My name is Storme, and I’m a compulsive eater…
So I arrive at the address provided on the website.. Hancock Medical Center (please call to find out where in the hospital the meeting will be held). It’s the same hospital that I had 5 of my 6 surgeries while fighting cancer. The same hospital that saved my life. I entered the outpatient entrance, but nobody was there. “It’s Sunday” I thought. It was completely empty, and kinda eerie. Weren’t people sick on Sundays? I took a left and headed down the corridor towards the nurses station, feeling nervous because I knew I would now have to admit to someone that I was looking for the Overeaters Anonymous meeting.. and by doing that, they’d know I was fat! I say that because I want to describe how powerful my personal disease is.. the way I think.. like, I really believe in my mind that all the effort I go to to try and disappear somehow, works! I really believe that if I wear an open jacket over my t shirt, that you’ll only see the tshirt. I really believe that I suck my stomach in 24/7 .. and not just the moments that I am self conscious enough to suck in. I believe that the person I imagine myself to be, is what you see. I believe all the endearing feedback that I have ever heard. I believe that “I look like I have lost weight” even though I know I have gained 30lbs since I last saw you. I believe that I “look healthy”… even tho I walk with an arched back so that my stomach can be centered, and not in front of me.. so that I can balance. I believe my selfies.. that that one angle that shows that sexy stud of a boi has the body to match.
I tell the nurse that I am looking for the OA meeting. “The What?” she says.. loudly.. the nurse behind her looks up.. ugh.. more attention…
“The Overeaters Anonymous meeting.. it says it is in this hospital somewhere” I lean in and whisper.. urging her to be confidential about it.
“Ohh girl.. lemme call and find out for you.” She calls, and is given instructions on how to find the correct waiting room. I hear her repeating them, and know exactly where that is. It’s the waiting room next to the labor and delivery ward. It’s the waiting room next to the unit that I had spent several stays after my hysterectomy, partial hysterectomy, tumor removal.. cancer scraping surgery.. and 19cm tumor removal surgery.. oh I knew it well! It was the walk thru waiting room to the exit.. the room I had walked thru to get to the other room where the vending machines were.. oh thank God we aren’t meeting in the vending machine waiting room!!! It was the waiting room I’d walked thru to get outside and smoke my cigarettes. I thought about how insane that was, and how convinced I was about the effects of smoking on my health. I mean, to smoke is to die. Simple as that… but in my mind, To eat really crap food, all the time… that was giving me life.. because I needed food.. even if it was bad for me.. I was still alive.
The nurse hung up, and repeated the directions again. I walked off down the corridor, feeling proud. This was me! This was me, walking down the corridor and taking control of my life! This was ME! Showing up for myself.. loving myself.. doing something different!!!!
When I got to the room, there was a man sitting in there. “oh shit.. I wonder if his daughter just had a baby..” I thought to myself. “What if more family members come.. do we really just sit in this little room with waiting family members and have a 12 step meeting?” I went in and sat down, taking my phone out to start writing away my anxiety. He asked me if I was visiting someone. I told him no, that I was waiting for a meeting that was supposed to be there. He was there for the same reason. Now, I don’t know why I assumed he wasn’t. He had a belly, but nothing huge… and he was a guy! I laughed at myself as I clocked my judgements, assumptions and stereotypes. I thought about the meeting I’d imagined in my head. The skinny weight watcher models in leggings and tank tops.. flaunting their success stories.. and then the morbidly obese members who had to be wheeled in on their beds that had been cut from their houses. I listened to him talk a little about the program. He said he had been in the program for 10 years… and I immediately panicked… well.. not panic like as in a panic attack.. but just … “this doesn’t work.. you don’t look like a Ken doll” panic. I was tempted to leave before anyone else showed up.. catch Wendys on the way back to my house and try again another day. Thank God I worry about what other people think, because that’s the only reason I initially stayed in that seat.. fear of judgement. I’m a quitter, but in front of other people. I do that in the silence of my own company, and then just neglect to ever mention that goal again.
The meeting was small.. myself and four others. It was weird being the newcomer. They gave me a welcome packet and explained a little about the group. It was an adjustment introducing myself as “a compulsive eater” as opposed to “an alcoholic”. We read step One. I thought I would know it all already because of my work in AA and NA, but I was surprised. The words in the book described me. I don’t know why I was so shocked about that, but I was. I could relate to description of the addiction to food far stronger than the other 12 step groups. I was always the fat kid. It was part of why I needed liquid courage and drugs to numb the pain of being the fat kid. I listened to them share on what they had read.. how abstinence is the solution, but three times a day they have to unlock that dragon, and let it out to eat enough for them to survive, and then make it go back in its cage until next meal. I Listened to a lady share her anxiety about a wedding she was going to the next day, and how there would be food, and people asking why she isn’t eating.. or playing out how she can wait until last so there isn’t much left, and lie about being diabetic to avoid the cake. Holy shit! Do normal people worry that much about eating at a wedding the next day? How long had she been thinking about this scenario and planning for it? I could relate. I remembered stories of people in AA worrying about the alcohol that is served at family functions like that. It’s all the same shit!!! The obsessive thinking.. it’s not just how to get the thing that we are craving.. in fact, that is easy, because we’ve already decided we are gonna do it.. it’s the obsessive thinking that goes with the battle inside of us.. knowing we shouldn’t but wanting to anyway.
It fucking sucks y’all. It doesn’t help that the food here in the USA is pretty much all trash.. one lady shared about how there’s as much sugar in a YoPlait yoghurt as there is in a soda. Really?? I’d pat myself on the back for choosing a yoghurt for a snack!! She talked about the contents of Campbell’s tomato soup. She’d wanted to buy it because she wasn’t feeling well, but after reading the label, she didn’t.
When I think about how crap all of our food is, it feels overwhelming.. like there’s really no point in eating unless its vegetables.. just raw vegetables like a freakin rabbit.. rabbits are fat tho… cuddly.. maybe because they are locked in cages for our entertainment.. the wild ones aren’t.. they’re lean and fast… Geeze I can’t wait for the compulsion to be lifted.. my mind to stop racing so much.. its just like when I got sober!! The good news is that my desire to drink and drug has been lifted. I am by no means cured.. but it isn’t obsessive like it once was, which gives me hope that the same can be true for food!
Welcome to OA!