My name is Jennifer. I’m journaling tonight, writing about my love of writing. It’s been part of my life for as long as food has.

My childhood memories are almost all negative. As the obese daughter of a mentally ill mother and a hardworking and caring but absent father, I was hungry for love. I sought acceptance by any means, including being first to laugh at the many jokes told at my expense by my peers and by going along with what others said I should do. But there was one beautiful exception to my grade school experience, a moment of pure joy that I treasure to this day.

A real, published author was coming to our school. In preparation, we all made books for her to read. At the assembly, she singled me out for all to hear and spoke of my talent. The feeling of being acknowledged for something positive was such a unique experience that I practically floated out of the library. I told myself that one day I would be a published author too.

Nearly thirty years later, I had become weary from decades of my mind and body waging war on each other. I had some brief periods of success with various diets, but I based my self worth on my weight and always came up short. Whether I was restricting myself or in binge mode, food was always on my mind. If I had willpower, I felt in control, but the loss of that control inevitably followed, and with it, faith in myself. As another holiday binge season neared, the thought occurred to me to just give up the war and accept being fat. Then I heard about Overeaters Anonymous.

My sister lived a thousand miles away, but in our talks, I noticed she was sounding different: she was speaking with clarity and confidence. She spoke about the OA program in a way that made sense to me, and for the first time in a long time, I felt hope.

I thought I was prepared when I first walked through the doors of of what was to become my beloved home group, but in no way could I have anticipated the miracle that happened in my life. These wonderful people accepted me immediately, and I heard my story in their shares. Their strength gave me strength, and their hope showed me recovery is possible. Most important, they loved me until I could learn to love myself.

One year later, I see myself through new eyes. As I work the Steps, I am slowly unwrapping my authentic self. As I attend meetings and build lasting friendships, I let go of my defects and accept my worth. As I practice my imperfect abstinence, I learn to unite body and mind. As I use the Tools, particularly writing, my lifelong friend, I connect with HP and his will for me.

One year later, I see myself through new eyes . . . I let go of my defects and accept my worth.

I see now how my every life experience led me to the blessed doors of OA, and I wouldn’t trade my history for anything. I do not regret the past, because it brought me to this place. I am forever humbled. I know I am worthy of this beautiful life I am living, and I want to nurture my authentic self. I want to honor the sad little fat girl inside by working the Steps and healing old wounds.

What a gift of program! A gift like the one that the real, published author gave me all those years ago. I know now that life can be beyond my wildest dreams, and maybe becoming a published author is just one of many dreams HP has in store for me. My OA journey has just begun, and I am excited for the ride.