No Longer Alone

“The remedy of all blunders, the cure of blindness, the cure of crime, is love.” Ralph Waldo Emerson  For Today Aug. 19

Because of my past, my defects of character, and my lack of experience with forgiveness and tolerance- it has taken me many years to accept the love that is offered to me in this program.  In the past I learned to falter- to break promises and to fail people as a way of pushing them away.  The safe “buffer zone” of broken commitments that keeps me at a distance and in a state of self-loathing and guilt. 

So many times, I have taken my sponsor and the meetings for granted- only to be accepted back- without reservation.  Loving arms open wide to me- if only my self-defeating mind would remember that I am a part of a family that knows exactly where I am, have been, and am bound for if I continue to take this journey that the Big Book maps out for me. 

This keeps me mindful that even though I have these defects of character- my sponsor and fellow members will lovingly accept me as I am without the need to “test” them or push them away.  To trust that I will always have a place to go, and that I am no longer alone.

Just for Today

Just for Today I will try to live through is day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once.  I can do something for one day that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime. Just for Today trifold Overeaters Anonymous

I am a runner.  These words still bring chills and delight to my heart and are true only as a gift of the OA program.  Through the promises of the program I have been relieved of 140 pounds and am relishing a new found physical existence that I never even conceived as possible.  

On one of my runs this week I began to recognize how my experiences along my OA journey remind me of my experiences on a run.

Sometimes running is so easy and carefree while other times it is a real schlog. There is a direct relationship to my commitment to working the program and practicing its principles to the ease of the maintenance of my abstinence.  Just like how a run is so much more successful when I prepare and conscientiously train. I need to actively nurture my spiritual condition as much as I actively nurture my physical condition.

Sometimes the path is smooth, dry, and clear and I can keep my head up and gaze at the world I am running through while other times it is covered with debris and wet and treacherous so I keep my head down and my eyes focused on simply the next place I shall plant my feet. Oh, how wonderful and glorious are those phases in life that are smooth and dry.  I often wish I could bottle those moments and put them into a lotion to slather on when life gets covered with debris and treacherous. In those rough times, I put my head down and focus on doing the next right thing as revealed to me by my Higher Power.  

Sometimes I can see the path ahead and sometimes there is a curve I simply cannot see around. There sometimes are hills – up and down – that can be a challenge or a relief. Life comes at me sometimes with predictability and sometimes with the unexpected. When I know there are challenges ahead, I can prepare and have a plan in place with my program and my sponsor.  When life throws an unexpected event into my path, I rely on my relationship with program and my Higher Power to provide for me what I need to face that challenge. And with any challenge, just like with every hill, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.

All of this is part of the running experience. 

The result of running is endorphins and joy in my body and healthy results. Just like my “run” through program!

The False Comfort of Self-Pity

Self-pity is one of the most unhappy and consuming defects that we know.  It is bar to all spiritual progress and can cut off all effective communication with our fellows because of its inordinate demands for attention and sympathy.  It is a maudlin form of martyrdom which we can ill afford.

                                                                                                 As Bill Sees It, pg. 238.

Since coming to OA 3 years ago I have been very fortunate to lose a significant amount of weight.  However, over the past year I have had some health issues that have caused me to gain most of it back.  Several months went by before I found the right diagnosis, as well as several wrong diagnoses.  Week after week I would cry when I saw that scale.  By some miracle though I have stayed abstinent through it all.  As this progressed, my mind desperately wanted to drift into self-pity.  Even though I know it blocks me from the Higher Power that keeps me abstinent, I still wanted something or someone to blame.  After I recognized that I was surely going to lose my abstinence if I continued on this path, I had nothing left but to pick up the kit of spiritual tools laid at my feet.  I worked all 12 steps again with my sponsor.  I reevaluated my food and added a few more foods to my Trigger Food List.  I tried my best to increase my exercise and I increased my service work.  It has been 4 months since I started medication for my illness.  I have stopped gaining but I’m not losing either.  Once again, I want to get into self-pity. For me it is a delicate balance of expressing my feelings and emotions but knowing when I have crossed the line into life-threatening self-inflicted sorrow.  I’m saying all of this to say that whatever the situation is, and justified as I might think I am, I do not have the luxury of succumbing to the woe-is-me attitude.  With the program I am gradually reprogramming my mind to be grateful and to help someone less fortunate than me.  Without the weight gain I might never have been diagnosed with this illness.  And how much worse would this have been if I had not been abstinent!

