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Leap of Faith

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Having come to OA weighing 330 pounds (150 kg) at age 38, I just wanted to look normal and be thin. When I finally plunged into the program after watching from the sidelines for six months, I chose a sponsor who had a large weight loss, which was what I wanted. We focused on a daily schedule, a workable food plan, weight loss, and thirty days of writings.

It worked! I was on that pink cloud and thought I’d found my answer. When it came to avoiding my binge foods, however, I white-knuckled and was anything but “happy, joyous, and free” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 133). I couldn’t understand where I was going wrong, so I traded compulsions and focused on buying smaller and smaller clothes.

My introduction to the world of “normal” people was bittersweet. I was impatient to find who I was, where I fit in, how much I could accomplish, and how to survive in this alien world where I looked fine on the outside but wasn’t on the inside. The normal people may have thought I was one of them, but I knew better, and that created enormous stress.

Rarely would I work the Steps or read the Big Book, despite being told by longtimers that I’d find the answers there. It was easier to push real change aside and act as if. Daily meditation books, self-help books, and the Tools seemed more relevant; I felt like I had a lot of time, so I could get to emotional and spiritual recovery as needed. But the result of my self-styled abstinence with a focus on weight loss was ending up in relapse.

After five years and serious weight gain, I’d truly lost my spirit and could feel nothing other than profound sadness. I believe now that I was grieving a deeper loss—the connection I’d felt with my Fellowship. After months of antidepressants, my psychiatrist gave me a new prescription: return to OA. I was angry with her, at first, but now believe my Higher Power sent her.

My program resumed with a different focus: I was introduced to the OA-HOW structured meeting format. I had to change my food plan and commit to actively working the Steps. I sought sponsors who would guide me through the changes I now found essential if I was to live sanely. By eliminating certain foods I’d depended on in my previous food plan, I was pleased to find my cravings went away. That leap of faith restored my belief in a God-given message: just surrender and be happy, joyous, and free.

My current program is based on that sacred surrender. I’m willing to be of greater service and to be more honest. There’s a depth of faith that keeps bubbling up: I no longer feel stuck or limited in what I want to explore about myself, and for the first time, I pray to be able to forgive and be on equal footing with everyone.

I’m now at a healthy weight, but I will always be a food addict, so I must remain vigilant. If I surrender my drug of choice, open my arms, and pray, I will keep that conscious contact with God and the promises of the program will be mine. These are the absolutes that hopefully will never change as long as I do my 1 percent. I want to know this loving person who went undercover so many years ago. I’m on a wondrous journey in a new direction.

— Joan T., Manahawkin, New Jersey USA

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