I took a fifth step toward recovery
Shared my secrets, my quirks
There wasn’t much drama
no scandals, no improprieties
Just human weakness
Shames that feed my compulsions
Shames that can’t be sweetened
by all the sugar in the world
I’ve carried these worn-out habits
day after day
stowed in a gray canvas tote
from the bookstore over on Broadway
I tuck them under the chair at meetings
or leave them in another room when I Zoom
Taking the fifth means
telling the truth
the whole truth
nothing but the truth
Yet no judge, no jury
instead a generous sponsor
with words of encouragement
So I coaxed out these old friends
that kept me safe when I needed them
introduced them to my warm-hearted listener
acknowledged their gifts
got ready to say goodbye
Of course, old habits don’t
get on the bus and leave town
I can’t put the canvas bag in the dumpster
and expect them gone on Tuesday
when the trash truck comes
But I can clear my house of them
and not answer the door when they knock.
Jill K 2021
I have been experiencing the most abstinence in quite some time.
It began in a sleepless night, pondering my lack of abstinence and what was lacking in my program. I woke with willingness and spent time with God exploring the possibilities.
Then my sponsor asked if I wanted to work the twelve steps on one subject. I definitely was open to this writing exercise and following her suggestions. I will try to include the format here.
The result of that exercise and choosing to send my food plan for the day in the morning was the jump start I needed!
I have been working the tools and enjoying meetings more than usual.
Thank God for sponsors and the OA program!
Identify a situation in your personal or work life that is currently a source of resentment, fear, sadness or anger. Write a brief statement describing the situation and indicating why it concerns you.
Step One: In what ways are you powerless over the situation or condition, and how is it showing you the unmanageability of your life?
Step Two: How do you see your Higher Power as assisting you in being restored to wholeness?
Step Three: How does being willing to turn your life over to the care of God assist you in dealing with this?
Step Four: What character traits have surfaced (for example: fear of abandonment or authority figures, seeking control, seeking approval, obsessive/compulsive behavior, rescuing, taking inappropriate responsibility, not expressing feelings)?
Step Five: Admit your wrongs to God, to yourself and to another human being.
Step Six: Are you entirely ready to work in partnership with God to remove your ineffective behaviors? If not, explain why.
Step Seven: Can you humbly ask God for help in removing your shortcomings? If not, what stands in your way?
Step Eight: Make a list of persons who are being harmed.
Step Nine: What amends are necessary and how will you make them?
Step Ten: Review the above steps to make sure that nothing has been overlooked.
Step Eleven: Take a moment for prayer and meditation, asking for knowledge of God's will for you? What did you discover?
Step Twelve: How can your understanding and spiritual guidance assist you in dealing with this problem?
Recently, I have been receiving a message I am certain from my Higher Power. It is about giving up my two daily snacks. This idea of eating less certainly could not have come from me. I am grateful that I do not just, boom, dismiss it. That I lovingly can hear it, and then dismiss it. Thankfully, my HP is persistent. I kept on reasoning this idea out in my head, and of course, my disease kept winning. I would tell myself, do not make this about the food. You are just upset that you have not lost a pound in a couple of weeks no matter how hard you push yourself physically. My disease you see tells me that when I weigh myself, it gives me knowledge, and knowledge is power. Wrong. Every time I get on that scale, it is never good for me. I either feel disappointed that it is not enough of a weight loss or defeated that there is no weight loss.
I am so grateful that my HP kept lovingly suggesting that on most days, I really do not need a snack, let alone two. The thing that I really started to take notice of was #1 just how unwilling I was to listen to my HP, and #2 how giving up these snacks was causing me to feel emotionally. I was close to full on freak out mode about giving up an apple. Not reasonable. This very much reminded me of when I first came into OA. After the very first meeting I attended and how thoughts about having to give up ice cream, for the rest of my life freaked me out, like for real. Good Lord! That caused me so much anxiety and loss of sleep. Loss of sleep! Over ice cream. It was then I realized, food has way too much power over my life. And gratefully, I learned, I only had to give this or anything else not helpful, up just one day at a time, and it was not by my power, but by this wonderful God of my own understandings power.
So, I decided to reason things out with another person. I discussed giving up these two daily snacks with my sponsor. My goodness this program really does work when I work it. I do not have to give up snacks forever. I just want to try it and see how it works. I am willing to go to any lengths. I will not die eating only three good meals a day, no matter what my disease tries to tell me. And on days that I climb a tall mountain, I can eat an abstinent snack.