I may not see where this path I am on is going, but I am positive my HP has all of it under control.

OA Angels

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”  

As an adult, I have lived a mostly Hyper Vigilant life with a compulsive overeating disorder and ONLY because of the OA meetings here in Arkansas and the OA Angels that attend the meetings, have I come to a better understanding of how I became a Compulsive Overeater and how I was in complete denial before OA.  I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic.  I learned as a child how to survive my alcoholic father by lying to adults around me, raising a baby sister with my twin while trying to protect my Mother, and sometimes being left alone for weeks.

I began my OA journey by just attending meetings and listening to the profound sharing from other OA Angels. Through their stories of experience, strength and hope, I began to look within myself, especially my character defects and how I myself had been the cause of so much misery as I had been unable to connect within deeply, before OA meetings.  One day, after a meeting, another OA Angel approached me and offered to be my Sponsor!!  I had prayed to my HP to please lead me to the right person and my prayers were answered.   I have been working with her weekly on an hour phone call weekly l and I am proud to say we are working on Step 3. 

MADE A DECISION TO TURN OUR WILL AND OUR LIVES OVER TO GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM. This step for me has been about TRUST and knowing that I can safely turn my will and my life over to HP and get out of the misery of thinking that I am in charge and can handle everything myself.  I cannot, which is why my life became unmanageable and the Compulsive Overeating was killing me slowly but surely.  I feel hope and deep gratitude for OA and all who have led me to this point. 

I am in the process of unraveling from within, always thinking I was in control and through the program, my sponsor, the OA Angels that surround me in unconditional love, support and fellowship, I am healing, of which I am forever grateful.  I am on my new journey to complete Abstinence and growth.  I want to be able to become a Sponsor someday and offer service to this wonderful organization which has been such a blessing to me. 

B.I.N.G.E.

“B.I.N.G.E. = Because I’m Not Good Enough”

I was pondering this morning on the times when I binged and how I used program to work my way past them. I haven’t binged in so long I don’t remember the last time. But I know that I am completely capable of doing so pretty much every moment of every day.

I realized that I needed to face the binge seeing if there is a way to turn it into an opportunity. Maybe ponder the circumstances leading up to it. Besides any physical triggers (that first compulsive bite), were there emotional signs? Spiritual signs? Really sit with it and see if I can identify anything.

Regardless, the way I have found to move forward in recovery is to:

Report to my sponsor

Try to identify something I can learn from the situation

Create an action plan for the next time the same trigger situations arise – they always do

Forgive myself – the hardest on this list

Immediately refocus, recommit, take a deep breath, move forward resting in the Serenity Prayer.

The Model Prayer…

“Prayer is the only means of truly opening my mind and spirit …”  For Today p. 7

For several years I have begun my day by mentally reciting the first three Steps, the Third Step Prayer and the Seventh Step Prayer.

In the last year or so, I have been led to “improve my conscious contact” with my Higher Power and these prayers have no longer seemed to be enough.  I have studied program literature written by members who have sought a spiritual path.  I have listened to guided meditation tapes with a spiritual theme.  And like the Big Book suggest, I have sought the wisdom of ministers and other truly religious people. Recently I heard a lesson on what is often described as “The Model Prayer”.

As l listened, I saw that The Model Prayer encompassed the important concepts of the 12 Step Programs.  I began to think about this prayer as a true model.  In my own words I began to pray:

Just for today grant me the gift of abstinence.

Remove my defects of character.

Release me from the resentment towards those who have hurt me.

Grant me the courage to make my amends.

Free me from the temptations of my disease as I strive to do your will.

