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OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS: SINK THE LOLLIPOP!
In a family of ten children, I was number nine and the only girl. My father left us when I was a year old, and my brothers, never short of playmates, did not deign to play with a girl. At the age of eleven, I was sexually molested. It does not seem far-fetched to suspect that these experiences made me wary of the male sex. Now in my fifties, I feel I have not been able to trust men enough to want one for a husband. Boyfriends I have had; a permanent relationship, never. It was well before I entered my teens that I began to build my ship. I made it out of pure chocolate, and it was my sanctuary for thirty-nine years. Aboard my ship, I worked my way up to ten to twenty candy bars a day plus a variety of other chocolate concoctions. By the age of sixteen I had reached 240 pounds.
Within the huge body was an emotionally contorted child. When things got out of hand, as they usually did, I expected people to look after me. I grew angry with God when He would not do as I wished and turned to the medical profession, demanding that doctors do for me what God wouldn’t.
I set impossible goals for myself and became angry when I didn’t reach them. But candy solved all my problems. It relieved depressions, eliminated the need to make decisions and was a handy, all-purpose reward, as appropriate for failure as for success. Many times I ventured out of my magic ship, vowing never to return. But I always did. I was safe there and no one else could come aboard to criticize me. During my brief absences I visited many doctors. They all said the same thing, “Lose weight or else.” I did; in fact, I went up and down as regularly as the waves in the ocean. It began to be clear to me that death was not going to wait until I grew old to claim me. But I really didn’t care. I had decided by this time that I would die on my ship and die happy. I did not realize how long it takes or how painful it would be. When I contracted rheumatoid arthritis at the age of thirty, the doctor asked me, “Have you gone through an emotional crisis recently?”
“My whole life has been an emotional crisis,” I replied.
My condition of psychic chaos was on slow simmer until one June day when I was told that I would die if I didn’t lose weight. (As if I didn’t know.) I was also informed that there was now a way to lose weight which didn’t require willpower. It was a surgical procedure called the intestinal bypass. Out of everything the doctor said, I heard only “You can eat and still lose weight” and “You will have a lot of diarrhea.” I waited until my weight reached 308 pounds and then submitted to the operation. Thus began eight years of hell. The lowest point my weight reached after the bypass was 240 pounds. Then it began to yo-yo. I had diarrhea so badly I could not leave the house for a whole year. I finally got so I could control this condition somewhat, and then the flatulence started. It was very degrading. After three years, I started having kidney trouble. I underwent two operations for the removal of stones and then a third to remove a kidney. That was the beginning of a five-year ordeal during which I had twenty-five operations, eleven related to the damaged kidney. I suffered acute attacks of pain which the doctors could not explain. I had rashes and allergies. I was extremely short-winded and could hardly move about. The only social life I had was visiting doctors and, occasionally, my family. Three days after my kidney was removed the doctors told me I had to have the bypass reversed or I would develop trouble with the other kidney, in which case I would have less than three years to live. I decided at this point that it was too painful to die. Still, I could not give up my only solace. I retreated to my ship. I ate because I was sick and I was sick because I ate. Eight years after the bypass was performed, it was reversed with the warning that I had no chance of pulling through. But again I was saved, though it seemed to me that death would have been better. I felt only pain. Nothing else. Now I was convinced that I had lost my last chance of ever being thin. I had tried everything and there was absolutely nowhere else to go. As if on cue, the incision opened up and became infected. It drained for four months. The doctors gave up and said it would drain the rest of my life. It was imperative now to blot out my situation. My weight climbed back up to 291 pounds. Suddenly, I became aware of what I was doing. I knew I did not want to reach the 300-pound mark again. For the first time I said, “God, help me!” On Valentine’s Day I received what I had asked for in the form of a telephone number a friend had given me more than two years earlier. I had put it in a drawer and forgotten it. I called the number and on the day of love I hobbled into my first OA meeting. I could hardly walk across the room. I was told later that they didn’t know if they were going to have to carry me out after the meeting. I was a mess physically and emotionally. But at that very first meeting I saw a ray of hope. I went to another meeting the next night and I started abstaining the following day. On that day the incision which the doctors said would drain the rest of my life stopped draining and began to heal. Out of the total desperation in which I came, I was willing to accept anything OA had to offer. I did not understand much of what was going on, but I knew I wanted what I saw. I started the program by doing everything I was supposed to do: abstaining, speaking, volunteering for service, writing and giving away my inventory, becoming a sponsor. I went to as many meetings as possible and worked the steps to the best of my ability. It took me four months to begin to understand what I was doing. I had felt for years that I had lost my faith. I could not ask God for anything because He never heard me. Then one night I was told, “Action is the magic word,” and I found that I had not lost my faith. It had been there all the time, waiting for me to start acting on it. Once I started the action, things got better. Now I am learning to take responsibility for myself. I have found a small part of me. I know I am a human being and a child of God. That is a wonderful thing to know. It’s so much better than being a “freak of nature.” I am aware that my life was an emotional crisis because I let it be. My physical problems are beginning to disappear. I grow stronger every day. I now sail into meetings (I leave my cane at home). At one meeting I climb two flights of stairs. I read all the literature I can get my hands on and enjoy every word. I let my Higher Power run my life and, friends, you cannot believe the things I accomplish in twenty-four hours. I visit people in the hospital, write, read, call OA friends and always have time to talk to them if they call me. All this from a person who, less than two months before coming to OA, spent Christmas in a wheelchair. It’s a beautiful life this Higher Power has created for us, and I for one really want to live and enjoy it. Off in the distance sits that chocolate ship of mine. I do not have to go back to it unless I choose to. Thank God, today I have a choice. Stick around, folks. I am going to sink the Good Ship Lollipop.
*11/245/2*

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