I really enjoyed Cindy's first post in her OA blog. She introduced herself and what brought her to OA. I didn't do that here. It did not occur to me because WIT grew pretty organically from my general blog, Chicken Butt (CB). There is a list of 100 things about me on the About page, but it includes very little about my OA program. I did make a conscience decision to be consistent with my online identity. I have been Aunt Dodi or Dodi online for about six years so it feels natural. My family and a few friends call me Dodi in "the real world" too. It just feels weird because I don't use it at meetings. So when I type, "I'm Dodi, and I'm a compulsive overeater" it doesn't seem natural yet.
I'm 36 years old. I'm single and live by myself in a condo in the town I was born in. I have one younger sister and two nephews I adore. She lives across town in the house next to my parent's house. My Mom died of breast cancer three years ago. I've been in my current job for over eight years, there isn't anything wrong with my job that couldn't be fixed by doing my job better. I have a BFA in Painting from University of Illinois. I lived away from my home town for over seven years before my parents talked me into moving home to get over a different bout of depression.
I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous this February (2005). I was desperate. Two years before I had successfully lost 83 pounds on Weight Watchers before slipping off that program. I had gradually regained all the weight and was back up to a miserable 340+ pounds. I was also in the midst of severe depression for which I had not yet sought help. My therapist (or life coach, LC) was worried for me. She spent the gift certificate I gave her for Christmas on books she thought might help me. She gave me Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding Myself to read.
I devoured this book. This woman was so like me. I recognized myself completely. She went to OA and found supportive understanding people and a rigid eating plan. I didn't know when I read this book that Francis had found a rigid group of old-school OAers. They stuck to the old grey sheet food plan from when OA endorsed specific food plans. It was daunting to think of sticking to this rigid plan with no sugar, refined carbs and small portions. But Francis was convincing and I needed a solution so badly that I thought it was worth a try. Francis was living in NYC at the time, so she had many meetings to choose from any day of the week. I resolved to give it a try. I looked up local meetings on the official OA site. There was one in my town on Tuesday night. I called the contact number listed and left a message. I hoped to get more information before walking in the door.
I like to research and plan things before taking any action. In fact, often I don't get past the research phase. I Googled OA and AA and 12 steps. I found sites claiming that AA is a cult. I found a lot of God talk. It is a sign of my desperate need that I was willing to give OA a chance even though I found all the talk of God and Higher Power (HP) off putting. I was binging out of control, slacking at work and hiding in my new condo among my boxes of belongings I didn't have the energy to unpack. After closing in August 2004 and getting all my stuff moved in, I just crashed into inaction. Add my seasonal depression into the mix and I was a mess. My clothing was too tight but I couldn't find any larger pants in stores. It was either give up completely and start wearing muumuus a la Homer J. Simpson or do something.
So about two hours before the meeting started the OA contact called me back. She confirmed that the meeting was still there and gave general directions about finding it in the church. I wanted more information but didn't know what to ask.
I went to my first OA meeting that night and it was all kind of a blur. Everyone was friendly and there were several thin people there. Much reading was done. I tried to absorb everything but not much really sunk in. During the sharing I was impressed with some people who shared their length of abstinence. One had seven years and another 22 years. I felt fevered, I was so desperate that OA be my solution. I shared but I don't remember what I said. Probably the same things I now hear from newcomers. I talked with everyone as they greeted me after the meeting. I bought every book they had. I went home and read every pamphlet in the newcomers packet. I thought I could power through the steps and be cured. I had so much to learn.
I approached OA like I approach everything, intellectually. I thought that I if I could read all the literature and study the steps hard enough I could fix myself. I started going to a Sunday night meeting two towns over as well. I tried to figure out what my abstinence should be. I knew from past dieting experience that sugar had to go. I started on my first round of white-knuckled abstinence. At first I was disappointed that the meetings in my area were not grey sheeters. I did some more research that helped me understand why my OA experience was different than the author's.
My depression got worse and I thought it was because I didn't have the energy to both work and do my twelve steps. I had not yet asked anyone to be my sponsor. I wanted to go to as many area meetings as I could. I thought I needed someone who had lost a significant amount of weight (over 100 pounds) and kept it off. I wanted what the woman in the book had, not what was available to me. I finally got desperate enough to hatch a dramatic plan. I found that with a doctor's note I could take up to 12 weeks off on medical leave and still get paid. I went to the doctor the next day. Luckily she saw that my real problem was depression. I agreed to see a psychiatrist and she gave me a note. My plan was to go to a meeting everyday and get the steps done before I went back to work. I figured it would take a month or two. I was so deluded.
Luckily the shrink, whom I shall refer to as Dr. L, is wonderful. I respect and like him. He has worked very hard to get my meds just right. We're still adjusting them, but I'm feeling much better.
I did start going to six meetings a week. I couldn't find one within an hours drive on Fridays. I met a lot of people and learned a lot, but no one I thought would be a good sponsor for me. At every meeting I found the same feeling of fellowship. I felt welcome and safe. I felt like I was home. I was learning more about the program, but still at a surface level.
After about a month I cut back to my original two meetings. I thought I had worked steps 1-3 and was getting ready for step 4. I was doing it all by myself. The way I had always done things. After one meeting a woman warned me that I might be setting off down a dangerous path. She asked if I had a sponsor. When I told her no she warned me that when I got one she would probably want to start me back at step one.
I decided that this woman should be my sponsor (myS), but was afraid to ask her. I was afraid she would say no. She is Catholic and I'm agnostic. When I finally did ask her she said yes without a moments consideration. I now understand that I had nothing to fear, but it was hard to take that step. We had a good talk.
We discussed my food plan, my personal definition of abstinence and step one. She asked me to write out my food history and to call her everyday. I started out well, but then I stalled. I've been stalled there since summer. My definition of abstinence has changed and I've grown in the program, but I don't keep in regular contact with myS and I stopped writing my history when I got to the first year of college. I learned a lot from the history of the early days. I pinpointed when the compulsive behavior first got out of control and some of the hurtful things I did to feed my addiction. But then I just stopped. I think I was afraid of steps two and three.
So that's where I am today. Stuck in step one, but abstinent. I need to push on or I could lose the serenity I've found.