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Connecting to Hope and Help

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I’ve always been a loner, happy in my own company, where I write, create, talk to myself, and can completely be myself with no mask, no pretenses, and no judgement. I had been a misfit throughout my life, always extremely self-conscious around other people. In the company of others, I would feel an element of forced politeness and false cheerfulness; afterwards, I’d feel drained and need to recover.

For many years, I’d chosen food over friendships, preferring to stay at home in safety with the only thing I could be myself with—food. I began using food to avoid most situations, and just before coming to OA, I was avoiding life completely in order to eat and eat and eat. I preferred intimacy with food over intimacy with my husband, and I couldn’t socialize because it meant being away from food for too long. My closest friends were at work. They knew about my long-term issues with food, but even with them, I couldn’t commit fully to a friendship. I didn’t have anything to give.

I avoided OA for some time for a few reasons, one of which was fear of being around other people. This filled me with dread and anxiety. Eventually, my desperation led me through the doors, and I faced my fears. I weighed 21 stone 8 pounds (137 kg, 302 lbs) and was considering weight-loss surgery.

I felt extremely self-conscious at my first few meetings, but I heard stories of hope and transformation that brought me back. My self-esteem was very low, and I didn’t believe this program would work for me, even though I could see it clearly had worked for others. However, once I found my sponsor and began working the Steps, a transformation began to take place. I practice the Tools daily and work hard at the Steps, and despite my belief that I could not become abstinent, I did. I am now seventy-three days abstinent and I’ve released 2 stone (13 kg, 28 lbs) in weight so far. I still feel self-conscious at meetings but I’m learning the value of reaching out and not isolating with food.

I’ve heard it said that connection is the opposite of addiction. I know that, although I enjoy being alone, there comes a point when solitude changes; instead of me taking time for me, it becomes my disease isolating me. It’s easy for my disease to keep me away from other people because it’s within my comfort zone to isolate, but with the help of other members, I’m slowly poking my head out from under my fragile shell.

Connecting with others has given me both hope and help. Hope comes as I listen to the shared experiences of others: their transformations from compulsive eaters to peaceful, self-accepting people with physical, spiritual, and emotional recovery. Help is here because of the shared honesty in meetings, as members talk openly about their feelings, their pain, their joy, and their journeys with food. And finally, I know I’m no longer alone.

— Sian T

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