Sometimes people who are not members of a twelve-step program ask me why I joined Overeaters Anonymous. For me, this is especially true for people who are religious and think they do not struggle with addiction. “Terri, why do you need that program?” they ask. “Don’t you have faith in God?”

Yes I have faith in God, and I do believe that God wants me in this program.

Why? Because no one understands me better than another compulsive eater. No one knows better what it is like to steal food, hear food calling in the middle of night, and go on a binge and not be able to stop so that it becomes a series of binges that lasts for weeks—or even months or years. No one knows better than someone with that experience.

People who are not compulsive eaters look at things differently. In a beauty shop the other day, a teenage girl was talking about dieting, and a man advised, “Honey, just don’t eat.”

I cannot do it alone, but only I can do it.

“Yeah, right,” I wanted to tell him. “Like it’s that simple.”

It is not simple for those addicted to food. Some people will never understand my addiction, and that is okay. I accept what and who I am.

Someone once reminded me that OA meetings are a Tool—a small part of the program. I go to many meetings, and I love online meetings because they are so easy to attend. But even if I go to all the meetings I want, I still need to use the other OA Tools.

No one can just fix me. I still need to be the one who puts down the food. A loving Higher Power can help me. A sponsor with 20-plus years of abstinence can help me. She shares her experience, strength and hope, but none of her recovery rubs off on me. I have to do the footwork, put down the food, and work the program. Only a loving Higher Power can fix me when I do the footwork and let God be in charge.

One saying we have in the OA program is I cannot do it alone, but only I can do it. I am glad I have a place to come with other compulsive overeaters to share my hope and listen as they share theirs. I just keep coming back because it works when I work it. Thanks.