A Wellspring of Hope
Newsletter of The Recovery Group


February 2005
Volume 7, Issue 2


Please feel free to pass Serendipity on to others who are working a Twelve Step program of recovery.


ser*en*dip*i*ty ~ (noun) First appeared 1754:
the faculty or phenomenon of finding
valuable or agreeable things not sought for.


Serendipity CONTACTS:
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com
The Serendipity Archives
www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/serendipity/index.html





THIS MONTH IN SERENDIPITY


REQUEST A SERENDIPITY SUBSCRIPTION



~ FROM THE SERENDIPITY TEAM ~

Dear Serendipity Readers,

February is a month full of valentines, "I love you's" - and candy. It is the time of year that our recovery can be jeopardized by sweets if we feel we don't feel we have the love we need. As compulsive overeaters, we sometimes eat because there is something "missing" in our lives. We eat to fill a void, and when the food doesn't satisfy us, we eat more. And with that comes the guilt at how we are mistreating foods and destroying our bodies. But the thing is, we all have the love we need already. It is within each of us, growing silently or loudly, ticking and keeping us alive.

I saw a heart necklace in a catalog the other day with a heart-shaped hole cut out of the middle of it. Rather than this hole symbolizing a loss; it instead symbolized the love you've given away. This is sometimes the greatest love. You can give your love away by giving service, becoming a sponsor, picking up the phone, making a new friend. I am very thankful to be coordinating this newsletter. It is helping my recovery, and in the process, I have met some wonderful new friends.

Every February we celebrate Valentine's Day by giving flowers, candy and cards to those we love. We do this in honor of Saint Valentine. You may be wondering, "Who is St. Valentine?"

Legend has it that Valentine was a priest who served during third century Rome, who opposed a decree outlawing marriage. Supposedly, Valentine chose to marry young couples secretly. When Emperor Claudius II found out about Valentine's actions he had him put to death.

Another legend has it that Valentine was an imprisoned man who fell in love with his jailor's daughter. Before he was put to death he sent the first 'valentine' himself, when he wrote her a letter and signed it 'Your Valentine', words still used on cards today.

Perhaps we'll never know the true identity and story behind the man named St. Valentine, but this much is for sure... February has been the month to celebrate love for a long time, dating clear back to the Middle Ages. In fact, Valentine's Day ranks second only to Christmas in the number of greeting cards sent.

What does the word "love" mean?

The dictionary defines love as "To have a deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward (a person): We love our parents. I love my friends."

Why not love ourselves?

Sometimes the word doesn't have to be spoken; it is felt. We feel it within through our HP, God, our friends and family. Love is a great deal more than saying "I Love You." It is how we love ourselves, and treat ourselves as we would treat friends and loved ones. If they did something wrong, slipped on their program, etc., we would engulf them with hugs and say "It's O.K." But when we ourselves do the same thing, we tend to judge, and hate. Let's try to treat ourselves this month like we treat others. Let's conquer our disease with love instead of our inner critics. And most of all, let's spread that love around.

This month, instead of turning to heart-filled boxes of candy, why not reach out to someone? Here at The Recovery Group we have an abundance of options and people who can help in your recovery.

In this issue of Serendipity we will showcase these different areas of TRG. We have Telephone Angels, Sponsors, and loops for everyone. This month we spotlight the Sex and Love Addiction Loop. We have meetings around the clock, every 3 hours. We will also show you 10 ways to love yourself. And a gift just for you - a Certificate of Recovery. One gift you can give yourself this month is the gift of abstinence, and it is a gift.

Much love to you all this blessed month of February.

Kathy and The Serendipity Team
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com





~ LOVE QUOTATIONS OF THE MONTH ~



"One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life; that word is Love." ~ Sophocles

"All you need is Love" ~ The Beetles

"We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end." ~ Benjamin Disraeli

"Where there is love there is life." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

"Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit." ~ Kahlil Gibran

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart.
And try to love the questions themselves."
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

"To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven." ~ Karen Sunde

"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
~ Buddha

"To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides" ~ David Viscott

"Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, love more, and all good things will be yours." ~ Swedish Proverb



~ MEDITATION ~



"Love conquers all things.
Let us, too, surrender to love."
     ~Virgil

One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is how to love myself. I had to discover my capacity for self-care. It was necessary that I listen to how I talked to myself and learn to speak in more positive and affirming ways. Learning to smile, and then laugh when I made a mistake, helped me to be less self-centered and more able to just have fun.

Life is a great experience when I surrender myself to the love around me. Expressing my love to others increases its quantity and quality inside me. Every single human being needs to know that someone loves them, and that they are lovable. Everyone needs to know that they are sufficient. I've discovered that as I give love to others, it is returned to me many times over.

One Day at a Time . . .
I will work at expressing unconditional love.



~ FOUNDER'S CORNER ~


Dear Recovery Friends,

This is the "Love Month." To love and to be loved is the greatest gift ever given ... the greatest gift ever received. We can love all kinds of things ... and one of the "things" I love is this beautiful community called The Recovery Group. And I love those of you who over the past decade have turned it from being just a bunch of e-mail lists into a community. I want to tell you what has happened as a result of a lot of hard work, caring, sharing and love! I want to share with you what happens when suffering people are connected at the heart.

For our Tenth Birthday present, The Recovery Group Community has been given a wonderful new home. No longer will our support groups be in more than one place; no longer will we be subjected to pop-ups, advertising, animations and commercials; no longer will we have to put up with SPAM, or a technical support system where we never hear from a live person or even wonder if our anonymity will be compromised.

