I thought that it was that I never liked my name and I had always had lots of different nicknames. But now I know that it wasn’t my name that I didn’t like, but myself.
For the last 25 years most of my thoughts have been about how much I weigh. I have never seen myself thin, and I have constantly struggled with questions of what to eat and what not to eat. A seemingly endless range of diets have also always ended in my giving up and telling myself, “Stuff it. I’m going to eat chocolate now and start again next Monday, next month, next year. Whatever. But I’m going to eat chocolate now”. Although I never succeeded at the diets, the one thing I did succeed at was perpetuating my depression and self deception – pretending that I didn’t care what I looked like, and so what if I was obese.
When I joined OA in January 2004, I was prepared to try anything. My excuses could no longer even convince me, and there really is no consolation in the belief that being pear-shaped is better than being apple-shaped as there’s lower risk of a heart attack!
Working this programme has given me the chance to redefine myself and to tackle the crisis that was my life. Using OA’s tools I created my own set of “emergency services” starting by accepting that I needed to reach out for help, getting a sponsor (who I call daily) and working out a personalised food plan.
Because I’m not alone anymore I can get in touch with friends in the Programme at 10 pm or at 6 am when I’m thinking about frozen yoghurt, cake and chocolate croissants and together we get through it. I’m learning to put sugar into my bath instead of into my tea, and because it’s bath sugar, it’s okay if I use the whole packet. I use mascara called Chocolate Fantasy, nail polish called Cappuccino, and my daily iced coffee is just the password for my laptop. I buy flowers, rub cream into my hands, burn scented candles, unwind in a bubble bath, listen to CD’s, waltz around in warm fluffy slippers (I’m going to dance lessons, and to gym!). But the point about all these small changes is that I’m learning to be kind to myself, learning to consider myself important enough to deserve them. It may sound expensive, but I know that before this I was easily spending the same amounts of money on appetite suppressants.
I’ve lost over 25 kilograms now, but still my emotions are still the hard part. It’s just as well my sponsor reminds me that because of my weight loss there is less protection between me and the rest of the world, and I’m going to feel things more intensely! In case you thought it was all soft and gentle – it’s not, programme is honest too and my sponsor often tells me to “face your stuff, don’t stuff your face”. But she’s right, I used to be really good at anaesthetising myself with bread and chocolates: swallowing my feelings instead of dealing with them, and then overdosing on caffeine in chocolate and tea to make myself feel better. Now, I’ve come to realise that I have to let go of resentment and acknowledge that I already have an abundant life, one full of stops and starts, ups and downs, lefts and rights. And that’s what I need to face, my ability to live my life.
So, I’ve also turned a money box into a post box, and my Higher Power now has lots of mail. It helps enormously to hand things over to him, and to ask for help instead of asking for more. I’m working on my relationship with my Higher Power, learning what it’s like to engage in conversation with a close friend, 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week and especially with someone who reminds me not to take my physical recovery for granted.