~ TOOLS OF RECOVERY ~
Balance and moderation have been dirty words to me. My disease tells me I
better grab all of anything that feels or tastes good. My disease tells
me that life is either all good or all bad, depending on how I feel at
this moment. My disease is a big, fat liar.
If I believe that I cannot bear one moment, maybe two, maybe 17 or 207
moments of discomfort, then I will eat everything I can get my hands on.
"One day at a time" has no place in the life of someone actively in the
disease. It cracks the light of day into the desperation and despair that
support compulsive overeating. Making a phone call when I feel at the end
of my rope or a little lonely or just because it feels good to reach out
is death to the disease. I don't know where I would be without the tool
of the telephone.
Sponsorship is another mighty weapon. I can talk with someone daily who
has been where I am now. She will laugh with me, understand my tears and
fears, even share her experience, strength and hope. If I'm lucky, she
and I will guide each other back to the Steps, to deal with our problems
and to stay in appreciative and loving contact with HP, one day at a time.
Service is magical that way. Almost any connection with another person in
OA strengthens my program for this day. I don't have to run the show, or
prostrate myself or come up with answers for other people. I only need to
show up in some way. Sponsorship is service, as is unlocking the meeting
place, calling another member or showing up for an intergroup meeting.
I'm terrible at committees, so I'm taking a public service announcement to
a TV station this week instead, and I'm writing this piece for Lifeline.
The results of either of my efforts are out of my hands.
And who knew paper and pen or a keyboard could be so powerful? I'm sorry
when I hear of people in program who haven't tried writing. I think
they still have some critical authority standing behind them, and I hope
they will replace that party pooper with HP. I am submitting this piece,
but I never show my other writing to anyone. My writing is my private
place to let it all spill, no matter how huge, painful, socially
unacceptable or messy it is. My morning writing is my daily connection to
my emotions and concerns, as well as a place to celebrate, pray and
acknowledge progress. This may sound backward, but I often don't know
what I'm feeling until I start writing.
That private writing is a personal expression of anonymity. More
is the trust I've developed by having my anonymity respected by those at
meetings and by those I share with outside of meetings. I only know of
once that someone violated my anonymity, and I'm glad to say that didn't
stop me from coming back to meetings. It is a daily challenge for me to
remember to respect others' anonymity, and doing so gives me self-respect.
I love meetings. I hated them at first, and I hated everyone there. The
more I accept my illness, the more delighted I am to bring it to meetings.
I have the most wonderful friends, and I found them there. At meetings, I
identify and listen for solutions. If I show up and no one else does,
then HP and I have some private time. I found the directions to my Higher
Power through OA literature. I am not alone, and the literature tells me
so. There is nothing as gentle and loving as the OA "Twelve and Twelve,"
nothing so invigorating or humorous as the AA "Big Book." For Today is
well thumbed and scrawled upon. When I came into program, I tried to read
everything and do everything at once. Now I can take a thought with me,
roll it around my mouth and find out how it tastes: moderation.
If I don't have a plan of eating and don't know what it is for today, then
how will I know whether I am abstinent? Maybe that's why many people
put off using this tool. It is balance and moderation in a nutshell.
Sure, it's scary. But a plan of eating is not a diet. You can't fail at
it. A plan of eating is an invitation to HP to help. Making a plan of
eating and sharing it with a sponsor or someone else is reaching out for
help. Then it's up to me to accept that help.
I've been asking for and receiving that help for more than 13 years.
Perfection I have yet to achieve. A full, warm, challenging and abstinent
life I have achieved.
Abstinence is a gift I receive from my HP, one day at a time. Now, that
is balance and moderation.
Reprinted from Lifeline, September 2001, Volume 29, No. 9 (C.M., Bangor,
~ FROM THE RECOVERY GROUP MEMBERS ~
One Miracle at a Time
Here is a tiny ray of hope for those compulsive overeaters who are just
starting on their journey of recovery. One of my most poignant memories
of my disease was from when I was 18 years of age. I had just left home and
was caught in a vicious cycle of bingeing, fasting, bingeing, obsessive
sports to lose the weight, and then bingeing again. One foodstuff in
particular was my big hangup, and try as I might, there was nothing I
could do to stop bingeing on it. I used to wake up in the morning and
cringe at the thought of going to my cupboard because I knew all my
clothes would be too tight and I refused to buy bigger ones for fear of
facing my true size. It hurt to wear clothes, cutting into my legs and
making it difficult to walk and breathe. I tried every diet in the book
and shamed myself publically, declining invitations to meals and then
stealing food out of my host's fridge because I could not fast longer than
8 hours at a time.
I truly saw no hope at the end of the tunnel and with time became
extremely depressive and self destructive, and felt like dying on a daily
basis. What happened? The miracle of life. I met an alcoholic guy.
