THE RECOVERY GROUP'S
12 Step Community Newsletter
From the Editor
From the Administration
From the Executive Committee
From the Loops
From the Meetings
TRG Sponsor Program
The Big Book Study
Low-Fat Recipe of the Month
TRG's Trusted Servants
FROM THE EDITOR:
Dear Serendipity Readers,
There is a passage I would like to share with you from the Big Book on page 317, it says, "If willingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens those doors so that we may walk freely among the living." Those gates of hell were of my own personal making. It took a lot of willingness to believe that with the help of this program, that maybe, just maybe, there might be a chance for me to live a normal life free from food. It was only when I began to work the steps that I was able to walk freely among the living. Walking freely among the living doesn't mean that there won't be challenges and struggles in our everyday lives. There will be challenges and there will be struggles but the difference is that today I choose to have only one problem at a time and not two which is what I always had once I picked up the food.
There is this old-timer at my AA meeting that says, "It is by working the steps that we will have an unshakeable foundation for life." He always goes on to say that issues don't get at him any more. Things that used to drive him crazy in early sobriety no longer bother him because he's developed an unshakeable foundation for life by working this program. He is the most serene man I've ever met in my life. He works a solid program and it shows in his personality, his appearance, and in how he conducts himself within the group. He doesn't just walk the walk. He is able to "walk freely among the living."
I think this months' Serendipity will give insight and hope to all of us, that there is a better way to live, we just have to be willing to take a few steps in the right direction. The Big Book specifically states, "Rarely have seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."
Heidi L ~ Editor
"Never allow someone to be your Priority
While allowing yourself to be their Option"
Dear Serendipity Readers,
To a compulsive eater like me, this quote says volumes. As a young child, I found myself anxious to please everyone. The desire to please is normal ... But the desire to please at all costs is not. As I grew up, I found myself scurrying around doing this and that to make sure that everyone in my life was happy and when they weren't I felt sure it was my fault. I found two things to escape into when I felt my world wasn't unfolding as it should. One came very early in my life ... Music. The other later, but deadly. Food!
Fast forward to adulthood and you find a young woman with four children, one husband, a dog and a house. And you will also find this young woman continuing her role as a child ... The role of people pleasing. My two escape valves from life continued to be the same as they were as a child ... Music and food. But now there was a difference! Instead of playing music for fun, I was now playing it to earn a living. And instead of eating food for comfort without any consequences as far as weight gain, food began to turn on me. I began to gain weight and this continued for some of the most important decades of my life.
The disease of COE doesn't limit itself just to eating. As I probed more deeply into my psyche and worked the Twelve Steps of Overeater's Anonymous, I began to learn about myself more than ever in my life. Step Four provided the first experience of peeling the onion that was me and what I learned astounded me. I reviewed the priorities in my life which had become the norm and discovered they were all messed up. This manifested itself more in relationships than anywhere and I found myself constantly putting people on pedestals and turning cartwheels down Main Street attempting to please them. While I have experienced emotional, physical and spiritual recovery, I still find myself allowing someone to be my priority even when I realize that I'm allowing myself only to be just one of their options.
Most of my priorities in life are healthy ones. Family, friends, my work, my program, my faith, my home .... But when needs are deep and those needs have been with us for such a long time, it's hard to reinvent oneself. For a "people person" like me, my greatest needs in life center around relationships. I like to read about Mark Twain, who wrote the quote above ... And, while I enjoy his early writings, I seem to learn more about humanity from reading the dark period of his life toward the end of it. Long past Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer stories lies a man I identify with. He taught me an important truth and it was not just a suggestion. He used two words in the quotation above that tells me he meant what he said: NEVER .... And ALLOW. Edicts. To allow someone --anyone to be my priority while I relegate myself to be just their option is disrespectful to ME. Program teaches me that I should respect myself. To love myself. To be proud of myself. To give pleasure to myself. Selfishness? I think not. I know not.
I am grateful for my program which encourages to have the courage to know when to choose between being an option or a priority and to develop the wisdom to truly understand the difference.
Have a fun and abstinent July. See you next month.
Love in recovery,
MONTHLY HAPPENINGS AROUND TRG
FROM THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE:
The executive committee consists of seven trusted servants with twelve addresses. It was not planned that way it just evolved that way. Seems that in twelve step fellowships the number 12 has a special significance. And the number seven has great significance in religions and spirituality.
We are a think tank, a discussion, decision by vote and (group conscience) group. We deal with all administrative aspects of the loops and meetings in TRG, including issues raised by members and issues caused by members. In such a big fellowship as TRG there is always something to do. There is the day to day routine and monthly stuff that keeps the loop and meetings active. There are also all kinds of issues that we discuss and promote like coordinator training or our bond with OA. We do our best to resolve problems that arise regarding our loops and meetings.
Mari, our founder, retired this month. We wish her all the best. To me she symbolizes TRG. Her ESH and activities in all aspects of TRG are now missing although she is still in the background with advice and suggestions. Well, TRG must carry on. Dodee and I, as administration, are doing the best we can to continue doing Mari's work. I, at least, have a lot yet to learn about it.
Thank you all for being here and for this wonderful fellowship.
TRG's Executive Committee can be reached through the TRGAdm office by writing TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org with a note on the subject line saying: Attention ExCom.
