OA saved my life—or maybe I should say OA is saving my life, one miraculous day at a time. I will celebrate my 21st birthday in May. This is a birthday I never thought I’d see, because I’d pushed the self-destruct button for most of my teenage years. A family member introduced me to the OA meetings and Fellowship when I was eleven. My early moments in OA planted a seed that has finally started to bloom.

During my youth I knew I had a disease—just knowing that is unusual. Most of my OA family says I am lucky to have found recovery at such a young age. But let me tell you, nothing spoils a binge like OA! I never went to diet and calorie clubs because I knew they were a waste of time and money. OA had the answers. The Twelve Steps could, if I was willing, rescue me from death by food.

Nevertheless, I carried on the usual secret eating and morning-to-midnight binges, feeling consumed and almost possessed by thoughts of food. I was a sugar junkie. I often tell my home group in Cambridge that the only time I would break into a run was for a “fix.”

I’d purge by vomiting and using laxatives, with varied frequency. Around March of last year, I discovered the pain and brutality of anorexia. I am a complete, qualified addict. I had to check off the whole list of compulsive eating behaviors and be sick of my own reflection in the toilet bowl before I was ready to take the First Step. I am now on Step Four, attempting to write my first searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. It’s hard work, and believe it or not, I’ve racked up plenty of pain, resentment, shame, and fear in my illness.

What does all this equal? Gratitude. I am grateful for my life today, for being able to stand up in the morning, and for being part of a program that can love and support me back to sanity. I make no bones about it: I was insane without OA. My bond with my Higher Power becomes stronger every day I stay abstinent, don’t beat myself up, and let Higher Power run my life.

I often felt like I was born without life’s instruction manual. It would fascinate me to see others get it right while I got it so wrong. Now I have found the instruction manual; I just had to work it, because I’m worth it, of course! We are the lucky ones, who have a Twelve Step program of recovery.

— Olivia B., Bedfordshire, England

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