Monday, November 8, 2010

OA

Last week I did a crazy/scary/awesome thing.  It had nothing to do with adrenaline highs or sky-diving.  It wasn't roller derby.  In fact, there was nothing death-defying about it at all.  But it was crazy (to me), scary, and awesome all the same.

I went to an OA meeting.  

I can hear you thinking, "Uh, what's OA?"  (Bet you didn't know I am psychic.)*   OA stands for Overeaters Anonymous, a fellowship-based recovery program for compulsive overeating as modeled on the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  

As you know, I continue to struggle with disordered eating.  In the past this has taken the form of binge eating, not eating, restricted eating, chewing and spitting, and compulsive exercise.  These days I'm eating large amounts of "safe" foods (salad, air-popped popcorn).  And I'm sick of it.  I'm tired of the seemingly fruitlessness of my struggle.  It seems that there is no light at the end of this tunnel.

A local Twitter contact recommended that I check out OA.  I tweeted back that I didn't think OA was the right fit.  After all, I'm not morbidly obsese.  She encouraged me to try it anyway, saying that she knows many people whom OA has helped that were never morbidly obese, or that struggled with anorexia/bulimia versus compulsive eating.  

So I went. 

In spite of my Twitter friend's reassurances, I expected the OA meeting to be full of very, very overweight people.  I was very, very wrong.  Instead, the room was full of members of all sizes, ages, and food struggles.  As I listened to people reading from the manual and sharing their stories, I wanted to weep at these beautiful, amazing, broken people from whom disordered eating has claimed so much.  At the same time, I wanted to shout for joy because, wonder of wonders, I am not alone.

That was a week ago Saturday.  This past Saturday I went to the meeting again.  I will be going back, possibly forever.  For me, attending OA is crazy (because I never thought I would willingly sit down in a group of people to share about how screwed up I am with food and feelings), scary (because vulnerability always is), and awesome (because I am starting to believe that there really is hope for me in this). 

Here are some things that I already knew going into OA that the meetings confirmed which I think it is important for everyone to know:
  • It is not about the food.
  • Even while it is not about the food, disordered eaters do not have the same relationship with food and eating as everyone else.  
  • Disordered eating (anorexia, bulimia, overeating, etc.) is a disease, it is an addiction, it is a matter of mental health.  
  • It is not a matter of willpower.  Often disordered eaters have an extraordinary amount of willpower.
  • I will probably never be "normal" with food -- and awareness of this truth is powerful.
 
*I am not actually psychic.

8 comments:

  1. Good for you Beth--This is probably a bigger step in your journey than you even realize at this moment!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's a really big step, and one I think will be extremely beneficial for you (just from what I've read.) It doesn't matter if you're losing weight, gaining weight, binging, etc.--all the core issues are so similar that you can relate on so many different levels. Just knowing you're not alone is helpful in itself. I've had this recommended to me as well, so it's nice to hear someone who has gone!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beth @ To the FullesNovember 8, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Jennifer and Abby, thank you for your encouragement. Also, I think it's extra-cool that you both commented almost identical sentiments without (I think) knowing it. Maybe YOU'RE the psychic ones! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Charlie O. EdinburghNovember 8, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    Yay!! I am *so* excited for you. OA has been life-changing for me. (And no, we're not all morbidly obese. Despite my profile cartoon, no one would ever guess I'm a compulsive overeater. These days, I'm only fat on the inside.)Grateful to have you on the journey with you. See you on Twitter!Charlie

    ReplyDelete
  5. Stephanie (dancingwaNovember 8, 2010 at 8:03 PM

    I'm proud of you, Beth. This is amazing.And a quote that has stayed with me, through everything, since my super-involved-Campus-Ministry-days from undergrad... "In your brokenness, you are blessed."Those broken places are where the light shines through. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beth,Thank you for sharing this part of yourself and this experience. I really want to learn more about it. Do you feel it will help you change your food feelings? I feel like groups like this make it OK to OWN your issue. To just be like, I deal with this and I'm not ashamed and I want to work it out without the shame factor. That is a good thing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good post. I'm an ex-derby girl who struggles with food. I injured my knee pretty badly so I stopped but it helps being a part of a team. So here's to YOU! Happy MoFo'ing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beth @ To the FullesNovember 9, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    @OACharlie Thanks!@Steph You said, "Those broken places are where the light shines through." I say, "YES!" (Btw, didn't know you were heavily involved in campus ministry. I'd love to hear more about that!)@Clare You asked, "Do you feel it will help you change your food feelings?" Honestly, I don't know at this point. But I certainly hope so. @organarchy Thanks! I'm psyched to have an ex-derby girl reading! :)

    ReplyDelete

"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King