Members of the Executive Committee are:
Dodee and Shlomo ~ Executive Chairpersons
Athena, Linda, Nancy and Patt ~ Committee Members
Mari ~ TRG Founder and Advisor
FROM THE ADMINISTRATION:
Several months ago, Administration of TRG was re-structured so that there are more administrators. This has worked very well. Each administrator has fewer loops and is able to concentrate more fully on the ones they have. Administrators have also worked hard to get two coordinators for each loop in their group.
In order to train all the new people, we have started a training program in the trusted servants loops. The first two topics, Commitment to the Position and Related URLS and Sending Hello and Goodbye Letters, have been completed. The next topics will be Loop and Private Emails and Sharing by a Coordinator.
To qualify to be a TRG Administrator, the candidate should be thoroughly familiar with the loop structure of TRG and given service as a Coordinator. Since the Coordinator is responsible for all Trusted Servant's positions in a loop, when they become an Administrator they are familiar with TRG's structure from the grass roots up. If you are interested in being put on a list to be appointed a future Administrator of TRG, write to TRGAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org and include your biography.
FROM THE LOOPS:
Many times we are asked by newcomers to The Recovery Group ... "what is a loop?" Loops are support groups and those who join them are called "loopies." We have many loops of just about every kind imaginable. If one can only join one loop, it should be a 12 Step General Sharing loop. Many prefer to be active in two loops, a general sharing one and another with a special focus in addition to their eating disorder. A third loop isn't really a "loop loop" because it's not specifically for sharing ... it's a study, a workshop, an orientation. You can find all our loops and their missions here. By clicking RECOVERY and ODAT, you can find our general sharing loops and our special focus ones.
The Recovery Loops are world wide and serve compulsive eaters who speak many languages. A special thanks to translators who make it possible for many resources of TRG to be available to all. After all, recovery is a special language .. A language of the heart.
FROM THE MEETINGS:
The Recovery Meetings of Overeaters Anonymous are a vibrant community of meeting leaders and members. The Recovery Meetings are held daily every three hours around the clock beginning at midnight Eastern time. Dedicated meeting leaders volunteer to lead the meetings and there are also special focus, newcomer, and foreign language and speaker meetings. If you would like more information about meetings or to volunteer to lead a one hour meeting each week, please contact Linda, the Recovery Meeting Coordinators at MtgAdm@TheRecoveryGroup.org. The training program is brief and the awards are many. Meetings are held in the #Recovery channel on the Starchat network on IRC. If you have technical questions about the meetings are any other area of TRG, please contact Bruce at RecoveryTech@TheRecoveryGroup.org Here is the doorway to the meetings. You will also find doorways on the main page of the Recovery Website. More information about the meetings can be found here.
Dear Serendipity Readers,
Are you a creative person? Would you like to express that creativity while giving service? The Serendipity Newsletter is looking for individuals, like yourself, who are interested in writing articles, obtaining stories from other OA members within the TRG, and proof-reading the next month's edition before it is released to the TRG community. If you feel this is a form of service you would like to try please write to:
WTS ~ WORKING THE STEPS ~ July 1 ~ September 30, 2009
Please feel free to forward to 12 Step Groups or Friends
Linda S. ~ WTS Step Leader ~ 2009 Third Quarter
The WTS Step Leader this quarter will be Linda S. Come join us as WTS continues its 14th year working the 12 Steps together. Linda has been a member of TRG for four years and doing active service for TRG for the last two years. She's working the 12 Step program of recovery and will share her insights and story as she leads this study. If you'd like to see how the TRG study works, you will find other Step Studies on the Recovery Website. If you need to contact her during the study, her address is: email@example.com.
In preparation for the study which will begin July 1st, you will want to read Chapter 11 "A Vision for You" from the AA Big Book and reflect especially on page 164. After you've joined, please introduce yourself to the study loop and share your "vision" for recovery!
THE WONDERFUL WORLD
Dear Recovery Loopies,
On May 30th, the Recovery Website had it's one millionth hit. Prior to this, all members enjoyed a countdown as we approached the million mark. We would like to invite you to browse our website in the coming weeks as TRG continues carrying the message to all who suffer via The Recovery Website. Whomever and whenever they appear, we will be here. Members of The Recovery Group are the most caring and compassionate men and women on the planet and you will be the ones to take the hand of those who suffer and introduce them to our Fellowship.
TRG'S SPONSOR PROGRAM
A CALL FOR SPONSORS
Sponsorship is a vital tool of recovery when a person is ready to work the 12steps of recovery.
Sponsorship is a beacon in the night; this is especially true, in the beginning, when the new member feels that his or her whole life is one opened festering wound. Newcomers usually say they feel like they are bombarded by an onslaught of emotions, feelings, and painful memories; they doubt that the program can and will work for them; and they are usually angry because of their failure to control their own lives.
Newcomers, normally, have a myriad of complex problems that are a direct result of the out-of-control lifestyle; these problems will not go away overnight and will take time and patience to remedy—patience that newcomers usually don’t possess. This is where a sponsor can shed a bit of light by sharing with the newcomer his or her own experiences, strengths, and hopes. Sponsors can empathize because they have been where the newcomer is; they have known the hopelessness, desperation, humiliation, and powerlessness to control or change themselves for the better. Someone was there for us when we first sought help in the program; so, we want to be available for the newcomer. The program is built on this mutual sharing of recovery. We strongly believe our unofficial motto: "You can not keep what you have unless you give it away."
A sponsor is an objective person on the outside looking in. They are able to see problem areas and maybe point them out before a person gets into trouble.
Sponsors see how much a person has changed and gives encouragement along the way and a sponsor can help you stay focused on your recovery.
Sponsors are equals on the road to recovery
Sponsorship is a two-way street.
