TRG SPEAKER PROGRAM
Personal Stories of Recovery
~ RAY ~
Iím an abstaining compulsive overeater and my name is Ray. Hi!
Here is my story, with the fervent hope that it will be in a clear and easy to read form. I pray that someone will see something in my story that will help them to live their life as successfully as I am living mine because of what I have found in this program of Overeaterís Anonymous.
I came into O.A. on August 1, 1971 weighing 245 lbs, which for my height of approximately 5í 11", was obese. In addition, it was certainly not healthy considering my BP of 180/110 and also being on medication when I first came to the program. I have been maintaining a 55 pound weight loss since that time and my blood pressure remains normal today. A few days ago, I had it checked and it is 123/68; still on medication but with the "Twelve Steps" making the difference.
I am 77 years old, married for 55 years to the same woman have 4 grown children, 10 grandchildren and 1 great grandson
(so far), and a great granddaughter.
I am an only child, who at the age of 5, lost my dad through suicide. I was raised by a mother who was emotionally incapable of giving me a hug or anything more than food, but always made sure that I had warm clothes to wear. I was raised with the "if/then" syndrome; "if" I got an "A" in school, then I got a hug from mom; if my bedroom was clean and neat, then I got a hug from mom; if a note was sent home saying that I won the Spelling Bee at school, then I got a hug from mom.
When it came to relationships, my mother was always looking for a man with money who would also give her son, a substantial amount for himself, while my mother offered absolutely nothing in return; either emotional, social or physical. Relationships within the family with my aunts (her sisters) were always "strained" because she was always asking them for money, which she used to gamble with at the nearby "card clubs." Since we were the "poorest" relatives, my cousins all married men with money and/or successful businesses and, as a result, we never "traveled in the same circles;" therefore, we had no real relationships with any of them.
I was a "latch-key" kid for most of my young life, so I was basically always alone. I was an average student in school, and to this day, I have only a two year college education. Instead of graduating, I entered military service for 4 years in the U.S. Navy.
Because I was always told what a tough kid I was to raise, my mother decided to enroll me in military school with the explicit understanding that if I did not like what I saw, I could stay home. So I looked around the school, decided that I did not like it, turned around to tell my mother and she had vanished. I had been abandoned! I looked up the word abandon and here is what I found: dump, desert, ditch, discard, dispose of, or throw out or away! Now I understand why I grew up with such a strong lack of self-worth.
About two weeks later our teacher in the military school told us to write a letter home to our parents about what was going on with us at school. I wrote the following letter: "Dear Mom, my name is Ramon (I wanted to make sure that she had not forgotten who I was!) I have brown hair and blue eyes. What I want most of all is to be your friend. (A friend is someone who knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts who you have become, and gently, allows you to grow!)
As a child I was very thin so my mom ordered "Golden Guernsey" milk from our milkman, who made house deliveries. It was guaranteed to add weight to me, and it did! The only hurtful comment that I can remember as a result of the big weight gain was kids saying "Fatty, fatty, two by four ... canít fit through the kitchen door." My mother, knowing nothing about nutrition and not even trying to find out, fed me constantly all the good things that I loved, one of which was white bread, soaked in the lamb chop grease after making lamb chops for me. Since my mother was very seldom around, food was my drug of choice and refined carbohydrates like cereal and milk, or white toast and jam, or white toast and sour cream, were the mainstays of my daily food journey.
I always received a lot of "praise" from people who were amazed at how much I could eat at a single meal and, as you will see, this pattern would be repeated over and over again. Only the names of the group would be different!
We lived in a four unit complex with one aunt in each of the apartments, a neighbor in the third unit, and us, in the fourth apartment. Whenever we all had dinner together at one of my auntís, whatever was left on the table, i.e. salad, remains of the entrťe or dessert, I would finish up at the end of the meal. I would also receive praise for not letting anything "go to waste."
Fast forward to the U.S. Navy where they only fed me three times a day, "no seconds or thirds," and only a little time to "gobble up" my food before returning back to duty. While in the service I got married and "lived ashore" (not on the military base any longer) and had a "secretarial job" (yeoman) where I was responsible for a lot of the clerical work that needed to be done. I brought a "snack" to work each day, which consisted of a loaf of bread made into different sandwiches of one kind or another; i.e., peanut butter and jelly, egg salad, tuna salad, cheese and tomato, etc. I would eat these during the day while I was working and once again the praises from the officers in the office were forthcoming because of how much I was eating all during the day while working.