WELL! It has been 3 days since I gave up my two daily snacks. And I have learned much! I used them. Occasionally when I ate one or two of the snacks on my Food Plan, I absolutely needed them for fuel. Mostly though, I would delay a meal prep, knowing I could use this snack to get me to that next meal. Now I do not delay. I know I am getting hungry and this meal is going to take time to prepare – so get going on it Laurie! Because guess what? You do not get to have a snack because of your lack of preparedness.
I have been waking up quite hungry the past few mornings, and that feels good and right!
I also have learned that I used snacks too when unhappy or stressed. All the while staying abstinent because they were on my food plan and abstinent foods. Now, I get to use a tool instead. Now, I get to ask HP for help. I am so excited! This feels like much progress, and that is good and right! I do not want to use food. I want to feel my feelings, to grow, heal, and to handle life differently. My disease is always doing it is darndest to walk me back to the food. My brain over these past few days is suggesting that I increase the size of my 3 meals now since I do not get snacks. Ummmm, nope. I have got HP to help me and I want to only eat a correct portion size.
The other thing I have learned recently is that sponsoring is less hard when I ask HP for help. I start to feel sad that I cannot motivate or give the sponsee the gifts of willingness and desperation. Gladly I must pray for my sponsee, ask HP for help, feel the power of my Higher Power, and receive the gift of acceptance of things, people, and places, that I cannot change.
Sponsoring keeps me grateful that I received the gifts of willingness and desperation. Grateful I was and am today, willing to go to any lengths for my recovery.
Laurie M grateful compulsive overeater in recovery
I began to write about 2020 this morning, recapping blow by blow, all of the challenges, triumphs and tribulations. B.O.R.I.N.G.
Let’s talk about the progress, people places and things that made an amazing difference.
Rigorous honesty played a huge role and still does.
Development of a Higher Power, a God of my own understanding was critical to my healing, my awareness, my learning how to handle life relying on a power greater than myself, and will always be key to my peace and serenity.
I surrendered day one in the program, and because I did and could, did 90 meetings in 90 days. It gave me great momentum. It gave me amazing relationships and opportunities to serve in OA.
My HP hooked me up with a sponsor, so perfect for me and my journey, there are not words. I am grateful for her experiences, strengths, and hope, her time and her beautiful ability to listen and make me feel like I am the only important thing to pay attention to in the world each time we visited.
I found that ideas of service in OA come in quiet messages from my HP and because I’m abstinent, willing to go to any lengths, I took on some tough roles and grew in handling discomfort with a little more grace than I could ever imagine. I did something absolutely mind blowing, with HP’s help and direction, built a much needed OA website for Montana. I also found that service builds me up – makes me feel amazing – like I’m bouncing on pink clouds! Whoopie! I love feeling useful.
This year has had it’s triumphs, and it’s real hardships. I heard something on the news today, and because of OA I can have hope that it could be a real thing. We got some wounds this year, for sure. But they will be healed in time. And we, will be stronger than ever.
I’m reminded about a recent challenge in an OA meeting about a disruptive member, who has gone beyond being disruptive actually and has caused real harm. I was spinning out trying to figure out how I would save us all from this real bad actor. All I could think of was my dear friends, and how he’s harmed them, the group, and how I needed to protect them from any further harm. I made a reach out call, gratefully, as I was afraid to eat compulsively one night over it. I was so very grateful my phone call was answered and my friend reminded me, it’s the group who will determine how to handle, not me. I did eat compulsively that night, but it was a moment, and it didn’t continue for hours or days.
The next day I quieted my heart and mind, and sought to hear from my HP. I am never disappointed. I heard loud and clear: I am powerless over people, places, and things. I can share my suggestions with the group, and the group will decide which actions, if any to take. HP will take care of all the rest. And I felt peace. Beyond my wildest dreams. And I’ve been able to let this go ever since.
That’s how recovery works for me. I have a spiritual sickness, and compulsive eating is a symptom of that. I also have a spiritual remedy, when I choose to seek picking up all of the many tools I utilize every day. I had been doing so well for so long with not having any compulsive behaviors I had gotten out of the habit of picking up tools.
Our fellowship is the best tool. When I get a call from one of you, my heart sings and my soul smiles, as I know my HP sent you and speaks through you. Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for an amazing year. Laurie M, gratefully, a compulsive overeater in recovery
I’ve been wanting to sit down and write a new blog for our website for days. I decided to sit down today, right now, and not just do it for myself, but as a service to others.