Are you willing to keep your recovery by
Sharing it with another still suffering COE?
Then send an email to :
And we will send you all the information needed to help you get started as a TRG Online Sponsor.
Waiting to hear from you,
Patt and Cate
TRG Sponsor Coordinators
BEGINNING JULY 1ST
We welcome newcomers to join us on The Big Book Study Loop.
In July, we will be studying Into Action, the chapter which continues where How
It Works left off. It covers how to work Steps 5 through 11. Our
August chapter, Working With Others, will finish off the coverage of the
Steps by explaining how to work Step 12. If you are already a member of
The Big Book, stay tuned and you will automatically receive the lead
Shares and the replies to the questions and discussion points.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
"You may think this an extreme case. To us it is not far-fetched, for this kind of thinking has been characteristic of every single one of us. We have sometimes reflected more than Jim did upon the consequences. But there was always the curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out. Next day we would ask ourselves, in all earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened." (AABB, page 37)
In case you are just now joining us, the "extreme case" referenced in the first line refers to Jim, who, in spite of a great amount of knowledge about himself and alcoholism, convinced himself it would be okay for him to drink whiskey as long as it was mixed with milk.
I can relate to Jim's experience so well. So often, prior to joining OA, I could convince myself that just one bite of (insert binge food) would be enough for me. One bite was too much, and1,000 bites were never enough. I recall my sister's bridal shower, which occurred not too long after my mother had been killed. I was still in an extreme emotional state, binging regularly on very sweet, fatty items. Of course, for me the shower revolved around dessert. At the end of the shower, my sister wanted someone to take home the dessert. I volunteered, being the "good" sister I was. Of course, I was taking it home to give to my husband, and then I would throw it away! Ha! My husband never saw a piece and over the next week I finished it off, convinced that if I ate it for breakfast, it wasn't any worse than having sugary cereal or a breakfast pastry. Of course, after eating the entire thing, I wondered how that could have happened. Of course, I was insane!
This passage refers to "the curious mental phenomenon" which leads us to this crazy thinking, that if I don't write it down, it doesn't count, or if I eat it at a restaurant it doesn't count, or if I eat a vegetable turned into a dessert, it doesn't count as a sweet! This mental phenomenon is the mental obsession that comes with being a compulsive eater. Diets never dealt with this mental obsession, only OA's 12 Steps help me to deal with the mental obsession. When I feel myself moving into those thought patterns, I have tools to use to help keep me on track. I call on my HP, my OA support system, and my literature to help me focus on what is most important in my life: my abstinence.
While abstinence is not the only thing I need to do in the program, it has to be the most important thing for me. Without it I have no relationship with my HP, my OA friends, or my husband/family. I cannot work the steps with rigorous honesty if I am not abstinent. When I'm in the food, my disease wants me to die, and it tells me I have nothing wrong with me, that how I interact with food is normal. The Truth is that the way I use food is not normal. I use food to numb out from emotions I am unwilling to deal with. By getting abstinent and working the Steps, I have learned to face my emotions, even the strongest grief I had about my mother dying, and I survived it. I came out the other side a stronger, more balanced person. I am in the process of "cleaning up the wreckage of my past", which is scary, but I have learned through working the steps that doing it scared is how I do it. I thought other people didn't have fear. I was wrong! They did it scared. Now I can too.
However, for me, none of this happens without abstinence. Without the abstinence I am back in the same place Jim is - thinking just one bite won't hurt, letting the insanity of the disease rule my life. In that insanity I have no choices...my only choice is to eat to run away from reality. With abstinence I have choices and freedom. Freedom to live my life in an honest way allows me to choose to deal with life on life's terms.
1. Share with us an insane reason for eating that you ever used.
2. What is your favorite way of dealing with the "curious mental phenomenon" or the mental obsession?
3. What freedom has abstinence given you?
4. If you haven't been abstinent yet (b/c I know it will happen for you!), what freedoms and choices do you look forward to having?
5. Share any other comments on the passage or my share that you feel led to share.
Love in Recovery from Arkansas,
THE BIG BOOK TRUSTED SERVANTS
Alternate Greeter and 12th Step Within Person--Irene <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Additional Trusted Servants:
TRG SPOTLIGHTED LOOPS OF THE MONTH
Recovery Division ~ German OA
ODAT Division ~ Compulsive Spending
Discovery Division ~ Big Book Friends
Eßsüchtige in Genesung
Die Gruppe von Genesenden
Liebe Freundin, lieber Freund!
Du wirst denken, Du bist uns fremd. Du wirst erstaunt sein zu hören, wie gut wir Dich verstehen. Du bist hier, weil Du verzweifelt bist. Du hast mit Deinem Gewichtsproblem gekämpft, vielleicht nur wenige Jahre, vielleicht Dein ganzes Leben lang. Du warst bei Ärzten; Du hast Tabletten eingenommen; Du hast erlebt, daß diese Dein Gewicht für eine Weile reduzierten; aber dann nahmst Du wieder zu. Wahrscheinlich hast Du viele andere Dinge ausprobiert - Therapie, Hypnose, Sport, Diätclubs, Erbrechen usw. Manche dieser Aktivitäten wirken eine kurze Zeit lang, aber sie funktionieren nie auf Dauer. Wenn sie das täten, wärest Du jetzt nicht hier.
