At one time or another, my parents, brothers, and I have all been more than 100 pounds (45 kg) overweight and preoccupied with food and snacking, with the latest diet always posted on our refrigerator.

In my teen years, I could lose 10 or 20 pounds (5 or 9 kg) fairly easily. In my senior year of college, I lost 50 pounds (23 kg). But after that, I found that I could not stick to a diet and seemed to have lost all willpower. I came to OA at age 25, more than 100 pounds (45 kg) overweight. I left my first meeting feeling that I couldn’t identify, because the mention of a Higher Power or God was too religious for me.

A year later, I was more desperate and returned to OA. Nothing else I tried had worked. This time, I did identify with the speaker and those who shared. I recognized myself in the First Step: I was powerless over food and my life had become unmanageable.

Thus began some wonderful years for me. I lost 100 pounds (45 kg) and maintained that loss for over seven years. I married and had a baby. I lived the OA program, attending meetings, sponsoring and being sponsored, and giving service.

Then one day on vacation, I could not resist a bakery item. I went into relapse over the next year or so. I regained all the weight and became dissatisfied with my life. Despite continuing to pop in at meetings, I never could get more than a few weeks of abstinence.

Why can’t we be normal eaters like other people we see? … Thank God we find acceptance and understanding in OA.

Meanwhile, my parents died of complications from type 2 diabetes. Everyone looked at me and said, “Andrea, you are on the same road. Is this what you want? You have two children who need you.” I agreed with them. I was an insulin-dependent diabetic, and my health was getting worse. Yet I felt I could do nothing about it because I was exhausted and depressed.         

Then, unbelievably, things got worse. My husband of twenty-two years threatened to leave. My best friend stopped speaking to me. I gained 60 pounds (27 kg) going from drive-through to drive-through. The food addiction was killing me. I returned to OA.

Now I know in every fiber of my being that I had this disease and was very ill. Over the last two years, I have really been committed to my program. I recognize that I need a Higher Power, which I like to define as the power that keeps addicts clean. I’ve found I don’t need to define this Power. It comes from other people; OA literature; and that still, small voice inside me.

To date I have lost 60 pounds (27 kg). I have found serenity in surrendering to this solution and way of life. I am growing in acceptance of others and myself; humility and appreciation of life are taking the place of envy, depression, and anger.

Many of us come to OA feeling like this is the “last house on the block.” The world pities us or mocks us, and we don’t understand ourselves. Why can’t we be normal eaters like other people we see?

Thank God we find acceptance and understanding in OA. I am grateful to have found this program, and I hope I can help others in the same way. OA has saved my life.