The Recovery Group is a Twelve Step support group for compulsive eaters

Personal Stories of Recovery

~ Ann ~


My name is Ann and I am a gratefully recovering compulsive over-eater.

I was raised in a family with an angry father and an aloof mother. Both had an alcoholic parent and even though they did not abuse alcohol, my parents had alcoholic traits. My mom was not really overweight, but she played around with food. I learned at an early age to stay out of the way when my father got home. The best way was to grab food and go eat in my room. When I was upset, the first thing I would do was grab something quick to eat and eat it so fast I barely tasted it. One of my earliest memories of binging was when I was about nine years old. I was standing in front of the refrigerator and ate five Bologna sandwiches with the door open. I then sat down and made one in front of my family and ate it. That was the first time I felt the rush and power of the food. It kept me from feeling my pain, fear, and low self-esteem.

I continued to use food, but luckily I did not gain weight in my body. I wasn't so fortunate in my thoughts and self-perception. I felt huge. I felt 100 pounds overweight. I hated my body and hated myself. I could act the part of a normal teenage girl with my friends and family, but I was dying inside. I continued to use food in large quantities and gained about 20 pounds -- not overweight by any means -- but I felt as if I were the biggest girl at school. I still grabbed food when I felt sad, angry, overwhelmed, or fearful ~ and even when I was happy. It never gave me the euphoria it did that first time standing in front of the refrigerator when I ate the bologna, but I still tried to recreate it (insanity). I remember in the spring I would wear a jacket because I felt so fat and ugly. I did not want anyone to see my body. I was so insecure that I looked down when I walked down the street. I was unable to look at others because of how ugly I felt.

Food was always there for me -- at least I thought it was. I started dieting in high school, starving, binging, purging -- same old cycle over and over again. When I moved out, I really started to binge and I finally started gaining weight. I am 5'2" and went up to 267 pounds. I spent about eight years trying every diet known to man. Pills, WW, shots, hypnosis, Atkins, Beverly Hills (still can't eat mango), a cabbage soup diet, on and on. Sure, I would lose 10, 20, 30 pounds; but always gained it back. I started with such resolve, "This one will work, this is the magic diet." It did for a short time, but then I would take that first bite and be off and running, eating out of control until the next big thing I could find that would "help" me. I was binging and purging most of the time. I felt so hopeless. My life was a living hell but I could not stop eating. Food was in control of my life. The days without binging were getting fewer and fewer. I would pray, but not the way I needed to -- I was seeking my own will.

Then one day I was reading the newspaper and I saw an article on OA. I knew it was for me. The story was about a woman describing what I did with food. I could not believe it. I called the phone number listed in the article, and a wonderful woman explained the OA program. I went to OA the next day and got abstinent that day. I got a sponsor, worked the steps and did service. I lost 100 pounds and found serenity. It was great, I felt great, and I looked great. I felt alive for the first time. THEN my ego got big. I was asked to speak at many meetings, and I was soooo good. I was still abstinent, but my ego was getting out of control. I met my future husband and did not go to as many meetings as I had been, and I did not call my sponsor every day. I was in love, and hey, I looked great. I thought I could do this on my own. I ate things with flour and did not really have a problem with that, or so I thought. Then I picked up the sugar and was off and running once again.

I slowly gained all my weight back. I now had two wonderful boys, but I weighed 267 again. I spent the next 15 years losing and gaining weight -- again trying every diet out there. I felt fat, ugly, horrible and was an angry woman. Thank God for my husband and kids. I don't know what I would have done without them. One day my sweet husband said, "Why don't you try OA again? You were so happy when I met you." I got mad of course: how dare he suggest I needed OA! He supported me on every diet gimmick I bought, every program diet I started. I am so lucky to have him.

On November 10, 2004 I walked back into the doors of OA and got abstinent the next day. I got a sponsor and lost 99 pounds in a year. WOW, what a program we have! Why did I ever leave? This program always works if we work it and take action. I call my sponsor every day, commit my food, read, write and pray. This is a three-fold disease and a three-fold recovery program. We have to work all levels all the time equally. This program offers us recovery based on our spiritual program. We have to be willing to do what it takes to recover. What am I doing today?

I have a food plan.
I call my sponsor daily and commit my food.
I read recovery books.
I pray.
I meditate (listen to God).
I work the steps.
I read the BB and 12 x 12.
I sponsor.
I go to f2f meetings.
I go to on-line meetings.
I lead on-line meetings.
I pray.
I give service.
Do I want to overeat sometimes? You bet I do...but only when I am not fully working my program.

We seek progress, not perfection.

This program is wonderful. I now know I am in OA for life. I can't leave it again because I don't know if I have any other recovery in me.

I am in recovery today because of OA.


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