Du fragst Dich vielleicht: Kann diese Gruppe mir wirklich helfen, oder wird sie nur ein Fehlschlag sein in der Reihe meiner Fehlschläge? Bitte glaube uns, unser Programm kann Dir helfen, wenn Du es willst! Alles, was Du tun mußt, ist, genug Mut aufzubringen, um uns beizutreten - mit einer ehrlichen Haltung, mit einem offenen und bereitwilligen Herzen. Wir können Dir die Schlüssel geben, die Dir die Tür öffnen zu einem wunderbaren neuen Leben; es liegt an Dir, sie anzunehmen. Wir werden Dir die Schritte zeigen, die Du gehen mußt, damit Du zu der Antwort auf die Frage kommst, die Du Dir womöglich seit Jahren stellst: Warum esse ich so, wie ich es tue? Und was kann ich tun, um dies zu stoppen?
Du dachtest all diese Jahre lang, daß Du eine Person mit schwachem Willen und ohne Charakter bist. Vielleicht haben Dir andere Leute so etwas gesagt; und als Du so schrecklich versagtest, Deinen Appetit zu zügeln, DA kamst Du zu derselben Meinung. Andere Menschen haben wahrscheinlich zu Dir gesagt: "Wenn Du wirklich abnehmen wolltest, könntest Du es auch. Du mußt es nur wollen." -
Wie nur kannst Du ihnen klarmachen, wie gerne Du Dein Eßproblem in den Griff bekommen würdest? Daß Du lieber die dazu nötige Selbstkontrolle hättest als eine Million Euro. Daß Dir nichts mehr Spaß macht, weil Du dick bist. Daß Dir das Leben oft sehr grausam und nicht mehr lebenswert erscheint. Wie nur kannst Du ihnen den hoffnungslosen Kampf von Versuch und Versagen erklären? Oder die Tatsache, daß Du zwar Gewicht verlierst, aber nur, um bald darauf wieder (und oft sogar noch mehr) zuzunehmen? Ohne die Möglichkeit, dies selbst stoppen zu können! Niemand kann das wohl verstehen - außen denjenigen, die selbst DA hindurchgegangen sind.
Das ist der Grund, warum wir glauben, daß wir Dir besser helfen können als Ärzte, Sportlehrer, Hypnotiseure, Psychiater oder Therapeuten - und sogar besser als nahe Freundinnen und Freunde oder Familienangehörige, die nicht Dein Eßproblem haben. Wir waren DA, wo Du gerade stehst! Wir verstehen den verzweifelten Kampf, die Frustration, die Einsamkeit und den Schmerz. Wie haben all das auch durchlitten, was Du erlebst! Wir sind auf dem Weg unserer Genesung und wollen, daß Du mit unserem Programm ebenfalls weiterkommst - und das kannst Du - in derselben Weise wie wir! Du wirst unsere Hilfe und Unterstützung bei all Deinen Anstrengungen erfahren; und noch wichtiger und ganz sicher wirst Du die Hilfe eine Höheren Kraft (wie immer Du sie verstehen möchtest) erleben. Also gib uns - und Deiner Höheren Kraft - und Dir selbst eine Chance! Wir haben wirklich einen Weg gefunden, der für uns funktioniert - nicht nur, um die überflüssigen Pfunde zu verlieren, sondern auch um das neue Gewicht zu halten. Es wird auch bei Dir funktionieren - wenn Du den Schritten folgst, die wir befolgen.
Die Zwölf Schritte helfen uns, mit unserer geistigen Besessenheit vom Essen klarzukommen und sie zu besiegen. Aus verschiedensten Gründen haben wir zwanghaften Überesser die Nahrung benutzt - nicht wie unsere Höhere Kraft das wollte, um unseren Körper zu nähren, sondern als Droge gegen jedes emotionale oder körperliche Unwohlbefinden: als Trost in Einsamkeit, Traurigkeit oder Streß als Fluchtmöglichkeit vor der Wirklichkeit; als Versteck vor dem Leben oder Lebensproblemen. Wir alle wissen, daß das Überessen unsere Probleme nicht löst, sondern sie noch schlimmer macht...; doch wir benutzen das Essen dennoch weiter, weil es momentan den Schmerz dämpft - und weil wir keine andere Lösung kennen.
Die Zwölf Schritte sind der spirituelle Teil Des Programms. Wir ermutigen Dich, anzufangen, in diesen Schritten zu arbeiten - immer nur für einen Tag - denn sie sind das Wesentliche Des Programms. Dieses Programm kann nicht teilweise befolgt werden; entweder arbeitest Du mit allem - Allen Schritten, Allen Werkzeugen - oder Du läßt es ganz bleiben. Die Zahl der Schritte oder der Werkzeuge hat nichts Magisches an sich - außer der Tatsache, daß sie für uns wirken, wenn wir sie alle nutzen. Wenn Du darauf bestehst, Deinen Weg lieber allein zu finden, wird dieses Programm nicht funktionieren. Denke daran, Dein bisheriger Weg hat Dich hierhergeführt.
Du mußt vollkommen bereit sein, aufzuhören, vor der Wirklichkeit wegzulaufen. Leben ist oft sehr schmerzhaft und frustrierend, aber Du mußt ihm ins Auge schauen. Du tust dies, indem Du Deinen Willen aufgibst und den Willen Deiner Höheren Kraft wählst. Du mußt glauben, daß sie Dir die Gnade und Stärke geben wird, das Leben auszuhalten und daß Du Dich stärker und wohler fühlen wirst!
Willkommen in der Online-Gemeinschaft der genesenden Überesser! Wir sind wirklich froh, daß Du da bist, denn wir brauchen Dich genauso, wie Du uns brauchst - vielleicht sogar noch mehr! "KOMM WIEDER - ES WIRKT!" Ja, es funktioniert, ehrlich!