Christmas this year is different for many reasons. Covid, yes. And recovery, oh so very thankful for the ability to handle life differently. If not for recovery, where would we be? In a bucket, a bin, or a bag, and in utter insanity.
Covid has been hard. Covid has been scary for me, for at risk people and others in general. All of the lives lost and all of the families changed by the side effects from losing loved ones, jobs, less income, not being able to travel, etc. It’s been frustrating about why we all can’t get on board with wearing a mask and social distancing. I don’t get it. But because of a reliance on a higher power, I can let it go and not get stuck on trying to understand it. And because I rely on a higher power, I can keep social distancing, not matter how fed up I am about it.
Covid allowed me to get back into recovery and years from now, that is probably exactly how I will remember 2020. It’s had it’s downs, a lot, but it’s had it’s ups too right? Yes Christmas will be different this year because of Covid and also because of recovery. Thank God for zoom!
Because of recovery, I am so less sad and stressed. I feel joy and peace in abstinence and in love from our fellows. I’ve shared twice recently at meetings about how much I miss my family. It’s not Covid that’s changed our dynamics, but politics and difference in beliefs. Every time I’ve been able to share about Christmas and family, I just lose it. I bawl and my blood pressure just shoots way up. Thankfully, less and less. I look @ the zoom screen, see all the love, and my blood pressure begins to go down. I have many sisters in our program, some with the same beliefs as me, and some not. But they don’t discard me because they don’t agree with me. We are called to be kind and tolerant to all. And that is our code. No matter how much I love my family and respect our differences, I can’t make them be kind to me or tolerate our differences. My higher power, helps me to accept the things I can’t change. I have to ask him often during this season, sometimes 25 times each day, and I’m totally fine with that. Because every time I do, I find peace and love beyond my wildest dreams. Seriously. I will never get tired of this amazing help and relief.
I am able at times to focus on all the love I do have, and let go of the love that I want but don’t have. I have peace about my sister who was killed about 6 years ago. That is a gift from working the 12 steps to the best of my ability, working with a sponsor, and a conscious contact with my Higher Power. I have the love of my sister in Missouri, my kids, my grandkids, my sweetheart fiancé, all of my recovery sisters, and my logical (as opposed to biological) family members here in Billings.
Recovery this year is my biggest and best gift. I get to feel good about myself and be useful to others. It just doesn’t get any better than this, although we are lacking snow, lol. I love you guys. I hope this blog touches you, encourages you in some way, and maybe even inspires you to share your experience, strength and hope too.
I want to leave you with a note from my very first sponsor in Al-Anon I’m guessing 17 years ago now. I’ve gratefully stayed in touch with her. Pat N has always been a beautiful example of what a life in recovery can look like, service, freedom, and ever so positive uplifting and encouraging. With her permission:
Blessings to You at Christmas
2020: A year that many of us would swear we want to forget. But later, we may realize that this was the year we learned how resilient we could be. And how patient, how accepting, how hopeful.
Perhaps our too-confident selves will no longer presume that the plans we make can be easily achieved on our own schedule.
Perhaps 2020 was the year we learned to pray again, earnestly, for the health and safety of people, world-wide, those we knew and loved, and those we’d never met.
Perhaps our thoughts of gratitude flew to those workers and givers who selflessly served all in need. Perhaps we donated time or money to help in their causes.
Above all—2020 was the year we remained ALIVE despite Covid, when 300,000 of our American friends and neighbors—and millions of our worldwide fellow humans departed this life.
Resolution: We must live 2021 in a state of grateful wonder, full of energy to do good for people we love, and for people we’ve yet to meet.
That kind of enthusiasm and wisdom just fills me up. Recovery is life changing, so this Christmas is wonderfully different. Recovery offers hope and I’m going to choose to focus on that hope and to feel the love of our program and of our fellows. Thank you for being part of my journey in recovery and thank you for taking the time to read this. Take what you like and leave the rest. Laurie M.