There are perhaps several reasons that I can account for as to when or why I decided to come to the 12 Step program. My first reason was, of course, a selfish one. Since my wife has 6 months longer in this Program than I do, I came to O.A. to see what kind of a "cult" she might have been getting into! As I sat and listened at my first meeting, I was struck by the fact that people were happy and their stories were amazing. I heard what they were like, what happened, and what they are like now. I decided then and there to join this group and, hopefully, change my life for the better, even though I felt that there was nothing "wrong" with me. I was F.I.N.E. - - Fouled up, Insecure, Neurotic and Eating! As a neurotic, I am a person who is highly emotional, easily upset, very sensitive, and, worst of all, capable of making decisions that are destructive to self!
What did it take to make me realize that perhaps O.A. could help me? The first requirement that came to mind is that I had to have a desire to improve my life ... and any improvement would be better than where I was. Once that realization really hit home, I was forced to make a decision (which I always had trouble doing, because what if it was the wrong decision, then what would I do?) But I decided that I had to forge ahead, so to speak, so I did what I was told, and that was to get a sponsor, who would be responsible for giving me direction. Now that those three aspects were aligned, the only thing left for me to do was to exercise the discipline. But, was I really ready to undertake this new direction in my life? Well, there is an old ZEN saying that states "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear", and that was certainly my case regarding the sponsor that I had.
My sponsor (who was GODíS Agent) was a bulldog (with lipstick) who said that she would tell me (actually share with me) what I needed to do to become a success; (the progressive realization of a worthy ideal), which this Program certainly is and everything that my sponsor shared, I questioned. I had to tell her ... "but you donít understand"; I had to tell her ... "but I was different"; I had to tell her ... "but, there is a better way. And on and on I went ... but ... but ... but ... (thatís the mating call of an ashhole! What my challenge turned out to be was to develop humility (the absence of aggressive self-assertion and the ability to be teachable) which I still try to work on, to further improve myself.
I was now ready to follow the "path" that would lead me to a house of serenity where I could live happy, joyous and free as long as I chose not to deviate from that "path", as explained in the Big Book.
Because I live in Los Angeles County in the San Fernando Valley which is about 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles City Hall, I am fortunate to have between 80 to 100 "face to face" meetings every week, mostly at night. When I first got into the program, I attended anywhere from seven to ten meetings a week; some during the day (when I was supposed to be working as an "outside salesman") and many at night, when my eyes were better than they are now. I have cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration messing around with my eyes, so I am only able to attend "daylight" meetings, unless someone else drives at night.
Another reason was that I was having trouble with personal relationships (only one friend), I couldnít control my emotions (obviously, with BP of 180/110 on medication), I couldnít make a living, (I kept going from job to job, looking for the "future better,") and taking my eyes off of the one that I currently had. After approximately 25 different jobs, (give or take a job or two), I decided to stay put at one job and do the best that I could, with what I had, for where I was at. What did I learn through all that job changing? I learned that "the pursuit of the future better, will destroy the present good!" I was full of fear (more about that later) but I thank GOD that I was not suffering from depression, which is anger without enthusiasm.
At my first meeting I heard talk of abstinence and was handed, at that time, a food plan called the "greysheet," which I was to follow in the following manner: I was to write down what I was going to have for breakfast the next day, also for lunch and for dinner. It had to be weighed on a postage or food scale and I was to run a knife blade across the top of the measuring cups that I had to use to make sure that the measurements were all level! The same thing applied to the measuring spoons that I used. After the weigh in and the written down menu for the following day, I was to call my sponsor and tell her what I had written down and was planning to eat. This requirement was a "snap cinch" for me. I simply ate two eggs, with toast, and milk to drink three times per day for two weeks! The reason for that was we only had ten dollars to our name, so with GODís H.E.L.P. (HIS ever loving presence), it was Passover and Easter time which meant that, at that time, eggs were thirty nine cents per dozen. Bread was also cheap (donít remember about the bread cost), and milk was made from powdered milk to which was added water!
