For me, being a newcomer in Overeaters Anonymous has meant coming face to face with my disease. Once I was able to become abstinent, putting down the food and my compulsive behaviors, a veil dropped. I saw all the lies I had been telling myself—and how perfectly those lies were keeping me in my disease. I started to recognize that the disease had been running my life long before I first turned to the food or developed the concept of my negative body image.
As I have continued to work OA’s Twelve Steps, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of my resentments and fears. One particular fear that eventually led me to the food is I am not good enough.
In fact, I am not good enough is the disease’s perfect lie. Every day, it led me to find “proof” that it was true. Each day, I chased perfection, and each day, I fell short of my unrealistic expectations.
But an even larger danger in believing the lie was my compulsion to hide this so-called truth from everyone. I wouldn’t dare let you see my weaknesses or admit the faults in my actions. Inside, I felt shame. I felt shameful of my actions because they were not typical of someone who was perfect.
Eventually, I became so ashamed of my powerlessness over food that I decided to tell a friend about how I didn’t think I was a normal eater. But when I finally tried to slip through the crack in the door and free myself from my secrets, my shame overpowered me. My disease tried to slam the door shut. I couldn’t be fully honest and left out details.
Just admitting my imperfection, though, was a start. I knew the problem was more serious than I’d thought when my friend said to me, “Francesca, this eating issue must be really bad because every time I see you eat, you are controlled and eating perfectly.”
There’s that word again: perfect. Of course my friend would not see me in the throes of a binge. I was living a double life. I successfully projected an image of perfection to the world, but internally, I felt the complete opposite: I felt like a failure. And I felt scared and alone because no one could understand me beyond the facade I put on for others to see.
Today, I can say that being a compulsive overeater has been the greatest blessing God has given me. When I became open to the solution, a door of acceptance and understanding opened for me. Connecting with other OA members who understand my problems—because these were once their own problems—has begun to knock down the shame and lies the disease has used against me. It is because of OA that I can miraculously hold an addictive food in my hands and not have it speak to me.
When I became open to the solution, a door of acceptance and understanding opened for me.
Throughout the past six months in program, I have found a new hope and a better way of life. When I am in doubt, I have a selfless sponsor and loving Higher Power to show me the way and the truth. Daily interaction with my OA fellows adds to my recovery—and I now believe I add to their recovery as well. This is my evidence that I am good enough.
Did you hear that, disease? I am good enough.
One day at a time, we can relinquish our will and our lives over to a Power greater than ourselves to overcome our disease. We are perfectly imperfect, loved beyond all measure, and together we can do what we could never do alone. Thank you, OA.