~Komm in unsere eMail-Gruppe von Genesenden! ~
Spending is a Special Focus Loop of the Recovery Group and our mission is to provide a safe and peaceful place for you to share your experience, strength and hope with one another in regarding to compulsive eating and spending.
To accomplish this very special mission purpose, we strive to provide a place to work our own recovery program and also to carry that message to others. We are here together to build one another up ... To accept each of us as we are ... To support each other ... And not to judge one another. We offer you safety and serenity.
Our loop is a place where 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you will have a safe haven where you can interact with others who are struggling with compulsive eating and spending. We hope you will find it everything you need and want at this stage of your life.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself to determine if you could benefit by joining our loop.
1. Do you spend money you don't have?
2. Do you buy things on impulse?
3. Do you see any parallels between your compulsive eating and spending?
4. Do you frequently leave a balance on your credit card because you don't have enough to pay it in full?
5. Has the pressure of your debts ever caused you to overeat?
6. Do your debts make you feel "less than?"
7. Are your debts the cause of arguments with spouse or significant other?
8. Do you feel more "grown up" when you charge things rather than paying cash?
9. Do you ever borrow money from friends?
10. Do you feel that there will always be someone you can turn to if you get into financial difficulty?
11. Is it out of the ordinary for you to pay your bills in full each month?
12. Would you have difficulty in "making ends meet" if you threw away your credit card?
13. Do you often justify your spending by saying "it was on sale?"
To Join Compulsive Spending: Http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/SpendingODAT
SHOPPING SPREE OR ADDICTION
What happens when shopping spirals out of control, and in some cases, becomes an addiction?
From hitting the mall with your girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon, to holiday spending on gifts that go under the tree, shopping could be called one of America's favorite pastimes.
For most people, it means some new clothes for work or a small trinket for a friend. For others, however, shopping is much more than an enjoyable pastime, and in some cases, it is a real and destructive addiction that can turn into a financial disaster.
"Compulsive shopping and spending are defined as inappropriate, excessive, and out of control," says Donald Black, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. "Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one's impulses. In America, shopping is embedded in our culture; so often, the impulsiveness comes out as excessive shopping." Sometimes referred to as "shopoholism," shopping addiction can wreak havoc on a person's life, family, and finances. Experts explain to WebMD why shopping can be so addictive, what the warning signs are, and how to stop the cycle of spending.
"No one knows what causes addictive behaviors, like shopping, alcoholism, drug abuse, and gambling," says Ruth Engs, EdD, a professor of applied health science at Indiana University. "Some of the new evidence suggests that some people, maybe 10%-15%, may have a genetic predisposition to an addictive behavior, coupled with an environment in which the particular behavior is triggered, but no one really knows why."
While the origin of addictions remains uncertain, why addicts continue their destructive behaviors is better understood.
"Individuals will get some kind of high from an addictive behavior like shopping," says Engs. "Meaning that endorphins and dopamine, naturally occurring opiate receptor sites in the brain, get switched on, and the person feels good, and if it feels good they are more likely to do it -- it's reinforced."
So what are the telltale signs that shopping has crossed the line and become an addiction?
"There are certainly a lot of commonalities among shopoholics and other addicts," says Engs. "For instance, while alcoholics will hide their bottles, shopoholics will hide their purchases."
What else should a concerned family member or friend look out for when they think shopping has become a problem?
SPENDING OVER BUDGET: "Often times a person will spend over their budget and get into deep financial trouble, spending well above their income," says Engs. "The normal person will say, 'Oops, I can't afford to buy this or that.' But not someone who has an addiction," explains Engs -- he or she will not recognize the boundaries of a budget.
COMPULSIVE BUYING: "When a person with a shopping addiction goes shopping, they often compulsively buy, meaning they go for one pair of shoes and come out with 10."
ITS A CHRONIC PROBLEM: "A shopping addiction is a continuous problem," says Engs. "It's more than two or three months of the year, and more than a once-a-year Christmas spree."
HIDING THE PROBLEM: "Shopoholics will hide their purchases because they don't want their significant other to know they bought it because they'll be criticized," says Engs. "They may have secret credit card accounts, too. Because this problem affects mostly women, as alcoholism affects mostly men, husbands will all of sudden be told their wife is $20,000-$30,000 in debt and they are responsible, and many times, this comes out in divorce."
A VICIOUS CIRCLE "Some people will take their purchases back because they feel guilty," says Engs. "That guilt can trigger another shopping spree, so it's a vicious circle." And in these people, debt may not be an issue because they're consistently returning clothes out of guilt -- but a problem still exists.
IMPAIRED RELATIONSHIPS: . "It is not uncommon for us to see impairments in relationships from excessive spending or shopping," says Rick Zehr, vice president of addiction and behavioral services at Proctor Hospital at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. "Impairment can occur because the person spends time away from home to shop, covers up debt with deception, and emotionally and physically starts to isolate themselves from others as they become preoccupied with their behavior."
CLEAR CONSEQUENCES: "It's just like any other addiction -- it has nothing to do with how much a person shops or spends, and everything to do with consequences," says Zehr. "We often get the question around the holidays that because a person spent more money than she intended, does this make her an addict? The answer is no. However, if there is a pattern or a trend or consequences that occur with excessive shopping then the person may be a problem spender -- the hallmark is still loss of control. If they are no longer in control of their shopping but their shopping is in control of them, they've crossed the line."
