The Recovery Group Newsletter
A Twelve Step Newsletter For All
CONTENTS THIS ISSUE
From the Editor
A Letter To My Disease
July 4th Marathon
From An Administrator
From Two Coordinators
Women & Weight Gain
12 Steps & Traditions
Newcomers From Lifeline
Recovery Writing Series
Welcome to Serendipity & Serenity
We'd like to welcome all the newcomers who have joined our many support groups this past month. You're in for an exciting time because July is a special time in our community. We begin many new programs on July 1st and in this issue of Serendipity you'll learn all about each of them. In addition, to TRG news eventd we have filled this issue with heartwarming stories of recovery, original writings from many of you and so much more. This month we present a combined issue of two of TRG's publications now on hiatus awaiting an Editor who sees the opportunity for one of the most fulfilling jobs there is. Serendipity is a newsletter for members of TRG. Serenity is a 12 Step magazine for all. Past issues of both can be read at www.TheRecoveryGroup.org. We hope you enjoy the combined July issue of Serendipity and Serenity.
FROM THE EDITOR
I believe our community is a unique state of mind. For those of us who have been here for a long time, it has become a second home. Truly, we're like a family. We laugh ... and cry ... and complain ... and get mad. We have babies, get married, get sick, take vacations, experience heartbreaks, debate, fall in love, lose lots of weight, gain weight, lose it again and make friends who will be with us for the rest of our lives. But the one thing we do most of all .. and we do well .. is become a place for those with eating disorders to be at peace with themselves.
Imagine what it would be like if you had to experience the disease we all share without having someone to talk with who understands what it's like. Imagine how you would feel if you went to sleep each night and awoke each morning knowing this baffling occupation with food was going to have to stay in the closet and, perhaps, never be released. The Recovery Group is here for you. It will always be here for you. And for me.
Love in recovery,
A LETTER TO MY DISEASE
*Editor's Note: Claire, a young woman and a student is a member of TRG. When we read this we immediately wrote her and asked if we might have her permission to share it with you. It is a bold, personal and poignant account of her disease of bulimia ... and of ours.
I know we have known each other a long time;in fact, as far as friends go – you are the one who has stuck around in my life for the longest. You were the one friend that I got to keep after my other friends decided to end their friendship with me. You were the reason my boyfriend, Michael, listed as his reason for leaving me. You are the reason that my current boyfriend, Rod, told me that I am “draining” him. He has used those words twice now. Unless I say goodbye to you, I will be saying goodbye to the other important people in my life because you wear them out.
Having you close to me means putting distance between me and my family, my parents don’t understand me, my sister feels sorry for me, my brother doesn’t acknowledge my battle with you, nor my father, and my elder sister prefers to ignore you too – maybe it makes her frustrated and she is probably tired of hearing me complain about you, and your bad behavior, but then she sees me rush back to you again and again. I really can't blame her for being tired of hearing me complain about you, Bulimia. It's obvious I need to leave you but I don't! How could that be anything but frustrating and 'draining' for my support network?
Even when we all hold our breath and pretend you don’t exist, you still bother me, interrupting me when I am especially busy with other things I need to do. In fact, the busier I get, the more you seem to interrupt and waste my time.
Speaking of wasting my time, you are also wasting my money! I can’t afford to feed you and your needs for this and that food the amount and type of food you demand from me is far too much for me to purchase on my student budget. It really has to end. I’m sorry, I have had enough. I go without fresh strawberries when I’m feeling ‘well’, because they seem indulgent, but with you by my side I will spend endless amounts on anything you desire and the cost doesn’t cross my mind.
I’ve looked at this relationship and you serve me like a cocoon. I keep going back to you to feel warm, comforted, blanketed and free from cold and pain. You are a temporary relief – I can’t deny it. It would make it so easy to leave you if you had nothing going for you...but I have weighed the pros and cons, and the cons outweigh your fleeting ‘benefits’. Statistically, you are a bad choice! You always hurt me, shame me, embarrass me, demoralize me, beat me down and damage me psychologically and physically. I can’t afford the $1,000 quote to fix my teeth from the acid damage which you wore away my enamel. I can’t hang around for you while you further damage my body and my mental health.
