All The Way

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Today, I am celebrating thirty years of abstinence. It took me four years to get, and I truly appreciate the miracle of still having it so many years later.

When I came to OA in 1985, I was 21 years old, and I had no idea what OA was going to do for me. Like many people, I wanted to lose weight and, ideally, learn how to not break a diet. For years, I had been a hardcore binge eater and sugar addict. I was capable of eating five to six thousand calories a day and gaining a pound (.5 kg) each day. I had no idea what hunger was, except for the times when I was able to stick to a diet. I would get high from successful dieting and think I was home free, only to lose the diet and spiral back into the abyss of bingeing.

In hindsight, the only thing I had gained from dieting was smaller clothes. My self-esteem depended upon my appearance and whether people told me I looked skinny. I was obsessed with my body, food, clothes, and how people perceived me. Inevitably, I would gain back more weight. I beat myself up constantly—my head would not stop telling me how bad I was. For two and a half years, I tried to get abstinent and then gave up.

On June 17, 1989, I was completely out of ideas and willing to try OA again. Even though I had already been to more than a hundred meetings, I raised my hand that day as a newcomer. My second meeting, I got a sponsor, a home group, and a commitment. As a friend likes to say, “I came all the way in and sat all the way down.” Even then, I didn’t know what OA would do for me. I was desperate, hopeless, and felt that nothing would ever change. My eating disorder had a powerful ability to prevent me from growing. I had used food at every turn to distract me from life.

Getting off sugar was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My eating disorder screamed at me that I was going to die if I didn’t eat it. The first week was truly unbearable. But then, the miracle of the program happened—the desire left! I can only explain it by giving my HP full credit. I did the work, and my HP restored me to a sanity that I didn’t know was possible.

For me, OA is not a white-knuckle, don’t-eat-sugar-or-binge, one-day-ata-time program. It’s the promise that if I work the Steps and the program to the best of my ability, I will be relieved of the insanity of my disease. I still marvel that I don’t binge or eat sugar, I don’t live in self-hatred anymore, and I don’t need to hurt myself, with food or anything else.

I haven’t weighed myself in twenty-five years, because if I get on the scale and it says I weigh more than I thought, I will get depressed and eat more. If I get on and weigh less, then I get will excited and eat more. So, I’ve learned that my weight is none of my business.

I never want to go back to where I was, and that’s why I still go to meetings and work a program. If the desire to eat sugar or binge came back, I couldn’t say no. So, I still have a sponsor, home group, and commitments, and I now sponsor people.

Because of abstinence, I have a life beyond my wildest dreams. There are not enough words to describe my gratitude for what Overeaters Anonymous has done for me. Thank you to every single member of OA for being part of this Fellowship that has given me so incredibly much. — Allisen P., Lafayette, Colorado USA

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