I am so very pleased to announce to you that The Recovery Group lists will all be moved to their very own domain with the largest and best listserver in the world. In the very near future our new home will be at lists. TheRecoveryGroup.org and you will each be sent all the details in the next week. The migration will not affect you except for a change in the address to which you send your shares. The benefits will be many and we ask that you have patience while the best Trusted Servant team on the planet gets to work.

We are so very blessed. Thanks to all of you for being here, working your program, sharing with your home loop, participating as Trusted Servants and letting us know as often as possible that, as a result of the Twelve Steps, you are receiving the promises.

Happy February, Loopies!

@-}-}-}------
Love in recovery,
Mari





~ LETTERS TO SERENDIPITY ~



Please feel free to write letters to us on any subject of interest to our readers. Send to:
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com


~ THE RECOVERY GROUP ~
ADMINISTRATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

~ RECOVERY LOOPS DIVISION ~

The Recovery Group Loops Division Chair administrates our Twelve Step general sharing support groups. Many of these are also our largest loops. The Chairperson of the Recovery Group Loops works with the Coordinators of each of the fifteen individual Recovery loops.

2005 has brought an influx of new members curious about OA and about online recovery. Darcy and Jumper, the new coordinators, are handling the newcomers wonderfully.

OA Friends also has a new coordinator (Nancy T), who is breathing new life into the loop.

A WTS Step Study began in January with Bob W as the leader. This loop has also grown in 2005.

Dee has agreed to coordinate HOTJ and is doing a really good job also.

The big news in the Recovery Loops, however, is that Kris has agreed to be the Recovery Loops Division Leader. Welcome and thanks to all the new trusted servants.

More details about these support groups can be found at:
http://www.theRecoveryGroup.org/trg.html
Contact: RecoveryLoopsAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org

~ ODAT LOOPS DIVISION ~

The ODAT Loops are for compulsive eaters who are working the program of recovery, but share a special interest with others on that loop.

Are you a homebound person? On the Isolation and Homebound loop you will find others with whom you can discuss your program and your feelings and they will understand. Do you have a loved one suffering from compulsive eating? The members of the OA Anon loop all have a relative or friend who has an eating disorder. Are you a diabetic that has felt the shame of not being able to follow your food plan? Join other diabetics on the Diabetics ODAT loop.

There are 33 Special Focus loops. Each loop offers you a safe place to talk about your program of recovery and how it is affected by your special interests. Join in as others share their experiences, strengths, and hope.

Within these many-faceted groups are many opportunities for service. Each of these loops needs people who understand how those in that loop are thinking... and each needs service. If you are interested in more information about the ODAT loops, or are willing to give service, please contact:
www.theRecoveryGroup.org/odat/.

Submitted by :
Donna ~ ODAT Loops Division Leader

www.theRecoveryGroup.org/odat/
Please send email to: ODATAdm@lists.therecoverygroup.org

~ DISCOVERY LOOPS DIVISION ~

Established to help anyone afflicted with an eating disorder, the Discovery Loops empower men, women and even children. Through the Discovery Loops we hope to help others learn about OA and connect with others that suffer the same disease.

For some, isolation has been the only way of life and so for the first time when they join TRG they see there is hope in Recovery.

The Discovery Loops consist of five loops. Two of them were created for children and their parents. They are Kids & Discovery, and COKIDS. Kids & Discovery is a loop where only children can share and has one adult moderator. CoKids is the loop for parents, grandparents and teachers. Anyone who needs assistance helping a child with an eating disorder.

If you like to cook and have some great recipes then Kitchen and Discovery is for you. This is the place where you can share food plans, recipes, and food ideas and do not have to worry about talking about food. We ask you to take what you want and leave the rest. So come on and join us, it will be fun, all of us sharing our "secret" recipes with each other.

And after we talk and eat food then we can swing on over to Exercise and Recovery. This loop is a great place to be when you want to commit some exercise goals with others, and to just want to hear what others are doing. It can be run like a discussion group and services are available like all other loops; sponsors, meetings, Big Book Studies, etc.

Lastly, we have The Yellow Brick Road. What a way to travel our journey of recovery and at the same time be able to go back to our childhood if we have left some unfinished business or wounds there.

In this loop there are no Coordinators, no guidelines, basically anything goes. It is a spiritual loop, but not religious. You choose where you want to begin your journey, childhood, teens, adult and go from there. Wherever, the Yellow Brick Road leads you remember the important thing is for you to DISCOVER who you really are and that you are not alone!

Athena
Division Leader

http://www.theRecoveryGroup.org/discovery/
Contact: DiscoveryAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org

~ THE RECOVERY OA ONLINE MEETINGS ~

January has been a very busy month with the formation of meetings designed especially for people new to OA and/or TRG. From January 31st, the meetings will be held once a day during the week in the #TRGNewcomers meeting room. The format of the meetings will be informal, with question and answer time and explanations of how the program works, our meeting protocol, the meaning of abstinence, how to obtain a sponsor, the tools of recovery, information about food plans, working the steps and any other information relevant to recovery.

These meetings are very much needed in our program and hopefully will help and encourage newcomers to get started and if there are any experienced members willing to lead these special meetings,
MtgAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org would be very glad to hear from you!!

Anyone needing times/topics/leader information about these and all other TRG meetings can subscribe to the weekly meeting schedule and newsletter by sending an email to:
OATRGMtgSchedule-subscribe-request@lists.therecoverygroup.org.

In loving service,

Terri, Barry, Christine, Audrey and Cindy
On-Line Meeting Coordinators

Enquiries to: MtgAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org
Leaders Loop: MeetingTS@yahoogroups.com
www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/meetings/index.html



~ TRG SPONSOR PROGRAM ~

The Recovery Group Sponsor Program always receives a huge amount of requests toward the end of December and in the beginning of January, mostly from members who are committed to Working the Steps as a part of their New Year's Re-Solution.

