Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hi, my name is Jean....


Now you all chime in with, “Hi, Jean!” (And skip the hi jean/hygiene joke, okay? cause I’ve already heard it 30 billion times.)

I was active in Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA) for several years in the 1990’s, when I lived in a part of Massachusetts that had plenty of meetings to choose from. Getting to an OA or FAA meeting where I live now is tough. I live in a small-town Christian community that for the most part views 12-step programs and the people involved in them as the the devil’s spawn. Many of my neighbors here see addiction as a moral failing, not a disease, and only one church in town allows 12-step meetings on their premises.

I fell away from the OA & FAA programs for a variety of reasons, one of which was that taking the first of the 12 steps required me to admit that I am powerless over food and (as I understood my sponsor to say) always would be. I just could not wrap my mind around that at the time. I was convinced that I had been born a normal eater and that my upbringing and life events had turned me into an overeater. I was convinced that somehow I could be restored to the normal eater I was when I was born. I spent years in therapy, consulted with an eating disorder specialist and a nutritionist and gained a lot of insights about myself. I also gained another 60 pounds, had weight loss surgery, and even after losing all my excess weight (90 pounds) I found myself still struggling with food.

So once again, I’m back where I started. Life does tend to take us in circular journeys that (if we pay attention to the lessons we need to learn) eventually moves us up away from our old troubles in sort of spiral fashion. If I could attend an OA or FAA meeting tonight, I’d be right there on a folding chair in a church hall with the smell of coffee (but no cigarettes, nowadays), and when it was my turn, I’d be saying again, “Hi, my name is Jean, and I’m a food addict.”

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