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Even Before

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When I first joined OA and wasn’t getting abstinent, I came across “Pray Then Act” (Lifeline, March 2015, p. 16), a story about a person who experienced a sudden, intense obsession to stop for food at a drive-through. She immediately called her sponsor, who said, “You can have it tomorrow.” This advice drove home in a very real way the OA principle of taking things one day at a time; it has been immensely helpful to me. Delayed gratification is not usually a strong suit of food addicts, but this story helped me say, “All I need to be concerned with is being abstinent today.” This philosophy has helped me be abstinent for 562 days in a row, and I have released 40 pounds (18 kg) so far.

When I was first struggling with abstinence, I found the story “Freedom of Choice” in Abstinence, Second Edition (pp. 12–14), which helped me in my struggle with perfectionism. I began to see how my perfectionism created excuses for why I “couldn’t” abstain on any given day. Perfectionism also caused me to compare myself with others in ways that are never constructive.

The story also provided a helpful concept for understanding abstinence: “To me, compulsive eating (or overeating) is eating to feed my disease—not my body’s nutritional needs. Therefore I am abstinent when I eat to feed my body and not my disease” (p. 13). I still need this clarity to be completely honest with myself about what’s good for my body and what isn’t. I am now discussing the next steps for my food plan with my sponsor and nutritionist because I know more changes are needed to reach and maintain a natural healthy weight for my body.

I have felt some fear about this step toward a healthy body weight, but, lucky for me, a helpful answer about how to move into transforming my food portions is also in this story: “Spiritually, I believe my compulsive overeating resulted from my building barriers to keep my Higher Power out of my life. Abstinence removes these barriers and puts me in conscious contact with my Higher Power” (p. 14). This created a paradox for me in the beginning: to get abstinent, I needed to be in closer contact with my HP, but it was abstinence itself that enabled me to develop that contact (and led to a more direct relationship with my HP).

Literature such as Lifeline magazine, Abstinence, Second Edition, and other OA publications helped me realize that becoming and remaining abstinent would be worth it, even before I had the experience that proved it to me. To all who offer your writing: Thank you! You never know who will be helped by your service!

— Anonymous

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