For the first time in my life, I'm not dreading and fearing what I eat on Thanksgiving Day! This is yet another miracle of recovery. I have a plan of action, I've discussed it with my sponsor, I'm preparing food that I can eat safely and I'm feeling blessed to not be terrified over it. I'm so grateful for recovery and to not have to be in that insanity! I'm actually feeling joy about it. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Sharon R. comp eater/ anorexic/bulemic
Happy I.D.E.A day (International Day Experiencing Abstinence) we had our Saturday morning meeting based on this today and it was so inspiring to hear from each group member about how they go about putting balance into the 3 legged stool theory (physical recovery, emotional recovery, and spiritual recovery) Voices of Recovery page 323. Also we have choices every day page 204 Voices to Recovery. So many shared on how free do I want to be. Do I choose to be Abstinent today. I am so grateful for the shares I heard today. I choose Abstinence today so I can sleep tonight and wake up in the morning happy to be alive and abstinent.
Some very stressful things occurred this morning. I immediately went into my default panic mode. Then stopped myself and started praying to be accepting and understand I am powerless over events. I told myself panic is familiar to me but it is self-destructive. Having faith is so much more helpful. Things always work out and with much less stress when I release my crab claws and surrender! So grateful!
Wow! I had plans yesterday to hike. My sweetheart had made an appointment for our heater to be replaced, kind of a big and wonderful deal, especially now that Winter is near in Billings Montana. He worked all night, but since I had made these plans to hike, I thought oh well, he’s okay with me still hiking, so go enjoy a hike with your girlfriends.
Gratefully, that did not sit well with me. Gratefully, my HP pointed out to me that I was being horribly selfish. So, I decided to cancel. Full disclosure; my first thought, from my addict brain, was to lie. Ugh. My recovery brain and my HP I’m sure, said, umm, no! I’m doing better and better with rigorous honesty, but still not always my first thought. My people pleasing character defects run deep. With the help of my Higher Power, I was honest and of course my friends were understanding. Boy did that feel good!
So what to do? Jim was sleeping so I didn’t want to do housework. Heater guy was in the basement so I couldn’t work out. Oh I know! How about that Step work I had on my to do list? My wonderful sponsor had gently reminded me that I wanted to try to do a very painful amends to my deceased sister, and to forgive my nephew who had killed her and then himself.
And so, like I had many times before, I asked my HP for help. To help me with what seemed like an impossible task. This task had been just too big and too awful for me to wrap my delicate heart and sensitive mind around. I wanted the healing, but I had not been willing to submit to my Higher Power’s help. All these years I always attempted to do it on my own will and abilities. I think today, was my Higher Powers choice, and I was willing, finally, to allow him to hold me.
I am so grateful that because of abstinence, this program, our fellows, all of the tools, I turned my will over to a God of my own understanding and got on my laptop and began to let the feelings and words flow. The tears and years of pent up sadness poured out of me and onto the keyboard.
I allowed that metal trunk that I’ve been carrying, so specifically, behind my stomach, in my gut, to be unlocked. My HP held me, and I felt the love, strength, and safety in his arms. The trunk opened, and all the sadness, guilt, shame, hate and resentment came out. I did not feel less, or a void there in my gut. I felt the chasm fill with love and light as I wrote out my feelings, my amends and that forgiveness I thought would never come, did. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough. I love how we (my HP & I) keep is simple.
Right as I finished I received a text from an OA fellow in Portland. I instantly felt that my HP had sent me some help here on earth. An audible voice to tell me, well done. A beating heart and an ear to cry to. I reached out. I cried, and I cried and I cried. God bless our members, they make the time and the space and they are a safe place to share our deepest thoughts and feelings to.
I am so grateful to have had this spiritual experience. I know I’ll be better and live better because I was finally willing to rely on a power greater than myself for something so big, so terrifying to tackle on my own. I know exactly how big of a deal this is. I’ve tried for almost 5 years to do it, on my own with absolutely no success. I don’t have the weight and toxicity of that emotional pain and trauma in my being now. It always felt so physical but I see now that it was spiritual. It never mattered what I knew, how much I wanted to let it go or what I could muster on my own. This experience would happen on God’s timing and only with his love, help and guidance.
I don’t just want to talk the talk, I want to walk the walk. Like our literature says, I don’t want to just carry the message, I want to be the message. I am very grateful for the relief of food obsession. But, it’s the handling of life differently that is making the bigger difference in my life, and in those around me.
Today, I am a little sister who is missing her older sister terribly. Also today, I am grieving the loss of her, and not how she was taken. I’ve got peace and love for my nephew and can say that I hope he and my sister are resting in peace. Gratefully, I can carry my sister Diane, boldly, into recovery, with such love and understanding, truly beyond my wildest dreams.
Laurie M. Compulsive Overeater