Step One 
1996


"We admitted we were powerless over food ~ that our lives had become unmanageable."

Step One Contents:

Step One, Part One
Step One, Part Two
Step One, Part Three
Step One, Part Four
Step One, Part Five

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STEP ONE ~ PART ONE

"I PUT MY HAND IN YOURS...

.......... and together we can do what we could never do alone! No longer is there a sense of hopelessness, no longer must we each depend upon our own unsteady will-power. We are all together now, reaching out our hands for power and strength greater than ours, and as we join hands, we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams." (Rozanne's Prayer)

I hope we can all join hands and walk this road together. Starting freshly each new day, sure in our fellowship.

"We admitted we were powerless over food--that our lives had become unmanageable."

All the steps begin with "We". I personally didn't notice this for the first 4 or 5 months. Initially I just read the steps and started to work them and at some point, the reality of the "We" part of the program sank in. The intention is that I am no longer alone in this quest for sanity and understanding of both my disease and recovery. I am not alone anymore, fighting the world; I am part of a loving fellowship of mutual support. We are doing this program together. I am encouraged away from isolation, away from being a separate person with a problem; and toward unity and fellowship. I am encouraged toward acceptance; of myself, of of my life, of others; to work this program together with my brothers and sisters in OA.

The first part of step one is: "We admitted we were powerless over food..." This is an essential realization. Working the steps is sequential, which means that until I am ready to acknowledge my powerlessness, I am not truly ready to go forward. I must not just say this, or intellectually understand this as a concept. Powerlessness has to be a fact of my being. If I don't buy into it, if I feel I can do it on my own....then I need to go the extra distance try that out first. If it takes 5 additional years of trying everything under the sun before I am convinced, then I need to spend those 5 years convincing myself that absolutely nothing I can do is helping me long term with my conduct around food, (I spent most of my life before OA doing just that). I must be convinced deep down in my heart of hearts, where my deepest understanding of myself dwells...where I live...; that I am, indeed, powerless. OA is for those who KNOW that nothing else, not will power, not Weight Watchers, not more exercise, not ANYTHING is going to work. I need to acknowledge total personal powerlessness, before I am able to receive the wonderful gift of recovery.

A very important part of our WTS Study is that we will be taking an in-depth journey together into the steps. We are encouraged to journal on the weekly topics and to share this with our sponsors or interim sponsors It is helpful, in coming to a full understanding of our true powerlessness over food, to write this down...take a good look.. at our compulsive overeating.

Questions for journalizing:

1. Just where am I today?

a. Am I REALLY a compulsive overeater? Do I still want to eat compulsively? Can I overcome this? Can I be honest with myself and about myself and my relationship to food?

b. Do I suffer from the disease of compulsive overeating? Do I really have a problem? Do I acknowledge all of my problem honestly and realistically?

c. Do I compulsively overeat because of other people; because of other circumstances? Who (or what) is responsible for my condition?

d. Is this a big problem or a little problem for me?

e. What have I done in the past? What am I doing now? How has this worked in the past? How is it working now?

2. What is my relationship with food in general and with certain very specific foods? Are there specific foods and/or eating behaviors that I have discovered, through hard experience, with which I have problems?

I have found in my personal experience that acknowledgment of the nature of my powerlessness is an ever-evolving, daily recognition of the nature of myself and my disease, compulsive overeating. I am a compulsive overeater. I am a new person today and, as I have changed and grown over the past 24 hours, so my disease has changed and grown. That is why I acknowledge my powerlessness daily, recognize this as the essence of my inability to deal with my disease on my own.

-"To say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows. It is easy to say no, even if saying no means death"

-Jean Anouilh

God bless, Chuck

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STEP ONE ~ PART TWO

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over food-that our lives had become unmanageable.

"The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God's universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves." -AA Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, p 25.

Dear Friends,

Hi, I'm Chuck, a compulsive overeater. I am addicted to food and I am powerless over food. My life has become unmanageable.

