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Kindred Spirit

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When we met, I said that I knew there was a reason, and perhaps this is it. Perhaps we may suffer from the same horrible disease, compulsive overeating.

For most of my life, I didn’t know that, to me, food was an addiction. Certain foods are like heroin to me. It wasn’t until I went to a meeting that I understood: my compulsive eating is as devastating as any other addiction. It’s a terrible disease with no cure, but there is a solution.

Addiction is rampant in my family, and I learned early to quell my feelings with food. It was legal, easy, and it seemed to be of little concern. Decades passed before I was willing to admit how unmanageable my life was. Then it took years for me to start working the Twelve Steps.

I learned my overeating started in childhood as a way to deal with what was going on at home. But then I just kept doing it. I had no other tools. I could eat when I wanted, and no one stopped me. While I was young, I pretended I didn’t care that my body was fat and I needed special clothes. I buried myself in “helping everybody.” To the outside world, I looked like I was okay, but I was miserable and felt “less than.” I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t stop eating, despite later success in other areas of my life.

Fast forward through ten years of OA, tons of therapy, and finally, through the Twelve Steps: I started allowing myself to feel. I still felt miserable, but I saw how broken my family relationships were. And as I got older, my back, knees, and feet started to hurt from carrying almost 350 pounds (159 kg) all those years. I was tired all the time, and it was getting worse.

Then I did a yearlong Big Book study, and the Fourth Step work kicked my butt. I started to recover. Today, I am learning to take care of myself. I walk short distances and go a little farther every day. I meditate almost daily. I report my food daily. I do lots of stuff I never thought I’d do, but I do it because it works. And I am happy with myself for maybe the first time ever.

I write this because we are kindred spirits, and I see your suffering. Maybe, like me, the only tool you have in your life right now is to eat, and nobody taught you self-care. But I want to reach out to you and say this: You are important. We don’t want to lose you, or even have you out of the loop, because your love for others holds so much together.

I share this message from the Fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous with you because I know of no other starting place. If you can’t save yourself for you, then do it for me, for the organization you so tirelessly support, and all those who love you. We need you. We want you to stick around. And, we can love you until you learn to love yourself. That’s what Overeaters Anonymous is all about.

— Andrea F.

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