Hello, OA family, my name is Brenda from Waltham. I’m a Compulsive Overeater and Food Addict. I must always remember that I’m powerless over food. And today, I want to live in recovery. Thank you for asking me to share my experience, though I confess, fear and procrastination nearly prevented me from sharing with you all.

Today, I’m grateful to have a program of hope and recovery from my Compulsive Overeating. Today, I live with HOPE, where I work the program of recovery to the best of my ability, and with that, I get a daily reprieve from eating compulsively. Hope: such a powerful phrase that has made my life’s journey just that – a journey. It wasn’t always this way, living alongside HOPE and GRACE. My disease affected me in every capacity – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Physically, you could see the weight going up and down, though I couldn’t see this happening because I lived in denial. Mentally, food consumed my thoughts throughout the day, owning and controlling my every moment. I hid food in my pockets and when someone would come into the room, I would simply slip that food right under a paper towel. If food disappeared, I’d make up excuses and blame anyone else except myself. Spiritually, I was totally lost. I didn’t have a Higher Power in my life, and I firmly believed that my Higher Power had abandoned me. I was lost, with no anchor to ground me.

I tried controlling my weight with diets, diet clubs, counting calories, and exercise clubs. I always left these programs feeling terrible, and I was constantly comparing myself to others. I remember believing with all my being that if I was thin, then my life would be perfect, and I would be happy. Each day, when I stepped on that scale (in the morning before any food intake and clad only in my birthday suit, of course), that scale determined how my day would unfold. A slight decrease? Fantastic, I was moving along in life. A slight increase? My day was already a failure before it even began. I never stayed the same weight for long, and it wasn’t uncommon to gain 20 pounds in a month. Those moments where I gained that weight, I remember consuming volumes of food — anything to help me feel better. I went from sweet to sour to fresh to frozen, repeating the process until I felt sick. In these moments, as shame and anger consumed me, I would say over and over, I won’t eat like this again. I’ll start my diet tomorrow or Monday morning. But tomorrow or Monday morning never came.

One day, when I mustered the courage, I walked into an OA room in April 1997. That was a pivotal moment in my journey, though it was not the end of my journey. For you see, relapse came on oh-so-slowly and in such a subtle way. I had years under my belt, so of course I’d be aware of any signs that would popup along my path to self-destruction again. I convinced myself I could be a “normal” eater; I was in control; I was the mistress of my own destiny.

But I was not, and it took me years to humble myself enough to rejoin OA. I felt hopeless again with my out-of-control binging and eating, so I returned in October 2017. And at that meeting, I remember seeing a sign at the back of the room that read “hope”. I clung to that word. Hope is what encouraged me to start this program again. Hope is what allowed me to find peace and serenity in my mind with food. Hope helped to quiet the chattering going on between my ears.

Today I realize less is more. Today, I have a choice, and I choose not to have extra food. My mantra is, “it’s not my food, just for today.” Today, I’m not on any diets; today, I have a food plan; today I live in honesty, open mindedness, and willingness; thank you, God. Of course, a special thank you to the sponsor who has been there with me all these years. My journey is far from over, but as I take those next 12 Steps, and face life’s turns, I live in hope. Thank you, Brenda C.