According to Zehr, these behaviors can also signal a serious problem:."
1) Shopping or spending money as a result of feeling angry, depressed, anxious, or lonely
2) Having arguments with others about one's shopping habits
3) Feeling lost without credit cards -- actually going into withdrawal without them
4) Buying items on credit, rather than with cash
5) Describing a rush or a feeling of euphoria with spending
6) Feeling guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed after a spending spree
7) Lying about how much money was spent. For instance, owning up to buying something, but lying about how much it actually cost
8) Thinking obsessively about money
9) Spending a lot of time juggling accounts or bills to accommodate spending
"If someone identifies four or more of any of these behaviors, there may be a problem," Zehr explains to WebMD.
SEEKING ADDICTION HELP
When a friend or family member recognizes a shopping addiction, start by getting professional help. "The first thing to do is to seek help, and that can occur at different levels," says Zehr. "For the spouse, family member, or friend who is concerned, an intervention is always a good idea. Also, find the closest Debtors Anonymous, which is a 12-step program that will be important for ongoing maintenance and support. And get credit counseling, as many of the people who seek treatment at our facility have an average debt as a result of their addiction of around $70,000."
Recognize, as well, that treating a shopping addiction requires a multifaceted approach.
"There are no standard treatments for shopping addiction," says Black. "Medications have been used, generally antidepressants that treat, in some cases, the underlying issue of depression in someone with an addiction, but with mixed results. Therapists also focus on cognitive-behavioral treatment programs, and credit or debt counseling can be very helpful to some people, as well."
Black explains that there is no quick and easy answer that will immediately cure a shopping addiction, and while treatment is a necessary part of solving the problem, so is behavior change on the part of the addict.
"With some patients, I tell them they should have a self-proposed ban on shopping, and with others, some of my very worst cases, I tell them they should have someone else controlling their finances for them," says Black.
Black recommends some basic changes in behavior that will have a big impact on breaking a shopping addiction:
1) Admit that you are a compulsive spender, which is half the battle
2) Get rid of checkbooks and credit cards, which fuel the problem
3) Don't shop by yourself because most compulsive shoppers shop alone and if you are with someone you are much less likely to be spend
4) Find other meaningful ways to spend time
5) And keep in mind that while behavior change is clearly crucial to recovery, so is reaching out for help.
"While I recommend starting with a psychiatric evaluation, you can also find out what resources are in your area, and where you, a relative, or friend can start to get help," says Engs.
By Heather Hatfield
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
SOURCES: Donald Black, MD, professor, psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa. Ruth Engs, EdD, professor, applied health science, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind. Rick Zehr, vice president, addiction and behavioral services, Proctor Hospital, Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, Peoria, Ill. Debtors Anonymous web site.
BIG BOOK FRIENDS
Thank you for your interest in Big Book Friends. The mission of our list is to provide an informal forum for compulsive eaters to discuss the Big Book and share their recovery stories.
We hope you will join us by sending a blank email to:
GRIEF CAN BE A BEAUTIFUL BEGINNING
After several years in recovery I began to experience new levels of deeper emotion. At that time, I had very few tools to help me through the experience. As I sought help with this dilemma, I have grown in so many ways and I am so blessed to be allowed to share this part of my journey with you!
The weeping willow tree was an image that came to me when I could not cry my own tears. I have learned that when I do not cry tears, my body will express my grief some other way. I may experience problems with my compulsive eating. Or I may experience a numbness or painful stress in my body. But I will “cry.” I may become physically ill, emotionally depressed or anxious, or spiritually isolated, unable to be in conscious contact with my Higher Power.
What a painful place. I began drawing the weeping willow tree in my journal and putting the things I was sad or upset about under its branches. I have included things like pets being sick, a strained relationship, deaths, eating issues, childhood issues, feeling overwhelmed with work, fear of violence, and financial issues.
As I added the blue tears to the green branches I found comfort in just acknowledging my pain. I began expressing my grief on a daily basis. Since I had never really been taught how to grieve, this was a brand new experience for me. I began to see that grief did not need to be never ending. I learned to see the tears washing away these grief issues and transforming them into a blue river of life. This too shall pass. And of course, something else will come along as it always does. Life on life’s terms. Grief is as much a part of life as joy is!
Acceptance brings so much serenity these days. There are so many things I cannot change. As I let these go, cry the tears, dry the tears, and stand up once again to continue my journey to recovery, I find relief and renewed strength. May you, too, find a new beginning by accepting Life on Life’s terms!
RUNNING FROM GOD
My memories of life before program would make me wince except that I have experienced one of the promises in the Big Book: "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.... No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others." (PP. 83-84, 3rd Ed.).
I don't know how to describe the many changes in me since I joined OA, but these are the areas in which the changes seem most dramatic to me:
Physical: Apparently, my size and/or gait reminded some people of farm animals in my pre-OA days. I remember a car full of boys mooing at me when I was a teenager walking down the street in my hometown. Years later, the neighborhood peeping torn wrote the word "sow" in the snow on my front porch after apparently observing me in my compulsive behaviors. After losing more than 50 pounds and maintaining it for two years, I wear a size six. My doctor tells me I have a small, delicate bone structure: such a surprise for someone who hid behind food and layers of fat for years.
Social: I had few friends and a huge hole of loneliness in me before OA. The only relationships I had were ones in which I used people or allowed them to use me. Our common interest was our shared compulsive behavior. I have no words for the healthy, abundant friendships I have now, in and out of the program. I am surrounded by people who love me, nurture me, listen to me, laugh with me and grow with me.
