~ FROM THE RECOVERY GROUP MEMBERS ~
~ The Tools of Recovery ~
My name is Elfa and I am a compulsive overeater. I have been in OA for
almost two years now and have been abstinent since 19th of January 2001.
I consider my abstinence as one of the greatest gifts that my Higher
Power has given me. Recently I have been struggling a bit with my food,
a slip here and a slip there and then it dawned upon me; I havenīt been
using all of the OA tools. If I were to make a table for example I would
need wood, saw, hammer, nails, something to measure with etc. My table
will not be good enough (and hardly a table) if I donīt use all the tools
needed. That is the same for my abstinence even if I tend to "forget"
that simple truth. I have to use all the tools, they are there to help
me to stay abstinent and work my program which is the 12 steps of OA/AA.
And I am so grateful for having these tools, in my mind I have put one
more - the internet, but that can also fall under the writing tool and
the reading tool and even sometimes the telephone tool and.. Hey, just
realized that when I use the internet I use all the tools. Still
I have to do them separately as well and here is how I use them:
meetings - that is where I find recovery and get out of my isolation.
I have to go to f2f meeting and am so fortunate that there are many in
my town. I go to at least 3 a week but if I can go more often it always
pays off with more serenity in my life and mind. This is also the plays
to meet others, both newcomers that I can help if they want me to and
old-timers with something that I need to learn from.
literature - I love to read, actually when I was active in overeating
that was very often with a book in my hand. But today it is different.
For me the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is the basic text for me.
I have read it many times and actually try to read it aloud with my
sponsees and there is always something new there. If I need an answer
to my problems it is for sure in that book, I just have to be willing
to see it. But I also read a lot of other literature, OA, AA and Al-Anon.
And on the internet I read the "Thought of the day" and strangely it
usually is there especially for me in my then current situation.
sponsors - I have to have a sponsor. For me a sponsor is a person that
I have given the permission to be very honest with me and tell me when
I am heading in the wrong direction. That person needs to be living in
the 12 steps and can guide me towards practicing their principles in
all my affairs. I have been so grateful for sponsoring some women
through the steps and I believe that has helped me more then them.
Both by studying the steps all the time but also because I believe
that every person I have sponsored have been sent to me for a purpose,
something new for me to learn and change about myself comes out of each
and every relationship. I am truly thankful for being able to give away
so freely what I have been giving. I know for me that is the only way
to save me from the hell of compulsive overeating.
anonymity - this program wouldnīt thrive without anonymity. I for
myself is not shy about who I am and what I am doing but principles
before personalities is what this is all about. I have been on the
TV once and twice on radio but made it very clear that I would not
tell my name or do anything that would make me recognizable. Not to
protect myself but for the purpose of this program.
telephone - I am scared of people and communicating even if I hide
that fact pretty well most of the time. But I have to talk to my fellow
COEs every day. That way I get out of myself. I also need a safety net
because not all days are all sunshine and happiness. When the bad days
happen I have to be able to call people that I trust to fight my disease.
I canīt do it alone, I need other people because through them my HP often
writing - Just sitting here and writing is great. I get such a good
perspective on my work and program. For instance when I was writing
about anonymity I felt very strongly that I need to think more about
that and maybe read something as well. I donīt write every day but am
working on it because I can feel how well it works for me. At night I
try to write about the day and do my inventory as well. Have I been
resentful, scared, selfish or dishonest today? Do I need to make my
amends to anybody? Writing is a very good way for my to get to know
me better, I get my thoughts out of my head where the can do pretty
much harm and down on paper (computer screen) and by that the thoughts
loose their power.
service - I am lost without service that I know. If I donīt give my
service to my meetings in some way, they are not my meetings anymore.
