Posted by: innerpilgrimage | December 10, 2009

Dear OA Santa: Thanks For the OA Tool Chest This Year

Days until my 40th Birthday: 5
Abstinence from Compulsive Eating: 1 Month, 25 days (56 days)

Holiday Eating Season Countdown: 23 days

      There’s something comforting about the foundation of the meetings being precisely the same every week. Sure, the readings change and everyone’s share is different week-by-week, but the introduction, the Invitation to You, the reading of the twelve steps and traditions . . . those are comforting to have consistent.

      The person who runs the meeting changes regularly, as do the people who read the tradition and steps and the Invitation to You. It’s nice to feel a part of it. We’ve had some larger meetings (with nearly a dozen people), we’ve had some smaller meetings (the smallest was four attendees). I haven’t been to one of the big meetings yet. The average meeting I attend has five to ten people in attendance. I can’t fathom going to one with forty or more people. That would be amazing.
      Anyway, this post has everything to do with the eight tools of recovery mentioned in the meeting leader’s written speech. The eight tools are listed in several pieces of OA literature and online all over (including an earlier post or two). They are:

      A Plan of Eating, Sponsorship, Meetings, Telephone, Writing, Literature, Anonymity, and Service.

      I think I do most of them. I am not sure if mentioning the 30-plus year success of the agnostic member of OA is breaking anonymity or not. I don’t mention names directly, and I don’t mention people who may or may not have slid in my group. I guess I like mentioning the people who have made abstention longer than me because it inspires me to keep going. This is a marathon, not a sprint. This is my life, not a diet.
      While I would love to be able to be using all of the tools right now, I think using A Plan of Eating, Meetings, Writing, Literature, Anonymity, and a little Service (we all help put things away in my home group) is working. Six out of eight isn’t bad, though I really would like to feel less afraid to telephone people. I mean, everyone I’ve met so far is a really nice person, despite general complaints to the contrary. Of course, I think that’s probably part of the package, to feel that if a person really knew us we would be unlovable. That’s pretty consistent when I talk to people in the program. Then again, who would choose self-destructive addiction if they liked life and who they are?
      Well, the primary thing was that I had a chocolate last night. One. I had only one because two is out of my discretionary calorie range. Yes, I ate the Ferrari of candy, a sexy little 1 inch cube of creamy goodness that I tasted without emotion because I wanted to make sure I experienced every calorie of the estimated 250 calories I ate. Yes, somehow they packed more calories in that than the same-sized piece of butter. Well, okay, it’s about the same calories for the same size. Two hundred fifty calories for a piece of chocolate smaller than a fun size Halloween candy bar (about the size of the snack size ones).
      And I used to eat four or five in a sitting.
      What’s worse? Without OA, I would have done it this year, too. And I would still have wondered why I was so fat when I was a “normal eater”. Well, in thinking about it, I never was. I never really will be.
      I like eating on my food plan. I feel better than I have in years. I think about food in terms of in or out-of-plan, and I’m only obsessed once about it. If it’s out of plan, it’s gone. If it can be put in plan, I figure out how and deduct the appropriate servings. I eat more vegetables than I have since . . . I don’t know when. Since ever. And my body is reacting positively to it. I don’t feel ill all of the time (though I still have some issues with restful sleep, but for another reason entirely–and I’m starting to get better sleep more often). I don’t put butter on everything (heck, not really anything, to be truthful); I don’t add sugar to everything. I don’t drink diet soda daily. I may be obsessed with maintaining my food plan, but not food.
      Right now, I’m not hungry. Therefore I am not eating. When I am hungry, I will eat. Yesterday, I was hungry early. I ate breakfast early. That’s a big change from trying to starve all day then binge.
      Though I have to say, the feeling of hunger is really awful. It’s not just the growling cramps that I once got used to. I actually get nauseous, like morning sickness every darned time I get hungry. That’s the only part that sucks about being hungry. However, the alternative, which I faced off with a couple of nights ago, is the stretched-out balloon feeling my stomach had when I overate. Oh, that was definitely something I remembered from childhood. When I ate too much, I felt stretched far too thin. I hated how it felt, yet I also liked it in some ways. I have no words, yet, for what it made me feel, but recognition is the first step to revelation. It’s a memory jumble I have to pick through, removing the filters of thirty-five years or so between it and now. But I remember how it stung to eat so much my stomach stretched. How I didn’t want to get to there again, but I did so very often. What drove me to do that as a small child? I never was a thin child. From about 12 months, I was fattened like a pate goose. A little round, rosy-cheeked, pale-skinned, dark-haired baby who loved to laugh–if you believe the photos.
      I wonder if I bonded with my nanny more than my parents when I was an infant. Maybe that explains the feelings that I don’t belong in the life I’m in. No idea. Anyway, I’m asking OA Santa for three things this year:
      (1) The strength over fear to use the telephone tool and the wisdom to recognize my future sponsor when s/he enters my life;
      (2) The humility to ask for help from my Higher Power and others in OA when I’m struggling;
      (3) The ability to keep to my food plan and earn my blue recovery coin, followed by the green, the orange, and finally, my first OA anniversary coin.
      It’s a pleasing thought to know that if I keep abstinent on my current plan as-is, by the time I reach that first anniversary coin, I will also be at my personal goal weight. Like gaining weight was a side effect of eating without a food plan (or any of the other tools), losing weight has been a side effect of eating within my food plan. It’s slow; it’s steady. About every month-and-a-half, I drop a size. I like that, because my food plan is not focused on weight loss but eating the amount of calories at my healthy weight. Knowing that my food plan’s already at the finish line, I get to focus on the 12 Steps to recovery.
      I wonder, sometimes, if I sound cultish about it. I suppose we all do when we find the plan that works for us. We have an answer and we want to share it. Well, for me, OA works. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. There is no “one size fits all” plan out there.
      I wish for everyone truly suffering at the holidays this year–be it of food or alcohol or drugs or whatever addiction, that they find real recovery in a program which works for them.
      My name is Jess, and I am a compulsive overeater. May the Universe reveal to me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.



  1. six out of eight tools is better than most people. feel good about that cuz you are working it, girl!

    i think you are very nicely on your way to getting the things that you are asking of santa, because psstt… you are santa, you will bring those things to your life because you are open to them.

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