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Abstinent Past My Expiration Date

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I am a compulsive overeater. Before coming to OA, I tried many diets and weight-loss programs. I always lost the 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 pounds but promptly gained it all back and then some. After losing my three-year-old daughter, I wasn’t able to diet and lose weight anymore.

When I finally came to OA in 1973, I came looking for magic. I didn’t find it, but I did find solutions. I have continued to come back since my first meeting, experiencing both recovery and relapse. My current recovery, with imperfect abstinence, began in January 2004. I had just left a thirty-seven year marriage and started over at age 60. My weight was at an all-time high of 200 pounds (91 kg), and it took me until 2009 to reach a healthy body weight.

In July 2017, I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer and given one year to live. For a few moments, I was in shock, but my next thoughts were of gratitude— gratitude to God and OA for my recovery from compulsive overeating. By working the Steps and with the grace of God, my relationships with others had improved, my health had been excellent, and I’d been able to travel to Europe a few times. I was grateful for my two sons, who are also in recovery. I felt grateful that I had lived for 73 years. Tears came later, of course, as I walked through the grief with God’s grace. Thoughts of compulsive overeating came as well, but there was no way I would leave this earth with food as my higher power.

Good news! I have now lived past my “expiration date” and am at twenty-two months. I have been imperfectly abstinent throughout this time. Each moment of every day is a gift from God. I start each day on my knees asking God for abstinence and surrendering my life, will, and cancer. I have continued to sponsor and attend OA meetings, where I do service. I work the Steps daily. I ask God each day to show me how I can be helpful to someone. I call OA members and write a daily gratitude list. Every evening, I thank God for the precious day he has given me and for my abstinence. Essentially, I work my program like I have for the past ten years, except I have much more gratitude.

I’ve now been on chemotherapy since September 2017. (I have a choice: chemotherapy or hospice.) I’ve had to get used to being weighed constantly. I generally weigh around 130 pounds (59 kg). I was delighted to dip down to 124 (56 kg), but God knew better.

My life today is beautiful. I am so grateful for my family and friends, and I have multitudes of people praying for me. Every chemotherapy session is a pinochle party! I always have two family members or friends with me. I love to dance and took up square dancing eight years ago. My loving partner and I dance every week and have recently gone to two festivals. When I wear my wig (yes, I’ve lost all my hair), I look pretty normal and while I’m dancing, I feel pure joy.

I don’t know how many tomorrows I will have, so today is it. I pray that by God’s grace and the Twelve Steps, I will remain abstinent, in recovery, and filled with gratitude until it is time to say goodbye. Thank you for letting me share my recovery with you.

— Judy S., Glendale, Arizona USA

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