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All the Good Things

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Before OA, I was not the person I wanted to be. I wanted to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend, a good girlfriend, and a good worker, but I was unable to be any of those.

I blotted out feelings of shame by focusing on food and weight. “If I can just get to my goal weight,” I’d imagine, “everything else will work out.” Little did I know that by focusing on food and weight, I was blocking out 1) feelings that could have guided me, 2) recognition that it was me that had to change, and 3) guidance from a Higher Power.

Once, when I was fairly new in Overeaters Anonymous and living in New York City, I was cycling home from a farmer’s market and said, “If there is a Higher Power, here’s a chance for it to show itself because I know I’m going to binge when I get home.” I got home and, miraculously, all thoughts of bingeing had left.

That didn’t last for long, though. I continued to binge on and off for two years. Then I was mugged and raped in the lobby of my building while returning with bags of binge foods. I had to spray roach killer on the foods; otherwise, I still would have binged. Though it was in no way my fault that I was assaulted, this incident got my attention. I never binged on sugar again.

Four years into OA, however, a dearly loved boyfriend broke up with me, and I was unable to stay abstinent. I started overeating healthy foods. I was at goal weight at the time, and that’s when I recognized, for me, it was not about weight. Even one bite off my food plan made me feel dizzy, disoriented, and unable to feel, think, or function.

I knew I could not survive in New York if I continued to overeat, so every day I wrote on my food plan, “Just for today, I will know and call before the first compulsive bite.” It was very important to know what the first compulsive bite would be so I would not slide back into the food. I wore tape over my mouth to avoid tasting while preparing food, and I even worked for a year as a cook without ever tasting the food—I had others do it for me. With solid abstinence, I was able to go back to school and get a PhD, and now I work at a university, teaching and doing the research I love.

I am a good daughter to my aging mother, a good sister to my two brothers, a good friend, and a good colleague. I am happy every day—no more anxiety or depression. I love running, swimming, biking, and walking my dog. I practice mindfulness meditation every day, take daily inventory, and I am sponsored and I sponsor. I do not have a boyfriend, but I’ve had several good (and several not-sogood) relationships while abstinent. After thirty-five years of abstinence, I could not be happier. Thank you, OA!

— Jenny

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