How I Became Abstinent (This Time)

For seven years (2002-2008), in addition to being a raging compulsive overeater, I was a raging workaholic and I stopped attending all OA meetings.  Sometimes I tried to restrain my compulsion to overeat, but as the stress at work grew, so did my size.  Not only did I eventually regain all of the 96 pounds I had lost the last time I was in program, but I added-on another twenty pounds and developed high blood pressure.  Then, at the end of 2008, my husband and I suddenly found ourselves with no jobs at all.  In a matter of weeks I packed-on another 25 pounds, reaching my highest weight ever.  I thought for sure we would lose our house, my hair started falling out, and I started to sink into a depression.

The good news?  This was my bottom.  This is what gave me the courage to come back to program.  I was finally desperate enough to admit defeat and ready to start over.  Well,…almost ready.

For months I sat on that horrible fence between going back to OA and staying away.  I was so mortified by the way I looked that I could not even imagine stepping through the door of my first meeting at that size.  Honestly, there was nothing I wanted to do LESS than go back – – but I was dying…spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  So what choice did I really have?

Finally one night in November of 2009, I decided to look online for a meeting in my area.  I was surprised to see that all of the meetings I used to attend were gone (or at least they were no longer meeting at the same locations), and that frightened me a bit.  But at that moment I was more concerned about keeping away from people I knew in program.  I didn’t want to “be seen.”  I decided to take my chances on a meeting I’d never been to out in the sticks, thinking that I probably wouldn’t know anyone there.

I got to the meeting strategically early so I could watch everyone go in.  See if I recognized anyone.  Then I would decide if I should go in.  I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  No one ever came.  I suddenly realized that the meeting was not going to happen at all.  I felt panicky.  I hadn’t thought of that!  No matter how badly I didn’t WANT to go to a meeting, the idea that I COULDN’T go to one was far worse!  What if there were NO meetings to go to?!  What would I do?!  I knew that the program would work if I could just get myself into the routine of attending regular meetings, but without those, I knew there was no hope for me!  I went home, discouraged and scared.  I spent the next few days doing some heavy-duty soul-searching.  I came to the conclusion that I really DID want to go to a meeting and that I was going to try again (but not until the same meeting came-up again, of course).

The following week I parked my car and went inside the building, determined to at least find out once and for all if this meeting actually existed.  Low and behold, two people showed-up.  Then another person.  And another.  I didn’t know any of them.  I breathed a silent sigh of relief and immediately felt at home.

For the next 2 months, I attended this weekly discussion meeting and would share on the topic of the day and on the miserable state I was in.  Every day I would binge, and every night I would wonder how I could have done it again!  Then I would show-up at the meeting and say that I REFUSED to stop overeating even though I KNEW that I HAD to!  It was such a torturous place to be.  And week after week, the caring people there just listened and then talked with me afterwards.  There was no judgement, except for the voices in my own mind that kept telling me what a loser I was for not even making an attempt at getting abstinent.  The only thing that I actually DID start to do was to get on my knees every morning and every night and ask my Higher Power for “the willingness to be willing” to stop overeating.  Over the years I had acquired enough program to know that this was my problem – – until I was willing to at least TRY to be abstinent, I was lost.  I was “beyond human aid,” as The Big Book says.  Only God could save me at that point, and I knew it.

One night, after returning home from one of these meetings, the thought came to me that I should try writing-out a food plan for myself.  I was not going to follow it, of course, but if I could pick any way to eat healthy – – any way at all – – what would that be?  I kept this rough draft out on the kitchen table all week and tweaked it between binges.  It was just there, and I worked on it as if it were a school homework assignment.  I felt like I was doing it more out of curiosity to see what I could come-up-with more than anything else.  Best of all, for some strange reason, I felt no emotional attachment to it at all.

By spending so much time looking objectively at my food behaviors over the past 20+ years, I was fianlly able to see that the my biggest problem I’d had with sticking to my food plans of the past always came down to the feeling of deprivation, whether in the amounts of foods or in the elimination of foods.  So my new food plan tried to solve that problem by increasing portion sizes, by giving myself a little leeway within the elimination categories, and by adding snacks.  I knew that, for myself, I needed something that would be easy to adapt to any situation.  If I had learned nothing else, I had at the very least learned that if I was going to lose weight and successfully KEEP it off (which I had never done before), I had to have a plan that I would be willing to follow FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!  Not just when I was losing weight, or when I was trying to impress people, or when things were going my way, or when the weather was nice,…but ALL the time!  I guess it was just my time to finally face this reality…for the first time in my life.

And yet,…

ANOTHER week went by and I did the same thing – made some notes, moved some things around, took out some stuff, added some stuff…but I STILL refused to even TRY to follow it!  I did mention at one meeting what I was doing, but I said it as if it were a joke and that I had no desire whatsoever to even consider trying it out.

Then, out of the blue, at the end of a meeting in the beginning of February 2010, I raised my hand and committed to my group that I was going to start following the food plan I had created, and guess what?  I have been abstinent ever since!  I can tell you that when that happened, it was NOT ME raising my arm!  The thought had not even crossed my mind until that moment.  In fact, I barely knew why my hand went up at all!  You know how sometimes at a meeting you will be wondering if you should raise your hand and say what you are thinking out loud, but you keep stalling?  Well this was NOTHING like that.  This was supernatural.  I wasn’t thinking about trying to follow my food plan AT ALL!  I really believe that it was God answering my prayers.

He knew that I wasn’t going to do it on my own, so He had to do it for me!

May 21, 2012 This post was written by Categories: I Wish Someone Had Told Me... Tagged with:
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