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Imperfect, Upward Climb

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The strength and hope that my Higher Power and Overeaters Anonymous give me are gifts greater than the physical changes I longed to see when I first came into the program. But I haven’t always known these tremendous gifts.

Like a hamster running on a wheel, my compulsive overeating, food and dieting obsessions, and bulimia kept me running from the all the good and bad in my life.

I started at age 4, when I had my first binge on a cereal that was rarely allowed in the house. At age 10, I told friends I couldn’t try out for gymnastics; I was afraid to be seen in a leotard. In middle school, I took diuretics and had competitions with friends to see who could eat the fewest calories.

I wasn’t fat as a child even though I believed I was, but things changed dramatically when I moved across the country and started high school. Alone and angry, I comforted myself the only way I knew how. I went from a petite 112 pounds (51 kg) on a 5-foot-2-inch (157-cm) frame to a hefty 160 pounds (73 kg) by the time I started college.

When admonished by my mother to lose weight or end up obese like her, I did as directed, ever the good little girl. I lost the weight using diet pills, but the gaining and losing cycle would repeat.

Fast-forward thirteen years. Now a lifetime achiever in a nationally acclaimed diet club, I had shed 20 pounds (9 kg). Obsessed with diet mentality, I binged and purged to stay on the weight loss program.

After a binge and purge that lasted overnight, I forced myself to an OA meeting on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2008. Emotions silently spilled down my cheeks, and the food fog hung so heavy in my brain that I barely understood what others shared. What did pierce my cloudy thinking was how others struggled with food; it was as if someone read my thoughts out loud. No longer was I alone in my disease.

One woman had the recovery I desperately wanted. I asked her to sponsor me, and I reluctantly began reading program literature. Within ninety days, I was abstinent from bingeing and purging. Two months later I gave up refined sugar. I attended meetings, worked the Steps, made phone calls, and tried to accept my disease at face value. All this led to growing recovery.

My path to recovery has been an upward climb of personal growth. It’s less than perfect, but perfectionism never got me anywhere good, so instead I strive for daily progress. I don’t have to be perfect to have recovery.

I take great joy in the unexpected gifts of OA: a profound, new understanding of my Higher Power; a growing ability to accept myself as I am; the improving skill of living life on life’s terms; and recognition that others who treat me badly are, like me, sick and trying to get well.

That’s what I received. What I gave away are things like resentment, pride, and fear.

Today, I don’t have to know all the answers or be in control. I trust that to a power greater than myself who is restoring me to sanity.

— R.S.

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