Amanda’s Story

“Trudge the road to happy destiny”


Hi my name is Amanda and I am a compulsive overeater and food addict. To qualify, I entered this
program in 2015 at 325 pounds, relapsed in 2017 at 160 pounds, and reentered in December 2019 at
275 pounds. I have gained and lost over a hundred pounds more than 7 times in my life, now, and I am
barely squeaking by under 40 years old. I have participated in most expressions of our disease, from
restricting and anorexia, to bulimia, purging, and exercise bulimia, to compulsive overeating. I have
done things with and to food that don’t cross most “normies” minds, like running many miles with no
food or water in the dark at 2 in the morning, to eating so much that I got physically ill, purged, and then
continued eating on the floor of the bathroom. I know what it’s like to be at a “normal” body weight
and live in our world as a “regular sized person” and I know what it’s like to have my thighs be so large
that my pants wear through and I bleed from the chafing. As a teenager, I obsessed over counting my
bones as I looked at myself in the mirror and as an adult, I have been too fat to fit in an airplane seat —
not fit comfortably, I literally couldn’t fit. What I know from my time in program is that, finally, I agree I
belong here, and I can’t do it alone — I need this fellowship and my higher power to recover from the
disease of compulsive overeating. Today I want to talk to you about the risks that I was willing to take to
be free from my compulsive overeating, and how those have to match the size and volume of the risks I
am willing to take to work this program and recover from this disease.

I came into program at 34 years old and 325 pounds. I had just been married 2 months prior and that
caused some sort of awakening for me, looking at my wedding photos and not recognizing the woman in
the pictures. I actually didn’t even recognize my own face, my body dysmorphia was so acute. I
happened on an acquaintance’s post of Facebook when she put out some before and after shots from
her gastric bypass, and a long caption about what she had gained from losing weight. Honestly, at that
point, I just assumed I would be overweight forever, but she talked about things she had the freedom to
do, now that she had a smaller body size, and how it affected her relationship with her husband and her
child. It was the first time I ever heard anyone talk about being obese as anything other that a vanity
problem or a health problem. And I wanted what she had, so I told my wife that I was going to get a
gastric bypass. This was completely out of left field for me — I’ve never been in the hospital, never
broken a bone, never even had an IV, and have intense medical anxiety. My disease was so strong that I
manipulated and convinced my wife, who is 30 years my senior and has some pretty intense health
concerns of her own, and who is not a compulsive overeater, to have the surgery with me, to her own
personal grave danger. I was willing to risk the life of the person that I love most in the world in order to
be free from this disease. I was ready to accept the very real and possible fact that she might die if I
forced her to get this surgery with me — that is how far my addiction will push me.

My higher power had other plans for me though — I went to all of the preop appointments, double
checked every time and made sure that my insurance would cover the surgery as it was “medically
necessary.” I was finally cleared to have the surgery when I got a call from my insurance that said they
weren’t going to cover it. To this day, I still don’t have any idea why. I read and re-read that policy,
spoke to so many reps on the phone — I’ve finally just accepted it as a gift from my HP. When I heard

that, I was frantic. Sometimes we hear people talk about “the last house on the block” and back then I
thought that a gastric bypass was the last house on the block for me. All of the hope was sucked out of
my life like a giant wind that slams an open door. I called my wife and asked her if we could take out a
home equity loan so I could go to Mexico and get the surgery. I manipulated her into a yes. Not only
was I willing to risk my wife’s life, I was willing to risk my home and my security, and travel to a foreign
country and let doctors I didn’t know operate on me, in order to be free from the pain, fear, and self-
loathing I felt because of my compulsive overeating.

I found OA crying, sitting on the floor of the closet in my classroom with a room full of children waiting
unsupervised outside — again, risking my job and my teaching license — by looking at my phone and
googling “AA for fat people.” I knew about AA from my family; as a child we lived with my grandparents
and my grandfather hosted AA meetings in our home. I did a tour of AA in college after getting in
trouble for drinking, so I knew what the steps were and what a “program” was. I even knew about
sponsorship. So when I was in my most hopeless place, ready and willing to risk everything I loved and
cared about to be free from the desperation that I felt, somehow, recovery opened a door.