But by making the coffee, being a secretary, photocopying literature
or whatever service there is to be done I am responsible for that
meeting, I go there and my heart stays there. Here is not to be
forgotten that by promising some service you have to go to the meeting,
even when I donīt feel like it but need it the most.
food plan - I have to have a food plan. It has changed a few times
during my abstinence but there are only 3 basic rules I have to set
down for me. They are; what food is my drug and I therefore have to
eliminate from my diet, how many times over the day am I going to
eat and how much every time? The answers to these questions have
changed for me in the past and will do so also in the future.
But the beauty of all this is that I only have to do this today.
Tomorrow I will make a brand new decision whether I want to stay
abstinent from compulsive overeating or not. What I must remember
that food plan is not the same as abstinence. I follow a food plan,
use the other tools and try to practice the principles of the twelve
steps in all my affairs and then I am abstinent.
~ Talking ~
Hi there, I am Terrie Lynn .... I go by both names. :) I am really
new to the OA program, although not new to 12 stepping. I thought I
would take a moment and share the two tools that work the best for me.
1. Talking with others. Talking seems to make every little thing
better. It doesn't have to be a sponsor, or even a close friend....
just the opening up and sharing one on one with another is enough to
take the voices out of my head! You know, the voices that seem to
never stop yakking about food.... I have also found a good way to
'talk' with others through the use of email and online support groups.
When you 'have' to write in order to 'talk' with another recovering
friend, it just makes it all work better for me.
2. Talking with God. Nothing quite as good as a heart to heart with my
HP. A simple morning prayer asking Him to remove my obsession to over
eat for the day. Another simple prayer to thank Him for doing it at
the end of each day. It's working for me. I have also found that
just letting Him know when food is on my mind helps to relieve the
thought. Cause I can't talk to God and think about food at the same
Thanks for letting me share!
Terrie Lynn firstname.lastname@example.org or
~ Abstinence ~
Although I make good use of many tools of recovery, I have to say that
abstinence is the most important tool in my own recovery from compulsive
overeating. By the grace of God, I have 602 days of consecutive
"back-to-back" abstinence from compulsive overeating, sugar, white
flour and personal binge foods. This has brought me not only a weight
loss of over 90 pounds, but amazing serenity, clarity and joy.
As part of my recovery, many months ago, my sponsor asked me to write on
"Abstinence is the most important thing in my life without exception".
The following is what I wrote, revised to allow for reflection of my
experienced abstinence since then and to this day.
At first glance, the idea that abstinence should be the most important
thing in anyone's life seems impossible. "Yes," a newcomer to the
Program might say, "abstinence is important. It's a part of health,
and staying healthy is important. But what about the rest of my
health issues -- and what about the *really* vital things in my life?
What about my family? What about my career? What about providing for
my old age? How can I put a food plan ahead of all that?"
First of all, abstinence isn't just a food plan. Of course, eating
three meals a day with nothing in between and sticking to the list of
permitted foods are a major part of abstinence. But there's much more.
Abstinent recovering compulsive overeaters don't just abstain from
certain foods or excess quantities and from eating between meals.
We abstain from a whole lot of past behaviors. Some of them are
related to food -- such as eating our food standing up, working or
arguing while we eat, or eating in unaesthetic conditions. And
some of them aren't directly related to food. For example, we
abstain from people-pleasing at our own expense; we abstain from
the use of chemical substances other than when prescribed to treat
an illness; and we abstain from putting ourselves down.
Now back to the rest of our hypothetical newcomer's questions.
The way I see it, if I am not abstinent, my chances of remaining
healthy -- that is, of remaining free of heart disease, diabetes,
orthopedic problems, high blood pressure and a score of other woes --
will be much lower. Moreover, if I am numbing myself with food, it
will be harder for me to be a strong, loving, supportive family member.
I may be a good "doormat" when I'm full of food, but in the long term,
I can't say "I love you" until I know how to say "I" -- and stuffing my
feelings down with carbohydrates isn't the way to maintain a loving,
Career? Yes, some of us compulsive overeaters have managed to keep
up an impressive career. But there's always the risk that it won't
stay that way. Who among us hasn't experienced sick days due to
overeating? What compulsive overeater has never been too
preoccupied with the next meal or snack to remember a deadline?
