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Trusted Angels

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After a life of binge eating, primarily on sugar, I found my way to OA in 1991. I became abstinent right away, got a sponsor, worked the Steps, and stayed abstinent for about two years. I then lost my abstinence and was in relapse for four-and-a-half years. I became clinically depressed, gained back all my weight and then some, and topped 200 pounds (91 kg) for the first time.

My current story begins in 1997. I had started going to OA meetings again, found a sponsor, and tried to work the Steps, but nothing was working. I kept going back to the food. Then, a series of incidents turned my life around: I found abstinence again with the help of five angels—strangers who came into my life for a brief time and changed it forever.

When my dentist referred me to a specialist for gum surgery, his assistant took me aside and quietly gave me a different referral. She wasn’t supposed to do this, of course, but thought I would like this other doctor better. I took her advice. When this new specialist looked at my chart, she said I was taking way too much medication for such a young woman and suggested an exercise program instead. She gave me the number of her personal trainer. I didn’t make the call immediately, being almost as opposed to exercise as I was to diets. But when I did, I met a young woman who continues to be an inspiration to me today.

The trainer put me on a three-day-a week program of weight training and aerobic exercise. She suggested I keep a food diary and show it to her at each visit. It soon became obvious that I wasn’t sticking to her recommended food plan, so she recommended a nutritionist. I knew that any nutritionist lacking a background in food addiction would be no help to me. That’s when I called an eating disorder treatment center that I was familiar with.

As I was making an appointment, the treatment center receptionist mentioned a special outpatient group they offered to OA members. I said I was interested, so she had me come in to fill out the treatment center’s paperwork and meet with the outpatient facilitator. I committed to attend at least six outpatient meetings in a row, go to one or two OA meetings a week, abstain from all mood-altering substances, participate in all group sessions, and complete all homework assignments. I believe this was my first step in actually surrendering to the program.

At my first outpatient session, I explained my story: four-and-a-half years of nonstop eating and an inability to control my intake of sweets. When I finished, she asked if I’d be willing to eat three meals a day with nothing in between, a snack at bedtime, and no refined sugar. That seemed impossible, but I said I’d be willing to try because by this time I was desperate. That’s when I recalled words of wisdom from a popular movie: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Suddenly, saying I’d try to do these things sounded like a lame answer, and it was then that I had a spiritual awakening. I saw my Higher Power standing before me with a silver platter that bore the gift of abstinence and a plan of eating I could live with. I recalled that the therapist had not asked me if I could do these things, only if I’d be willing. So, if the gift of abstinence were handed to me on a silver platter, would I be willing to accept it?

On those terms, my answer was a resounding yes. I understood for the first time that I could not do it on my own, but I would be willing to accept it if it were freely offered. This was God doing for me what I could not do for myself.

That was nine years ago, and I’ve been abstinent one day at a time ever since. Not only was I able to follow the plan of eating the facilitator had outlined, but I was also relieved of my cravings. I no longer obsess about food and have maintained a 40-pound (18 kg) weight loss.

— Patti S., Tampa, Florida USA

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