I was a perpetual dieter for more than half of my life. I am Terri O. from Waltham. I am a Food Addict /Compulsive Overeater, grateful to be in recovery. January 30th marked the miracle experience of 30-years of sustained abstinence, and release of 60 lbs. I grew up with the notions that Food was Love, Life, Soother. I ate my way through childhood into obese adolescence when I discovered dieting. And from then on, I was continually starting a diet, giving up a diet, looking for another diet, spending money on diets – and experiencing frustration and failure. My living at any present moment was usually discontented, and my head was in the future. I thought that if only I could just get to a perfect weight, my life would be perfect. But then, when I would control my eating with a diet, those feelings that I had usually pushed down with food, would surface, Life disappointed me again. And I would want relief, and so would eat compulsively again. And again. In my mind the cause was someone else’s fault. Whatever the fear or disappointment– it didn’t take much to send me back to the vending machine, fridge or pantry looking for relief in food.
By some “miracle,” I found the road “home” to safety in OA. I didn’t come to OA for a Spiritual Awakening! I didn’t know such a thing was even to be sought. I had used OA as a diet my first time around in 1979 – lost weight, gained it back, lived in relapse for another 11+ years. Then in 1991 on my desperate return to OA, I was told that the Twelve Steps distinguish OA from any of the other weight management options I’d tried. I was instructed to read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous slowly translating “alcoholic” as “compulsive overeater.” Making that vocabulary substitution revealed much that I could relate to. I could feel myself on Bill’s spiral downward, and, in the case studies of those who relapsed, see my own misguided thinking that someday soon I could eat the way I wanted to with no unwanted consequences.
The early pages of the Big Book talk about needing a “vital spiritual experience.”I thought I had this covered because I believed myself to be a woman of faith. But there it was on p. 27, “…while her religious convictions were very good…they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.” Then on page 43, I was really struck by the words, “The [compulsive overeater] at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first [bite]… neither she nor any other human being can provide such a defense. Her defense must come from a Higher Power.” This must mean that my relationship with food had to change, be given to God, be wrapped in God’s protection. That did not come easily but it did come through committing my food to my sponsor and following her suggestions to pray for help and imitate the example of “the OA winners.” That meant getting to work on the Twelve Steps. I joined an AWOL. And instead of serial dieting, I began “serial” systematic 12-step studies in AWOLs and the Big Book Step Study Process. And each time I worked through the 12 Steps, my friendship and partnership with God in my life became – and continues to become – more vital and rich. And with that spiritual vitality came more contentment and satisfaction in living, especially in my relationships, as abstinence became my way of being.
This program cannot be done alone! I need God. I need my sponsors. I need my OA Fellows. This axiom gleaned from the literature has guided me: FAITH IN GOD + MENTAL RE-EDUCATION = MODERN MIRACLE. Thank you All, for being part of my “miracle!”