“This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible…there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking.” -Alcoholics Anonymous p. 50
There have been so many profound truths I have learned in Overeaters Anonymous that can be blueprints for living, but the most helpful one for me is this: for a person to recover from this deadly addiction of compulsive over-eating, there must be a source of strength fueling the process. Perseverance & great character alone won’t produce lasting success, nor meticulous food planning & exercise. The guiding force of the 12-step program is a solid faith in a Higher Power (whom I call God) who is big enough to move mountains & perform miracles. And that’s what happens as a person transitions through the steps relying on the daily strength from his/her Higher Power, who then enables this person to go to any lengths necessary to work these difficult steps.
This truth has been my experience for the past 3 years as I began going through the step process. Many times my disease got so bad that everything in me wanted to quit. However, God would not let me. And one thing I began noticing as I went along was each time I failed & then eventually started again, I felt stronger & more hopeful. For about a year & a half this roller coaster way of life became my new normal. But I kept coming to meetings, using the tools & trusting that one day some sort of steady abstinence would happen. All the while I was investing a lot of time getting to know God & praying like I’ve never prayed in my life. Then a year and a half ago after stuffing my face with all kinds of decadent Thanksgiving food items & then wallowing around in guilt for a couple of days, God gave me the courage to try once again. And lo & behold, 19 months later my abstinence is still strong & living in recovery is beyond exciting, thanks to the grace & mercy of God who would not let me give up. This is not to say that there are no challenging days anymore, but I now have all kinds of OA tools to use that help me cope with the restlessness, boredom, etc. that used to cause me to eat. My mindset these days is I don’t want to waste another moment of my life pursuing things that don’t matter, when there’s a whole bunch of truly meaningful activities that have lasting value. For me, that’s a life worth living!
“I pray that I will always be teachable and open to the experiences of others.” – Voices of Recovery p.201
Before I walked through the doors of OA, I felt as if I was living the life of an imposter. The disease of compulsive overeating was having its way with me. I wanted to be kind, generous and compassionate towards others, but mostly I was raging inside. I was quick to harshly judge everyone, myself included. My compulsive eating behaviors helped flame the fires of rage and judgement. I could not stop the cycles of the disease.
Once I’d gotten a sponsor and started working the Steps, I began to experience some relief. I began to remember more often that there was no way I could possibly manage my disease or stop being an imposter. In the middle of working Steps 4 – 7, I found myself on the receiving end of unconditional love. It was being offered to me by my HP, and by my sponsor. Miraculously, as I continued with Steps 8 and 9, I also discovered that I did feel kindness and compassion towards others – very much so.
Today I am still a compulsive overeater, even on the days when I am gifted with abstinence and sanity. This morning, I decided to read several of the entries in Voices of Recovery that spoke about compassion. I knew they would help me remember! I took my time reading each of them and quickly noticed a common thread – humility. For me, I know that I can’t experience authentic kindness, generosity or compassion towards others or myself without humility. As it says on page 201 of Voices of Recovery, “I pray that I will always be teachable and open to the experiences of others” so that I might live a humble, gratitude-filled life – where kindness and compassion can continue to grow.
I am writing this entry as we are well into our second month of self
isolating and social distancing during the covid-19 pandemic. The groups
and meetings I attend are virtual, and I’m deeply grateful for them.
Without my OA family banding together to support one another I don’t
know how I would be doing at this time. My personal recovery- which for
me is defined as refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food
behaviors- depends on my relationships with my Higher Power, my sponsor,
the steps and literature, and other OA family members. Many times, my
higher power speaks to me through other members on the phone and in
meetings. I need to hear the message of recovery. What has also been
revealed to me recently is that I also need to be continuously, actively
working the steps with my higher power and my sponsor. Actively, for
me, means writing. My disease does not take vacations, and I can’t let
my recovery take a vacation either. Without the unity of my groups and
friends in OA, I would not be able to experience personal recovery. I am
so grateful for the love, support and patience of the members who walk
ahead of me on this journey. Thank you for sharing your experience
strength and hope with me so that I may find personal recovery. Thank
you for gently repeating the solution and your experience with working
the steps. Thank you for loving me when I could not love myself. Where
would I be if members worked the steps, reached their goal weight, and
graduated? I would have no one to look to for guidance. I pray that I
may carry the message to the new comer and returning members who still
suffer as patiently, kindly and gently as it has been carried to me.
Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my
compulsion. For this, I am responsible. Keep coming back ‘cause it works
if WE work it.
“Many of us have found that we cannot abstain from compulsive eating unless we use some or all of OA’s nine tools of recovery.” – The Tools of Recovery pamphlet
After several years in OA I can finally say I am abstinent. I cannot say the exact moment that it finally clicked for me, but once it did, WOW!
*Looking back I can see that going to meetings, listening, and forming relationships started softening my heart and changing me from the inside.
*Reading OA literature started me thinking and questioning my choices and the life that I was living.
*Writing helps me to see the person I had become and beliefs I was holding that did not serve me well.
*Reaching out by text or phone calls was a humbling experience for me. It started opening my heart and mind that it was not just about me. That I was touching other people who were stuck in their own battles and lies with compulsive overeating.
*Serving others by leading meetings, setting up, or cleaning up keeps me feeling a part of the group. It also lets me put myself out there in a loving, safe environment.
*Spending time with my HP sends me inward, changing how I see myself, others, and the world around me. Letting me know that I am never without hope and help.
*Sharing with my sponsor pushes me to start trusting and believing in personal relationships. Something that I had no longer believed myself capable.
*Working the steps gives me daily direction. They show me how to live humbly with my Higher Power at the center and looking for ways that I can touch others, especially those that share my compulsive overeating.
Today I shall continue to lean into program,
To exercise even when I don’t feel like it,
To relax into abstinence and not fight it,
To pause and experience life instead of rushing thru it,
To focus my attention on gratitudes and positive thoughts even if it seems naive,
To be mature when maturity is called for and to be childlike when childlike wonder and play is called for,
To reach out for Power & Strength when needed instead of trying to go it alone,
To be in balance with what I have to do and what I want to do and to leave *space* for the unexpected,
“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
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
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!
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.
“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.