The Recovery Group

Question Three

Dear Loop Friends and Web Visitors,

My name is Shana and I am a compulsive overeater. I am grateful to have found the OA program of recovery and part of my program is sharing it with others.

Over the next eight months (approx.) I will be sharing with you the 30 Questions as given to me in years past. These questions helped introduce me to the first 3 steps of OA, and helped me name...and claim my feelings about myself and my disease of coe. As I post these weekly shares, I hope that they will bring responses from YOU and that you will share your answers to these questions here on the loops.


Would you give a history of your compulsive overeating and include the following:

A. Bouts with eating and dieting?
B. Relationships that were tied up with food?
C. Food related family occasions?
D. Recent diet failures?

What eating problems brought you to the OA/Twelve Step program?

My earliest memory is of being fed to quiet my cries, disappointments and fears. I was a "good eater", and that was okay. I remember, even as young as 5 or 6, eating white bread (1/2 loaves) when I was bored or lonely. I grew up in a very crazy-making house; my parents fought all the time. It was very scary for me and I hid under furniture, nice and snug, and ate. Later on, at age 9, my mom took me to the family doctor about my weight. He put me on diet pills, this was in 1954 before the news of diet pills and their destruction were first known. I lost the weight and put it back, as I did many times over in my life when I wasn't on "something" to help me.

This pattern of diet pills, diet shots, diet drops, and more were a pattern of my life. I went through school very self-conscious about my weight, I was always the chubbiest one in class (and if someone was chubbier, I was relieved that I would not have to take all the flack). In junior high school, I remember my mother convincing me to wear a girdle. I would hang back and change my clothes when the kids would leave the locker room; I was so ashamed of wearing a girdle. In fact, I think I was wearing some sort of panty girdle even back in public school. The thing that always confused the heck out of me was my mother, who would talk to me about dieting, put me on a new diet, and then in the next breath offer me desserts and tell me "It's okay if you have just one." I could never eat just one. Never. My mother wanted a partner to eat with, but then when she would see my weight soar, she would shoot me down with her newest diet. I was so frustrated and felt like such a failure at a very young age. Mealtime was not a pleasant time. My father would start some sarcastic brew every night, and I would eat fast and escape to my room. We always had second dinners after dinner; a sandwich, etc, etc, etc. Then it was more relaxed in the house and my father would be in better spirits. Even as I got older, and was working and still at home (17-18 years old), I would eat dinner quickly when I got home and run up to my room and not come down. My father would yell at me to come down and I would find excuses to stay up there. I was terrified of his changing moods and needed space from him.

My parents continued to fight all through my growing up years. Leaving, slamming doors, threats, tears, making up...and over and over again. My sister, who is 2-1/2 yrs older than I, was my biggest critic and biggest betrayer in my life. Therefore, I could trust nobody in my home. Nobody but the food; my buddy, my pal. The one thing that saved me was my friends. I always had a few "best friends", and I got along well with my peers. I would often sleep over their houses, eat over, play and enjoy myself. They also enjoyed themselves at my home, as from all outside appearances things looked okay.

I dated alot from the age of 15 on; I was a pretty girl, and always dieting, taking one potion after another to keep the weight down. I was not the most popular girl in high school, but had my friends and parties. I dated boys at least 4 years older than me and was extremely mature for my age. I kept myself busy with friends, friends, friends. School? I failed miserably. I did very poorly, and cut school every Friday during junior high into high school. My mother found out finally, and never told my dad. She was afraid he would get violent, though I don't know for sure. She hid my report cards, she lied for me about being home sick so much; I was an absentee child from school always with a "belly ache" and a "headache". My mother would love having me home and we were always good friends. We would eat together, still love to this day to go clothes shopping and eat lunch out. Food was always the central fixture to my relationships. I was more my mom's mom than she was mine. I gave her advice then as I still do today. I had children for parents, and I was the mature one. I had the food, it was my balance.