I can think of this reality of my being as good news or bad news...actually, it is just part of who I am. The good news is, today, my Higher Power is doing for me that which I am unable to do for myself. The miracles promised in the AA Big Book are happening for me. These miracles, small everyday victories that are not accomplished by my individual effort alone, are a constant source of wonder, amazement and gratitude for me.

The essential nature of my disease has three clearly identifiable parts: physical, emotional and spiritual. I also need to focus on what my disease really is....compulsive overeating. My disease is not being fat...although I have been fat as a result of my disease. My disease is not being overweight; although my disease has caused that before. I get fat (I have been a yo-yo all my life), because I have eaten more calories than I use ...that is just a fact of my biology and my metabolism...eat more calories than I use for a period of time...store up those calories...get fat. FAT is not my problem. Excess weight (and society's aversion to excess weight); and my reaction to all that (my aversion to excess weight as well as my feelings about how people perceive the way I look) are not my problem. I am a compulsive overeater, I have a disease called compulsive overeating. I am addicted to food. THAT is my problem, "we are powerless over food-our lives have become unmanageable". I have no doubt in my mind that I am a compulsive overeater. I live with a family of people that do not share my disease...although I grew up with a mother who does. It is not her fault that I have this disease. I didn't contract the disease of compulsive overeating from my mother; and I didn't learn it from her, either. It is my disease and my responsibility. I am convinced that I am unable on my own to understand and conquer this disease. I can lose weight, I have lost weight. I can not overcome this disease on my own...I am powerless.

Some questions for journaling:

1. How has the disease of compulsive overeating affected my life physically?

2. How has the disease of compulsive overeating affected my life emotionally?

3. How has the disease of compulsive overeating affected my life spiritually?

4. How has the disease of compulsive overeating affected:

a. My vocation?

b. My home and family?

c. My love life?

d. My love for my self?

My dear friends, we are a fellowship of mutual support. With the help of our Higher Power and reliance on our fellowship, we can claim the miracles which are promised to us...for today.

I sincerely believe the more capable of honesty that I become, the more able I become to confront the truth about my disease. By a thorough and complete search for the truth, I can better understand and better open myself to my Higher Power. I must learn to understand my emotions and my reactions to this insidious disease. I must shed fear, understand anger, refrain from doing things for appearances or for other's approval. I must get to the core of the real me, and as I seek that reality, simply ask each day for help.

"...you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free".

-John 8:32

God bless, Chuck


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STEP ONE ~ PART THREE


Step One: We admitted we were powerless over food-that our lives had become
unmanageable. 

        -"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path". 

                     AA Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 58

This is part three of a five part journey into Step One. I'd like to talk a little about two very
strong emotions: fear and anger; and also begin to get into the rest of the step..."our lives have
become unmanageable". The topics of fear and anger, I am confident, will be frequent stops
along our 12-month WTS journey. Anger and Fear are emotions that are worthy, and deserving,
of my inspection and introspection. I experience fear on many different levels. I have healthy
fears and I have inappropriate fears. When I am physically afraid, (e.g. for my safety), and the
adrenaline gets pumping, I experience a normal biological reaction associated with fight or flight.
This type of fear is instinctive in me and can be life saving in the right (wrong) situation. My
inappropriate fears, the ones that contribute to my powerlessness, are my irrational fears. Some
examples of my irrational fears are: my fear about finding a new job and the myriad of "what ifs"
associated with not getting one before the money and insurance, etc. run out. I combat this
irrational fear by praying every day to be open and receptive to God's will. I have confidence
that God will help me to a solution and help me (and those who depend on me). I fear other
people's opinion about me..another irrational fear that gets me into all kinds of crazy behavior
(like compulsive overeating). Do people think I'm good looking, sexy, smart, responsible, a
good leader? Fear that others don't see me as I wish to be seen can catapult me into the insanity
of that first compulsive bite... 

