week, I received outreach calls from members of my group.

I’ve now been to six meetings and can honestly say I look forward to them. In fact, I can’t imagine not going to meetings. And the best part is, now I have something that I’ve never had before: hope.

— Stu

Newcomers: Send your experiences and concerns to info@oa.org with subject: Lifeline.

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