Because I wanted to stop his drinking I joined Al Anon, and soon after
joined Overeaters Anonymous. I started working the program. I made those
phone calls after, during and then prior to my binges. I journaled. I
went to meeting after meeting after meeting. And above all, I watched,
listened and talked till tears came to my eyes. It was those tears that
began a long journey of healing as the self destructive urges lessened and
I learned to listen to what I was feeling and started accepting hugs on
the road to healing.
I just want to say, to those among you who truly do not believe things
will ever change, who are over 500 pounds and see no hope at the end of
the tunnel, please don't give up. If someone had told me I would ever be
where I am today, I would not have believed them. Life will help you.
Have the courage to start again, every day, one day at a time. This
program is truly worth it, if you work it.
Love, courage and just one miracle at a time to you all,
Love vs. Fear
One of the first things my first sponsor in O.A. told me was that fear was
the biggest troublemaker I would ever encounter in my life. Knowing I am
a religious person, she said something that rather shocked me at first,
but then I came to realize how true this statement was. What she told me
was, "If you have fear, you have no faith. If you have faith, you won't
have fear. Have faith in your Higher Power." I have since always shared
this with everyone I've sponsored, and often share it at meetings.
We may think that there are a heck of a lot of emotions flying around us,
but, in reality, they all boil down to two: LOVE and FEAR. If you've
ever noticed, whatever positive feelings we have seem to come our way
because of love, and any negative ones reach us through fear. So we can
safely say that all negative emotions come under the heading of FEAR and
all positive ones under LOVE.
Fears are creations of the workings of our minds. When we are first born,
we know only two fearful sensations: sudden loud noises, and the fear of
falling. We come from our mothers' wombs where for nine months we floated
in loving amniotic fluid. Our first feeling upon entry into this world is
falling from that protective ambient into the unknown. This is "natural"
fear ...... one that, through love, we overcome. No sooner do we leave
the birth canal than we are besieged by loud sounds all around us: loud
voices, tearful sounds of pain and joy, a loud smack and then our own
previously non-existent voice, howling and heralding our arrival in this
world. No wonder we're frightened! But, again, that's a "natural" fear.
We soon become accustomed to the loud noises around us: blaring car
horns, radios, televisions, household appliances, trains, planes, all of
which become "the norm" in our quotidian existence, and so that second
fear dissipates as well.
The fears that generate problems for us are those that we create ourselves
.... and they can all be conquered by love. Loving life, loving others is
one of the most potent weapons we can employ in order to psychologically
destroy the anger, remorse, hatred, jealousy and greed that inflict our
characters with negative aspects, all because of fear. We can destroy
that fear through love.
But first, before we can love life and love others, we have to feel love;
we must HAVE it in order to GIVE it. But how is this accomplished? Here
we are possibly in unhappy home lives; maybe we hate our jobs, or we can't
stand the people we are exposed to on a daily basis; and, most of all,
whether we realize it or not, we are so filled with SELF-HATE that we
punish ourselves by gorging on too much food, which is, all too often, too
much of the wrong kinds of foods, as well.
How can we get out of this trap that fear has put us into? Simply by
loving ourselves. If we love ourselves, we'll love others; and everyone
will love us, too. This is evident in the expressions "smile and the
world smiles with you" and "everybody loves a lover." We LEARNED to hate
ourselves ..... we weren't born with that ..... and we can learn to love
ourselves, too. Any one of us can delve back into the past and find an
unpleasant situation, person or event that negatively influenced our
lives, some more tragically than others. But instead of walking away from
that unpleasantness, instead of turning our backs on it and ridding
ourselves of those thoughts, somewhere along the line ..... through fear
..... we grasped at the unpleasant memory and hung on to it for dear life
by way of resentment. So the first thing we must do is let go of the past
and leave behind whatever resentment lies there. To do this, we must
learn to forgive.
We can never achieve happiness or experience mental, physical and
spiritual good health until we learn the art of forgiveness. Forgiveness
is not just something we're doing for someone else ... its principal
component is aimed at ourselves. Now, it's not easy to pardon someone who
has done us wrong. Our instinct tells us to resent that person because he
or she has treated us badly. But no one treats us as badly as we treat
ourselves when we harbor resentment over a long period of time ... weeks,
months, even years ... creating an acid inside ourselves which decays our
very being on all three levels, mental, physical and spiritual.
Resentment opens the door to all those nasty internal chemicals that can
destroy us and remove our positive thoughts and actions. Every living
cell is affected by resentment, including our immune systems. After we
have faced the memory of an ugly situation and realize where our
resentments lie, we can forgive those involved and go on our way towards a
good recovery. By forgiving, we are releasing the worry, tension, anxiety
and depression that accompany resentment, and we can thereby get on with
the business of forgiving ourselves for having abused our bodies through
lack of love.
