Home Steps Step 10: Dirty Laundry

Step 10: Dirty Laundry

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I was in the launderette flicking through one of their magazines when I saw something I quite liked.

“This is just a secondhand magazine,” I thought. “It won’t matter if I rip this page out and take it home.”

I tore out the page discreetly, hoping no one would see. (The first sign of dishonest activity: secrecy!)

That evening as I reviewed my day, the magazine incident was on my mind. I didn’t have peace around my actions, but most important, I knew not to eat over it.

The next day, I spoke with my sponsor. She suggested I make amends by apologizing to the lady who works at the launderette and donating a few magazines.

I thought, “Really? Is that really necessary?” But sometimes I just need to shut up and show up when it comes to cleaning up my act. My pride and ego can be powerful persuaders against saying sorry.

So I pocketed my pride. I explained to the lady that I am a member of OA, a Twelve Step recovery program, which is helping me be well today. I explained that part of my ongoing recovery is to be honest and to clear up any mistakes I make as I go along. I told her what I’d done, apologized for my actions, and gave her the magazines. She looked at me quizzically but received my apology and the magazines with kindness. I immediately felt better.

About a week later, I was back in the launderette, and the same lady asked, “So, was your problem under-eating?”

I said, “No way, my problem was definitely compulsive overeating.”

Surprised, she replied, “I guessed you were an under-eater because you’re nice and thin.” Then she said, “I can’t overeat anymore—I had a gastric band put in. Now when I do, I’m sick!”

That was the beginning of a wonderful, heartfelt conversation. I told her what things were like for me, what happened when I found OA, and how life is today. We relayed stories of our food hell, and I listened to her difficulties with food. I recognized the heavy burden of shame and hopelessness she was carrying.

When my clothes dried, I popped home and picked up some OA pamphlets with my phone number written on them. I gave them to her, offered my help if she wanted it, and wished her a good day. I let go of any expectation that she might call me soon. (It had taken me eight months!)

This experience confirms for me the importance of staying abstinent and telling people I’m a compulsive overeater. Not only do I owe it to myself to follow my food plan, work the Steps, and be honest with who I am, but also I owe it to the still-suffering compulsive overeater.

I am so grateful to God and to OA, the people who planted a seed of hope in my head. Now I can be a seed planter and carry this wonderful message to all who need and want it.

— Sacha, UK

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