My name is La Verna. I have been in the program since February 1998, got abstinence in June of 1998 and have just celebrated my 5th year of abstinence. Being a black woman and discovering OA has been a traumatic lifestyle change.
My story begins in January of 1998. I found myself in the parking lot of my latest and last diet program club, crying. I had been very successful in this “liquid diet” plan. I had about gone broke trying to lose these 50 lbs. I called the counselor from the parking lot, told a lie and did not attend the weekly meeting. Now I had to live with the guilt of lying. After a few days of thinking about the lie I told, I went in to see the diet counselor. I simply told her could not afford this diet plan any longer. I wasn’t getting any support from home and there just had to be another way to lose weight and maintain good health. I felt like I was losing my mind. I had tried every healthy eating meal plan invented, over the last 30 years. The diet counselor told me I was very disciplined and had done very well in the program. She did not want me to leave and gain all my weight back. She recommended I go join OA. She said OA is recommended to the clients once they reach maintenance. I thanked her and left. A few days later, I thought about what she said. If she had the real answer why hadn’t she told the whole group that attended the sessions? Now I felt guilty, that I had been saved and angry because I left all my suffering friends in that room, with no knowledge of OA.
I called OA. I had just missed the big Saturday meeting in San Rafael. My cousin had mentioned OA to me last year but I got busy and never called OA. I called my cousin in Detroit and explained my dilemma. We had a meeting on the phone. She explained the program to me. And became my temporary sponsor. I got a Marin meeting list and began to go to meetings in January 1998. It was hard to find a sponsor, it seemed a lot of the meeting participants weren’t abstinent or not available to sponsor. I did not see a lot of physical recovery in the meetings I attended, even though I was beginning to recover emotionally and spiritually. At one of the OA meetings, a woman shared about the complete path of life about the H.O.W. of OA. I tried a few of those meetings. I found a more disciplined structure in the H.O.W. program. I found a sponsor and got abstinent. I did a step up and became a basic food sponsor.
Having a rich background in soul food cooking, I have learned how to cook my soul food low fat, using spices and herbs replacing the flavor of other fatty substances. No one in the program could help me with that. I am usually the only person of color at the meetings I attend. I feel OK about that and feel accepted as another person with a food addiction, struggling to be free. I have been giving my children healthy cooking ideas, hoping that my 27 grandchildren will be turned on to healthy eating and perhaps escape some of the medical conditions that go along with being an African-American. We have Sunday dinners, most Sundays and I introduce a new vegetable to the feast. And, as a result, my grandchildren look for at least three different vegetables at the Sunday dinners. My theory is that meat and bread will show up, but it is the vegetables you have to invite to the table. It is a good time for my family to catch up and socialize and talk about nutritional food plans for the family.
My cousin and I made a date to meet at the World Service Conventions in Dallas in 2000 and New Orleans in 2003. We did meet and I brought my sister from Texas. The Ebony OA group was enlightening and that confirmed my own recovery. I have released 80 pounds since Dallas and my health has improved.
I am spreading the message in my neighborhood and family. Living in a community with some overweight people of color, you do not see a lot of reaching out for help in physical, emotional or spiritual recovery. I am so grateful for OA. It has brought sanity to my life. I have embraced recovery. I wish I had found OA in my 20’s I could have saved myself a lot of physical and emotional pain. OA is a way of life, one day at a time.