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Fierce Honesty

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I first came to Overeaters Anonymous in August 2011. I had recently returned from an overseas internship and moved to a new city, where I hardly knew a soul. I decided to try OA after a close friend recommended it. She said it helped her face her lifelong struggle with bulimia when nothing else worked.

As a food restrictor and over-exerciser, I didn’t know how I would fit in with a group called Overeaters Anonymous. However, I had just enough humility to accept that if another “skinny” person thought it was valuable, then it might be worth trying (and I was hoping it would prove to be a diet-and-calories club that would help me maintain an unnaturally low body weight).

Two things surprised me at my first OA meeting: first, how deeply I related to the sentiments shared by others, and second, the fierce honesty of the sharing. It seemed that nothing was too shameful to talk about, and for the first time in my life I felt like I truly belonged. It didn’t matter that I was underweight and others were normal or overweight. We all struggled with the same food obsession, and we all recognized a deep discomfort with our feelings. As one member said, “I’m an addict! I’ve never had a feeling I couldn’t eat over!”

I quickly learned in the Fellowship to challenge my assumptions about other members based on their appearances. One man, a recovering binge eater, weighed over 300 pounds (136 kg) but had one of the strongest programs I have seen. He eventually became one of my Tenth Step heroes and was an absolute lifeline when I struggled. I was often struck by how OA gave me the privilege of meeting people I would never have met otherwise and the opportunity to know them in an intimate and very real way.

They say that the Twelve Steps really help us grow up. Since committing myself to recovery, I feel like I’ve gone from living in a hole to walking through a lush forest. When I lived in the hole, every day was the same. My life was small, safe, and very dark. Now I spend my days seeking to connect with myself, my God, and other people. I’m just beginning to discover who I am and what I like, and it is very exciting. My relationships have improved two hundred percent as I slowly learn to challenge faulty thinking.

I’ve put on 10–15 pounds (5–7 kg) since joining the group and am now at a normal weight for my height. I don’t weigh myself, and I’m working on accepting that my weight is none of my business. For today, I am abstinent from food restriction and over-exercising, and I’m very grateful for that.

— K., Canada

  • Image by Pauline G., Waterville, Ohio USA

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