No matter what else you do as part of the OA recovery program nothing will work if you do not work the steps along with it and the Recovery Group offers an opportunity to do this four times a year!

Since this is not a 'going alone program' but a 'together we can' program the Recovery Group strongly urges members to work the steps with a sponsor.

Beginning our step work with the encouragement and support of a sponsor is the way we learn that "We are no longer alone".

A sponsor will share their own experience, strength and hope with their sponsorees ensuring them that they have someone who cares and understands, because they also have the same disease and have been given the gift of abstinence as a result of working the 12 steps.

Our Program is designed to provide sponsors for those who are unable to find a face to face sponsor and are ready to take the steps.

You can find out exactly how our Sponsor Program works by going to this link:
http://theRecoveryGroup/sponsors.html

We encourage members who have worked the steps with a sponsor to volunteer to become sponsors themselves.

The sooner you begin to share your recovery in this way the sooner these gifts of recovery will be planted deep within your heart and will also be a way to fulfill the part of the 12th step that says: "we tried to carry this message to compulsive eaters."

Continued JOY in recovery,
       Patt and Cate
       TRG Sponsor Coordinators

www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/sponsors.html
Contact: TRGSponsorsAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org



~ THE RECOVERY TELEPHONE ANGELS ~

     (\0/) (\0/) (\0/)
      / \   / \   / \

Do you feel HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY, TIRED, or just need a friendly voice to talk with who understands how you are feeling and has most likely been there?

Well, we have the answer! PICK UP YOUR PHONE and call a TELEPHONE ANGEL!

If you feel afraid or scared or just do not feel comfortable talking to a stranger, remember that the Recovery Telephone Angels are really not strangers after all. We are all together holding hands and you can just tell yourself "I am making this call to practice."

There are GREAT things happening with The Telephone Angels Program. We now have over 35 Angels who come from all over--- California to New York, to Canada and all way to Denmark. All in all we have 21 States/Provinces/Countries represented.

Also now the Telephone Angels are arranged according to the State/Country they live in. This will make it easier if you live in Idaho and want to talk to someone close by. Just scroll down and see if you can find someone who lives there.

This is a GREAT Program and continues to grow each day! What a wonderful tool we have in the telephone! If you would like to become a Telephone Angel or would like to give service to this group such as compiling names and sending out Directories, please send the following information to:
TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org

Your Name & Email Address
Your STATE (VERY IMPORTANT)!!
Your Phone Number with area code
Best Time to Call
Is it okay to leave a message?

Submitted by:

Cody, Coordinator
The Recovery Telephone Angels Program
TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org. Please put "Attention: Cody Re: Telephone Angels" on the subject line.



~ DIVISION APPOINTMENTS ~



ATHENA, CHAIRPERSON, DISCOVERY LOOPS DIVISION

Athena has been in OA since 12/80 and abstinent for 20 years. She is a retired writer and has written three articles which have been published in Lifeline. Athena has been involved with TRG for a year and is active in service.

DONNA, CHAIRPERSON, ODAT LOOPS DIVISION LEADER

Donna has been in OA 20 years and involved with online recovery for five of them. She is a nurse and a teacher. She's involved with Special Olympics.

KRIS, CHAIRPERSON, RECOVERY LOOPS DIVISION

Kris has been appointed Chairperson of the RecoveryLoops Division. Kris has shown great dedication in her work as a TRG Trusted Servant, is creative, a self-starter and energetic in her service work and we look forward to working with her in her newposition. The working address for Kris is: RecoveryLoopsAdm@yahoo.com.

CINDY, CHAIRPERSON, FOREIGN LOOPS DIVISION

Cindy, has been appointed the new Chairperson of the Recovery Foreign Loops Division. Cindy is multilingual and has expertise that very few have. In addition to her language skills, she has a diverse array of other skills, among them administative, technical, html, web design and, most important of all, tenacity and a love for helping others. Athena, Cindy, Kris and Donna are living life to the fullest with their families and bring special talents to TRG. We congratulate each and welcome them to their service positions and thank them for being willing to serve. The Recovery Group is, indeed, blessed.

RUTH, GREETER, ISOLATION AND HOMEBOUND GROUP

Ruth has accepted the position of greeter in the Isolation & Homebound Group.
Please join me in welcoming her as she begins this service.

Donna
ODAT Loops Division Chairperson

CHERYL, CO-COORDINATOR, DEPRESSION ODAT
MYRLENE, WEBSERVANT, DEPRESSION LOOP

Dear friends, We are very fortunate in that Cheryl S. has agreed to be the other coordinator on Depression ODAT, and that Myrlene has agreed to be the webservant. Please join me in welcoming them; I am so grateful for their willingness to give service.
Love and hugs,
    Sharon



~ GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENTS ~



TECHNICAL SUPPORT

We are pleased to announce that we have a real, live person to help with your questions. Cindy has been appointed as the Recovery Group's Technical Support Trusted Servant and you can contact her by writing:
RecoveryTech@TheRecoveryGroup.org

2005 ABSTINENCE

It is still early in the New Year and if you would like to commit your abstinence daily, please join us by sending a blank email to:
2005Abstinence-subscribe-request@lists.therecoverygroup.org.

Future Announcements should be sent to: SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com.



