TRG SPEAKER PROGRAM
Personal Stories of Recovery
~ Phyllis ~
Phyllis here, chunkie, drunkie, junkie...clean, sober, abstinent since May 20, 1972.
Thank you for the honor and privilege. I do not have a prepared, written speech, I will just let my fingers be guided by G-d and see what we have.
This is an unusual meeting ... I miss looking at faces and seeing into your eyes . . .
Let's go. I was born in NYC, the oldest of two children ... a very long time ago.
I always said, "My brother was an only child", which gives you some idea of how I spent life in his shadow. Things were great until I was six years old, then he was born and had a definite problem with food. He couldn't hold anything down, so there was lots of talk about food and bad health in our house. I was a chunkie baby, but in the depression that made my folks look good. I was always very tall and a bit too filled-out. My family was very, very poor and I had to wear hand-me-downs from other members of the family, so I always felt strange and out of the loop. My clothes made me look older and so did my eating.
My first diet was when I was about 7 years old ... my friend's mother told me I was too fat.
That was the beginning of years and years of tortuous dieting. I remember being weighed by the gym teacher when I was nine, and she loudly called out, “96 pounds.” I was totally humiliated. That was the beginning of the humiliation brought on by this disease. I was always the heaviest girl in the class, and the tallest. When I was 13, my mother took me to my first diet doctor and I was introduced to Gracious Living through Chemistry. After a few years I began to take drugs, which I continued for 27 years. I have difficulty remembering that period of my life.
My life was hindered by my obsession with food at an early age. I went all through junior high, high school and college on drugs, alcohol, and foooooooooooood. I know I had lots of acquaintances, but not many friends. When I was 18 I met the man I was going to marry. He was 28 and my parents were not thrilled. I went on a diet for my wedding and gained weight as I was walking down the aisle. I weighed 142 when I got married and never saw that number again until program.
I became a great cook because we both liked to eat. The only problem was that he was a "true" thin and never gained a pound. He weighed 174 (6 ft) all the years we were married -- and I passed that number a long time ago.
I loved having company and cooking for "many." I was good at it and loved cleaning up the kitchen by myself so I could forage.
I had 4 miscarriages and three sons. I ate too much, drank too much, and took drugs during my pregnancies. If that happened today, my children would have been taken from me. They were all born with congenital foot defects, which fortunately were dealt with and they are fine today. I ate my way through each pregnancy, gaining upward of 60 pounds. I came home once and told my husband I weighed 205. He said, “When it hits 210, sell.” We were married in 1952. In 1965 he had a nervous breakdown, was hospitalized and given shock treatment therapy. In 1966 he was killed at the railroad station in our town and I was left with 3 little kids, 6, 8, and 10. I had no money and house payments were due. I had worked before marriage and now I had to go back to work to support us. It was during this time that I was the thinnest I had ever been. I was doing drugs and eating very little. For 15 minutes, I got down to 122. My dad told me I looked "gaunt". Nobody ever said that to me. I felt great. I overdosed on drugs/alcohol and could not figure out why I didn't die. I now know why!
In 1970 I met a man who was going to start a weight reduction program kind of like AA. Go figure! One day, I saw an ad for OA in our local newspaper. He was very interested and went. He needed to lose weight and I was up around 200 at that time. He came home very impressed with the Program and became a member. I didn't think I needed it, so it took me a long time before I went to a meeting. And when I did go, it was because he said they were all women and they gave him great hugs! Excuse me!
So, I dragged my big old ---- to a meeting and promptly knew they were all loosely wrapped. I tried praying my weight off ... didn't work. I tried every diet known to man, women, and children and made up some of my own. They didn't work long-term either.
So I said, "I will give you 30 days." They said that if I didn't like it, they would refund my money and misery.
I became "abstinent" clean and sober on May 20, 1972. Because my memory was not great, even then, I put them all on the same date. I have maintained that abstinence, losing over 85 pounds from that time to today. That's about 12,670 days…sounds like a lot, but imagine 3 meals a day for that period of time -- that's a lot!
I was part of the committee of 8 people who wrote the 30 Westminster assignments. I was part of the growth of the Program on Long Island in the early 70's and it was wonderful. Everyone was on the same food plan and losing tons of weight. I moved to California in 1977 and was not welcomed into OA with open arms. They thought I was too rigid but I was thin.
I never gave up. After a few years I sponsored many people there and was accepted by the group. I started doing Step 4 Inventory writing workshops and they were welcomed as well. I have done all kinds of service for OA: putting up chairs, being Intergroup chair, cleaning rooms, and being WSO delegate. Most importantly, I have done -- and continue to do -- service at my meetings.
Ok, enough about the past. Now for the wonderful present with my life filled with Program. I divorced that second husband and was sure I would never marry again. Wrong! I worked for many years at an Eating Disorder Treatment Center and then in private practice dealing with Alcoholics, coes, and any other “ism” for which there is a Program.
In 1994, I met my dream man. We got married in 1999. I was 68 at the time. Whoops, now you know how old I am! We are deliciously happy. He is not a program person, but he treats my program with great dignity and respect.
My sons are 52, 50, and 48 now and they are delighted with the Mother the Program has produced. My life is filled with the principles of the Program. My friends are all program people and I cannot believe how happy I am. My weight is not a problem, food sometimes calls me, but I use the tools to avoid contact.
We are leaving next week on a one-month cruise and I know that I will not weigh more when I return than I do today. My Higher Power goes everywhere with me. I love this Program. I study this Program. And I try to live this Program. I cannot tell you how happy I am for this outlet, (internet). We have come a long way, we still have a way to go, but I know I am not alone.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here and for allowing
me the pleasure and privilege of being here today.
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