Good and Bad

5 min read
1

When I sat in my first OA meeting in February 1990, I weighed 215 pounds (98 kg). I could not stop eating, and three-quarters of all my mental energy was devoted to food: eating it, not eating it, getting it, hiding what I was eating, obsessing over what I thought you were thinking about my eating and weight. I hated my body, I hated myself, and I felt like a failure. I knew I would never, ever be able to do without the foods that so many of you said you abstained from effortlessly.

Sitting in an OA meeting today, I feel comfortable in my 140-pound (64-kg) body. My clothes fit. Very little of my mental activity concerns food, because I enjoy regular meals that are usually, but not always, planned and measured. Because of the Twelve Steps, I no longer suffer the discomforts—agitation, anger, depression, regret, shame, and fear—that food used to relieve. There’s no longer anything that food can fix.

During my twenty-five years in OA, I have experienced a full life on life’s terms: I broke up with an alcoholic boyfriend when I got clean. I met and married the man of my dreams. He broke my heart, and we divorced. I watched my brother suffer terribly for years and then die from a terminal illness. I left my secure, fulltime job to pursue a less secure, freelance profession that was my heart’s desire. I met and married the new man of my dreams, wide awake. Menopause came, my body aged, and I began to experience progressing physical pain and loss of strength and mobility, yet all the while, God has continued to do what I cannot do for myself and has enabled me to use my body with vigor and exhilaration. I’ve had opportunities and successes, bitter disappointments and failures. Since experiencing the psychic change described in the Twelve Steps, when bad fortune has come my way I have not fought it as being unacceptable or wrong. When good fortune has come, I haven’t allowed the things that OA has given me to lead me out of OA. Good and bad, praise and blame, success and failure, none of it is a reason to eat.

And none of this is my doing, by the way. I only followed the footsteps of others who walked this way before me. I am gratified to be making footsteps of my own for others to follow because “Those of us who live this program don’t simply carry the message; we are the message. Each day that we live well, we are well, and we embody the joy of recovery which attracts others who want what we’ve found in OA. We’re always happy to share our secret: the twelve steps of Overeaters Anonymous, which empower each of us to live well and be well, one day at a time” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 106).

— Margaret Ann B., Cambridge, Massachusetts USA

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