After a year of abstinence in OA, I told myself I was doing well: weight loss - check, meal plan - check, sponsor - check, home group - check, but then it happened, I invited friends over for Christmas dinner, made home brownies for them, and the minute they left, I inhaled five of the brownies.  At the next OA meeting I attended, when the call went out for those with a year or more of abstinence to raise their hands, I couldn’t.  “What happened?”  I asked myself. “How did I get here?”

What I didn’t understand then is that relapse is a process, not an event.  The binge was the culmination of behaviors and feelings I nurtured for months to set the stage for “the brownies.” 

The relapse began that September when I stopped going to three meetings a week, I stopped being rigorously honest with myself, and I stopped dealing with life on life’s terms.  Then I began rationalizing my behavior, “I’m busy,” I would say, or “lots of people only go to one meeting a week.”  Any small thing that didn’t go my way would shake my confidence, and I would make a fist to the sky and proclaim dramatically, “The gods are out to get me.”  My eating becoming erratic, one day I followed my meal plan exactly, the next two days, not so much.   Next, I created a situation that made it easier for me to relapse, so when I did pick-up, I could play the victim, I could say, “What else could I have done, the brownies were just sitting there?  I had to eat them, I am powerless over them.”  Now I see I am only powerless over the second bite, the first bite I can say no to, but only if I’m working a solid program.  I set the stage for my relapse, and then acted surprise when the drama began.

The only thing that saved me was that I didn’t give up.  I didn’t say,  “OA doesn’t work, so I might as well eat what I want.” I kept doing the hard, tedious, and emotionally painful work that it takes to get and stay abstinent, one day at a time.  Even now with two and a half years of abstinence, there are days the work is daunting, but I do it anyway, because I can’t in good conscience say to my Higher Power that I really want this, and then not do the work.   

Mike A