You Are Not Alone

“You are not alone any more!” Overeaters Anonymous, Third Edition, p. 4

I’ve just attended an OA workshop focused on unity in our diversity. As I’ve let the experience take root in me, I’ve found myself feeling deep gratitude for our fellowship. This journey that I’m on is one that has no end point. As I continue each day to walk on to where I am heading, I am comforted knowing my friends are walking alongside me.

Life lately has been messy for me, and my tendencies to isolate, control and overcommit have been activated! The good news is that I’ve had friends walking alongside me, gently encouraging and reminding me that I am not alone. Some reminders have been simply a smile or a hug. Some have been reminders of the resources of our rich literature. Others have been reminders of our tools and the beautiful relief found in working the Twelve Steps. Each time, I’ve felt connected – connected to my Higher Power, connected to the dear souls traveling alongside me. What promises we have been given!

“I put my hand in yours, and together we can do what we could never do alone. No longer is there a sense of hopelessness, no longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady willpower. We are all together now, reaching out our hands for power and strength greater than ours, and as we join hands, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.” OA Promise

Honesty is the Key

“ Honesty is a key factor in our recovery compulsive eating and so we will want to develop this trait.”  –Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA p.51

Honesty has to be present in order to recover.  This was hard for me.  I had lied to myself for many years.  I have denied the truth about my eating behaviors.  When I came into the program I learned how dishonest I was.  I learned there is no recovery when there is continuing deception.  Since I learned I was dishonest, I had to learn how to be honest.  How did I learn this?  Through action.

In step one, I had to be honest with my food and food behavior in order to admit I was powerless over my addiction.  Honesty can be scary and vulnerable.  When being honest we are often admitting flaws.  But if we continue to hide and run away, those flaws will become larger.  As you learn more about the program and you get a sponsor your walls start coming down.  You will learn your sponsor is a safe person to open up too.

Every time I can be honest with myself and others.  I am one step closer to getting rid of my character defeat of dishonesty.  Honesty is a disciple.  It is built from daily habits.   Honesty opens the door to recovery and the light of your Higher Power can pour in.

Keep Coming Back and Back and Back and…

“Keep coming back!”

I started my OA journey almost a year ago.   I was familiar with AA’s 12 Steps from another program and dove head first into OA’s Steps 1-2-3.  I knew the benefits of a conscious contact with a higher power and the wisdom of the serenity prayer.  I quickly identified a plan of eating as well as established my abstinence.   Other than finding myself more emotional without my ‘self-soothing-food-behaviors’, I had a great six month run.  I found myself 40 pounds lighter, more energetic/enthused, working through OA’s Step 6 and becoming more aware of my eating behaviors.

Then, I hit a snag.  ‘That low time of year’ (November through mid-January) came around.  I decided to ‘give myself a break’.  ‘Take it easy’ and lick my wounds as I face the holidays.  I told myself ‘be gentle with yourself as you note the anniversaries of your Dad’s birthday and death.  ‘Care for yourself’ by not being too judgmental or too hard on yourself.  I started having slips with my abstinence, missing meetings, not doing my daily reading, and denying that my program was faltering.  I kept making excuses, and minimizing what was happening all in the name of ‘being gentle with myself’.  I took ‘easy does it’ to a compulsive extreme!

It was only after I started faltering in my other program of recovery, that I hit a bottom low enough to get my attention.  Luckily, I had maintained at least one OA meeting each week and stayed in touch with my vibrant fellowship.  My sponsors from both programs supported me throughout with love and patience as I did a little more ‘primary research’ as I searched to ‘right my ship of recovery’.

As I realized MY low, I started working program basics again.  This included admitting ‘I’m having a hard time’, visiting with my sponsor, reading more, rebooting my food tracking, rebooting my abstinence and most of all …….. re-establishing a stronger relationship with my high power.

Today, I find myself soaring after a weekend retreat where we talked about recovery as seasons and cycles.  The exact words I needed were found there.  OH HOW I LOVE MY HIGHER POWER.  His love is all around me.  As I complete this cycle in my journey, I’m eternally grateful for the OA Fellowship and our closing chant of……  Keep Coming Back.