Professional: I was a single parent who barely survived on welfare, food stamps and handouts through most of the years my daughter was growing up. I have since gone to school and now work full time at a job I love and am good at. Never in my wildest dreams before OA did I imagine this was possible.
Spiritual: Before OA, I was running as fast as I could from the God of my childhood. I felt I had violated so much of my religion's teachings that I could never be forgiven. Now I have come to believe in a Higher Power whose arms are open for me and who is full of mercy, humor and tolerance. I believe he loved me even when I indulged in my shameful, destructive, pre-OA behavior (and occasionally when I slip back into it even now). My spirituality still has a long way to go, but at least I am headed in the right direction. I have a proven guide to increase my spirituality: the Twelve Steps.
My life is not perfect. I still have serious, unresolved issues. I still fall back into self-defeating behaviors sometimes. I am human and flawed, and I often struggle. But now I am living life, however imperfectly, and I have a sense of well being most of the time.
Thank you, OA and God, for giving me my life back.
~ Lifeline ~ A Publications of Overeater's Anonymous (www.oa.org)
TWENTY WAYS TO LOVE YOUR BODY
Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.
1) Your body is extraordinary--begin to respect and appreciate it.
2) Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
3) Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.
4) Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.
5) Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
6) Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
7) Wear comfortable clothes that you like and that feel good to your body.
8) Count your blessings, not your blemishes.
9) Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!
10) Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
11) Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months.
12) Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
13) Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.
14) Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good.
15) Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Tell yourself you can feel like that again, even in this body at this age.
16) Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself--without mentioning your appearance. Add to it!
17) Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”
18) Choose to find the beauty in the world and in yourself.
19) Start saying to yourself, “Life is too short to waste my time hating my body this way.”
20) Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.
Compiled by Margo Maine, Ph.D.
The man whispered, "God, speak to me."
And a meadowlark sang.
But the man did not hear.
So the man yelled "God, speak to me."
And the thunder & lightning rolled across the sky.
But the man did not listen.
The man looked around and said, "God, let me see you."
And a star shined brightly.
But the man did not see.
And, the man shouted, "God, show me a miracle."
And a life was born.
But the man did not notice.
So, the man cried out in despair,
"Touch me, God, and let me know you are here."
Whereupon, God reached down and touched the man.
But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.
I found this to be a great reminder that God is always around us in the
Little and simple things that we take for granted. .even in our electronic
Age . . . So I would like to add one more:
The man cried "God, I need your help"
. . . And an e-mail arrived reaching out with good news and encouragement.
But the man deleted it and continued crying.....
The good news is that you are loved.
Don't miss out on a blessing because it isn't packaged the way that you expect.
Expect the unexpected....
FOR FOOD ADDICTS
TOP 10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR BODY IMAGE
1. Recognize that your body is your own, no matter what shape, size, or color it comes in.
2. If you are worried about your weight or size, check in with your doctor to make sure that your health and size are within average ranges for someone your age.
3. When you hear negative comments coming from within yourself, tell yourself to stop.
4. Give yourself three compliments every day.
5. Every evening list three things in your day that really gave you pleasure. By focusing on the good things you do and the positive aspects of your life, you can change how you feel about yourself.
6. Understand that it’s no one’s business what your body looks like. You have to be happy with yourself. Forget the haters.
7. Identify which aspects of your appearance you can realistically change and which you can’t. Everyone has things about themselves that they can’t change and need to=2 0accept - like their height, for example, or their shoe size.
8. If there are things about yourself that you want to change and can (such as how fit you are), do this by making goals for yourself. Create a realistic exercise plan and eat nutritious foods.
9. Track your progress until you reach your goal. Meeting a challenge you set for yourself is a great way to boost self-esteem!
10. Celebrate your victories by rewarding yourself when you reach your goals. Buy yourself something special that can commemorate the moment and achievements in your life.
Test your self confidence
IS YOUR FOOD "SANITY SWITCH" BROKEN?
Have you ever stuck your tongue to a metal pole in the middle of winter?
Will you ever do it again?
Have you ever stuck your fingers into a hot flame (by accident of course)?
Will you ever do it again?
Have you ever licked a 9 volt or AA battery?
Will you ever do it again?
Have you ever held a hot electrical wire and stood in a puddle of water?
Hopefully not, or you won't be here to read this.
As for as I can figure it out, our Creator installed us with certain "sanity switches." Something like a fail/safe mechanism for human beings, it remembers and saves my butt from further pain and harm once I have understood and learned the lesson.
I remember when I was 10 years old and wondered if it was as bad as I had heard when you stick your tongue to a metal pole in winter. I certainly wasn't going to do it when anyone was around. So when I got my chance I took it. And licking that metal pole certainly didn't hurt. No big deal. Licking a cold metal pole in winter is no better or worse than licking a metal pole in summer. What's the big deal? OH! I can't get my tongue free from the pole Help!!!
But, no one was around to get water to set my tongue free. I saw my only option was to P·U-L·L my tongue off that pole. OUCH! Oh my God. I'll never ever do that again. I have never, ever entertained doing that again. Why would I? My sanity switch is filled with this memory and it's consequences: PAIN.
Have you ever eaten food out of the garbage?
Have you ever eaten frozen food before it could thaw out?
Have you ever hoped and prayed everyone would leave so you could finish the rest of the birthday cake alone?
Have you ever did this or that with the foods you love and crave? Will you ever do it again?
