Now, my story… I’ll make it short, it feels a little worn these days – like a familiar kind of garment that kind of survives in your wardrobe even though you don’t like it. An heirloom I can’t throw out. But that’s a good thing – it’s part of who I am – and I’m just finding other people’s stories that much more fascinating than I do my own.
I’ve always been an overeater, but there was never any guilt attached to that. My parents didn’t care what I ate, and I ate incredible amounts and extremely one-sided (for years, there was one particular frozen dinner – only one kind – that I would eat. Nothing else.) After my mother’s death I went to live with my aunt and cousins and we all dieted together occasionally, but I was never very good at it or motivated enough to really try. I didn’t like being fat (and I was moderately so), but I liked food too much to do anything about it. All my pocket money went to food until I started smoking at 14, then I had a real money problem. 😉
It wasn’t until after high school that my eating began to really escalate. It began with a real wish to finally lose weight. I went online and learned a lot of things, somehow ending up in the vegan / fat free corner of things. Contributing to this was the BSE crisis in the UK at the time, the pictures of mistreated animals and mountains of dead cows being burned, I decided to go vegan. I also cut out all fats. Over the following two years, I ate like that – it suited me because I could still eat huge amounts of food, I just had to know which kinds to eat. I ate constantly, all the time. One summer I remember my boss asking me if I was turning orange, and I was – all the carrots I was eating!! Kilos and kilos.
Well, over those two years the diet became more and more restrictive as I was trying to lose weight and it kept getting harder. I began to restrict my starches. (on a diet with no protein or fat, that leaves you with rabbit food.) Then my calories. I exercised at least two hours each day, every day, high-energy aerobics classes. At the end I was eating about 600 calories a day, working out 2-3 hours a day – and, the irony of it, I weighed as much as I do now, I never got skinny.
It all ended on my birthday in Durham, my 22nd. I decided to have whatever my friends were taking me out to have, just for that one day. Well… imagine… floodgates opened! Suddenly I found myself having to catch up on years of deprivation, and I began bingeing like there was no tomorrow. I gained 30 lbs. in about 3 months and everybody saw it. I remember going to an aerobics class and not being able to lift the dumbbells I usually used because I was so exhausted from having just finished off a pint of ice cream – my body couldn’t cope. And I could not, absolutely COULD not get back to my vegan regime!
The next few years I tried every diet under the sun. I hated myself and I kept gaining weight, bingeing and dieting, round and round. I rarely binged on really tasty food, rather on whatever diet I was on – for example, those low carb bars which are terrible (and they would give me diarrhea, too) – I would eat loads of those. It wouldn’t taste good, but I was still bingeing.
I found GS in New York, on the Internet at first but as I was living in NYC I was able to get to live meetings. I had never heard of OA before and have never been to an OA meeting, I went straight to GS – after reading the stories on the website I knew it was where I belonged. I went to meetings, got a sponsor, got abstinent for about 18 days and then decided I wasn’t really so bad as these people, and went out. I kept the Greysheet itself, as a kind of souvenir, glued in my day planner. The next year I continued to diet and binge, diet and binge.
Finally, at that time living in MD, I was just coming up on two weeks on the South Beach Diet and I knew that the next binge was absolutely inevitable. There was nothing, NOTHING I could do about it – it was coming. I knew I couldn’t do this, or any other diet – the binge was coming. Then I remembered the GS – that was almost exactly a year after I first found it. I dug out my old planner, took the GS, went out to get a scale and got abstinent. I no longer had anybody’s phone number but I remembered the Greynet and the website, so I went there, asked for a sponsor, got one, and got abstinent.
That’s my story of finding GS – it’s been a long road since those first days, and I haven’t been abstinent ever since (summer 2006 wasn’t abstinent) but I am here to stay and to grow, abstinently. Thank God.