~ TRG'S FIRST DECADE ~ 1995-2005 ~



1995-2005 ~ TRG'S FIRST DECADE

Once upon a time, when the world wide web was much younger, there was an email loop for compulsive overeaters called Oasis. This loop was a wonderful place of recovery for many people. One of the people who found the miracle of abstinence on the Oasis loop was a woman named Mari. She began to be a major contributor, writing letters of encouragement to the newcomers, and letters in general talking about her feelings and her successes and struggles. She started calling some of these letters "Journey to Recovery". They followed a format. They started out with a quotation from someone, usually someone well-known, then she would write about that quotation, and she ended her journal with a prayer. Mari wrote these Journeys daily, and people began talking about them. As is the case on email loops sometimes, there were a few nay-sayers who didn't care for the Journeys and began criticizing both the writings and the author.

One day a friend said to her, "Why don't you start your own email loop where you can send out your Journey's only to the people who want them and regain peace in your life?" Mari thought that was a good idea and Journey to Recovery was born.

WTS was the first loop after Oasis. WTS was and is a Step Study and Journey to Recovery (JTR) a support group with general sharing. OA Friends had replaced Oasis and over the months, people came up with ideas for "specialty" loops such as Anorexia and Bulimia, loops for obese children, Diabetes and Recovery, and before we knew it, we were the largest and most comprehensive recovery groups on the internet. We remain that way today, thanks to countless hours of volunteer labor done by hundreds of very precious trusted servants. Who would ever have thought when that first Journey to Recovery went out to a few dozen people, it would turn into the tremendous recovery community it has become. Thank you, God. Thank you, Mari.

Yours in recovery,
Sande



~ LOOP SPOTLIGHT OF THE MONTH ~
SEX AND LOVE ADDICTION



The mission of the Sex and Love Addiction loop is to provide a safe place where compulsive eaters who are also struggling with sex and love addiction issues can meet together in a safe environment for mutual support.

Each of us embarks on a journey whose path is uncharted and whose destination is unknown. All we know is that whatever we were doing at a specific time in our lives was steering us off course. When we reach the goal of physical, emotional and spiritual recovery that used to loom so far in the distance, we want to maintain it at all costs. This program has changed our lives for the better and the joy of attaining this precious goal is well worth everything one has to do to get here.

We invite you to join SLAA_ODAT so that we may continue to do together what we cannot do alone.

To join, please click the link below or send a blank e-mail to:
SLAA_ODAT-subscribe-request@lists.therecoverygroup.org.

Yours in Recovery,
The Trusted Servants of SLAA_ODAT



http://www.TheRecoveryGroup.org/odat/slaa/index.html OR
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SLAA_ODAT/



~ FEATURE ARTICLE ~
Will you be YOUR Valentine?



Imagine this scenario:

Tonight, I have a date with my valentine. My valentine is so special to me. I have planned a special meal, which is composed of healthy favorite foods. I will play special music, and lay out my favorite plates and silverware. I will talk about my valentine's special qualities. I will dress in a nice dress, and fix my hair in a special way. I went to the store, and bought something that would tell my valentine how I feel. I bought flowers, and a sweet gift. I am looking forward to spending time with my valentine.

Are you thinking my husband is a lucky man? Well, though I hope he thinks so, too, I am not talking about him. I am talking about how I would like to treat myself ... just for today.

How hard is it for us to think of ourselves in the way that we think of the ones we love? How hard is it for us to find special things to say; to take the time to prepare a special meal; to buy ourselves something "just because"? How hard is it for us to take the time to give ourselves the love that we deserve? I have a problem loving myself, sometimes. Sometimes, I don't feel very lovable. I think of my character defects. I think of the failed diets, and of the harsh words that I say to my family. I think of the many ways that I am less than what I wish that I could be. And I wonder not only how I could love myself, but sometimes why my husband and family love me?

Many of us feel very jaded on Valentine Day. Love has betrayed us, and we find ourselves either alone, or in unfulfilling relationships. But there is a person inside of each of us who is worthy of love - especially of our own love. The Program teaches us that we are all lovable. We are human beings, faulted and imperfect; yet, each of us has good qualities which we can use for the good of ourselves and others, when we choose to. I believe that each of us has a purpose in this world, and that when we stay connected to our Higher Power, and listen to HP's guidance, we can find and carry out this purpose.

I believe that each of us can make a difference in the world: one person at a time. We see in the eyes of each person whose lives we touch, another person who is just as faulty and imperfect as we are -yet, just as deserving of love.

Those of us fortunate to be involved in happy, supportive relationships know the trouble that we sometimes go to when we select our Valentine Day gifts. The card must say just what we want it to say. The flowers must be just the right kind. The gift must show the way we feel. The time we spend with that person is charged with excitement, passion and joy. So why CAN'T we resolve to care for ourselves in some of those same ways:

Flowers - why NOT buy yourself a bouquet of flowers? It will brighten up your room, and your mood. If flowers aren't your thing, how about an aromatherapy candle, or a bright new scarf, or a new picture for your room? Make the picture yourself, if funds are limited. Or take a walk to see something that will brighten your own day, in the way that flowers can.

Sweet treats - now, I am NOT talking the "C" word here. Not in these rooms. But that is not the only sweet treat we can buy for others or ourselves. Buy some fresh fruit, instead of canned. Buy a new package of sugarless gum. Buy some of that flavored water. Put some fruit-flavored extract into something that is ordinarily plain-tasting.

Spending time - we all deserve some "me time". Some time with ourselves. Some time to think; to reflect; to reach inside of our hearts and souls; to discover who we are. Carve out some quiet time each week. It can be a refreshing experience.

Go out on a "date" - OK, you can't really take yourself to the movies... or can you? Find a special activity that you really enjoy, and give it to yourself as a gift. Go to a movie, a concert, a play, the mall, a game, a museum, an exhibit or just to the park. Savor your own company, and enjoy the sensation of enjoying whatever it is that you enjoy.