At the end of the two weeks I was offered a job with a Home Delivery Service but I was required to have a physical exam first. So, I went to the doctor, and after he got the results from the urinalysis, he informed me that I was on the verge of serious kidney failure! Scared as I was, I asked him if it could have anything to do with any kind of a food diet, or food plan, to which he replied, "No sir, to have that much albumin in your kidneys, you would have had to have eaten eggs, three times a day, for two weeks!" When I told him about our financial situation and what we needed to do because there was my wife, two kids and myself to feed, he said that he would help me out and "pass me" so that I could take the new job with my promise that I would eat no eggs for two weeks and he would do two more urinalysis tests one week apart. If they were both "clear" that would be the end of it and he said that he would not charge me for those two test reruns. And, of course, thanks to GOD, all was well and no problems along that line anymore. With that egg episode, I stayed on greysheet for ten days before I called my sponsor who told me to weigh myself just to check how I was doing. When I got on the scale, it said that I had lost 15 lbs! I then got back on the scale to make sure that what I was seeing was absolutely correct and it was! At that point I either had to increase what I was eating, which I did, or change the food plan altogether, which I did not do.
I wanted to know when the miracle would happen; and the answer was ... the miracle happens when we become abstinent! So now that I was abstinent, where is the magic that I should be looking for? And the answer was ... the magic happens when we apply the principles (of this program) to all our affairs.
With abstinence present, how do I maintain this magic? And the answer was, that "I had to admit (concede) to my innermost self that I was powerless over food ... and that my life was unmanageable."
I had no trouble with the first part of that admission because I was definitely powerless over food ... but, for me, my life is not unmanageable ... it is only unmanageable by Ray. It is manageable by a Power greater than myself and that is GOD, as I understand HIM. For me, GOD is not an outward possibility but rather an inward reality. What I learned about this program is that it does not open the doors of Heaven to let me in; it unlocks the gates of Hell, to let me out.
As I started to learn more about this program that I love so much, I was alerted to the S.P.I.E.S. that could make my life much more difficult. It meant that there was something wrong with my Spiritual, my Physical, my Intellectual, my Emotional or the Social attributes of my life which definitely confirmed my need for this program.
Now that I was becoming teachable, it was made clear to me that I was supposed to believe in this GOD thing; and here is the amazing truth of what happened.
When I first came to the program, I heard a lot of talk about GOD or HIGHER POWER, which for me was a bunch of hokum. I was 40 years old, my grandfather was a Rabbi, and he, nor anyone else had ever introduced me to GOD. So, when I told my first sponsor about this, she said to me, "Ray, just ask GOD to reveal HIMSELF to you, as HE wants you to know HIM!" I did what my sponsor suggested to prove to myself that GOD does not exist!
As I saw it, GOD is nowhere ... until I thought about that statement and decided that since I failed English Composition #101, that perhaps I ought to examine my thinking a little further. In doing so, I came up with the statement that, for me, made a lot more sense; i.e., GOD is NOW HERE!
With that more positive approach in mind, here is what was revealed: I simply misread what was the truth!
After doing that mantra about asking GOD to reveal HIMSELF to me as HE wanted me to know HIM many more times that day and into the evening, I finally went to sleep. At 4:32 am the next morning, I was awakened because of the brilliance in the room and believed that my wife turned on the lights so that I would not be late for work. When I opened my eyes, there at the foot of our bed stood this male figure so I knew that I was dreaming. But how could I be dreaming if my eyes were open? I sat up in bed, and HE was still there! I looked down at my sleeping wife and prayed that she would not wake up at 4:32 am and be frightened by a stranger standing at the foot of our bed! And here is what the stranger said ...."From this moment on, Ramon, (pronounced "Raymond." GOD always calls me by my first name, rather than "Ray") everything is going to be okay (please notice that HE did not say super, perfect, outstanding, etc. etc. etc. - just okay! So, I laid down, went back to sleep, and when I awoke at 7:00 AM to the alarm clock, I thought to myself ... "WOW! What a dream that was." Even so, I wrote it down in my Big Book.
Long story short, since I had a doctor's appointment for the next afternoon which was always the last appointment of the day in order to get a valid reading from me with how the days normal stresses acted upon my blood pressure. According to the doctor, I had the BP of an 80 year old man. The doctor took my blood pressure and frowned. Seeing this from the doctor, I said, "Uh oh, Iím in deep trouble, arenít I"Ö and the doctor said "No, but something has happened that I don't understand"! A few days ago, you were sitting with the BP of an old man, and today, your BP is well within normal ranges. It was at this point, that I explained the dream that I had, knowing for sure that the doctor would tell me that I was hallucinating or worse. But instead, he listened, and said that my dream was real because he has had a few other patients who have shared the same dream!
