My husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a cruise to the Bahamas. As you can imagine, a slew of tropical beaches wasn’t much fun for a self-conscious 300-pound (136-kg) woman. At every turn, I was surrounded by reminders of my physical limitations, and I came home despondent and suicidal. Having tried countless other weight-loss plans and schemes previously, I gave in to a friend’s insistence that OA was different … and better.
I walked into my first OA meeting in four and a half years ago, and I was desperate for change. After the meeting, I asked the thinnest woman in the room to be my sponsor. I just wanted physical relief, convinced it was the shortcut to a peaceful mind. I worked a strict program in those first few months. Three meetings a week, three phone calls a day, daily reading and writing assignments, and a daily check-in call to my sponsor, to whom I reported my incredibly sparse meal plan for the day. By the end of October, I was down 78 pounds (35 kg) and feeling fantastic! But I was starting to rebel against my food plan and against my sponsor. I could feel my diet-mind whirling up to its maximum velocity. So I switched to a less structured version of OA, and I found a softer, gentler sponsor—one who focused on the Steps and a long-term, sustainable recovery plan.
The Step work illuminated the dysfunction in my life, my relationships, and my mind. I struggled through those difficult realizations. I clung to my sponsor, even in moments when the rest of the program seemed impossible to hold onto. She shoved me toward my Higher Power. My weight climbed. The scale became my enemy, and I threw it away. But I didn’t give up. I kept going because there was a promise of relief, and I did find it in those final steps to the top.
The Step work illuminated the dysfunction in my life, my relationships, and my mind. … I kept going because there was a promise of relief, and I did find it in those final steps to the top.
In a few months, I’ll have been in program five years. I’d love to be skinny, but I’m not and that’s okay. I came into the New Year at 247 pounds (112 kg), and while it’s not my goal weight, it’s not where I started either. I’ve found a downward-coasting speed that works for me. I’m not looking for the fast lane. I am a little afraid of that pink cloud, and I’d rather be balanced than high.
My name is Elizabeth, and my life looks very different today then when I came into program. I work daily at acquiring and maintaining healthy boundaries in my relationships. While my abstinence is not perfect, my relationships with food and my body are healthier than ever before. As I begin my second round through the Steps, it is my hope that I can dig deeper and uncover my resistance to a level of abstinence that allows for more physical healing.
I’m not willing to give up the level of sanity I’ve achieved, though. What the OA longtimers say also applies to me: I came for the vanity, but I stay for the sanity.