A card/special words - OK, so you don't have to buy yourself a card. But find some special words to say to yourself. "You can make it, one day at a time. You are doing well. You are doing the best you can. Take it easy. Progress, not perfection. You are loved, just the way you are. This setback is only temporary. You made a mistake, but you can learn from it. You resisted the urge to ____; great going!" Self-talk is not just for phony gurus. It is a powerful way to reframe your existence.

Special meals - when I have company, I turn off the TV, put away the novel that I am reading, and get out the fancy plates and silverware. Why not treat yourself like company? Why not lay out those plates for yourself? Enjoy them! They're yours! Who has a better right to eat on them? Turn off the TV and listen to some soothing music. Why not dress up? Because no one is there? YOU are there! You deserve the best of yourself, and you can make this happen with just a little effort.

Love - to me, this is the most important thing of all. Do whatever it takes to love yourself. All of the things that you have to do; to preserve your relationships with those you love; do these things to the best of your ability, to and for yourself. Acceptance, forgiveness, patience, appreciation, encouragement, devotion, honesty, perseverance,faithfulness, communication... all these things are what we do each day, with and for the people we love.

Today is the day you can give these gifts to yourself. I don't believe this will make us selfish, if we do it right. If we do it right, it will make us special - in our own eyes. And that is all the Valentine we need, for today. Make a date. Make it with yourself. You'll be glad you did!

Submitted by :
Donna ~ ODAT Loops Division Leader



~ From our Members ~



Each month, Serendipity readers are asked to send their recovery stories. If you would like to contribute your story, please send to:
SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com. Please try to make it about 500 words.

~ The Story of Piera ~ A Member From Italy ~

My name is Piera and I am a COE. I think I have always been a food addict. I grew up in a family where everyone had and still has one or several drugs of choice. Until I was 18 I didn't have problems with food and my weight. It was my last year of my High School and I had my final exams. I started eating more than usual and gained about ten pounds. And so I started my career as a Compulsive Overeater.

I have never been "really" overweight but my mind was fat and I was convinced to be a big eater. To make a long story short, it took me 17 years to acknowledge and accept I had a problem with food. The good thing, however, is as soon as I became aware of it, I immediately called the Italian OA Information Office. They gave me an address and a meeting time. It was December 1999. When I attended my first meeting I didn't understand much of what the other members were saying but I felt I was in the right place. I was peaceful and relieved: I finally knew what my problem was, I finally heard I suffered from a serious and incurable illness. In a certain way I was glad to discover I had a disease. I thought: "Thanks, Go;, now I know where I can start from!" By thinking that, I had taken Step 1.

Within a couple of months I started my abstinence, following a simple food plan. After three months I had already lost the pounds I had gained. But I was still convinced my only problem was the overeating. I hadn't accepted yet I had another food problem. Thanks to OA and the Program I kept on working on myself and my disease. After a couple of years of attendance, continuing abstinence and usage of the recovery tools I eventually realized I was anorexic too. My Fourth Step clearly showed me I had always alternated overeating with starving: this was one of the reasons why I had never really been overweight. Now I know I do need to be very careful with my meals. I can't afford for my body to eat too much or not enough. I can't afford for my soul to be without the Program.

I work the 12&12 every day, even if I am very tired or busy. This is the only way I have to live my life on life's terms. Nowadays my life is much better than it was before I joined OA. I have a nice family and most of the days I am free from the compulsion. I know this is the best life I have ever had and know joy and sorrow belong both in my existence. They are just two sides of the same coin and one can't exist without the other. Everyday I pray to God to help me and give me the strength to face the challenges of the hours standing before me ... then I thank Him for everything I have now and for my life. I have been abstinent for 4 years and 10 months and for this 24 hours my kitchen is closed.

Just another couple of lines before I finish my story: God led me to OA and to the Program but it's up to me to make the Program work. Service helps me to stay connected: I do use this tool a lot, because it helps me to reach out, read the Literature, think about the Program,take action and stay committed to the Steps. This disease is baffling, cunning and powerful: I have accepted it is stronger than I am. This is the reason why I rarely think I can leave the Program for even a couple of days. But, if this happens, and sometimes happens, then service is my lifeline, because there's always something I "have" to do for servicing, something which involves not only men and my self-centered person but also other COEs who need me to take action.

I want to thank the people who asked me to write my story down and all the Trusted Servants who make it possible to maintain the Recovery Site, the Loops and the Online meetings.

Love in Recovery and Service,
Piera

~ A Living Prayer for Recovery ~ Part Two
(Continued from Serendipity, January 2005)

I began my journey in darkness, without any knowledge of the OA Program or the 12 steps.

Once a very athletic person, always challenged by issues of weight control, in 1986 I found myself diagnosed with polycystic ovarian disease, a common hormonal ailment--also a precursor to Diabetes type II.

As my hormonal problems progressed, noticed as absence of menses, I discovered and felt the presence of a tumor.

IN 1988 . . .

The tumor was growing as I regressed. Along with this came great pain along with loss of income. I was served divorce papers upon my wedding anniversary. I had loss of mobility, fear, isolation, and difficulty clothing myself because my apparel had to become outsized in the extreme to accommodate the fast-growing abdominal area of my body.

In grocery stores, malls and on streets I suffered stares and whispers from children and adults who starred curiously at the tall, large girl with the pretty face. Corporate women and svelte housewives would turn their faces away from me in disgust as I pushed a grocery cart down the aisle.

My life became hours long, multiple clinic visits. Since the doctors believed that my condition was worsening solely for the reason that they believed I was merely a CLOSET EATER, I was not ever granted lab tests or a sonogram test during 7 1/2 years! My diagnosis of Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease had never been acknowledged or documented that I knew of.