It’s over. I know you can be cunning, baffling, and powerful. I know quitting you is going to be a big challenge. But I have done it before!!! HA! And I can do it again. Don’t try to catch me in a moment of weakness. Leaving you may not be perfect, I could trip and stumble, but don’t make any mistake...i am going to keep getting up and moving further and further away from you until you never cross my path again.
An Original Writing by Claire
MORE ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY
In and Around TRG
TRG's NEW DIVISIONS
The Recovery Intergroup has voted to add two Divisions to the Recovery Group. We now have six Divisions to make our community run even more smoothly. They are:
- The Recovery Division
- The Discovery Division
- The ODAT Division
- The Meetings Division
- The Business Division
- The Special Division
For more information about the mission of each division, please write TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org
WTS ~ Working the Steps
Lawrie Cherniack began the WTS Step Study on July 1st with his Step One share on The Allergies of the Body. Lawrie says "This is a practical Step Study. It is designed to use the directions from the Big Book to recover from compulsive eating, and to maintain that recovery on a day-by-day basis for the rest of your life." We are guaranteed recovery by the end of Step Nine. A large group has registered for the study and if you'd like to join, send a blank e-mail to the following address:
After a large graduating class from last quarter's orientation graduated and moved to OAOnline, their home support group, a new Newcomer's Group has begun work. If you are a newcomer to the 12 Step program, we urge you to join OANewcomers, begin working on 12 Topics over a 12 Week Period, attending newcomer meetings, getting a sponsor and developing a plan of eating. Linda K. is in charge of this program and you can get further information from her at email@example.com.
TRG Online OA Meetings
JULY 4TH MARATHON
For 24 hours beginning midnight July 4th, the Recovery Group hosts informal gatherings every hour. We are grateful to the hosts who will be greeting each member as they arrive.
Please make a note of our 56 OA registered meetings each week. A doorway is below and more information is available from Tracy & Terri, the meeting coordinators, by writing: Meetings@TheRecoveryGroup.org
The Recovery Group is administered by dedicated Trusted Servants who volunteer countless hours of their time on behalf of compulsive eaters worldwide. Those Trusted Servant jobs take many forms ranging from Greeters and 12th Step Within, Coordinators of Support Groups and Meeting Leaders to those who serve on the Recovery Intergroup, the TRG Administration and the Executive Committee. These men and women interact with the members and with one another and make the Recovery Group with all its support loops, meetings, studies, recovery writings and services the most complete 12 Step Community in the world.
The Recovery Group has an extraordinary sponsor program. Our goal is to make sure that every compulsive eater who comes to our community for help has a sponsor. Three long time Trusted Servants are in charge of the Sponsor Program and we are grateful to Patt, Cate and Shlomo for their compassionate and efficient service. Please write the following for information on getting a sponsor or being a sponsor.
To learn the different ways of getting a sponsor: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/sponsors.html
"Nobody does it better" than TRG Coordinators. Judy is a coordinator of several support loops and this is a typical post a coordinator might send to the group she serves. What our Trusted Servants do is to try to instill inspiring sharing from their members. Read this and watch how Judy manages to take a book she read, make it into a topic for her loopies and wraps it around program items so that you come away not only entertained but inspired by her provocative final question.
A Thousand Splendid Suns ~ The Laws Of Manu
I just finished reading an excellent book called "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. It's about Afghanistan's years of political unrest and civil wars prior to the 911 attacks. Without getting into the politics of the situation there, I thought we might discuss something in this book that the author mentioned. At one point, a family depicted in the plot decides to flee and can only take a certain amount of things with them. The character in the book says, "Remember the old dilemma, you're stranded on an island and can only 5 things with you, what do you take?" That's not an exact quote but the text said something to that effect. The family was then forced to decide what was absolutely essential to take.
