I have taken the plunge to deal with my compulsive overeating addiction. The decision flowed from my continual yo-yo weight gain and loss over the last few years, coupled with restlessness and feeling at loss. I know simply losing weight is not the answer. In the past 7 or 8 years, I recognized my eating disorder, and with varying degrees of success, dealt with the addiction via attending AA meetings and substituting food for alcohol in the recovery message. To a certain extent this is the approach of Overeaters Anonymous. Within the AA context that approach did not jibe. So, I have begun attending OA meetings, reading the OA Twelve Step and Twelve Traditions book, and have a temporary OA sponsor I met at an OA Skype meeting. Most importantly, I have begun working the 12 Steps in OA directly with my compulsive overeating. In so doing, I use my eating disorder as a frame of reference . . . or perhaps not really . . . let me explain . . .
The experience attending my first OA meeting was similar to my first AA meeting over three decades ago. I found the discussion somewhat difficult to integrate as relevant to my eating disorder, but felt a very strong sense of being “home” or in the right place. I was fortunate as well that the person who I asked to be my temporary sponsor introduced themself as both an alcoholic and compulsive overeater. I reached out to ask for the help I knew I needed. So we had back and forth discussions over the past week that proved absolutely critical in redirecting my thinking on recovery.
Besides a like-minded approach that addiction is addiction, the sponsor also suggested a lack of a distinction between abstinence from compulsive overeating and sobriety from alcohol – noting that both led to a purity of the heart. That made a lot of sense to me. In my past week of reasonably intense reflection, I have come to believe that being successfully “sober” or “abstinent” in the conventional terms, allows me plenty of room to practice addictive behavior. Early in my sobriety I often heard “Hey I came to AA to get sober, not holy” as an out for not dealing with other addictions.
I occasionally bemoan that I wish my 30-day rehab in 1984 had included all addictions and not just alcohol – but too, perhaps, I was not prepared to deal with the all of those issues at that time. I realize today I am able to practice all of my addictive behaviors or isms with food and claim sobriety in AA.
From my one week in OA I realize that I must come back to the Step One and begin completely anew. (We admitted we were powerless over food and our lives had become unmanageable.) If I do so, then I have a shot at recovery from my eating disorder. Today that recovery has less to do with what and how much I eat, but more of living life on life’s terms – being accountable and sharing responsibility for my existence and contributing positively to the luminous web of humanity by getting out of self. The food will naturally flow from doing so. That seems a step toward the purity of the heart.
So after 30 years of continuous sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous, I am back at Step One with a broader more holistic and renewed passion.
That is what I have today.