Home How OA Changed My Life Breaking 365 Chains

Breaking 365 Chains

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I was looking for a diet. But what I’ve gotten is so much more.

What’s different about my life today? The more appropriate question is, what’s the same? At this moment in time one year ago, I found program—or rather, program found me. Since then, I’ve lost about 40 pounds (18 kg), quit one job and started another, and I’m going back to school to pursue a lifelong dream. I haven’t binged; I haven’t compulsively overeaten. I haven’t had to ask myself “Why did you do that, again?” or had to beg, pray, and plead, “Please let this just stop! Let me just stop!” I made it through vacations, a cruise, Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, and every other holiday this year without overeating, without feeling sick to my stomach, and without regret. I haven’t gone to bed with guilt or shame. In the past year, I haven’t had to regret what I’ve eaten.

Over the past 365 days, I’ve broken 365 chains: there’s nothing I haven’t handled in the past year, nothing I’ve eaten over, which proves to me there’s no real reason to overeat. I’ve experienced heartbreak, humiliation, uncertainty, fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, celebration, happiness, and success, and I haven’t had to eat over any of it.

Today, I meet the world and the problems it tosses me without hiding behind the food; I cry, not because I’ve overeaten but because I’m allowing myself to feel my feelings. I have begun a long-overdue healing process, and I am changing. And not just in physical ways; now I can apologize, I can admit when I’m wrong, I can be of service and want to be of service without having to be asked. I can hold my tongue. I can feel a feeling and not have to bring everyone around me into my feelings. I have a desire to do the right thing. I have a conscience.

Today, I have a Higher Power and a spiritual connection I never knew I needed; I can’t imagine how I ever could’ve lived life without it. I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to do it all, be it all, or have it all. I have a program. I have a safe space and a safe place where there are no expectations of me. I have a community of people who love and accept me as I am, who help me and want to help me. I have confidence, and I have Tools to help me when I’m not feeling confident. Today, I have faith (and not in superficial things). I am becoming the kind of woman and person I’ve always wanted to be. I have a little more patience and a little less self-criticism. I have the serenity and peace of mind I’d been chasing for twenty-nine years. I have honesty and willingness. I have better relationships. I try harder and put in more effort. I am kinder, not just to others but to myself. I am becoming a person I am proud of.

So, to my 28-year-old self who was hiding her food in the closet and to all the versions of me who came before her, I want to say this: it’s okay. You are okay. It’s not your fault. Stay hopeful, stay positive, stay strong. There is always rain before the rainbow. You are not a number on the scale, the size of your jeans, or what anyone else tells you. You are worthy. You are deserving and good. You are healing. You are free. And remember always that you are not alone. At the end of the day, what will make you happy is not your body—your perfectly imperfect, healthy, strong, able body—but the life you’re living in it. Did you help someone today? Did you do something good for someone else today? That’s what will heal and fulfill you: living a life you’re proud of, not the clothing you’re doing it in.

— Emily E., Long Island, New York USA

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