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Shipwreck Survivor

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When I was growing up, I had a lot of emotions to deal with. I never learned good coping skills, so I handled situations by eating over them. I buried feelings that were too much for me. It was either eat or go crazy, so I ate.

I like to compare my experience with a shipwreck. At first, I went merrily along on my steamship. Then disaster struck. The ship was taking on water, and the bilge pumps were overloaded. The ship was going to sink! It was every person for him- or herself. Put on your life preservers!

During my time in the water, the life preserver kept me afloat and alive. It was my friend and comfort. Another ship came by, and I was grateful and relieved when plucked from my watery peril. Still attached to my bulky life preserver, I refused to take it off and tried to function in the normal world with it on.

My life preserver slowed me down. What once kept me alive now impeded my progress. There is a saying: When God closes a door, he opens a window. I found that God had closed the door and opened a window too small for me to get through while wearing my life preserver. I had to take it off, but by now the knots were too tight to untie. I needed help.

I found help from the same people who pulled me from the ocean. They untied the knots and listened while I told them about my fear of going through the open window. They were there for me when I disposed of my life preserver. I put my hand in theirs and climbed through the window into recovery.

When I was a newcomer, other members strongly suggested I attain abstinence; in other words, remove my life preserver. I was still too afraid to face life without eating compulsively, so I kept my life preserver on. As I started working the Steps, I attained a certain level of growth. I could see the only way to gain more recovery was to commit to the Twelve Steps and to abstain from compulsive overeating. Through the grace of God and the understanding of fellow OA members, I said goodbye to compulsive overeating and shed my life preserver.

I have been in OA for almost six years and have a 50-pound (23-kg) weight loss. My life is more exciting now. I can do more things and go more places without that cumbersome, old life preserver. I have to climb through a few God-opened windows, but it’s not frightening, especially with my OA friends for support.

— K.B., St. Paul, Minnesota USA

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