TRG SPEAKER PROGRAM
Personal Stories of Recovery
~ Gerri ~
Hi everybody, I'm Gerri, abstinent food addict and COE. I came to OA on May 15, 1993, weighing over 250 lbs. I have been abstinent since that day, and I know that has truly been a miracle!
I'm going to say the speaker's prayer:
"God, fill my mouth with all your stuff
and close it when I've said enough, amen."
I wasn't overweight as a kid, because I was very active in sports. I had a knee surgery when I was 16 and the weight poured on when I was immobile.
That began a 25 year battle with my weight. I had huge weight swings, going up and down 100 pounds in the span of a year! I had really bad stretch marks.
My life pretty much sucked. I went in and out of marriages to alcoholics and on April fool's day in 1993, my hubby got a DUI. He ended up in AA and I read his Big Book, (that chapter to the wives), and felt sorry for those women but didn't see my own problem for another month or so.
A friend from work took me to my first OA meeting. It was so weird, no diets on the counter, no scale, and no credit card machines. But I did hear them say to get a sponsor, but nobody was available. I was disappointed by that, and by the fact that only two other people there were fat like me, yet I felt at home. The next night I went to another meeting and a beautiful lady said that she was a sponsor. I asked if she'd sponsor me and she agreed. She told me not to eat any sugar and to call her the next day with my food plan. It seemed weird, but I did it!
After a few days of that, she asked what food plan I was on. I said, "well, 500 calories and 5 grams of fat!" She told me that wasn't enough food and I learned how to start eating sensibly. Instead of that binge and starve cycle I'd gotten into, I started losing weight right away. I weighed over 250 pounds when I came in. It took about a year, maybe a little longer, to get the excess weight off. Then I started to take the Steps. My sponsor had only 3 months of abstinence but that was a lot back then. OA was new in the area.
She hadn't done her 4th step but I was on the "step a week" plan, LOL. I thought I'd be out in 12 weeks! I was 5 weeks abstinent and giving my 5th Step to her although she hadn't done hers yet. It was okay, I assumed, because at least we were taking the steps, eh? So after about 6 weeks off of sugar, I got a big rush of memories. For the next 5 years I did therapy along with my OA recovery. It was a tough time for me. I didn't have a pink cloud very long. I lost my job at 6 months and my husband and I split up. I was a complete mess, but OA took me apart and put me back together right!
I remember when I walked into a Chamber of Commerce meeting. I was probably down into a size 14 by then, after having started out at a size 24. I felt like I had no skin on. I was so raw and vulnerable without all that fat, but I kept abstaining, going to meetings, sometimes two a day. I had no online meetings or phone meetings back then. I really used the tools like my life depended on them, and I still do. My sponsor told me to call 3 people a day. I did. She was the first and I called two other people who were heavier than I was. I had no self-esteem and believed that those skinny girls wouldn't want to talk to me, right?
I gradually made some friends in Program. One was a guy named Howard, and he didn't make it. He died about five years ago.
I also took the Steps over and over again, and I fell in love with my Higher Power. When I began OA, my understanding of a Higher Power came with fire and brimstone. I turned my back on religion a long time before coming to OA, so I had to get a new God.
I have a wonderful spiritual life today. At five years of recovery, my separated husband and I got a divorce which was pretty painful since I was no longer using food to take the edge off of my feelings. Next I had to learn to date abstinently. What a trip that was! I was abstaining from more than just food! :-)
I had gone from being a woman of substance abuse to being a woman of substance. So I didn't date too much. LOL.
I prayed that God would send me a man. In fact, I wrote a letter telling him what I wanted in a man. God answered my prayers and sent David. We dated for a year and in 2001, we got married. Boy was I hungry then! All the new feelings I was experiencing felt like hunger! But I abstained and we are living happily ever after!
I always like to tell my Halloween story. Dave got these little candies to give to the trick-or-treaters. We gave them out all night and I felt so recovered! But after the kids all left, Dave took one and bit it in half! That was the strangest thing I ever saw, because he's a "normie."
I also got involved in service about five years abstinent, serving first in the intergroup. I went to the meeting as a member, and left as the treasurer!
All you had to do was breathe and you could go to intergroup. The next year I became intergroup chair and I wanted to know more about Region. I got to go to a region assembly as a rep from Central Florida Intergroup, and I loved it! If you've never done service at that level, you don't know what you are missing! They asked me to run for Secretary -- I felt so proud! But guess what? Nobody ran against me! That should have told me something. I got elected and served for two years but I really didn't like being secretary.
I also had Graves Disease. The medication slows down metabolism and caused me to gain about 20 pounds in two years. I thought I'd die. I called my sponsor one day and told her that if I was going to be fat, I was going to eat junk food! She talked me out of it and I went into treatment for a week and was able to stay abstinent. After going off of those meds, I lost the 20 pounds again. Thank you, God!
Three years ago I felt like God was calling me to even more service and I ran for Chair of the southeast region of OA. I was elected to that position and am now serving my second term as Chairman. I also go to World Service as a delegate. I was involved in passing the "Dignity of Choice" pamphlet and I voted for online meetings to be part of our service structure. What an honor! I just got back from Albuquerque where we met with the board of trustees to go over the 5 year strategic plan for OA and to figure out where to start with international translations. It all keeps me abstinent.
My life is so wonderful since coming to OA! Dave and I travel a lot and I can be abstinent anywhere. We honeymooned in Jamaica, and I was abstinent. We went to Paris for Christmas one year, and I was abstinent. We just went on a cruise for our 7th anniversary and -- you guessed it -- I was abstinent. I have so much fun in a healthy body today.
When I turned 50, my OA girlfriends bought me the Richard Petty Driving Experience. I drove a race car 118.1 MPH! I love NASCAR. I'm missing the race to tell y'all my story! LOL I've been through three hurricanes four years ago and didn't need food to get through it. I feel so worried right now for my OA friends in Gustav's path. Region 8 has finally recovered from Katrina and now this. Please pray for our fellowship in the path of that terrible storm.
On Wednesday we will fly to Richmond, VA to see our grandchildren. I won't have to eat over that either. And we're going to the race up there. I'll bring my abstinent meal right to the race track with me. I am here to tell you that you can be abstinent anywhere. Gosh, my fingers are getting tired.
Maybe that is God's way of letting me know that I can stop.
Thank you for letting me tell you my story.
Trust God and buy that broccoli!