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Consequences and Magic

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I came into OA when I was 35, after realizing that I felt about food the way alcoholics feel about liquor. If I started eating, I didn’t stop until the food was gone. But I didn’t understand being powerless over food; I just wanted to lose weight and move on. You can’t die from food, I thought.

Well, I had a lot to learn. I have Crohn’s disease, and I’ve been hospitalized many times, like when I ate fruit and didn’t take time to spit out the pits. Another time I was hemorrhaging, but I asked to stop for a meal because I knew the hospital would only feed me intravenously. Most people with Crohn’s are afraid to eat when they are in pain, but not me. I would bleed and vomit in the bathroom and then finish my meal.

I started OA in a structured meeting format, but I did not see diet pills as a break in abstinence, so I followed the food plan, answered the questions, and took diet pills to stay clean. I did feel more spiritual, but I stayed clean for the vanity. Soon, I was back in the food, yet I never stopped going to meetings. In my heart, I knew that you work the program until the program starts working you.

I was shocked when other members started dying from this disease. Still, my addiction progressed. When one doctor hospitalized me on a floor for terminal patients, I made promises. For a week or two I stuck to a food plan, but then I stopped using any Tool except meetings. I prayed each day, but did not internalize a concept of my higher power. Spirituality came for five or ten minutes, but wanting to eat was stronger than any belief system.

A friend once said, “Consequences make an addict change.” For me, it was ending up on a respirator and hearing my son tell me how he felt watching his mother about to die.

I decided “action” was the magic word—the only way to make amends to my body was to get my food together. I was not perfectly clean in one day, but in September 2014, I went to a retreat where I got just the boost and support I needed to eat for physical, emotional, and spiritual health. At the end, when each person said to the next, “I put my hand in yours,” I felt I had come home.

I was afraid to sponsor, but it was a missing piece of my recovery. Each time I listened, it reminded me of the place I could be if I picked up the food. For the first time, I felt good about myself. Each morning I asked God to direct my thinking, to divorce it from self-pity, dishonesty, self-will, self-seeking, and fear. Throughout the day I asked, “Is this what HP would want me to do?”

I did not get what I asked for twenty-six years ago, but I got what I needed and wanted: a calm, peaceful life and a change inside of me. Now I say the Serenity Prayer and turn my will and life over to God as I understand him. God saw fit to keep me alive to enjoy this wonderful time in my life. I have forgiven myself, and I live each day so that each night I won’t have too much to write for my Tenth Step.

I had to live what I lived to internalize the program and be the person I am today, a child of God.

— Anonymous

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