I had suggested to doctors that I had a growing tumor. They seemed insulted and ignored me while exchanging whispered consultations with each other.

After talking with a nurse practioner, she suggested I transfer to a new team of doctors, which I did.



IN 1993 . . .

I began to receive slightly better care, but the tumor was still undiagnosed. My waist measurement increased from 48 to 66 inches, weight from 276 to 358 pounds. The pain began to be quite incredible so that I was often more comfortable staying up in a lounge chair at night than sleeping in a bed.

In the coming weeks, the pain would not allow sleep to come unless I had been up 72 hours.

Eventually my new physician gave me a sonogram test though his superiors were very grudging, acting as though the test would be a waste of time.

When the results came back POSITIVE with the presence of a very large fibroid tumor CONFIRMED, this was my validation as a human being with a routine problem that should have been solved. Surely now they will give me surgery! I assumed.



IN 1995...

My condition had worsened. My waist measurement was now exactly 70 inches, my weight topped at 386. How could this situation have occurred when my country has the best medical care? The answers involved areas of human prejudice and errant human thinking.

The word "recovery" and "abstinence" were about to enter my world.

When I was very ill, I'd found a "virtual world" on the internet. I found friends, supporters,words of encouragement that kept me literally fighting for my life.



IN 1995 . . .

My tumor was removed.

IN 1997 . . .

I was healing from the second surgery of a tummy tuck that had given me a new and normal appearance, plus a new custom belly button! My deformed pouch had been removed.



My physical rehabilitation was ongoing. It was during this time that I met someone who introduced me to the OA Program of Recovery.

It took an operation(s) to save and rebuild my body, yet God would use the internet and one person working the OA Program at just the right time to help me in the area of food addiction---something that I'd never thought about before since I'd always been lead to believe that it was "my lack of will power..."

The Steps remind me daily that lasting healing must come from the inside-out! My surgical procedures are permanent if I take care of my body, however, the disease of compulsive overeating is a lifelong diagnosis.

The tools were created to prevent my further isolation and my involvement with life and living in healthy solutions..

By my experience in "earth-school" I now "qualify" to help others at meetings and on the HOTJ loop. My life remains even now "under construction" by my Higher power so that it has now become, in essence, a living prayer for recovery.

~ January K.



~ Love Yourself - A Poem ~

L et go of the "shoulds" in your life.
O pen up to the miracle of now.
V alue your uniqueness.
E xplore your dreams and passions.
Y ield to life - go with the flow.
O bey the voice of your Spirit.
U nwind - get cozy and comfy.
R enew yourself - body and soul.
S urround yourself with caring people.
E xpress yourself - be true to you.
L inger longer at what you enjoy.
F eel God's special love for you.




~ TRG'S Valentine To You - A Certificate of Recovery ~



PRESENTED TO: My precious, precious child

REDEEMABLE FOR: Permanent, long term abstinence and a life beyond your wildest dreams, found only within the rooms of Overeaters Anonymous. This is a gift from me to you. It is always with you and always available. As long as there is a breath left within you, it is never too late to begin again right where you are. Please don't ever give up hope. With me, the steps and your loving OA family you can do anything. You are not alone anymore. I love you so much and you are so very precious to me and to so many others I have brought to your life. Anytime you wish to redeem this certificate please just surrender to my will and ask me for help. It will always be given to you.

WITH LOVE FROM YOUR HIGHER POWER

Written by Cynthia Whitaker, a TRG member



~ OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS CONTACTS ~

Overeaters Anonymous
World Service Office (WSO)
PO Box 44020
Rio Rancho, NM 87124 USA

Telephone 505-891-2664
Fax: 505-891-4320
http://www.overeatersanonymous.org/index.html
E-Mail Address ~ info@overeatersanonymous.org

"I put my hand in yours ...
and together we can do what we could never do alone."
~ Rozanne, OA CoFounder ~



~ WRITERS' SERIES ~ TEN WAYS TO LOVE OURSELVES ~

~ Reflections on Louise Hay's Inspiring Book, "The Power Is Within You" ~

Dear Friends on our Journey ~

My name is Mari and I am a grateful compulsive overeater in recovery. I am compulsive in other ways also. Many times we who have this disease will give up one addiction and quickly replace it with another. I don't like this disease. Aside from the fact that it is complex, aside from the fact that it can make one's life pretty miserable, aside from the fact that it is cunning, baffling and many, many other things I believe this disease stems from the fact that we simply do not love ourselves enough. We need so very much to love and to be loved.



"Infantile love follows the principle:
I love because I am loved.
Mature love follows the principle:
I am loved because I love. "
    ~ Erich Fromm



There was a period of my life when I closed off my emotions and could not love nor could I receive love. I'm not sure I would have ever been able to do that again had I not found my program of recovery ~ The Twelve Steps. Since God allowed me to feel again, I have had a problem only once with coming close to shutting off my emotions ... and, although I came perilously close to doing that again, because of my hope that this program works, I was able to keep it from happening.

In the quote above, it speaks of "infantile" love. An immature love. A love that "happens" when someone loves us. Doesn't work that way, does it? We might think it does ... and it may be a type of love ... but Fromm is right when he speaks of it as "infantile." If someone came to me tomorrow morning and said to me, "I love you", I could not begin to love that person simply because he/she loved me. I could go through the machinations of doing so ... but it would not be the kind of love I would be looking for. And it would not be the kind of love I want to give to another.

As complicated as it is, as inexplicable as it is .... mature love comes only with the giving of it. We all know that unconditional acceptance is found in the rooms of OA. And once we experience that ... we can move on to self acceptance. And from there we find the ability to accept and love others WITHOUT CONDITIONS OR EXPECTATIONS.