About two weeks after that, I got a call from a guy who asked me to be his sponsor. Since I did not know him, I asked him how he got my name and why he would call me. He said that he heard that I was a good sponsor so he decided to call me. He then said that he needed to share something with me and didnít want me to think that he was crazy, on drugs, hallucinating, or anything else. And guess what he shared? Yep, the identical same dream that I had and told the doctor about. Naturally, I asked him if he had ever heard me pitch or if he ever heard me on tape, to which he replied, "No, never"! In fact he had never heard of Overeater's Anonymous until someone else mentioned it to him, and explained what it was all about! Once again, it validated for me that my dream was real. Suffice it to say, that is how GOD and Ray met! Being Jewish, I was informed that Judaism says that no one sees GOD face to face and lives! So team, can I guarantee you that this was definitely, without question, the Creator of the Universe? Definitely not; but whoever it was, it changed my life, "overnight", so to speak. Now I am not the smartest man in the Universe, but when a "warm fuzzy" is available to me, I certainly will be smart enough to accept it!
Now I wanted to know, really, what was my main problem. Why did I eat much more than I should or needed? I found out that the main problem of the compulsive overeater centers in his mind, rather than in his body. I also learned that there was a difference between the words obsession and compulsion; i.e. an obsession is the fixed idea that I can do something just one time; and, if I cave in to the obsession, then the compulsion kicks in and I am unable to stop!
In reading the Big Book, I noticed that it was set up in what I call the P.S.A. formula (not Pacific Southwest Airlines!). For example, the first part of the book defines the problem, the next part of the book defines the solution and the rest of the book defines the action steps necessary for recovering from this disease (dis ease).
You see, Team, I was not a bad person trying to get good, I was a sick person, trying to get well. And it turned out that I was always judging myself by my intentions, while everyone else was judging me by my actions!
Coming into O.A. meant that I needed to perform certain A.C.T.S., which meant that I had to Abstain, Clean house, Trust GOD and render Service. I soon realized, to my dismay, that if I kept doing the things that I had always done, I would keep getting the things that I had always gotten, which were not satisfactory. What it boiled down to for me was, that I kept doing the same things, over and over again, but expecting a different result, (which the Big Book defines as insanity).
I would like to share with you, the stairway to serenity which allows me to live happy, joyous and free. We call them the S.T.E.P.S. (Steps Taken Expectantly Provide Serenity).
The first step, which I found out is the only compulsory step, talks about surrender (which for me, means to be held in check (like in chess) by a Power greater than myself. And this step develops honesty; which for me, means honesty in thought, truth in words, and love in action.
The first statement that I am told about, is surrender ... and here is what I do. Upon first opening my eyes, when the alarm goes off, I sit up in bed, and dangle my size 14 feet over the side of the bed. And even before I go to the bathroom, I do the Third Step Prayer as follows: "GOD (and this tells me that I am aware of a source, greater than myself) I offer myself to thee, to build with me, and to do with me, as thou wilt (and this is complete surrender), and while doing this entire prayer, I am doing it with visualization; because all great ideas, begin in the workshop of the imagination), relieve me of the bondage of self (and this really sets me free); (as the great Martin Luther King, Jr. saidÖ.."Free at last, free at last, great GOD almighty, Iím free at last",) and I am free; that I may better do THY will (this shows GOD that I am teachable); take away my difficulties, that victory over them, may bear witness to those I would help of THY power, THY love, and THY way of life; (This is the longer version of one of my prayers that I say at night; i.e., "Thank you GOD, for all that you have given me, for all that you have taken away, and for all that you have left me with." And the last part of the third step prayer ... may I do THY will always (reminds GOD that I will follow HIS will always. Now I am ready to let GOD go before me to make the crooked path smooth. (After all hygiene principles are completed of course!)
At any time I am always free to use the "Serenity Prayer"Ö."GOD, grant me the Serenity .... where GOD has given me a deed to Life, and has asked me to be responsible. (Responsibility is my response to GODís ability)
In the Program, I have learned how to solve any problem with four questions; the answers to which, give me the solutions that I am seeking. Those four questions are as follows: #1 Ė What is the problem? #2 Ė What are all causes of this problem? #3 Ė What are all possible solutions to this problem? And #4 Ė Of all possible solutions in #3, what is the best solution?
