When a fellow OA member suggested I reflect on what true freedom looks like for me, I discovered I could probably write a book. Before OA, I truly felt I already had it in the form of a solid career, a warm and loving home, the freedom of living where I lived, and more. Even today, I cannot dispute anything on my long list. After nearly a decade of learning through the Twelve Steps of OA, however, I now recognize what I had was freedom, but it was not necessarily true freedom.

Today, true freedom, for me, can be summed up in three words: peace of mind. You see, I never had peace of mind while I was enjoying my career, home, and family; I was deeply tormented. Physically, I was overweight and progressing toward type 2 diabetes. Emotionally, I was losing my self-esteem and self-respect. I was spending far too much time obsessing about food, while trying in vain to convince myself of everything from “I got this” to “who cares,” depending on the day. And I was under the illusion that I should try to control everything and everyone around me. (It’s hard for me to write that without smiling at my naiveté.) Spiritually, I was somewhere between numb and confused at best. That freedom was a far cry from my true freedom.

Today, I have peace of mind that represents my true freedom. Aside from my original list (minus the career since I’m now happily retired), the picture has changed beyond my wildest dreams! Physically, I have shed pounds and am at a weight that I’m comfortable with. The mirror is now a convenience and not a spotlight for my flaws. I’ve kept only one clothing size in my closet for the past several years. My health has never been better, and two years ago, my doctor said my blood test results were as healthy as an adolescent’s. Emotionally, I have a healthy self-esteem. (I’m no better or worse than the next person—who knew!) I have a ton of self-respect because I accept who I am, warts and all. I’ve gone from the roller coaster of denial and defiance to knowing I’m a compulsive overeater who has found sweet recovery one day at a time. I accept that I will never again have the luxury of thinking, “I got this,” but that’s okay because I have the Twelve Steps to guide me. Spiritually, I have a Higher Power of my own understanding that I lean on daily in all things. Where there was confusion, I now have faith, so I don’t need more clarity to proceed. I have come to a place where I can ask for and receive guidance, and if I allow it, faith will trump fear every single time!

True freedom has come in more ways than I ever thought possible: going to sleep without thinking of food; enjoying a TV show or road trip without obsessing about snacks; enjoying a holiday without the pre-holiday fears or post-holiday remorse about eating; being able to live and let live, especially with family and friends; being able to set healthy boundaries; being able to recognize when I need to apologize and say I’m sorry; accepting that I will always be a work in progress and that life is about good days and bad days—it’s not an all or nothing journey. True freedom is a beautiful thing!

— Joyce R., Canada

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