For whatever reason my "sanity switch" as it relates to pain derived from food related activities doesn’t work, never has, never will. As Step 2 promises, ''We came to Believe in a Higher Power that could return me to sanity." Working the steps has infused my sanity switch with the working mechanism to recoil from my addictive and binge foods as I would from a cold metal pole in winter. And the best miracle of all is I don't even want them. I don't even think about them.
The only requirement (and given the alternative its really not a bad requirement) is that I work the 12 steps on a daily basis. If your food "sanity switch" has not been working, if you're miserable, then I hope you, too, will seize the simple 12- step tool- kit as though your life depends on it. Mine did. (P.S. I didn't say easy and it will take some real effort on your part!) Gratefully I have worked (and re-worked, and re-worked) the 12 Steps as explained in the Alcoholics Anonymous and no longer pick up the foods that kill me.
Enjoy another abstinent day,
Unity Intergroup - Minnesota
*Editor's Note: A Subscription To Lifeline may be ordered online directly from www.oa.org
OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS LIFELINE
AN OPEN LETTER TO YOU FROM SOMEONE WHO CARES
MY HEART GOES OUT to you when I catch a glimpse of you at the store, on the bus, on the street, in a home. Sometimes your weight problem is obvious and sometimes it is not. I sometimes detect that you may be a compulsive overeater and sometimes I'm not sure. The only person who can answer that question is you. Because I am a compulsive overeater, I care about you and want you to know that there are others like me who care about the way you feel. We know the loneliness, pain, despair and shame that go with struggling unsuccessfully with an obsession to overeat.
Completely defeated and ashamed of my lack of willpower, I came to my first meeting 30 pounds overweight but feeling as if I was eligible for the fat lady's job at the circus.
I can still remember the sensation of being in a dream. As I listened, I heard OA members share familiar feelings and experiences. My heart skipped a beat as I realized that I was among my own kind. I knew I had come home and that someday I would be all right. I discovered that. I was a compulsive overeater who needed to learn to stop using food to face life.
Since OA offers us a new way of life as well as the help and support we need in order to lose our excess weight, it is impossible for me to do more than to plead with you to reach out to Overeaters Anonymous for help if you even suspect that you are a compulsive overeater. You will then find what you need to know about our lifetime program.
I understand only too well how difficult it is to take that first step and admit that you may need help. But if you can find the courage to bury your pride for one hour and come to an OA meeting, you may see the beginning of a whole new life. The acceptance, love and understanding waiting for you here are far too deep and wonderful to describe. The only requirement on your part is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
At a glance, you would be unable to identify with me because I am 5'2" and maintaining my weight at 104-107 pounds. But I can assure you that my physical appearance has nothing to do with the fact that I am a compulsive overeater who has known all the unhappiness and anxiety that you are suffering.
One day at a time, I am learning to deal with my emotions without using food as a crutch. I have also come to accept emotional pain as a necessary part of my growth. As I dare to become better acquainted with myself, I have discovered assets that I can develop and liabilities that I can let go, a little at a time. Negative emotions are being replaced by feelings of love and acceptance for myself and others.
As a result, I am a happier person than I ever dreamed possible, and the beauty of it all is that the people around me seem to be happier too. Yet, I fully accept what OA said to me at that very first meeting: "The only person I can change is myself. I do not try to change anyone else."
As OA continues to grow in all directions and areas, our attention is often focused on you - the person who hasn't yet discovered Overeaters Anonymous. Please come and let us help you, because when you allow us to help you, we are able to continue in our own personal growth.
Lifeline Sampler ~ A Publication of Overeaters' Anonymous (www.oa.org)
The Recovery Group Trusted Servants
All Coordinators and/or Meeting Leaders of The Recovery Group shall :
- Be working and living a 12 Step program.
- Have been a member of TRG for a period of no less than 3 months.
- Read and commit to TRG's Guidelines and Traditions.
- Read and understand the Trusted Servants' Training and Sharing pages.
- Coordinators shall read their loops' mission statement and the Coordinators' Website.
- Mentor with an experienced Meeting Leader and/or Coordinator.
- Commit to serving until the end of the term, which currently is December 31 of each year.
- Leave their Trusted Servant position mid-term only in the event of an emergency.
- Have access to a personal computer.
- Be personally responsible for all services needed by their support group or delegate others. Commit to recruiting, training and supervising them. (Please ask Mtg. Adm. or TRGAdm. for a list of specific duties expected of our Meeting Leaders and Coordinators.)
- Please communicate with MTGAdm (Meeting Leaders) or TRGAdm (Coordinators) immediately when a member requires moderating. TRG Coordinators and Meeting Leaders shall be patient and correct people regarding inappropriate sharing privately and in kind, gentle and loving ways. In the event of blatant spam, porn or misconduct, Coordinators and Meeting Leaders should take immediate action. Meeting leaders shall remove such members from the meeting, while coordinators are to contact TRGAdm and report that a member needs moderated. Both Coordinators and Meeting Leaders shall send a detailed report to their respective administrators once the emergency has been attended to.
- Be an example for others by sharing personally in a 12 Step Way, not using inappropriate signatures on TRG communications, and, if at all possible, writing your members individually and privately as your time permits when you think a note would be appreciated.
If Interested In giving service to others via TRG ~ please send an email to:
The 2009 Coordinators & Meeting Leaders
TRG has six divisions and our support groups each fall in one of
these divisions: Recovery, ODAT, Discovery, Special, Meetings and Business.
Click on the link below for the directory of all of
TRG's Coordinators and Administrators
God, grants 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!
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