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New Presence

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Just a month before my fifth OA anniversary, my father suffered a massive heart attack and was placed on life support. By the end of the day, there was little hope for Dad’s recovery, but some family members were not ready to accept that truth. If ever there was an excuse for this compulsive eater to dive into the food, this was it! But almost five years of abstinence taught me that I am a recovering compulsive eater and as a result of working the Steps, I had what I needed to keep on recovering no matter what happened in my life.

Almost instinctively, the Tools took over, and I used the new skills I’d developed to care for myself while dealing with difficulties. I chose to eat according to my food plan, regardless of how many sweets and fatty foods well-meaning people brought to the waiting room. I had OA friends and my sponsor to call. I followed an action plan to eat at regular meal times, get away for short periods of quiet, and take short walks around the hospital. Even when I was in the ICU room with Dad, I took time for prayer and journaling.

During one of those early-morning prayer times, I was overwhelmed with some of the deepest emotion I have ever experienced. Not wanting to wake my sister, I rushed out of the room and down the hall to the hospital chapel, where I sat down on the floor and began to sob. Was this grief? Of course it was! One of the most cherished people in my life was dying.

As the sobs began to subside, I realized I was also feeling something more—gratitude, and maybe even joy. Since I wasn’t stuffing my feelings with food, I was able to be present both with my feelings and with my grieving family. I was able to express what I needed and welcome the gifts of love, presence, and help that good friends and family came to offer. I was able to listen to what the doctors were actually saying and guide my family through the difficult decisions. Most of all, because I was abstinent, I could thank my Higher Power for Dad’s life as it was lived, with all the good and not-so-good parts, and celebrate what we’d shared together.

All I wanted when I walked through the doors of OA six years ago was to find my way out of the food and into a healthy body weight. I certainly experienced those miracles, but the real gifts of working the Steps are so much deeper, richer, and fuller than I ever imagined. The transformation that began on my outside has reached all the way into my spirit, and every day I become more and more who I was always meant to be.

I thank my Higher Power for the program of Overeaters Anonymous and the life I am living because of it.

— Lisa P., Townsend, Tennessee USA

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