And think about the impression we make when we walk into a meeting
with crumbs down our fronts, or the woofing, mumbling sounds we
make trying to talk to a client on the phone and
gobble food at the same time... The examples are many.
And as for old age: I recently heard someone say at a meeting that
compulsive overeaters who aren't abstinent don't have to worry about
providing for their old age -- because, statistically speaking, they
are much more likely to die before they get there.
The sentence stuck in my mind, and it reminded me of something that
happened just before I got abstinent. I had just applied for
additional life insurance and disability compensation insurance.
I canceled my application after being told by my insurance agent
that the company would require a 250% supplement on my premium.
"In other words," she said, "they think people who weigh what you
do are a lot less likely to survive."
People do die of compulsive overeating. People get heart attacks;
they get strokes; they get atherosclerosis. Or they become diabetic
and have to spend the rest of their lives under a strict program of
diet and medication, at the risk of blindness and even death. Or
their lives are shortened by years of sleep apnea. Or they're just
too heavy and too slow to make it across the street before the car
hits them. But until my agent said what she did, I had really never
thought that I might be one of those people.
As a medical translator, I know the exact term used by doctors to
denote the condition of people as fat as I was before the Program.
It's called "morbid obesity." Somehow, until the conversation with
my insurance agent, I had never, ever considered the literal meaning
of those words. But now, I really can't think of anything else to
write about overeating and longevity that would be nearly as forceful
as they are.
Morbid obesity means that I could have died from what I have.
I could still die from it, if I stopped being abstinent. And I
don't want to. I have fought all too long and all too hard to
get to the point where I love my life.
In short: for me as a recovering compulsive overeater, abstinence
is a value which has a crucial effect on all of my other values --
an effect shared by no other single factor that I can name.
Love in recovery,
Sharon from Tel Aviv, Israel
PS: I recently reinstated that insurance application, 19 months
after I had originally applied. It was approved.
With no supplement on the premium!
After being in the program for about two years now, I have to
admit that I still don't use all the tools available to me all
the time. However, I am always grateful that they are there for
me when I DO choose to use them! And the one I am most grateful
for is the one that OA doesn't even truly seem to acknowledge,
and that is our Recovery Loop because it provides me with an
opportunity to use several of the OA tools all at the same time!
Being a recovery agoraphobic, I tend to isolate a lot, so when
I found the Recovery Loops, the Isolation and Homebound Loop
definitely 'spoke' to me and I've been there ever since!
So, when I need to share, there are always people on my loop
to share with. I can 'call' them up whenever the need arises
day or night, and there's usually someone right there who
cares and who understands where I'm coming from! Also, I
feel like I am doing 'writings' when I post thoughts and ideas
to my loop because often I just have the need and desire to vent
or work through something, so I can just 'voice' my thoughts
'out loud' on the loop (and often I don't really expect a reply
but I'm always delighted when I get one!)
The Recovery Loop also provides 'literature' in the form of this
newsletter and the Daily Meditations -- both of which I love and
both of which help me a great deal! And let's not forget the
meetings for those who cannot get to face-to-face meetings!
Also, I feel I am able to do 'service' every day when I post and
share on my loop and when I try to help others with their programs.
So my most favorite and useful tool is the Recovery Loop,
which I am truly grateful for every day -- and I just wish it
was totally sanctioned by OA because without it, I would surely
still be one of those lost and suffering souls!
Lorraine, Isolation & Homebound Loop
I am Barbara. I am a frustrated author(ess). I have written
all my life and nobody has ever begged me to write some-thing so
they could publish it. I shall favor you with my best shot.
This is not exactly a prepared article, but I have lived these
12 Steps for the past 45 years. Through them, in Al-Anon came
my first glimpse of what sanity was. And then serenity.