In thinking about that fictitious quandary my recovery immediately came to mind. I changed the scenario slightly in my mind. What if I could only take 10 things total and I was allowed to include up to 5 things that would help me with my recovery, what would I take? Tough question.
I started going over things in my mind. If I am stranded on an island, I assume that I can find food of some sort. Do I take stuff to cook? Is that not important because I can make pans out of some materials I find? Maybe I just eat everything raw. People live on raw diets. Do I need my measuring items? But with these things I am perhaps physically healthy but will I survive spiritually?
Do I focus on program tools only? There are more than 5 so which do I take with me and why? What are my top 5? Do I grab my 12 and 12 or do I have enough of that memorized? Do I pack my the Big Book? Maybe I just take the book that is important to the God Of My Understanding which would be the Bible? My 12 and 12 or my Bible would insure that I am spiritually healthy but what about emotionally healthy?
Should I tuck my cell phone in my bag of necessities so I can call my Sponsor? I have no electricity so eventually my cell phone battery will die and then I am without my connection to my Sponsor. But I could take the phone and only use it to call my Sponsor in the case of dire emergency. I had to analyze how much of my program depends on contact with my Sponsor. Maybe I could just bring paper so I can write letters and hope they reach my Sponsor if I throw them out to sea. Sigh. Now I have addressed my emotional issues but physical and spiritual might suffer.
I enjoyed this exercise so much because it made my analyze what are the key parts of my program. What keeps my insanity in check? This exercise made me determine which things are REALLY critical to my recovery. I had to analyze exactly what I minimally need to have continued abstinence and continued success. I reminded myself that I won't have a doctor on the island or my clergy or my therapist so I have to stay focused on recovery. I have to keep my mind, body and spirit in order or I will die on the island. I found this exercise helpful so I thought it would make a pretty cool Topic of the Week.
Now, I am sure by this point you know where I am going with this Topic so I will pose this question to you, "You have to leave your home and move to a deserted island, You are only allowed to take 5 things to help you in your recovery, what are you going to take and why?"
Judy C., Co-Coordinator
Parenting Support Loop
FROM OA'S LIFELINE
A Newcomer Declaration
I am willing to rise above my life’s struggle and figure out what else there might be. I will stop trying to “get perfect” and try instead to retrieve my lost self and lost body. I will have direction and be complete.
I will seek a sponsor as soon as I feel a connection, but I’ll get started this week. I will come up with ideas for my plan of eating. I will recognize my fused identity: body and spirit. I will find reasons to love my present body and embrace actions that contribute to its health. I will stop negative thoughts. I will recreate my story and write another, acknowledging the old story’s myth and seeing it for its deception.
I will gravitate toward my truest self and people who affirm that self. I will faithfully work the OA program, gleaning from it what I can and leaving what I cannot absorb, without bitterness. I will work on healing scars and use OA as a healing process from the pain of my story. I will sacrifice much and will accept the grief I feel from those losses.
I will spend more time alone in a sacred space that enables me to know my emerging self and body. With vigilance, I will care for myself each time I ingest food and will make a serious change in my attitudes about food and feeding myself. I will hold myself in compassion and love myself despite, or because of, my powerlessnes.
I will refrain from negative self-talk and replace that nasty voice with a kinder one. I will immerse myself in fellowship with OA members, as well as with other friends. I will involve them in this process, lean hard when I need to and remain an individual throughout. I will honor my voice and not judge myself harshly. By doing that, I will learn not to judge others.
I will respect my body, feeding it well and learning to understand the connection between my thinking and hunger. I will be aware of the emotions that go along with this endeavor and be honest with others and myself. I will not use the word “wrong.”
I understand I will feel strong symptoms of withdrawal because of what I must give up. A great loneliness will try to sneak in, but I will endure through prayer, support, writing and self-love. I will find light and be light, trying to be enthusiastic about the new things I’m learning. I will honor my nervousness and have serenity around hunger and food. I will remember the energy it took to maintain such violent self-hatred and my choice to spend energy elsewhere. I will recognize that I must eat carefully and refuse to be reckless. I will learn when to fight and when not to, and how to be a whole person.