Here is the "problem solving technique" in action. 1. What is the problem? My wife and I are covered by a Group Medical Plan from the insurance company that she retired from for which we pay about $250.00 per month. That company's medical plan, which is an H.M.O. will expire at the end of 2008 because it has been changed to another insurance company and the premium will be increased to about $375.00 per month with lesser benefits for us. 2. What are the causes of this problem? The original insurance company's plan will be discontinued because it has been sold to a different insurance company. 3. What are all possible solutions to this problem? (1) Stop buying medical insurance; (2) Search out another company with a lower premium; (3) talk to the present medical plan provider and see if they can offer a competitive plan similar to what we now have. (4) What is the best possible solution of the ones indicated in #3 above? We decided to check with our current medical plan provider to see if we can get the same type of coverage as we now have at pretty much the same premium since health care premiums are on the rise. We contacted our present medical vendor and were amazed and pleased to find that they can provide basically the same coverage that we now have, for a monthly premium of $0.00 (NOT a typing error!). It will cost a little more for the things that are, thankfully, not usually necessary; i.e. wheelchairs, and other "durable" health care articles!
In Step #1, I learned about abstinence and described the way I achieved it above; and for me, abstinence must be the most important thing in my life, without exception ... because without abstinence, I cannot find GOD, and without GOD, I cannot work this program! (No abstinence, no GOD ... but, for me ... Know abstinence, know GOD! Hamlet had a great saying about abstinence. He said "Refrain tonight, and that shall lend a kind of easiness to the next abstinence, and the next more easy, for use can almost change the stamp of nature."
As I continued to study the Big Book (because I consider it to be a textbook, rather than a novel), I came across the statement that the main object of this book was to enable me to find a Power, greater than myself, that will solve my problem. I was elated when I read that because it did not say that it could probably help, or it wanted to help; it flat out stated, in no uncertain terms, that it will solve my problem. All that I had to do was work the program.
Playing with words, which is something that I like to do, I broke down the phrase "How It Works" into, for me, the following: The "H.O.W." of course means honesty, open mindedness, and willingness; but where does this apply? So, I changed H.O.W. to WHO, and that told me that it was me who had to be honest, open minded and willing; then I made one further change from WHO to O.W.H. which, for me, meant One with HIM ... and that was important for me because I also found in the Big Book that lack of power, that was my dilemma.
One of the first things that I found when I came to O.A. was a card that said "I canít, GOD can, so Iíll let HIM"; which brings to mind a short poem that I always share called "Broken Dreams" and it goes something like this ... "As children bring their broken toys, with tears for us to mend, I brought my broken dreams to GOD, because he was my friend. But instead of leaving Him, in peace to work alone, I hung around and tried to help, with ideas that were my own. Suddenly I grabbed them back and cried, "How could you be so slow" ... "My child," He said, "what could I do, you never did let go!"
Now I am ready for step #2. This is the step where I "came" which means that I showed up; "came to", which means that I woke up; and "came to believe" which means that I stood up, under the Umbrella of GOD, as I understand HIM. The first suggested Step of the Twelve Steps, Step #2 is hope, (holding on, praying expectantly) and develops faith (forsaking all, I trust HIM) ... and I share these words about faith with you" Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible. It is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen. Faith tells me that when I am down to nothing, GOD is up to something! For me, GOD is not an outward possibility, but an inward reality." What then separates belief from faith; and for me, I found that belief is suspicion, before the fact, while faith is knowledge after the fact.
Arriving at Step #3, I made a decision to turn my will (which is my wishes, wants and desires) and my life (which is everything else), over to the care of GOD, as I understand HIM; and I kick in the last part of Step #11, "praying only for the knowledge of HIS will for me," and the power (and then I add the word "patience", because I am not very good at "waiting") to carry it out!
