Liana H. from Bedford, MA
When I introduce myself at an OA meeting, I identify myself as a compulsive overeater and a food addict. A food addict is what I am and compulsive overeating is what I’ve done. I’ve been 200 pounds and I’ve been 100 pounds. At my heaviest, I suffered from such indignities as bleeding inner thigh chafing, the arms of chairs sticking to my wide hips when I stood up and being called ‘Fat” both to my face and behind my back.
I’ve been dieting since I was 11 years old. I tried every way possible to control my weight as a binger – joining every diet club, following diets from doctors, and taking diet pills. I’ve also swung the other way into anorexia and bulimia – vomiting to get rid of the food, not eating solids, only taking in fluids, abusing laxatives, and restricting every morsel that went into my mouth to the point of starvation.
But my greatest enemy has been my Ego. You know what Ego does, right? “It Edges God Out” Ego is what brought me into OA in 1993 and Ego is what took me out in 2008 15 years later. And Ego is what kept me out there in a relapse, unable to string days of abstinence together, for 13 years until I crawled back through these doors in 2021. I was suicidal, full of rage, addicted to caffeine, sugar, and flour, and slowly losing the love and respect of everyone around me.
When I came to OA in 1993, it was for vanity, I was getting married and I needed to get into the wedding dress. It was that simple.
I got abstinent, lived through the withdrawal, and began to work on the tools and the steps. I stuck around when I heard other people speak about the things they did with food. The things that I thought I was the only one doing. What kept me here was seeing this program in action, hearing stories of lives that turned around because people followed this simple program – losing excess weight and then becoming calm, sane, and happy. Plus, they all stayed the same size year after year.
For many years in the program, I did well, but the disease crept back in and my ego took over. I made others my God instead of truly developing a relationship with and relying upon my OWN Higher Power. Then the focus shifted to me thinking I had all the answers. I became prideful and full of shame at the same time. Slowly, I stopped being rigorously honest and lost all sense of balance.
At that critical turning point, I left OA. I was too thin because I’d started starving myself, weighing just over 100 pounds. My disease convinced me that I could do this on my own. I stopped reaching out to others. I stopped going to meetings. I stopped reading the literature. Within six months, I’d eaten myself to 50 pounds heavier and begged a personal trainer at a gym to help me get the weight off. What I didn’t know at that time was that taking the weight off wasn’t going to cure me.
After 13 years of yo-yo dieting, bad decisions, alcoholism, and egomania with an inferiority complex, I crawled back through the doors of OA. I knew that if I was going to work through this, I needed something bigger than me to help me. I searched the OA website for meetings and my FB friends in the program shared meeting lists, encouraging me to attend.
I found my way to a tiny meeting in a virtual intergroup that was out of Canada. I heard the 12 steps. I saw smiling faces. I was welcomed – “Welcome Home!” they said. And I knew in that moment – I never EVER wanted to eat again. I knew there were no more excuses – I was either willing to do whatever it took to get better or I wasn’t. And so, the work began.
I started working on my tools, starting with a plan of action. I had to step back and look at all the places the food lived- in my car, on the couch as a binger in front of the TV, shoving handfuls of food in my mouth as I walked by the snacks in the kitchen. How would I now fill those spaces with program instead. With a structured plan of eating, phone calls, meetings, literature, service, and God. My God-I wanted recovery not just abstinence. I didn’t want to be a dry drunk. I knew I needed supernatural power.
I began studying the 12 Steps and saw things I’ve never seen before in ways I never saw them. It helps me understand how my disease works as well as have empathy for others with my disease. I have a long way to go, but for me, the foundation is not eating or drinking one day at a time. Only then can I begin to hear God – through the pages of the AA and OA literature, from your shares, through my sponsor’s wisdom, and in the quiet time I take each morning.
I have a very full life today where I seek God’s help daily in order to find balance. I am grateful for the peace and serenity that comes from not needing to be in control of everything. I have freedom from the grips of my disease. I have food and body neutrality. THIS is what my recovery is giving me one day at a time with the help of my Higher Power and the support of my fellows. And I am very, very grateful.