“I never have to be alone again . . .”

It was June 1989: I was powerless over food and my life was unmanageable. I had just lost forty pounds (18 kg) again and quickly gained ten pounds (5 kg) back. I was on my way up the scale and full of anger and rage. I felt totally helpless, hopeless, desperate, and alone. My highest weight was around 213 pounds (97 kg), and I thought my problem was a moral issue: I was the only one who ate like this. I was a glutton. I was a “foodaholic.”

On June 16, 1989, I attended my first OA meeting and for the first time ever felt at home. I belonged; I was “a part of”! I heard, saw, and felt the strength, hope, and recovery that this wondrous program offers. I listened to people who used to do what I did with the food, but they’d found a solution. I was no longer alone!

I did not get abstinent initially, but I started recovering that day and kept coming back. I did not get a sponsor right away, but I kept coming back. I went to three or more meetings a week. Meetings were the only times I felt at peace, so why wouldn’t I keep coming back? But since I’m also a loner (as a military brat, I moved locations every three years and learned never to trust or let anyone inside me), I remained apart and distant.

After six weeks, I finally got a sponsor, someone who would give me the discipline and flexibility I needed, guide me through the program, and love me until I could love myself. Because of her, I learned I could not remain a loner in this program. I had to learn to trust and be willing to be part of the OA family to recover. This was my first introduction to being an active piece of the OA puzzle.

I’ve learned many things through my years in program. I slowly realized that one of my assets, my piece of the puzzle, is my ability to appreciate and gently welcome newcomers who might not want hugs or who want to be left alone. I can also lovingly and gently welcome people who are returning. This role is simple: I say, “Welcome back. I’ve missed you,” and remind them to keep coming back.

There is no one way to work this program and no one way to recover. Because of the Steps and certain mentors, I have learned that I am enough, the way I work my program is just right for me, and I always have an opportunity to help someone else recover. I am no longer a loner, nor do I want to be.

Today I am grateful to be a piece of the OA puzzle, sharing and giving to all who share my compulsion.

— Tina C.

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