I will fill myself with other things when I’m no longer physically hungry and will accept my body in whatever form it takes. To be peaceful, I will retain my strong opinions in the pursuit of learning. I will learn to be comfortable in my body, both naked and clothed, and I will like me.
I will use the concepts I’ve gathered in therapy, reading and OA to learn self-love. I will let things go when I need to. I will always be safe. I will be able to do this. I will make room in my body for my large and voluptuous spirit and will align my body with that spirit. I will win over the darkness of my past and learn what it means to be healthy.
— K.B., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA
OA's Lifeline ~ Subscriptions available directly from info.oa.org
WHAT TRG MEANS TO ME
I was introduced to my first TRG email loop many years ago by someone from another listserv. I asked if anyone knew a place where I could talk about program and not
just chat about other things. Well, TRG has both kinds of loops -- those in which the main topic is recovery and those in which we can discuss almost anything on our minds.
I guess we can first talk about TRG. What is it? It is a network of email loops, online meetings, special speakers, special writers and more whose commonality is the OA program. Is TRG OA? No, it isn't. TRG meetings are OA meetings. But OA has said that a prerequisite for being OA is "real-time" and our email loops will never be real-time.
After all the time in TRG (and in OA), I still prefer to be in loops where the program is discussed. I don't like reading posts where members give each other advice. I don't like to open email after email and have the post be one line that is meant for one person. I like to know that I can share and will not be given unsolicited feedback. And there is a whole division of TRG that is meant to be like that. It's called the Recovery Division. One of the loop is actually an OA meeting (but not in real-time, so not approved by OA). It's called OAsis.
And for those of you who like to do cross-talk and like a looser environment, there is the Discovery Division. My favorite of these is The Yellow Brick Road. Almost no
topic is taboo on YBR. Want to rant about your HP? Talk about specific foods? You can do it there.
And then there is the Division that is meant for those who have one other thing in common beside working the OA program. It's called the ODAT Division. These should also be 12 Step-based, as the ones in the Recovery Division, but there is another topic that will be discussed as well.
So what does TRG mean to me? It means that any time day or night, I can log onto my computer and communicate with others whose goal is to work an OA program. I can attend an online meeting every three hours around the clock. I can choose a division of TRG that fits for me.
TRG has been a great part of my OA recovery.
What Dodee Means To TRG
When Dodee walked into the Recovery Rooms many years ago, she quietly began to endear herself to everyone. There is not a corner of TRG that she hasn't touched and her expertise of all aspects of our community is unparalleled. Dodee is now an Administrator of TRG ... and so much more.
Our Oasis Coordinator's Story
My Chance To Live
I came to OA, in November 2001, completely and utterly hopeless. I was 230 pounds, a size 42 x 34 in pants, a size 3XL in shirts, crabby, irritable and extremely discontented. I had given up hope that I would ever be anywhere near a normal size again.
My favorite story in the AA Big Book is, "My Chance To Live." I love the part where it says, on page 316, "I'm convinced if I had continued on my course, I wouldn't have survived much longer. . . It was my time, my chance to live, and I took it. If there had still been joy in my drinking or even a remote chance of the joy returning, I would not have stopped drinking when I did."
When I arrived in OA, I was at that bottom and I knew it. I knew that the food was going to kill me. Food had ceased being a luxury a long time before that and I desperately wanted a way out. I grabbed a hold of the OA program with both hands, got a sponsor and immediately started working the Steps.
What happened within the first three months slowed my progress; I got pregnant, I got deathly sick for all nine months, stopped attending meetings, had my baby boy, and thought, "Gee, maybe now I can eat like a normal person. I think I'll go back to Weight Watchers. I shouldn't need OA anymore."
