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I am just coming back from a bingeing relapse that started with me eating two pints of ice cream as an appetizer.

I went out searching for a 24-hour grocery store at 4 o’clock in the morning on Christmas Eve to buy ice cream. I ended up at a gas station in an area so crime-ridden that there was an armed policeman and the convenience store attendants protected themselves behind bulletproof glass. This is an area I would not traverse in the daytime, and I have a wonderful family, yet here I was in the throes of my disease, willing to risk my life to get my fix.

The binge eating went on for three painful months. I gained back 42 pounds (19 kg) of the 130 pounds (59 kg) I’d lost, and my biggest weight gain was in the last six or seven weeks of the binge. This all happened after eighteen years in program and following a six-year abstinence.

Many people asked me how it happened. I was in a terribly painful life crisis, but I’d been in crises before. This time, I think the key was I’d stopped doing a Tenth Step on a daily basis. Instead of dealing with the crisis situation, I pushed my feelings down when I couldn’t bear to face them. This lack of honesty led to my picking up. I also think that part of me had forgotten how deadly the food can be. I’d forgotten that as my recovery gets stronger, my disease is doing push-ups on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, during the time I was bingeing, I prayed. I read. I went to meetings. I made phone calls, and I stood up at meetings and asked for phone calls. But there was one key thing I did not do—I did not remember that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. My sponsor continued to stick by me. She’d been a witness to my recovery in the past, and she gave me hope when my hope was faltering. She knew I could come back.

Finally, with enough praying, I got an answer. It was not that I wasn’t using the Tools, it was that I wasn’t willing to use them at the times I wanted to pick up. I would only call someone after the binge. It was that simple.

I finally told my sponsor that, if I did not have the willingness to call someone when I was going to eat, she should drop me. At those times, I realized, I did not fulfill the basic requirement of wanting to stop eating compulsively.

It was very hard to get back. It was hard to face the weight gain after I finally got on the scale. The physical cravings were overwhelming, but I prayed, and G-d helped me once again do what I could not do for myself.

Then I took on a much-needed service of helping people if they need a sponsor. So far, I have over sixty people on my spreadsheet from many types of OA meetings. This service enables me to call sponsors and others who are strong in program and to help others who are struggling or who just need a sponsor. I make phone calls like never before. This service helps me keep what I have. I wish you abstinence and the ability to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.

— Elise N., Passaic, New Jersey USA

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