I'd like you to think about something as we go through these ten days of trying to learn to love ourselves more. Think about those we love and those who love us and let us ask ourselves if that is the "infantile" love or the "mature" love.

And my last thought is something that I have said so many times to others ... something an OA speaker once said:

"I love you; whether you love me is beside the point."



Dear God,
As I continue on this journey
to recovery with my friends, please
help us all to learn to love ourselves more
so that we can give unconditional love as well
as experience it ourselves
   Anonymous

ONE ~ ~ STOP ALL CRITICISM ~ ~

CRITICISM NEVER CHANGES A THING.
REFUSE TO CRITICIZE YOURSELF.
ACCEPT YOURSELF EXACTLY AS YOU ARE.
EVERYBODY CHANGES.
WHEN YOU CRITICIZE YOURSELF,
YOUR CHANGES ARE NEGATIVE.
WHEN YOU APPROVE OF YOURSELF,
YOUR CHANGES ARE POSITIVE

TWO ~ ~ DON'T SCARE YOURSELF ~ ~

DON'T SCARE YOURSELF.
STOP TERRORIZING YOURSELF
WITH YOUR THOUGHTS.
IT'S A DREADFUL WAY TO LIVE!
FIND A MENTAL IMAGE THAT GIVES YOU PLEASURE
( MINE IS A WATERFALL),
AND IMMEDIATLEY SWITCH YOUR SCARY THOUGHT
TO A PLEASURABLE THOUGHT.

THREE ~ ~ BE GENTLE AND KIND AND PATIENT ~ ~

BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF
AS YOU LEARN THE NEW WAYS OF THINKING.
TREAT YOURSELF AS YOU WOULD
SOMEONE YOU REALLY, REALLY LOVED.

FOUR ~ ~ BE KIND TO YOUR MIND ~ ~

SELF HATRED IS ONLY HATING
YOUR OWN THOUGHTS.
DON'T HATE YOURSELF
FOR HAVING BAD THOUGHTS.
GENTLY CHANGE YOUR THOUGHTS.

FIVE ~ ~ PRAISE YOURSELF ~ ~

CRITICISM BREAKS DOWN THE INNER SPIRIT.
PRAISE BUILDS IT UP.
PRAISE YOURSELF AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.
TELL YOURSELF HOW WELL YOU ARE DOING
WITH EACH AND EVERY LITTLE THING.

SIX ~ ~ SUPPORT YOURSELF ~ ~

FIND WAYS TO SUPPORT YOURSELF.
REACH OUT TO FRIENDS AND
ALLOW THEM TO HELP YOU.
IT IS BEING STRONG
TO ASK FOR HELP
WHEN YOU NEED IT.

SEVEN ~ ~ BE LOVING TO YOUR NEGATIVES ~ ~

ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU CREATED THEM
TO FULFILL A NEED.
NOW YOU ARE FINDING NEW,
POSITIVE WAYS
TO FULFILL THOSE NEEDS.
SO, LOVINGLY RELEASE
THE OLD NEGATIVE PATTERNS.

EIGHT ~ ~ TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY ~ ~

LEARN ABOUT NUTRITION.
WHAT KIND OF FUEL DOES
YOUR BODY NEED TO HAVE FOR
OPTIMUM ENERGY AND VITALITY?
LEARN ABOUT EXERCISE.
WHAT KIND OF EXERCISE CAN YOU ENJOY
AND TOLERATE ACCORDING TO YOUR ILLNESS?
CHERISH AND REVERE THE TEMPLE YOU LIVE IN.
NINE ~ ~ MIRROR WORK ~ ~

LOOK INTO YOUR EYES OFTEN.
EXPRESS THIS GROWING SENSE OF LOVE
YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF.
FORGIVE YOURSELF,
LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR.
TALK TO YOUR PARENTS AND LOVED ONES,
LOOKING INTO THE MIRROR.
FORGIVE THEM TOO.
AT LEAST ONCE A DAY SAY:
"I LOVE YOU.
I REALLY LOVE YOU"
TEN ~ ~ LOVE YOURSELF ~ ~

NOW!
DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOU GET WELL,
OR LOSE THE WEIGHT,
OR GET THE NEW JOB,
OR THE NEW RELATIONSHIP.
BEGIN NOW....
AND DO THE BEST YOU CAN!

I'd like you to scroll back up now if you would ... and read the titles to each step over ... and see if you, like me, have taken one baby step more to that one-day-at-a-time place we know as recovery. I hope so. Loving oneself is something many of us just simply never learned to do. And loving ourself is not an option. Because if we don't love ourselves, we will hate ourselves. And, if we hate ourselves, our disease will take over .... it will quit doing those push-ups .. and pounce on us ... it will start the "stinking thinking" all over again ... it will tell us how rotten we are ... it will seduce us with our drug of choice ... and it will grin while doing so.



Dear God,
Please help me to be kind to myself.
To be gentle with my thoughts and feelings.
I know that the more I can love myself ...
And the more honest I can be
With my own emotions ...
The freer I can be
To love and give joy to others.



~ Promise Two ~



The words of the Second Promise are:
"We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it."

Dear Friends,

In the last part of this series on the Promises, I talked about how they begin to come true after doing Step 7. Although it's true that they begin to come true then, they blossom forth after the completion of step 9. What comes before that is just a sample of what will happen after Step 9:

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others." Like Steps 4-7, this sounds much harder than it really is. It must be done carefully, however, with help from a sponsor and a lot of introspection.

In doing steps 8 & 9, I uncovered a lot of guilt about things I had done in the past; things I had forgotten about, but which were causes of a vague sense of guilt. I had been feeling this guilt so long that it was like a natural part of me. I felt like there was something basically wrong with me that made me feel so much guilt. I actually felt guilty about existing in this world, since I wasn't really aware of what the cause of this vague sense of guilt was. These feelings of guilt and worthlessness affected all areas of my life, especially those concerning people.