Going back a moment to my grandfather, the Rabbi, I asked him if prayer really works and, if it does, why? And of course, just like he would not take me into the other room and introduce me to GOD, he could not validate why prayer works. So, I asked GOD why prayer works since with the "zillions" of people in the World praying, how does HE know, really, who is praying, and/or seeking HIS H.E.L.P. (HIS ever loving presence). And he said, "Ramon, when I created children, besides designing them for accomplishment, engineering them for success, and endowing them for greatness, I made sure that I would always be able to listen or locate them, and I did this in two ways: one, Ramon, you already know, from watching television and that is of course, fingerprints; the one that you do not know about is their "voice pattern." You see, Ramon, I know that some humans seem able to mimic or duplicate voices .. but no one can "mimic or duplicate" voice patterns. And that is what I see, and listen for; so Ramon, that is why prayer works
While God and I were talking, He asked me why the change in my attitude since He remembers when no one wanted to be near me because of my lousy attitude. I explained that my sponsor, who was Godís agent, told me that my attitude would determine my altitude; and when I heard that, I began immediately to "reach for the sky!" And the most amazing thing happened ... when I changed me, everything around me changed.
Step #4 was the "inventory" step, where I was to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself (which scared the heck out of me). If I wanted to get "well", I had to get rid of the "secrets" in my life because my sponsor told me that we all are as "sick as our secrets." I said that I would not do an inventory and if I did do an inventory, I certainly would not give it away ... and if I did give it away, it would not be to a female. I put 4 yrs. in the Navy and I learned a lot of things that I certainly was not going to share with a woman. Long story short ... I have done many, many inventories and gave them all away to women!
Being a person who wants to do things "perfectly," I was told about a statement that Winston Churchill once made: "The maxim that nothing avails but perfection, leads to paralysis." And then I moved on to anger; (which is resentment turned outward, while resentment, is anger, turned inward,) I had to let go of anger. As Buddah said, "You will not be hurt for your anger, but by it!
Getting back to my inventory ... my single greatest character defect that kept showing up on all my inventories was fear (false evidence appearing real). If you donít like that definition, then you can use "fugg everything and run!" However, the definition that I like best, is "face everything and recover! And the reason for that is, when I face the things that I fear the most, the death of fear, is certain; or ... fear knocks, faith answers, and there's no one there!
Here is how I learned to handle "emotional fear." In the 12&12 of A.A., in the Seventh Step, it told me what caused my fear; and what it boiled down to was the fear that I would lose something that I already had or would fail to get something that I demanded. So there I was, living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, which left me in a state of continual disturbance or frustration. And the book told me therefore, that no peace was to be had until I had learned the means for reducing those demands. I learned that the means for reducing those demands, were Step #1, Surrender, Step #2, Faith, & Step #3, Trust. Two other character defects that I had, were "guilt", which is about the past ... in the present; and worry, which is about the futureÖ.in the present. It is using up the present moment to be immobilized about something that is going to happen.
As I moved on through the Big Book, I came across the "Promises" and because I have been following, and still do, follow the "path" that the Big Book offers, the "Promises" have all come through for me and, even today after many years in the program, the "Promises" keep appearing, and keep working, One day at a time ... as long as I keep in a fit spiritual condition. The first promise says that "We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness," which for me means that I have been relieved of the "bondage of self" that has always kept me, literally speaking, "tied up in knots! It was, for me, just one challenge after another: how to earn a living, how to develop a personality that was at least tolerable to most people, because it just seemed that no one in the whole wide world wanted to have anything to do with me! I was always so busy looking for something better than what I had that I never took the time to see that what I had was "enough" at that time because I never understood the word "enough!" Now I was free at last to pursue a lifestyle change that would show me a new joy of life.
The second Promise says that "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it" and, for me, that is true because of what I have learned from the past has made the "present" considerably better.
Promise number three states "We will comprehend the word serenity." How true this is for me as I now live happy, joyous and free with myself!
Number four of the Promises indicates "We will know peace" and, for me, it boiled down to ... No GOD, No peace ... but to KNOW GOD, was to KNOW peace!
In fifth place in the Promises we see that "No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others." And just as I have benefitted from others, so has my experience, strength and hope flourished in others with whom I have had the privilege of sharing with.
Sixth place in the Promises is occupied by "That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear." This was a truism for me when I became abstinent, learned about faith, and developed trust in the first three Steps.
In seventh position of the Promises, we find the following: "We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows." This is also true for me as my innate desire has overwhelmed me with wanting to be of service to anyone who asks.
Eighth place in the Promises states that "Self-seeking will slip away," which it has. This has amazed me since since I was raised with the hurray for me and the heck with you syndrome!
