Leader's Introduction

Hi my name is Sharon and I am and always will be a compulsive overeater and Iím so thrilled to be leading this quarter of WTS. Looking back I realise that I was probably a compulsive overeater from when I was very young although as a child I wasn't overweight, but I was a very lonely withdrawn child who was very shy and happier with books and being on my own. My dieting began when I was doing ballet and I subsequently became a yo-yo dieter over the years, and even though I always saw myself as fat, if I look at photos back then I was maybe only a couple of kilos overweight if that but I had and still to a certain extent have distorted body image. But feelings of insecurity and not feeling good enough drove me to the food and I was either on diet or else I was compulsively eating to stave off the feelings of loneliness and emptiness inside. I used to live in the future when my life would be wonderful because I either lost weight or met the man of my dreams and lived happily ever after.

Of course my life never really turned out the way Iíd envisaged and over the years through a bad marriage, the death of my only brother, a painful divorce and subsequent remarriage, the suicide of my stepson and many other traumatic events, I began to use food even more than before as a way of blocking out the painful emotions or even self medicating my depression, and the binges became worse and I picked up more weight.

Fortunately I was led to the doors of OA 20 years ago and I related to what everyone in my first meeting shared. Because I struggled initially with the concept of a Higher Power I left briefly on step two. Fortunately for me I got desperate enough to come back and I decided that I would do whatever those crazy people were doing because I saw in their faces something that I wanted. I didn't know at the time what that was but now I know that what I saw in their faces was hope, and I needed that. So I decided to do whatever they were doing for recovery, and I just did the footwork and "acted as if" I believed it would work and that there was a Higher Power that could restore me to sanity.

My journey in this program has not been an easy one and over the years I have had many slips probably because I hadn't really surrendered and was still trying to do it on self will alone. One of the biggest miracles for me was being able to give up my major binge food one day at a time and that certainly helped me to believe that there was a Higher Power who could help with my food because on my own I know I never could have done that.

One of the other things I also discovered after seeing a dietician was that deprivation is a huge trigger for a binge for me, and so itís been a learning experience for me to now have a food plan that at first seemed a bit more generous than my diet head thought I should have, but because of that I donít feel deprived, and whilst my abstinence is certainly not perfect, I know for me to be able to find the grey area between dieting and bingeing my brains out is a real miracle for me. Iíve also realised that what I weighed didnít define who I was and as I've heard it said it's not what we eat that makes us fat but what's eating us. In the past I either buried the emotional issues or became resentful, and the net result was that I turned to food to compensate.

By doing the steps and taking the action, I started to clear away the wreckage of the past and began to look at what my side was in whatever had happened to me. In the past I had lived in blame and guilt and in particular it was always about what the other person had done which was the reason why I turned to food. Each time I have done one of the steps in particular the amends, I peel away some more layers of the onion and my relationships have improved dramatically. I felt so guilty about what I had done to my kids because of the divorce and what followed, but what I have only recently discovered is that whilst I did what I physically needed to do for my children, I was emotionally unavailable to them. Today I am able to change the way I am with them and especially be a better granny than I was a mom, and my relationships are improving. I was even able to finally forgive my ex husband, something I never thought was possible.

But for me the most wonderful change for me has been on the spiritual side. Before program I was spiritually dead inside and had this huge hole in my soul that I kept trying to fill with food. The God I have found in this program is very different from the God of my childhood whom I perceived to be a punishing God, and accepts and loves me unconditionally which was something I never felt I got when I was growing up. He is there for me even when I screw up but what I have discovered also is that I still need to do my part. I still need to do the footwork but I leave the results up to my Higher Power. In the past I struggled with believing that God could help me with my eating especially because I am such a rational logical person who wanted to have an "if-then" hypothesis before I could believe something would work. But I know now that God acts through people and at each meeting I attend I hear something that I needed to hear for that day and that for me is God speaking to me through my fellows. One thing I heard at a meeting once that really helped me is that God isn't an outward possibility but an inward reality, so He is with me whenever I need to access Him.

In short the bottom line for me is that I now realise that it really isnít just about food and weight and in the words of an OA retreat I once went on I came for vanity but Iíve stayed for sanity. I hope you all will.

I generally work my program using the 12 steps and 12 traditions of Overeaters Anonymous but also use the Big Book of AA which has some wonderful insights and is available online. If you donít have the 12 & 12 you can always use the Big Book and substitute alcohol for food. You will need a sponsor for working the steps so hope you have found one. They say this is a simple program but itís not easy. It just takes work and some willingness. As it says in the Big Book of AA ďIf you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps. At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.Ē AA Big Book, p.58. I certainly know I could not. Hope you feel the same and that you enjoy this recovery journey with me.

Love in recovery,



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