But, as soon as I began to make my amends in Step 9, I felt the release of the guilt. I felt SO much more comfortable. I could be more open with my fellows, both in and out of OA. I had nothing to hide any more.

The second promise is: "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." Like a lot of us, I had many feelings of guilt and anger about things that had happened in my past. This anger was eating away at the inside of me. The person I was the most angry with was my mother.

I had to forgive her for the many times she showered me with verbal abuse. That was the most difficult amends of all. Why had she felt the necessity of treating me this way? What was my part in it? Where had this pattern of abuse come from? I had to learn a lot about my mother's past in order to forgive her. I learned that she had many of the same feelings of inadequacy that I was carrying around. She had learned it from her parents, who had learned it from their parents. Part of my amends has been to put an end to this chain of abuse. I think that having gone through this abuse, although it hurt me a lot, also helped me to be sensitive to verbal abuse in general.

That was the biggest amends I had to make. I didn't make it directly, by discussing it in detail. I just told her several times, that she had been the best parent she was able to be.

Other amends were much easier - things like clearing up debts, changing my behavior towards others, returning things I had borrowed, apologizing for things I had done, etc. Doing these things set me free from the guilt that had been keeping me chained and had affected all of my interactions with other people for most of my life. It had mostly affected my relationship with myself.

Miraculously, the second promise began to come true - I could think about my past in more positive terms. I could use the past to make my present life more positive towards both myself and others. I could use it as a tool to make my present relationships more satisfying. I know now that the way others treated me, or didn't treat me, had more to do with them than with me. They had their own burdens to carry.

Love,
Dawn



~ FROM THE TWELVE-STEP LITERATURE ~




~~ FROM THE BIG BOOK ~~

"Some day we hope that Alcoholics Anonymous/Overeaters Anonymous will help the public to a better realization of the gravity of the alcoholic problem but we shall be of little use if our attitude is one of bitterness or hostility. Drinkers/overeaters will not stand for it. After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles/excess food were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to.!!"
~ Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 103




MY SHARE...

As we are just studying about the beginnings of the Big Book and how the word was spread and the men writing the book were trying to help as many alcoholics as they could find, I thought this was a good paragraph to put in Serendipity today.

OA has also become popular by word of mouth as well as our newest technology, mentioned in the BB 4th Edition, the computer. Our groups are being put online to help those seeking a way to ease their torment with the compulsive overeating problem. It is still hard for some people outside our groups to realize the gravity of this problem.

The problems were of our own making, but the answers must come from a realization that this is a disease and needs the gravest attention and help!! Word spreading about a group that can help the COE find abstinence is a wonderful tool. As we all suffer the same disease, we empathize with how the other member feels. Only by finding a group who understands and a Higher Power for sustenance, will anyone find any lasting success in treating this enemy. We are growing in numbers and this is encouraging. Hopefully, someday, it will be an accepted cure for our disease!!

Love in Recovery,
    Myrlene (Big Book and Recovery Group)



~ Closing Recovery Meditation ~ Love ~

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.
You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
   - Lucille Ball

It took me a long time to learn what loving myself truly meant. I thought love was so many things: pleasing others, saying yes when I meant no, swallowing my true feelings, putting myself last. What I didn't know is that I was practicing resentment, anger, fear, jealousy and everything BUT love. I did not love others because I did not love myself.

Then I decided to take care of me first. I considered no one but me, took care of me, or so I thought, while alienating myself from those close to me. I ate compulsively to tame the self-loathing I felt inside. And I loathed myself because I did not treat myself with love and kindness.

Today I know that loving myself must come first. If I love myself, I am better to everyone in my life because I do things from a place of honesty. If I treat myself with respect, I treat others with respect. Everyone wins when I love myself enough to accept myself ... flaws and all.

One day at a time ...
I will ask my Higher Power for the ability to accept and love myself for where I am at this day, knowing I am a work in progress, a tree that grows from self-care and nurturing.

~ Melissa ~


~ RECOVERY MEDITATIONS ~

~ Visit our beautiful scene for February. ~
(http://www.therecoverygroup.org/meditations/february.html)

To receive the daily meditations by email, send a blank email to:
RecoveryMeditationsList-subscribe-request@lists.therecoverygroup.org



~ THE RECOVERY GROUP CONTACTS ~

Serendipity Team ~ SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com
Subscriptions ~ SerendipityNewsletter@yahoo.com[Subject=Request Subscription(web)]
Recovery Group Administrators ~ TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org
ODAT Administrators ~ ODATAdm@lists.therecoverygroup.org
Sponsor Coordinators ~ Sponsors@TheRecoveryGroup.org
Recovery OA Online Meetings Coordinators ~ MtgAdm@lists.TheRecoveryGroup.org
Technical Support ~ RecoveryTech@mail.com
TRG Webmaster ~ Mari@TheRecoveryGroup.org
Recovery Group Founder ~ Mari@TheRecoveryGroup.org




"In the deepest part of a compulsive eater's soul . . .
Is the realization that recovery begins when we find one another."

Disclaimer


The Recovery Group and our newsletter has as its mission and purpose that of carrying the message of recovery to those who suffer from the disease of compulsive eating. We are an anonymous organization and follow the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous; however, we are not affiliated with that group. Your articles, announcements and information are welcome. All opinions in this newsletter represent only the opinions of the writers and not necessarily that of The Recovery Group or OA, Inc.

The Trusted Servants of Recovery

Volume 7 Issue 2 © Copyright 2005 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved.