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Desperate and Helped

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I came to OA because other members worked the Twelfth Step. Members of an OA group in another state shared their stories in a diet magazine. “Wow,” I thought. “These people think and act about food like I do!” But my life was not too bad, and if it was not too bad, then it was okay.

I received a notification that an OA member was going to speak at a group for anorexics and bulimics. Even though it meant driving into the city, I went. It was uncanny: the speaker’s background and occupation were just like mine, and of course, she did everything I did with the food—bingeing, vomiting, having to get rid of the evidence and hide wrappers . . . but my life was not too bad.

Then the man in my life left, and life was bad.

I went to a meeting at a deserted school. There were three newcomers (including me), but no one else. I remembered I could call an OA help line. This was before there were such things as mobile phones, so I went to a phone box and told a girl who was using the phone that I wanted to make a call.

The OA volunteer told me the meeting’s start time was now a half-hour later. Then he said, “I hope this is for you—you sound so desperate.”

I thought, “Me, desperate? I’ve driven to the middle of nowhere and crossed a major highway at night, which I avoid doing even during the day, and I kicked someone out of a phone box—I am not desperate!”

When I got back to the meeting room, more people were there. I walked into the room and for the first time in my life did not feel I was on the outside looking in. When they read “Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home!” I knew I was at home. And when I read those first three Steps and found I could believe in a Higher Power without having to belong to a religion, I thought all my Christmases had come at once. And then someone offered to meet me halfway so I did not have to cross the highway. Someone went into the city and bought me a Big Book. Someone rang me the next day.

I would like to say I have been well since then, but I had a bad relapse when my mother died. I ended up in the hospital, but I knew if there was an answer—though I was not sure there was—it was in OA. So I kept coming back. OA did not give up on me (but that’s another story), and I did recover.

That first meeting was nearly thirty-four years ago, and I am still here. I was fortunate enough to get to meet some of the people who’d written that diet-magazine article long ago, and I was able to say thank you.

Someone helped me when I was desperate, and if I can help someone else, that will be the reason I am here.

— Laurinda, Australia

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