Number nine of the Promises tells me that "Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change" and it certainly has for me. Now instead of waking up in the morning with a frown on my face and saying, "Good GOD, itís morning" I wake up with a smile, greet GOD with a smile on my face and joy in my heart and am happy to say, "Good morning, GOD, and thank you for a pleasant night of sleep."
Tenth spot, for the Promises tells me that "Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us" and was the "magic key" that first enlightened me about the Big Book. I picked up the Big Book just to scan it briefly and see if it had what I wanted and what I wanted was to be free of worrying about money. I "thought" that it said, "Financial Insecurity would go away", so I bought the book, and then someone explained to me, what it really said was "that the fear of financial insecurity would leave us. And it has!! Since I bought the book with the little money that I had, I was "stuck" to reading it!
Because of my constant financial worries, I decided that I would try to become an Alcoholic because I had always heard about how much money alcoholics earn. So, I started drinking "Screwdrivers" or "Vodka Martinis" which I was able to get away with, by manipulating the doctor by telling him that a small drink after work, would help the day's stresses, to be alleviated. This was necessary, because we normally don't drink, and my wife would be wondering why all of a sudden, I started drinking some alcohol, on a daily basis. However, that did not work and the reason was, to my amazement, I simply could not develop the allergy of the body to Alcohol. I had no trouble, though, with food! To show you how much "alcohol" we consume, I still have almost all the liquor from my Bar Mitzvah. Not really, but you get the idea.
Ever since we got married, finances have been tough and a vacation was spending a day at Balboa Park in San Diego, California, walking around. Fast forward to many years ago, maybe 25 years or so, give or take 5 years, I wanted to save money but did not know how because of our limited finances due to my poor job history. One day I stopped in at a kiosk in a Super Food Market and spoke to the bank manager there. I told her what my problem was and she said that she could help me and asked if I could save one dollar a week. I told her that that was ridiculous since at the end of the year I would have only $50.00!
She asked me how much I had now and I told her, "Nothing" to which she replied, "Well, wouldn't $50.00 be better than nothing?" I agreed with her and started bringing her one dollar each Friday when I passed by her bank. Soon after that, she wanted to know if I could save a "couple" of dollars without taking food off of the table and we agreed that I probably could.
As the weeks passed and turned into months which turned into years, the fear of financial insecurity had left us and has never returned. Truly is it written ..."The longest journey in the world, begins with a single step!"
Number eleven of the promises says that "We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us" and it just seems that what used to be "problems" with "stumbling blocks" have turned out to be only challenges with the "stepping stones" laid out beside them!
And in the "dozen spot" at number twelve, we learn that "We will suddenly realize that GOD is doing for us, what we could not do for ourselves" and a truer statement has never been made. As I first learned when I got into the Program, "I canít, GOD can, so Iíll let HIM!"
That means, for me, in working this program, I observe what I call, the SIX "W's": Working Will Win, While Wishing Wonít!
When I retire at night, I constructively review my day (unless I fall asleep first!) and always look at what did I do "right" and what could I have done "better". Never what did I do "wrong." Iíve already shared how I start my day, so no need to duplicate that. Another great page for me was on page 98, in my Big Book, 3rd Edition, that says something like this: "Burn the idea into the consciousness of every human being that they can get well, regardless of anyone. The only condition is that they trust GOD, and clean house; and since I do that on a daily basis to the best of my ability I know that I am on the road to recovery.
Page 449, which is all about Acceptance (and I was lucky and fortunate enough to have Dr. Paul sign my book at the chapter on Acceptance) taught me what I so badly needed to learn; i.e., that "Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed (which was often), it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation, some fact of my life, unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place. thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in GODís world by mistake." What it came down to, for me, was that unless I could accept life, on lifeís terms, I would never be happy. What I needed to do was to concentrate not so much on what needed to be changed in the world, as on what needed to be changed in me and my attitudes, which as I said before, was the key to changing my attitude!
One more thing that really hit me was the statement about serenity being "inversely proportional to my expectations." So, I had to read still further to see what that meant to me ... and what I found was that "the higher my expectations, the lower would be my Serenity; and conversely, "the lower my expectations, the higher my Serenity would be!"
Here, dear friends, are my two closing thoughts:
The Architect of the Universe didnít give us a "Stairway" that leads nowhere ... and ...
The Love in my Heart, wasnít put there to stay,
I canít keep what Iíve got, unless I give it away.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to do that.
I wish you well as, together, we trudge this road of happy destiny.
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