Article re-published from the Spring 2013 4-Thought Newsletter

The Gift of Abstinence

Abstinence has been on my mind a lot lately. Not that that’s new – I have committed to abstinence every day since July 19, 1990. I call my sponsor just about daily and start by stating my commitment to abstinence for another day. I do the same thing when I share in an OA meeting. But because we are celebrating the Year of Abstinence Awareness in 2013, I have been thinking about it even more than usual.

I had a conversation recently with another trustee who had just led a retreat. She related a conversation with an OA member who stated that she just didn’t want to give up the food. I under-stand that feeling, be-cause I felt the same way before I got abstinent. But as my friend told the other OA member, the food was robbing me of my life – and long before it would actually kill me.

I remember a time when abstinence seemed absolutely unattainable. Furthermore, I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to get abstinent, because I was unwilling to turn my will and my life – and especially, my food – over to a Higher Power. The reality was that I had a lot of experience turning every-thing over, but it was to the disease of compulsive eating, which wanted to kill me, rather than to the care of a loving Higher Power. What I really wanted was to keep eating compulsively but not be fat, which was impossible considering the way I ate. What’s sad is that I was willing to settle for so little – as long as I could keep my binge foods, I was “happy”. The problem was that I wasn’t – I was miserable. I was also obese, ashamed, despairing, lonely, isolated, and angry. And no matter how much I ate, I could never get enough.

Today I am so grateful for the gift – GIFTS – of abstinence. I have a wonderful, full, satisfying life. I am maintaining a 68 ½ pound weight loss and a normal, healthy body weight. I have a closet full of clothes, all in the same size, because I have worn that size for over 22 years. I am emotionally balanced and spiritually centered. I have a relationship with a loving Higher Power that helps me deal with all of the things in life that I used to eat over. I am blessed with a wonderful husband and a wealth of friends, both in and out of the Program. I don’t hate myself, and can look at myself in the mirror and others in the eye without flinching. I don’t wake up in the morning regretting what happened yesterday and dreading what might happen today.

This gift of abstinence is available to every single OA member. Every day of my life I have awakened abstinent from compulsive eating. But for a long time, I promptly threw that gift away when I began eating compulsively. I got abstinent on July 19, 1990, and every day since I have chosen to keep that beautiful gift and all that comes with it. I have done that by abstaining from eating compulsively no matter what, and by working OA’s Twelve Steps to deal with life. In return I have received a life be-yond my wildest dreams.

My first sponsor said that when she got abstinent, she worried that she would be miserable with-out those foods that she had to give up. Someone suggested that she ask her Higher Power to replace those things with something better. Her experience, and mine, and every abstinent member that I have ever known, proves that the gifts of abstinence are infinitely better than anything we have given up – and it only keeps getting better. Today, I refuse to settle for any-thing less than all that abstinence and recovery have to offer.


Region 4 Trustee


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