I'm still not sure how throwing up for nine months straight would qualify me for "suddenly becoming normal," but I felt there was that "remote chance" that maybe, just maybe, I could be normal. Afterall, I weighed 230 pounds going into the pregnancy and 230 pounds coming out of it. That is normal, right? Wrong, it isn't normal or healthy but my illness told me it was and I listened.
Needless to say it took four weeks of consecutively gaining, to remind me exactly of whom and what I was, without a doubt. I came back to OA, for the second time, in September of 2002. I finally received the gift of abstinence on November 3, 2002. With the help of my Higher Power, I have released 65 pounds. I am now and have been a consistent 34 x 34 pants size for awhile now, which for me, is a miracle. I now wear out my clothes (Which means that my clothes get holes in them! How cool is that?!) versus having to buy new clothes monthly and/or seasonally because I was always gaining weight. Nothing ever fit season to season and I would get so frustrated. A new season used to mean all new clothes. Thank God I can pull out last year's clothes and throw away what I don't want to wear because I no longer like the outfit.
Page 316, of the Big Book also says, "No one who drank as I did wakes up on the edge of the abyss one morning and says: Things look pretty scary; I think I'd better stop drinking before I fall in. I was convinced I could go as far as I wanted, and then climb back out when it wasn't fun anymore. What happened was, I found myself at the bottom of the canyon thinking I'd never see the sun again. A.A. didn't pull me out of that hole. It did give me the tools to construct a ladder, with the Twelve Steps."
OA gave me the Twelve Steps, a Higher Power, a wonderful sponsor, loving group members, and eight simple tools that helped to construct my ladder. Without OA I would not be were I am today. Today, I want to live and I have that strong desire to live my life to the fullest. I am also happy and thankful to be free from the obsession that used to run my life straight to hell.
I want to leave you with one more quote from my favorite story in the Big Book, "When I am willing to do the right thing, I am rewarded with an inner peace no amount of liquor could ever provide. When I am unwilling to do the right thing, I become restless, irritable, and discontent. It is always my choice. Through the Twelve Steps, I have been granted the gift of choice. I am no longer at the mercy of a disease that tells me the only answer is to drink. If unwillingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens the doors so that we may walk freely among the living. . . Today I reside among the living, no better, no worse than any of God's other children. Today I look in the mirror when putting on my makeup and smile, rather than shy away from looking myself in the eye. Today I fit in my skin. I am at peace with myself and the world around me."
Every morning when I wake up, I thank God for OA because today I can fit into my own skin. I am also reminded every morning, as I watch the Minnesota sunrise fill the sky with different shades of red, purple, and orange, that this is "My Chance To Live" and I'm going to take it.
~ Heidi, Minnesota, U.S.A
SPOTLIGHT LOOPS OF THE MONTH
AN EXAMPLE OF TRG SHARING
It seems to me that some join our loop just for our focus on codependency, and not at all for our focus on compulsive overeating. I think that is fine, but I wonder whether those folks hear enough about codependency on our loop. I tend to see compulsive overeating as my primary addiction, even though I have waivered in this over the years. Or I tend to focus on the twelve steps and the tools in a general fashion.
So I thought it might be useful for some folks to share a bit on how the steps and tools have helped with codependency.
I guess I can start.
Step one is the best and most important for me, to realize that I am in fact powerless over people. Only God can change people, and then only if that person is open to being changed, in my view. I believe each person has free will, and that God will not just overtake someone as if he or she were just a drone.
Step two is of course crucial, because without any faith, I am sure I have to rush in and fix everyone; since without faith I am sure that God is not around to do that.
Step three is where I stop trying to control everything and everyone and let God control me, willingly, so I can be of real help to myself and others.
Steps four through nine are about putting the focus on what needs to be changed in me. These steps keep me very busy making real progress and suiting myself to be a better help to people whom God directs me to help. And I remember that God is the one who changes me, but I do the foot work.
Step ten ensures that my steps four through nine are done continually.
Step eleven is very important because this program is really a God-helps program, not a self-help program.
And step twelve is where I can really start using my helping powers for good, not destruction. I can be of real help to others and stop getting in my own and other's way.
