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Heart Shield

I have been a compulsive overeater all my life. Up until the time when I became responsible for the food that went into my mouth, I suspect that I was fed compulsively.I come from a typical Jewish family where food was love. I was raised with the concept that a fat child is a happy child. I could never understand why, if that was true, I was always so miserable. Though I was a fat child and a chubby teenager, it wasn’t until my freshman year in college that my disease really began to progress. I was living in the dorms, away from home for the first time, in a competitive college environment and I simply couldn’t cope. So I ate. By the end of that year I weighed about 220 pounds. I went on the then-popular water diet and got down to about 160. This is where my story differs from many I’ve heard. It was the only time I ever dieted or lost weight. I never tried the shots or pills or this or that diet. I knew I would fail, so why bother? Besides, I was good at being fat. I wore the cutest size 22 clothes, and I always looked happy to other people. I remember the exact moment when the water diet ended and my disease ran rampant once again. I was living with my parents and was home one night watching television with my father. My father, a very quiet man, was eating a doughnut and I knew I wanted it. I looked at him and said, “If you don’t give me that doughnut I’m going to eat your foot. “Naturally, not being one to “deprive” his children, my father gave me the doughnut. That was the beginning of the end for me. I dropped out of college after my freshman year and started working fulltime. I moved out of my parents’ home and started hanging out with a group of people who were into drugs and alcohol. I thought that if I did what they did maybe they would like me, and also if I was drunk or loaded the pain and loneliness might go away, even for a little while.
I began a relationship with a homosexual man which was to last five years. We loved each other, in our own sick ways, but I continually put expectations on him that he could not possibly meet. Although he was bisexual, he had a decided preference for men. I complained about how horribly he treated me, but I made no move to end the relationship.
I believe that my compulsive overeating stems in part from my inability to accept my sexuality; I guess I couldn’t come up with a better way to cancel myself out as a woman than to weigh 200 pounds and be involved with a gay man. When this relationship finally ended, my life consisted solely of working, sleeping and eating. The night I went to my first OA meeting, my life began in a way I never dreamed possible. I knew I was home. I began abstaining that same night, and I have shed 60 pounds. For me, OA is not a program about food. It is a program of suicide prevention. It is not “cool” for a nice Jewish girl to slash her wrists or O.D. on pills, but I could eat myself to death and not be doing anything out of the ordinary or unacceptable to my family and others around me. What a slow and painful death it would have been!
In OA, I felt a love and acceptance that I had never known before even with my own family. My weight loss has made a difference in my life, but not nearly as great a difference as the changes I have made emotionally and spiritually. Today, I am a functioning human being learning how to live in this world one day at a time. I don’t have to hide anymore. I can relate to people on an honest level and I can love myself and know that I am loved by others. Just for today, I have not found it necessary to break my abstinence. OA took away all my excuses, and for that alone I am grateful.

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