Anger, also, is one of my big bogeymen. I can remember about 15 years ago reading a book by
Theodore Isaac Rubin, The Thin Book by a Formerly Fat Psychiatrist, and stopping to read a
passage out loud to my wife. "Listen to this, Judy" I said, "this guy says that overweight people
are....to a person...angry people. I'm not an angry person..... am I?" Instead of a direct verbal
reply, I got that raised eyebrow look that says, "I don't want to get into a discussion about
this....you know that the answer is not what you want to hear." Which was precisely correct, it
wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. And it has been a long time coming.... to acknowledge that
anger and inappropriate reactions to anger have a lot to do with my powerlessness and the
unmanageability of my life. Today, thanks to working my program each day, I am aware of
anger and what it can do. I have read the Big Book, where it says that expressing anger,
especially self-righteous anger is ok for folks that can afford it, but I just can't afford it. I feel it,
but I can't afford to allow anger to run my life any more. (This is a very specific area where I
acknowledge my helplessness, but do not act helpless. I accept responsibility for acknowledging
the potential harm that anger can cause in my life, and I accept responsibility for finding ways to
channel that anger into appropriate behavior). This is very fertile ground, indeed! I cling to our
mottos like "Easy Does It", "Live and Let Live", "Thy Will Be Done", and ..."Grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change...". All these help me with anger today. For me,
these are not trite cliches, they are words to live by! 

To look at how my life has become unmanageable, I am awed by the authors of the 12 steps; by
the elegant simplicity of tying my initial problem into the roots of my entire life situation. And
these wise and astute gentlemen get right down to the nitty gritty at the very start....we are
powerless, our lives have become unmanageable. The bridge, from compulsive overeating to my
life in general, connects compulsive overeating to the total me. I know now that I can make
baby-step progress, one day at a time and each day can be just a little better. Acknowledgment
of the hope contained in this step, is like a bright star that guides me each day. I can't recall the
source, but I do recall hearing that the first step is the only step that we can take completely,
100%. Working the rest of the steps is a continuing process of growth.... growth that is often
called "peeling the onion". 

Questions for journalizing: 

       1. What role does fear play in my life? How does fear affect my life and my disease,
       (compulsive overeating)? 

       2. What role does anger play in my life? How does anger affect my life and my disease,
       (compulsive overeating)? 

       3. Am I convinced that I have a disease called compulsive overeating and that my life
       had been unmanageable? 

       4. How has my life been unmanageable in the past? 

       5. Will I ever be able to manage these issues in my life? 6. How does accepting my
       powerlessness and accepting responsibility interact?

 "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I
    became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a
  mirror....Now I know in part.....And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the
                            greatest of these is love." 

                       -excerpts from 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 

God bless, 

Chuck 


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STEP ONE ~ PART FOUR

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over food--that our lives had become
unmanageable. 

  "God, grant me The serenity to accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the
                 things I can; and The wisdom to know the difference." 

                               The Serenity Prayer

If you have the OA 12 Step Book and/or the Workbook, you know that I am following pretty
much an idea outline of the material covered in those two books. I am also drawing heavily on
the AA Big Book and the AA 12 and 12. I would highly recommend them for study and
meditation. They are all OA sanctioned and all contain a wealth of recovery. While our program
is one of humble suggestion, it has been found that the suggestions embodied in the 12 steps
(and they are all suggestions, not rules) have proven highly effective for many. To that end, if
you don't have these books, you might want to consider getting them. And, if you own these
books, they make wonderful daily reading. 

I wanted to share about my Step One and Abstinence; A plan of eating; and honesty as they relate
to being powerless and having my life unmanageable. Since the scope of these topics could
develop into books full of material, I will just try to touch a very few points that are important to
my program, followed by a few introspective questions for journaling and sharing as you see
appropriate. 

