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Not So Ridiculous

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I’ve been recovering in Overeaters Anonymous for more than thirty five years. I came to OA as a teen, having been bulimic for several years and unable to be truthful with myself. I felt I was unable to survive on the structured plan of eating available in OA at the time, so I left. I returned in 1980, pitifully and incomprehensibly demoralized. I was at a healthy body weight, but only because I’d lost 38 pounds (17 kg) through extreme bulimia. I had recently remarried but was emotionally, physically, and spiritually devastated. My story scared me, and I was afraid to share it, but a young person next to me whispered that I could say anything I needed to say in that room. So I did. And I began the long, painful path of learning to recover and live the spiritual way of life in OA, one day at a time.

Today, I have thirty-two years of abstinence from bulimia and have maintained a 40-pound (18 kg) weight loss, but I had to begin at the beginning. I had totally given myself over to my illness and had never learned how to interact appropriately with people. I’ve hurt others and myself along the way but have slowly begun to assume responsibility for my thoughts, behaviors, and words. I’ve also experienced miracles, and with the loving help of my sponsor, I’ve made many amends.

Recently, I’ve been in a deep sorrow. My beloved pet passed, and I received a diagnosis of osteoporosis. I was grief stricken and and angry. After all, I hike, I do weight-bearing exercise, and I’ve taken medication for twenty years to prevent loss of bone mass. I plunged into self-pity and resentment and felt anger and depression.

I continued to share at meetings, though often quite tearfully. I continued to sponsor, read literature, and write daily to my sponsor, but nothing was easing my angst. I prayed, but mostly to ask for relief rather than acceptance.

One day while hiking at high elevation, I thought of slowing my pace to try and relieve my altitude dizziness. I took it down to what I considered a ridiculously slow pace and, lo and behold, my queasiness subsided. “Okay,” I thought, “keep going forward.” I joyfully watched the trail, listened to the wildlife and wind, and proceeded up another mile or two. On my way down the mountain, I had a thought: “What if God has given me the gift of osteoporosis to force me to take things slowly and be more cautious? What if better self-care is what I’ve been avoiding?” Immediately, my heart softened and my anguish began to ease. I had arrived at acceptance, “the answer to all my problems today,” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 417) as the Big Book reminds me.

My path toward a spiritual way of life has been a long one, and I’ve resisted it often. However, working the Twelve Steps, using the Tools, listening to others, and asking for help have brought me to a place of unquestioning faith in a Power greater than myself. I forget sometimes that I’ve taken Steps Three and Eleven, but I never forget that if I keep moving forward in my OA recovery, no matter how slow my pace, I will find a happy, joyous, and free way of life.

— Cathy L.

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