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Made Possible

5 min read

In times of fear and doubt, I can remember to ground myself in the fact of my abstinence. It’s simple: Before OA and the aid of a Power greater than myself, I could not live without compulsive overeating, exercise bulimia, and body image obsession. Now, one day at a time, I can.

Starting in eighth grade, my eating disorder took over my life. No matter what I tried, I could find no relief on my own. My disease followed me everywhere. I tried all sorts of crazy diets and exercise regimes. I even tried moving to South America. No matter where I went or what I did, I always ended up eating around the clock, hating myself for it, and exercising for hours on end to try to burn off the ever-accumulating feelings of guilt and shame. Because I had abused exercise, my body was in a constant state of exhaustion and injury. And because of my overeating, I was always bloated to the point of pain and discomfort. I’d lost the ability to taste or savor food, and I felt embarrassed eating around others because of how much and how quickly I ate.

I’m 21 now, and it’s been a little over a year since my first OA meeting. I’ve been abstinent seven months and have a wonderful sponsor and home group. I don’t have to feel shamed by my disease anymore, because I have met loving, joyful people who are also compulsive overeaters! For the first time, I’m beginning to believe that I deserve to treat myself with gentleness. In some moments, I feel new things like peace, love, trust, or serenity. There are also lots of difficult emotions like fear, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and despair that I had ignored, denied, and covered up with food and exercise during all the formative years of my adolescence.

Now, I’m learning to feel and navigate all those feelings, and it’s not easy. Sometimes, I feel like I’m in the middle of an emotional “flash flood,” overwhelmed for hours or days by a feeling I had spent many years stuffing away. During times like these, I can turn to the Tools of the program and my Higher Power and realize 1) I’m not the only person to feel the way I do and 2) I am understood, accepted, and loved no matter what.

I’ve been given so much support and fellowship in OA, which has made it possible for me to do what was impossible before: to live free from overeating and overexercising for one day. Each day, my abstinence is my evidence of a Power greater than myself who loves me, cares about me, and is there to help.

— Sterling

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