That is how the steps help me.
Right now I am dealing with raising two teenagers and the reality that I cannot control everything that they do all day. I do take my parenting seriously, and I am not of the mind to say "good riddance" and "just have fun" just because they are teenagers. But I do see that they have to be allowed to make some mistakes and learn their own lessons, take ownership of their own choices. And I have to have a little faith that the parenting I have done so far has been okay and that God is there when I am not.
Meanwhile I do have a lot of work to do on myself with God's power to change. I notice things go south with my parenting when I am not taking care of myself in program. I have recently come off a few weeks of emotional binging if you will, really indulging in fear and tantrums. But this program tells me to stop and look inside for what needs to be changed, and it is working. Now I can stop yelling at my kids and start enjoying my life.
In my case, this taking care of myself is largely about what I put in my mouth! Hence my commitment to Overeaters Anonymous.
As far as my use of tools - I use them all! Every day I do the following: phone meeting, food plan, call and email my sponsor, read the Big Book (Alcoholic Anonymous,) journal three pages, do service (mostly this loop,) make another program call, and I practice anonymity. Using these tools helps me to remember that I cannot run my life by myself. I need the fellowship and what it has to offer.
I love the word interdependency, because it means to me that I am not meant to live alone; I am meant to depend on others in a healthy way. I believe that when my interdependency is working well, I have less need of codependency.
Please consider sharing a few words on how the steps and tools are helping your codependency.
Love to all,
THE RECOVERY MEDITATIONS
One Day at a Time
365 Meditatons can be found at:
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in
the sun, so must you know pain."
There was much to be unhappy about in my childhood. There was also a lot of unhappiness in my adult life. Until I found The Recovery Group online, that unhappiness was the driving force in my life. That force robbed me of the ability to see and enjoy the many wonderful things that I had experienced. I wore a cloak of sadness, bitterness and resentment ~ I had been short-changed. It was the old glass-half-empty, glass-half-full story....poor me.
Being able to share the pain and unhappiness I have known has freed me from the power it had over me. Clearing away the wreckage is enabling me to see my part in some of the unhappiness I've known. It has enabled me to see more clearly that there is so much for which I can be grateful. It has enabled me to see that I truly AM the person of value which I had represented myself to be towards others. I am integrating that person into the "unacceptable" being I carried within. I have seen others here endure challenge, pain and hardships with so much grace. I have learned that pain is, indeed, inevitable. I have the choice whether to dwell on the pain morbidly, or to instead focus on the joy of this day.
One day at a time...
I will live in the joy of this day and I will strive to share this wonderful gift of self-acceptance to others in program.
~ Karen A.
Tip of the Day
Question: How does having children affect weight gain for women?
Answer: Many women add extra pounds because they do not lose the weight they gained after having their children. But having children does not necessarily mean extra weight after delivery. Women who gain the recommended level of weight during pregnancy have less chance of having a weight problem later. Breastfeeding helps women return to their normal body weight, too. Many women want to lose weight during their childbearing years, but few women make lifestyle changes to accomplish it. Women with young children need to find a way to focus on their health and weight. They may need to find a gym that offers programs for young children during adult exercise classes. There may be parent/child exercise programs. Being a "soccer mom" can leave little time for a "mom" exercise program. But you can walk around the soccer field while youʼre waiting for the kids. Be aware that buying quantities of snack foods and eating on the run can put the whole family at risk for weight gain. Keeping raw fruits and vegetables cut up and ready to eat for snacks can make it easier for you all to eat more healthfully.
God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change;
The courage to change the things we can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
"In the deepest part of a compulsive eater's soul
is the realization that recovery begins when we find one another."
Your Support Group Would Like to Hear From YOU!
Serendipity wants to you to use our writing resources to inspire you to share your own personal experience, strength and hope with your home support loop. Sharing with your fellow coes is an act of service and often without your ever realizing it, your words may touch someone deeply and be responsible for a significant change in their life.
Opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of Serendipity Newsletter, or of The Recovery Group.
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