Saturday, July 21, 2012

Overeaters Anonymous my inside story

Hello my name is Jayson and I'm an over eater...

So I've thought about writing this entry all week, If you've read my blog you will know by now that I'm a dieter, have been all my life. I even worked for one of the worlds largest diet companies, but the one thing I've always been good at is eating and no matter how good a diet as soon as I stopped I'd put the weight and more back on. I'd always gone along with the line 'diets make you fat!' but after this week of soul searching I can tell you the only thing making me fat is me.

So lets get a few things clear from the start, OE is not a diet club, you'll not get any diet plans when you attend this meeting. And if I'm honest that to me was a bit hard, I wanted someone to tell me what to eat and when! OE is more of a support group for people who have eating issues, and when I say eating issues I mean that it's not just full of a bunch of fat people as you would think maybe for the title of the group.

The program is based on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous a tried and tested approach to an absence based support group or as it's known amongst members a fellowship. Meetings are held all over the world for many 12 step programs and you are encouraged to attend as many meetings as you can and would like to. In AA there is a saying of 30 meetings/30 days but with OA there are fewer meetings and I'm lucky to have one a week close to me.

You do however get the option (and it is encouraged) to get what is known as a sponsor, these are people who have worked through the 12 step program and will help and support you as you take your journey through it. They will be you telephone buddy and really your lifeline when you need it. This may sound strange to you right now, heavens how hard can losing weight be after all? You just eat less and move your fat arse more! Yer up until this past week I thought that too...

So What's it like going to a meeting? Well I should say first things first that what happens in a meeting is 100% confidential so I'll not be telling you names or using any one persons story apart from my own and an amalgamation of the voices that were shared. 

I walked into the meeting, early as ever, and was greeted by everyone in the room. What shocked me a little was everyone had huge smiles on their faces, I kinda guested that this was going to be a very different evening and I wasn't wrong. Everyone greeted each other and it was the nicest and friendliest bunch of strangers I'd ever met. But having now experienced my first week I now understand why.

Once everyone is in the room the person leading the group asks everyone if they want to join in the serenity pryer they can, I know to some of you the word god will stop you from considering this, because lets face it I had the same feelings. But OA and all the other groups use the term god to mean higher being or creator, I mean how hard is it to believe that we were created? Most of us believe that the next diet will be the last. All I'd say is give it a chance and you don't know what you will discover.

So once the pryer has been said the person leading the group will read through the founding principles of OA and them members of the group will take it in turns reading excerpts from The Big Book, AA's main book of peoples experiences. It may seem strange that they would use AA as a guide but looking back on it, it kind of fits quite well really.

We then listened to a group member who shared their food related story with us and how they had found OA a help and where they were heading and what they were feeling about it all. Then it was time for a nice cup of tea and a short break, I can tell you now that I was thinking 'what in gods name am I doing here?' 'Can I make a bolt for the door and not get noticed?', but then the main person came over to me and said, 'so do you know what happens in the second half?' I admitted that I didn't, I mean there is not much out there on what happens in a meeting. They went on to tell me that they would go around the room and ask people to share their stories with everyone or just talk about what their experience was like, for some it would be about the last week for others it would be about the 12 steps and for people like myself it was just a chance to say hello and a little bit about who I am.

As we went around people would introduce themselves and everyone would repeat their name and say hello back. Then people started shearing and I have to say it was like listening to my story, even though everyone had something different to say I could feel my head nodding to every word. OMG could this group of strangers really know what it was like for me? By the time it got to the last person I was feeling quite emotional, when out of the blue one simple line was said by someone shearing and I felt tears stream down my face. The group ended shortly after with everyone saying goodbye like we had known each other for ever.

This is where my journey really started... I like I'm sure so many others felt I didn't have the right to take the contact details of another member and to ask them to be my sponsor, I mean after all it wasn't a diet all we had don is sat there and talked and listened to other peoples stories.

I was however feeling super charged about the whole thing and even though at the time the 12 steps seemed a little odd I thought I would give it a go. So abstinence is the main principle but as you don't have a diet program abstinence from how much? The things I have read says you should eat three times a day and not pick, you should find a good diet plan that works for you and you should follow it. You need to work out your trigger foods and cut those out of your life, I think these are things that come to light as you go along. I know two of mine are pasta and sugar so they are out!

But here is the thing, I came home and even with all the good will in the world I had no diet plan and no one was going to put me on the scales the next week, I have become so institutionalised about weight loss I really was having problems about this. But still the first night went well and I didn't over eat and I went to bead with my OE welcome pack in my hand ready to read in the morning.

Then for the next four days I didn't stop eating... I wanted to be 'good' and follow the steps, but I was full of emotions and memories that I had buried under all those layers of fat I carry. I found myself sitting and having 'a good cry' I even found myself not wanting to go out! What was going on? All I had done was talk and listen and now look at the state of me, right I wasn't going back, I was quite happy being me and keeping all of this down and never letting it out... But was I really? 

Then we get to yesterday, you see I've just started to chatting to someone and they are stunning both inside and out, they never say anything that would upset me and they always make me feel like a million dollars. But he asked me to take a video of what I looked like, I guess I had only sent photos of the right shots of me that didn't show my huge belly. I've become very good at camera angles like no other man alive. And over the last week I think my insecurities must have started to come through.

Now he said he liked me for who I am and that he didn't like skinny guys, but lets face it I lived with someone for three years who when we started seeing each other said all the same things only to end up beating me and telling me that he was as good as I'd get because I was fat and ugly... bruises heal but some scares are much harder to get ride of... I found this out when I had a complete melt down, I spent the whole of yesterday afternoon crying, not just a few tears but a flowing river of self hatred and emotions. I was about to walk away from something that was amazing because of my past and it all came back to food!

After spending hours talking to me this amazing guy talked me back of the ledge, I know he isn't like all the others and I can see that. I had a eureka moment, I'm not sure if everyone on a program has it and weather this was my waking up in a gutter somewhere not knowing how I got there, but I was having a huge moment of some kind.

So this morning I am taking control, I will be working through the demons of my past, I will be going back to the fellowship to share my life with those who understand, and I will try to make my way through the steps of recovery. If along the way I find something that is my god and the thing that is going to help me get there then all the better as I will not be doing it on my own. But with a room full of people around me and an amazing guy by my side for the first time I don't feel alone.

I may take you back to this post or topic from time to time but I feel I've said enough for now. If you would like to look into OE and to find a meeting just google them and you will find them in your area. All I would say is go into it with an open mind and heart and you never know what is going to happen.

Bear x

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