When I met my husband, in 1964, I was 18. I fell in love immediately with my hubby. He was a part of me that seemed to fit like a puzzle piece; he criticized me, he adored me, he made me cry, he hugged and kissed me (he was the first boy I ever let go all the way), he forgot my birthday, he criticized me some more...he was the "perfect" match. The one thing that I owe my life to him for was that he would not support my diet pill habit once we were married. I kicked and screamed, but he was aghast at the very thought. I gained weight, I lost weight, I had children, I hid the food, I lied about the food, I only felt good when I was thinner and felt like crap when I gained the weight. My merry-go-round was complete; my shame was complete...I was finally a failure in the light of day...I could not diet for more than 1 hour before craving food and shame-facedly hide cookies in my housecoat until I got into the bathroom to munch away. I was at the pinnacle of despair...I had nowhere to run and hide.

There are many insanities that I could speak of; like my mom stopped speaking to me when my dad took to ringing our doorbell when she and he would he had somewhere to sleep at night. I had to put my foot down and say no to him...again, the parent was me. Like my mom luring me in to her trap of despair and when I would encourage her to leave him, she would turn on me and tell my dad what I said. Like my husband who ruled my life and told me when I could come and go with my friends (worse than when I lived at home where I had more freedom). Like my husband telling me that if my son (who was a big, big boy) was heavy later in life I would be to blame, yet he would be the one to bring home bags of goodies and make a huge deal about the food, not I. I bought it all, the shame I mean. I was a failure, I was as stupid as anyone thought I was, and I was not a good mom.

Then, I found OA. I walked into the doors of that church that night and never looked back. It was difficult, I started to change...and my husband would rumble and tell me that he never would have married me if he knew that I would change...and I would cower back into my corner; eating some more so that I would not change anymore. Then I would step out again, and the phone calls from OA friends would "interfere" with his evening and again I would run back into my corner. Then, I founded OA in my county and I never looked back. People thought I was actually smart! I would tell my hubby this, and he would laugh out loud. I would cringe, I would cry. I would eat some more.

During this time, my mother had a nervous breakdown after years of an addiction of diet pills and downers (we never knew, we thought she was really losing her mind; I don't say this in jest). The truth was out...she was addicted and put into a lock-up mental health facility. The next day, my father had a stroke. I visited them in separate hospitals for weeks, I ate and ate and ate and ate..............

But, at some point, I gave life my best shot; I went to college in the '70's to 1981, slowly but surely graduating with honors. Me the dummy...I cannot tell you how much this has meant to me over these years...I finally had credibility, I no longer had to preface everything with "I read it in the magazine..." to get acknowledgement. I came to believe in me. I found abstinence many times over in those years, sometimes for long periods, sometimes for short periods, but I knew that I was on the road to recovery. I found my voice and became a writer; I had a writing business in the '80s and was a ghost writer and resume service. I was published as a poet. Lifeline published my spiritual story of how I found my HP. I did service beyond the call of OA; I made it part of my life and gave of myself wherever I could in the name of compassion and goodness. My husband and I went into therapy back then because I was going to leave, and he knew that I meant it; it was the biggest gift we ever gave each other and ourselves. He changed, and in doing so I could move up and out of his shadow. I finally found out who I took years, but I now know me.

Yet, when I came to the Journey to Recovery loop last year, August, 15, as a matter of fact, I had once again succumbed to my eating disorder. I had fallen away from a long four year abstinence thru illness and not believing that I would ever be well again. I just couldn't keep at it anymore...I had forgotten that I now had a Higher Power, I had forgotten that I had many friends (OA friends, dear friends) who wanted to be there for me. I did not want to be there for me, how could they even get in the door? Until last August, I was on a slow boat down river going thru the motions of life, but feeling nothing. Journey saved my October, 98 I became abstinent thru the grace of my HP. I have nine months of abstinence, and have given away 30 lbs to date. I have some more weight to give away, but the journey makes the burden lighter for me. I can do it with the love and acceptance of my 12 step friends. I can do it today.

Love in recovery,




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