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. = 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.

Don’t Let Your Pride Kill You

“Keep coming back.”

For me this slogan is a gentler, subtler way of saying, “Don’t let your pride kill you.” My pride and ego tell me that if I go off my food plan, or if I binge, then I should stop going to meetings because I’m too ashamed. My ego likes to convince me that all the other people in OA have this down, and they will judge me if I admit my issues with food are still flaring up. Well- that is a LIE my disease tells me, and if I believe it, it could be a death sentence. Like the Big Book says, “Remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful. Without help, it is too much for us.” Well, that is how my compulsive eating is cunning, baffling, and powerful: it makes me believe that compulsive eating is something that I should be ashamed of, and I might as well just roll over and let that shame do me in. Well, not today. Today I know that the line in the serenity prayer that asks HP for the courage to change the things I can means that I am asking HP for the courage to first be honest with my sponsor about my food, and then begin to practice gratitude and hope. As long as I am above ground, there is hope. This program works if I work it. Relief from the bondage of binge eating is a gracious gift from HP. There is so much love and acceptance in the rooms of OA. My friends in meetings are supportive, kind and loving. They care about me. They want me to be happy, joyous and free. There is no judgement except for the b.s. lies my disease manufactures to keep me separated from my friends. Before OA I thought that I was separate and terminal- but I know otherwise now. My HP never gives up on me. My friends never give up on me. My sponsor is teaching me how to have a healthy relationship with food one day at a time. I am grateful, and I know I have a spiritual home in OA. I hope that if you are reading this, and if you are scared, that you will come to a meeting anyway. You will be welcomed, and we will be so glad to see you and share our adventures in recovery with you. Keep coming back. ❤

Life’s Terms

“Living life on life’s terms…”

I want the world to stop while I’m working the 12 steps. I want to be able to just focus on them and nothing else. Throughout life when I have been going through difficult things I have just wanted the world to stop, so I could check out of my life. My internal monologue wondered, “can’t the world just stop, don’t they know…. my Dad died…. I was abused…. I need a break…. I’m going through the 12 steps…” Part of my disease is that I want the world to revolve around me. I am learning in Overeaters Anonymous that the world keeps turning even when bad things happen. There is never going to be the perfect time to lose weight, work the steps or get my life on track. I have to work on these things every day, while also participating in the rest of my life. It’s hard and it’s not always fun, but day by day I am trying to work the steps while still dealing with messy relationships, work, grocery shopping, my cat and everything else that comes along with living. I don’t do any of this perfectly, but I try my best not to slip into feeling sorry for myself. Some tools that have helped me are: reaching out to program friends, calling my sponsor, writing and doing my step work.

Reaching out to program friends, helps me remember I’m not alone in this. Program friends understand me like no one else can. They know the pain of trying to control this disease through will power alone.. They give me strength when I want to give in. Calling my sponsor reminds me that I have disease. She points out the conniving ways my disease tricks my brain. My sponsor is my daily dose of reality. I have spent so long in the disease of compulsive eating, that I’m not always able to recognize the many lies it tells me. Writing helps me see my life in a way living it never can. I have recently finished my 4th Step and I have learned so much about myself in the process. Writing is helping me to learn that I am not a bad person just because I’ve done bad things, like the literature says, “we are not failures just because we sometimes fail.” I am learning through my writing and step work to accept myself as a fallible human being. To others this is a given, but for me, the idea that I don’t have to be perfect all the time is freedom. It will take time to change my thought patterns, just as it took time to learn them. I am here for the long haul and grateful for all the gifts this program continues to give me.

Prayer & Meditation

“Prayer is talking to our Higher Power and meditation is listening to Him/Her.”

I’ve heard it said that prayer is talking to our Higher Power and meditation is listening to Him/Her.  I learned to practice prayer my first time through OA back in the early 80’s.  I wasn’t very good at meditation then.

The first time I remember meditating was at a retreat at Ferncliff my second time back in OA.  I was walking the labyrinth near the little forest chapel.  When you walk a labyrinth you are supposed to meditate on a question.  I don’t remember what the question was, but all of a sudden I, clearly in my mind I heard the words “God is in control.”  At the time it was the answer I needed to whatever my problem was.

Since that time there have been other occurrences of words coming through that served me in a time of need. “If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us… If our God is with us, then what could stand against?” are words that have come to mind when I have felt that I am facing difficult circumstances.

The message I keep hearing now is “The more I trust You, the more I grow”.    These words reassure me that as I keep working the program, my recovery and my serenity will grow ever stronger.