It is our natural right to love ourselves. But somewhere along the line,
when we were growing up, the message may have been transmitted to us by
our teachers, parents or religious leaders that it is wrong to put
ourselves in first place. We were told we were egotistical, selfish or
self-centered if we thought of ourselves as No. 1. But if we don't place
ourselves first in the love department, we won't be much good to others
who need our love. If we don't take care of our mental, physical and
spiritual needs, we won't be able to take care of others who may need our
help. So we must learn to love ourselves unconditionally. We must teach
ourselves to think positively about the situations that confront us. So,
we don't like our jobs? Perhaps we should try being thankful that we have
those jobs when others are jobless. Our relationships aren't up to par?
Well, nothing is perfect, and we should make sure we're not looking for a
non-existent TV sitcom-type of relationship. On the other hand, if there
is absolutely nothing good about a relationship and it is doing us more
harm than good, perhaps it's time to assert the courage to either change
that situation or leave the relationship. We don't like our co-workers
..... our neighbors ..... our spouse's relatives? Let's try smiling at
them anyway. Kill them with kindness, because kindness (just like
unpleasantness) is contagious.
So, here we are now, loving ourselves, loving others, loving life,
thinking positively, and actually being happy. Now what happens? Fear
flies out the window. We put ourselves in our Higher Power's hands. We
let Him handle things, and boy, do things improve! Because, as my first
sponsor taught me, if we have faith in our Higher Power, there's no more
room for FEAR. There's only room for LOVE. And love makes us feel good
all over. It helps us with our abstinence. It helps us with our lives
and our relationships. It helps us to help others and so helps us to help
LOVE vs FEAR?? What a contest! Only we can decide who'll win. Which
will YOU choose?
Thanks for letting me share with you.
Love, MARJEE, OA, Palermo, Sicily
All Aboard the Soul Train
Come, come, I'm waiting to see, the freshness of a world to be.
Speak, speak so sweet and gentle of songs yet to be put to symphony.
Sing the songs known only in worlds beyond these earthly reality.
Come, speak, sing, for all are one in the awakening mind's imagery.
Notes on Forgiveness
"I'm so angry, I'll NEVER forgive him/her!!" How often in our lives have
we said those words? But blessed are we when we come to realize that
those we hurt the most, by not forgiving, are none other than ourselves.
Years ago, I was quite angry with my husband's family for something they
had done. I found it very difficult to forgive them, and I stopped going
to see them or having any contact with them for quite a while. During
this period, whenever any of their names were mentioned, I was livid
inside of me, and the anger made me re-live the original hurt every time.
When someone inflicts hurt on us, it can take ages to overcome. First
we're hurt, then angry. We hold a grudge and want revenge. But this
resentment that we carry over, long after the hurt would have faded,
is only handcuffing us emotionally to the person who did us wrong in the
We all have the power to choose. If we choose resentment, we remain
filled with anger ... an anger that often hurts us more than those we
don't want to forgive. Ironically, sometimes people who have hurt us are
not even aware that they have done us wrong or that we haven't ever
forgiven them. But when we are able to forgive, we can get relief through
the freedom from resentment.
It's not important whether the person or persons we forgive deserve to be
forgiven or not ... but WE deserve to be free from the damaging anger and
hurt that we are harboring down deep in the core of our hearts and souls.
Forgiveness isn't really letting the guilty guy off the proverbial hook
... it's letting us remove the knife that's stabbing us in the heart
through our own grudge-holding resentment.
But how can we forget what happened, you ask? Well, we probably can't,
and maybe we shouldn't. Our past is, after all, part of our lives and we
can't always forget having been hurt. But bad experiences, unpleasant
though they may be, are instructive as they teach us to not allow
ourselves to be hurt again in the same way. Those experiences can also
teach us a good lesson about not hurting others.
It's not always possible to forgive someone in person ... sometimes that
person isn't even alive anymore ... but we can forgive in our minds,
hearts and souls and free ourselves from the hurt within. The funny part
is that often the person who inflicted the hurt is not even aware of our
suffering, and so, while we are corroding our insides with bitter
resentment, THEY don't feel a thing. Meanwhile, we're actually destroying
our health on all three levels, spiritual, emotional and physical. All
that re-living of a hurt over and over again each time we think of it can
be very stressful on the heart and can bring us into a state of
depression. So we need to forgive in order to get well and stay well.
When I finally realized this, I prayed for help. And when I gave in to
the prospect of forgiving them, it was like being released from a heavy
burden, for I had dragged this resentment around with me for almost two
Sometimes the act of forgiving someone who has hurt us can be difficult
for us to handle on our own, but spiritually, prayer and meditation can
help. We've all got a Higher Power in our corner ready and willing to
help us in every way. All we need do is knock on His door, seek His
intervention, and ask Him to help us forgive. This leads to inner peace,
and once we have forgiven someone, we will be even further on the road to
Thanks for letting me share,
Love, MARJEE, Palermo, Sicily