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How OA Changed My Life
Reprinted from Lifeline Magazine, August 1998. © 1998 by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.

I can't believe it has been four years since I walked into my first OA meeting. That was the beginning of a new life for me. I had seen listings for OA meetings and had even called the phone number to find out about OA, but I was too ill to go to a meeting.

I have a disease that is crippling—mentally, physically and spiritually. It is a progressive disease that gets more debilitating if untreated. It is the disease of compulsive overeating.

I have a husband, two small children, a home, a job and a loving family. I was told I "should" be happy. Yet, I was miserable. When I came into OA, I hated my husband, my kids, my life, my body, myself. I only loved food. My eating was out of control, and eating sweets and getting high were the only things that I enjoyed.

I thought I was the center of the universe, and often I thought I was better than other people. At the same time, I feared that I was not good enough.

I never dared to take a stand or offer my opinions. I often had no opinion or didn't know what it was. I had a tremendous need to be recognized, admired, approved of. I expected everyone to notice little old me, and when they didn't, I was disappointed, sad, lonely and angry. And I ate it. I didn't let people get to know me for fear that they would find out who I really was and would not like me. I held resentments against people and allowed people to live rent free in my head. I didn't realize how harmful these resentments were to me.

I had just attended my 20th high-school reunion, embarrassed that I was heavier than I wanted to be. My excess weight constantly fluctuated between 20 and 35 pounds. I had clothes in sizes 10 to 16. I was uncomfortable and unhappy.

God brought me to these OA rooms in July 1990. I heard people talking about feelings, and I was moved by it. I vowed to myself that night that I would stop eating junk. But the next day we had friends visit who brought a huge dessert that was one of my favorites. What to do?

A power greater than myself led me to dial the OA phone number that I had copied down the night before, and I reached out for help. A human angel answered my plea and asked me, "What are you going to do?" I had a choice! Someone out there cared about me. There was help!

I began to go to three meetings a week, listening to what people were saying, doing what they said to do. Keep coming back. Get a sponsor. Call in your food. Stay abstinent. Make three phone calls a day. Take action. Read the literature. Do it just for today, one day at a time. Act as if. Turn it over. Love yourself. My sponsor was so patient. I called her sometimes two or three times a day, and she listened and laughed and loved me like a gentle mother.

I have learned so much from OA. Miraculous changes have taken place in my life. The weight came off. I was relieved of eating certain foods that I thought I could never live without. Other unhealthy habits fell away.

I began to FEEL! I never realized that by sedating my sadness and anger with sweets, I had robbed myself of feeling the joy and pleasure of being alive! I began to see more clearly, which I couldn't do when I was caught up in the frenzy of what I would eat next, where I would buy it and where I would hide the wrapper. The fog was lifted!

Relationships changed. I began to open up to my husband and others. I became less afraid. As I stayed abstinent, worked the Steps and trusted God, my self-esteem started to grow. As people in meetings loved and accepted me, I slowly accepted myself as a valid person with valid opinions. I found moments of serenity and periods of moderation. I stopped raging at my kids, found I adored my husband and children, and even my coworkers. My recovery benefits everyone I come in contact with.

I have learned that abstinence is the most important thing in my life - abstinence from food, thoughts and actions that hurt me. I have learned that change is necessary, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional - a feeling has a beginning and an end. I have learned to take action. I have learned to ask for what I want and I will get what I need. I have learned to take responsibility for my actions and to realize that there are no victims, only volunteers. I am responsible for my own happiness, and I am not responsible for the rest of the world.

I love knowing that God has a plan for me and that I am powerless. I don't have to seek the approval of everyone in the world; I only have to please God and myself. I am so grateful for the friends I've made in OA, for my sponsors and sponsorees and for my Higher Power. I adore OA.

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Hear OA members talk about their struggles and their recovery through OA. Click on the link below to visit www.oa.org and to listen to a 15-minute excerpt from an interview that aired in 2002 on more than 300 radio stations across the US.

"When to Say When"

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