At first, I thought serenity was just when I wasn't screaming.
Then I learned that there was more to it than that.
Oh yes, you wanted to know my favorite tool. It is very difficult
to say that any one tool is more important than the rest, because
they are all necessary to recovery. The circumstances of my life
have eliminated what used to be my favorite tool--the telephone.
I have no OA numbers to call--at least, none that are not toll calls,
and I have never made short program calls. When I need somebody, I
need a lot of you! Also, there are no f2f meetings that I can get to.
I am 78 years old, and the nearest meetings are 25 miles away. I don't
drive at night. I don't drive to the city alone. So what saved my
life? This loop! I couldn't even get the address from anybody.
I just sat down one day and typed "overeaters anonymous" in the
address line, and here I am!
I am not obese, but at the rate I was going, I was in a fair way
to become obese. I had gained about 20+ pounds, going out with
the love of my life. I had stopped gaining over a year ago, by
writing down everything I ate, after I ate it. I was in OA, in
the LA area 20 years ago, when we wrote down our food for the
next day and committed it to our sponsor, by telephone. Took
me six months to lose 25 pounds back then. I went to a
few meetings that Rozanne also attended, by the way.
So I could remember that tool, and use it, but I couldn't lose a
pound. I searched for meetings, but there were none in my area--
it's a small town, with lots of fat people and no OA! I didn't
have the energy to start a meeting, because I was packing,
sorting and getting ready to move two houses, mine and that of my beloved.
The obvious fact here is that this loop is a life-saver for me.
I spend every evening reading every post, and answering some.
My beloved is a TV addict, and I am not. I am a food addict,
and what better place for a food addict than in front of a
monitor full of wonderful OA people?
Barbara, email@example.com, one happy abstinent food addict.
~ Sponsorship ~
Sponsorship is a key to this program in that it takes two individuals
through an experience together that they could not have experienced
alone. It allows things to be seen by the Sponsee as well as the
Sponsor from perspectives that they do not individually posses.
It is a relationship where both persons benefit emotionally, spiritually
and physically by working the 12 steps of OA.
My sponsor was the first person I saw as I came through the door to my
first OA meeting. I realize that this does not happen to the
majority of newcomers, but for me, I think my higher power was giving
me a safety net for my fear. I might not have been able to handle not
having a sponsor right away. I just don't know. In any event, at our
first meeting he told me that he would be my Sponsor if I would work
the 12 steps with him. I agreed and we were off on a journey that I
could not have imagined in my wildest dreams.
He took me through all of the steps giving me constant "pats-on-the-back"
and a hug every time I saw him. We met religiously every week.
He listened to my high times and my low. The once or twice that
schedules didn't allow us to meet left a feeling of emptiness inside.
We developed a relationship that was different than friends, different
than a working relationship, different than blood relations, different
than marriage. It was different from each, yet it was like every one
of these relationships in many respects. It is one that, no matter
how long it lasts, I will cherish always. It was a gift from God.
Now I am a sponsor. I am giving my time, my love and as many hugs as
I can. In a male-to-male relationship I found that hugs are a more
difficult issue due to the limits that society places on us. My
higher power is helping me through it, though. We are at the
beginning stages of our journey together, but I already feel that bond
developing. We have cracked open the big book and are both
ready for our adventure. I am reaping immediate benefits in my
own recovery from being a Sponsor, and look forward to the coming
months and years.
Sponsorship is a relationship unlike any other. It should be
cherished and sought after. I can not advise anyone on what
they should or should not do. I can only share what I have.
And that is, by getting a sponsor immediately, as I was led to,
by my higher power (whether I knew it or not), and beginning my
program by immediately working the steps, my life has been
greatly and eternally affected. I have been given gifts that
I did not even believe existed.
Dan H in CT
~ Keeping in Touch ~
I think the most useful tool is e-mailing and the telephone.
Keeping in touch is very important to those of us who are
Linda -- COE and diabetic