When you google AA for fat people, some articles about OA came up. This was the first time I had ever
heard that their might possibly be other people like me — just knowing that the fellowship existed
shone a tiny ray of hope onto the floor of that closet of classroom. Until that moment, I thought that I
was the only person in the world who suffered with this disease. I knew I had to go to a meeting,
because that’s what anonymous people did, so I googled the meetings and found our intergroup’s page.
I looked at the meeting list and saw that one of the meetings had an email as contact info. At that point,
I was so broken down that I could never have called anyone, but I could email. I knew if I didn’t contact
someone right then, from the floor of the closet, I would walk out and do something irreversible that I
would regret. So I emailed. That was a Wednesday; my first meeting was on a Saturday morning. That
email was the first risk I had to accept on my road to recovery.

The next risk I had to take was to walk into that church for the first meeting. Going to a meeting in a
place you’re not familiar with is confusing and nerve wracking for me on a good day. I must have walked
around that church three times looking for the room, and then had to walk down a dark hallway to find
the one door with a light on. I opened the door and saw about 12 women sitting around a table. I put
on my fake cheerleader face for the beginning of the meeting, but when it came time for me to read out
of the big book, I cried. I couldn’t get past one sentence. Again, it was time to take a recovery risk — I
had to accept that for the first time in my life, I couldn’t fake it. I cried through that meeting, and every
meeting of the 30 meetings in 30 days that I went to.

I refused to get a sponsor or even entertain the idea of a sponsor — I was convinced that it was okay for
other people, but I could do this alone. But I was willing to take the risk to be teachable — whatever
someone said they did in a meeting, I did it. My first abstinence just came from doing whatever anyone
said in a meeting. I took those risks one at a time — first 3 meals a day, really 3 binges — then no sugar,

then no alcohol, then red, yellow, green lists…for three months, this was enough. Lots of meetings and
lots of writing and lots of exercise and doing what someone else said. But I still didn’t have the psychic
change necessary for true recovery; I was just living in the temporary reprieve of symptoms I didn’t
even really lose that much weight, but I didn’t care.

Then one day on this meeting, I heard someone say, “if you want fellowship, go to the meetings, if you
want recovery, work the steps. And if you wanna work the steps, you need a sponsor.” I knew enough
at that point to know that I wanted recovery, and my pink cloud was beginning to grow thin and I was
worried I couldn’t keep this up — I was definitely dieting with group support. So I took another risk, and
decided that I would call the next person who said they were a sponsor. She happened to leave an
email instead of a phone number, which was my HP’s doing, because I might not have reached out

Getting a sponsor and working the steps started another set of risks. To be able to share the most
shameful parts of myself with another person, to be completely honest, required me to put my ego
aside and be willing to be vulnerable and bare about my hidden thoughts and actions. For me, it helped
that my sponsor was 3000 miles away, because I was able to be more honest than I know I could have
been if she was sitting in front of me! Getting a sponsor also required me to take the risk of trust. I had
to trust that someone else’s suggestions might, could, or probably would work, and that I could set aside
my own best thinking to take someone else’s ideas. Working with a sponsor, through the steps,
allowed me to have the recovery that the steps promise and provide.

Three years into abstinence, I relapsed. Getting out of relapse required another risk — I had to say the R
word in front of a room full of other people. I had to be willing to risk sharing that shameful fact — that
I walked out on the miracle and my higher power — with my fellows. I had to take all of those risks
again. I got a sponsor, got honest about what I was eating, risked abstinence — will this food be
enough? — and worked the tools. And again, being willing to take the risks got me from relapse to
recovery. It does work if you work it!

Today, I take a risk every day when I work my 90 day program. I agree, every day, to put down the food
and risk experiencing life on life’s terms without the ability to run away, numb, or hide with food. I risk
sending my food plan to my sponsor and trusting that, for today, this food will be enough to provide
good, growing nutrition for my body. I risk making outreach calls to “strangers” — what will I say — and
I risk sharing with fellows who call me. I risk turning my will and my life, daily, over to a higher power
that I don’t really understand, can’t define, and, on good days, waveringly believe in. I risk sharing
inventory items with someone else so I’m not holding on to yesterday or in worry about today. I risk
rigorous honestly, even when it might have a “negative” blowback for me, so I’m not scrambling to
remember what lies I’ve told. I risk committing to service in our program, even when I might not “feel”
like it, in order to give back what I’ve so generously been given. And the reward for me, for all of these

risks, it that I get to move from the big R relapse to the bigger R, recovery, and “trudge the road to
happy destiny” with all of you. Thanks for letting me share. -Amanda

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