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All I’ve Ever Wanted

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I have been maintaining an abstinent weight of 125 pounds (57 kg) since September 2015.

My early life was what I’d call a perfect breeding ground for addiction: I grew up in an alcoholic home full of insanity, loud arguments that got my heart pounding, shame, abandonment, and no talk of a Higher Power at all. I remained hyper vigilant, turning into my own little God of my life, always needing to be in control to feel safe.

Fast-forward to puberty, when looks were what made you or broke you among your peers. I believed if I achieved an “A” in the categories of appearance, body, hair, clothes, and makeup, then I would be worth loving—and to live without love was to die. So started my addiction to perfectionism. I created impossible standards for myself, looking entirely to others for approval and to tell me who I really was that day.

Food had always been a comfort for me, and I was often praised for cleaning my plate yet staying rail-thin. But things changed in high school. With the pressures of perfectionism mounting and an ever-increasing level of insanity at home, food became a comfort more than ever, and the days of remaining rail-thin were over. I began to put on weight at age 14 and went from a size 2 to a size 8 in three months. My friends didn’t seem to have this problem. They continued to eat as I did, but they didn’t gain weight. I could not accept this for a very long time and continued to eat, eat, eat.

I was teased for being the fat, funny friend, and this drove me to begin overexercising and abusing diet pills. I became skinny again, but I was miserable and highly irritable all the time, constantly withdrawing from amphetamine-based diet pills. This cycle of insanity continued for many years, well into my early 30s. I’d gain weight, then restrict my eating, abuse diet pills, lose weight, and become miserable and insane. Then I would eat to feel better and restart the cycle again. It was total madness, year after year!

No matter which side of my addiction was presently active—the overeater who secretly and shamefully binged, or the prideful under-eater who ate like a bird and exercised to stay fit—I was obsessed with food: when I was going to get it, how I was going to hide it, and what I was going to do to restrict at the next meal or exercise to burn it off. I am 5 feet 5 inches (165 cm) tall, and during these cycles, my weight fluctuated 27 pounds (12 kg) with a restricting weight of 119 pounds (54 kg) and a top weight of 146 pounds (66 kg). This may not seem like a lot of physical weight, but the mental insanity weighed about one thousand pounds!

One day as I was driving to work, I was in my head and obsessing about what physical endeavor I would try next to achieve the perfect body that I knew I had in me. Then, from the depths of my compounded twenty years of insanity, a light switch turned on and a calmness came over me. I realized I was insane, that my life was unmanageable, and that I was totally, 100 percent powerless to change and stop these thoughts, actions, and obsessions with food, my body, and exercise. My brain was like a hamster running on a wheel—eventually, the wheel was spinning too fast for the hamster to keep up. My mind was out of control, and my spirit was so heavy and ill. As the curve of the freeway turned, I prayed in earnest. I asked God, “What do I do? Where do I go?”

God immediately answered as if he had been waiting in the wings, ready to assist me my whole life. He said, “Go home.” Coming from a dysfunctional home, I did not like his answer! But he then guided me to look up a meeting in my area. Familiar with Twelve Step meetings from another program, I trusted his guidance. I found the Overeaters Anonymous homepage, and when I clicked the link, the opening line was, “Welcome Home!” My body filled with chills, and I understood what “home” God had been directing me to.

So began my journey in OA. I threw myself hard into the work, wanting that spiritual awakening, the result of working the Steps to the best of my ability, and boy did it come! The obsession for food was lifted, and what replaced it was a real life worth living.

Slowly but surely, as I worked the Steps and used the Tools of the program, I found that anything that ailed me could be helped tremendously, or even removed completely. Each time God helped me, I grew closer to him and  trusted him more. And the more I trusted him and leaned on him, the more he revealed himself to me and worked through me to make my life useful each day. I learned I had been trying to fill a hole in my soul with perfectionism and food, but this hole was God-sized; nothing would fill it—except my Higher Power.

Today, perhaps the most important thing I do is remain abstinent so the connection between my Higher Power and myself is as clear as possible in that day and that moment. Each day I take a moment to know God better than I did yesterday. It could happen in the form of using any Tool of recovery or just by simply pausing and turning my focus to any one of the program’s spiritual Principles. This shift of focus allows me to be released of the bondage of self just long enough to become humble, and humility is the path that enables God to come into me and fill that God-sized hole. When this happens, I feel safe, guided, cared for, and loved. I feel alive.  And this is all I’ve ever wanted since the very beginning of my life. Thank you, OA. Amen.

— Anonymous

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