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Root Wound

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From a very early age, food was my primary source of comfort, for bonding and coping with feelings. When I moved on to college, I discovered how euphoric it could be to shop and spend with a credit card. At a time when I was restricting and controlling my food, I was shopping and spending money more freely.

Once I began recovery in OA, I noticed that shopping was still a “safe” thrill for me—and if you want to hear something crazy, listen to this: I believed shopping helped burn calories and that it was okay to spend more since I was not eating compulsively. As they say, denial is a wonderful thing when used to avoid the truth.

Over time, I began to see that shopping was just another way of medicating, and even in recovery, it could lead to addictive behaviors. I began admitting it to my OA sponsor and sharing with a professional. They, along with some intense therapy, helped me realize that compulsive eating and compulsive spending spring from the same root: a wound deep within.

As I have added recovery in two other fellowships, I’ve deepened my recovery and my relationship with my HP. Yes, I still love pretty clothes and am a sucker for a sale, but what is different is that I have an accountability person with whom I check in about my spending, just like I have a food sponsor and a Step sponsor.

Today, just like with abstinent eating, I can enjoy a little shopping and stay within a reasonable amount. I also recognize that when spending becomes big and compulsive, it is a red flag that something inside is hurting and needs tending.

OA has opened the door to much healing in many areas of my life, one day at a time, with “willingness, honesty and open mindedness” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 568).

— Melissa H.

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