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Turning to the Tools

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When being judged negatively for belonging to OA, I have experienced the same emotions that I used to reactively eat over. But using the Tools of the program has helped me stay in the solution. Reading Conference-approved literature, writing, telephoning a sponsor and other members, receiving phone calls from sponsees, attending meetings, doing service, and having an action plan has helped remind me of recovery and allowed me to avoid damaging myself with compulsive overeating. With some time to distance myself from the emotional sting of being judged for belonging to OA, it has been possible to gain perspective on situations and learn more about myself, God, and other people.

When people question me for weighing and measuring food and use a tone of criticism, disbelief, or pity, the emotional charge is quite different from what I feel when people ask me questions with openness, curiosity, light-heartedness, and willingness to be helpful. Facing subtle criticism about weighing and measuring food is something for which I pray for Higher Power’s help so that I can learn about acceptance, peace, and doing what I can to care for myself as God wills. Learning to practice acceptance—of myself, the disease of compulsive overeating, and the OA solution—with those who accept my recovery, as well as those who don’t, is necessary. Facing and accepting the pain of judgments from others spurs me on to learn to interact more skillfully with people in my work and to carefully chose whom to engage with socially to support my recovery. Accepting what I cannot change and changing what I can socially is one of the miracles of emotional and spiritual growth in OA.

Facing criticism in recovery has also prompted me to gain clarity about OA and recovery from compulsive overeating. Though my brother has mockingly called Overeaters Anonymous my “food religion,” he couldn’t be further from the truth. Prior to recovery in OA was when food was my religion. I isolated myself socially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to access my binge foods frequently and repeatedly. I used food to alter my emotions and check out of facing reality. I was so numb to emotions that I didn’t recognize them in myself.

Following the OA-HOW two-hour structured meeting format entails using a healthy plan of eating that is given to me by a registered dietitian who is familiar with my health, activity level, height, and gender and includes weighed-and measured meals free from my red-light trigger foods. Committing a healthy plan of eating daily to a sponsor allows me freedom from the repetitive, downward cycle of worsening physical, emotional, and spiritual health that goes hand in-hand with the disease of compulsive overeating. This allows time and space for Step and Tradition study and improved conscious contact with HP. It’s taken me years of recovery, Step work, and emotional and spiritual growth to notice intimately, understand, and accept my brother’s misconceptions, without judging me or him. He doesn’t know what I didn’t know consciously before recovery. Although my actions of caring for my healthy eating to the best of my ability may look to him like I’m adoring food, it’s actually just a practical means to put food in a place so it nurtures me physically— that’s all.

In all fairness to him, I hid my eating prior to recovery. I binged alone, in secret, most of the time. While he saw the results and said I could be “the poster child for the Save the Beached Whales Foundation,” he rarely, if ever, witnessed my actual binges.

Higher Power loves us both as we are and wishes the best for both of us. For me, that means OA recovery and emotional and physical distance from my brother so I can continue to live and grow with Higher Power as outlined in our program of recovery.

When my dad once said incredulously, “You’re going to weigh mustard?!” I replied simply, “Yes.” I’m glad for that. I was mad about his comment and wondered silently to myself, “Does he remember how fat and miserable I was before recovery? Does he know how recovery with a dear loving Higher Power in the OA Fellowship has healed, transformed, and nurtured me physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Will he ever get it?”

Using OA Tools when experiencing frustration, sadness, disappointment, and disbelief helped me stay in recovery when this occurred. Now, years after hearing that comment from him, I can smile and say, “I don’t know if he’ll ever get it. I only know I am blessed to understand HP’s love and the physical, emotional, and spiritual miracles of recovery a bit at a time, one day at a time. And this is enough.” Thank you, HP and OA.

— Alyson

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