Why do veteran OA members insist that Abstinence is the most important thing in their lives? I
used to have a major problem with priorities. How could I love my wife the most, and love God
the most? How can abstinence be more important than my family, my job, my happiness...more
important than the comfort that I derive from compulsive overeating? I thought that this was
some kind of mysterious secret that I was incapable of understanding. I could hear the words,
but they just didn't have meaning for me. I felt almost like an outsider. I began to realize that I
was using unidimensional thinking about these issues...sorta putting everything on the same
plane and "thinking" about them like I would weigh something on a two-pan balance. 

To keep the analogy, I have found that Loving God and Abstinence are the metal of the scale,
not the issues. They are a part of my being....they only add to the parts of my life, work, family
friends,,,they are not in competition. They are the essence of my existence not the substance.
When I came to this level of understanding, the mystery went away. I can love God and my
family, I can say that abstinence is the most important thing in my life, and know what that
means. And why is a plan of eating so important? This ties into my powerlessness and my
willingness to accept responsibility for myself; to be open and willing to God's will for me, and,
to ACT on God's will. Having a plan for eating is so intimately intertwined with my definition
of abstinence that they must go hand in hand. A plan of eating is the tool that my HP gives me to
ACT on my responsibility; to continue to humbly receive the precious gifts of abstinence and
recovery that God so generously gives each day. If I didn't have a plan, I couldn't be abstinent.
If I didn't have HP to help me every day, I couldn't ACT on my plan, because then it would just
be MY DIET. The difference between MY DIET and my plan of eating is my Higher Power,
holding my hand, guiding, directing, forgiving, and loving me. My plan of eating then becomes
a part of my overall abstinence along with the spiritual part of my abstinence. The closest I can
come to verbalizing the spiritual part of my abstinence is "to walk closely to God every day". 

Honesty, for me, is a concept in evolution. I am about as honest as I am able at the time. This
means that as I peel the onion, I am more capable of being honest; and more able to reflect on
what is real. As I grow in my ability to step out of denial and rationalization, I become more able
to take constructive action and make positive changes. I can honestly say that I have done step 4
and 9 for example (searching and fearless moral inventory, and making direct amends). As I
grow in understanding, I can work these steps again and again and again. Honesty is a big key
in how well and how thoroughly I work my program. I think that Hazeldon has a coffee cup and
a sweatshirt that says, "denial is not a river in Egypt". Denial is alive and well in Busbyland.
Honesty is my lifeline out of denial and into recovery. Honesty allows me to accept the reality of
being powerless over food. Honesty helps me to truly understand that my life has become
unmanageable. >From that genuine understanding comes acceptance. Acceptance leads to the
concept of Unconditional Love (my definition of HP);: which will be the topic for our fifth and
final segment of our Step One Study next week. 

Questions for journaling: 

       1. What is my plan of eating? How important is my plan of eating to the success of my
       program? 

       2. How do I define my personal abstinence? How important is abstinence in working
       my program? 

       3. Is denial just a river in Egypt for me? In what areas of my life can I lovingly use
       honesty as a tool to help me peel my own onion? 

       4. Accepting my powerlessness and the unmanageability of my life moves me to
       change. 

              a. Am I honestly open and willing to change as a result of this reality? 

              b. Have I made any recent changes as a result of this process?

              c. Do I have some things that could, perhaps, change in the future as a result of
              being honest, open and willing? 

              d. Am I ready to go to ANY length?

                                First Step Prayer 

  Today, I ask for help with my addiction. Denial has kept me from seeing how powerless I am
 and how my life is unmanageable. I need to learn and remember that I have an incurable illness
                   and that abstinence is the only way to deal with it. 

                         -from 12 Step Prayer Book, p.67. 
                                    1990.
                               Glen Abbey Books
                            (Lakeside Recovery Press),
                                    Seattle.

God bless,

Chuck 

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STEP ONE ~ PART FIVE


Step One: We admitted we were powerless over food--that our lives had become
unmanageable. 

This is the final segment on Step One. This segment is short and sweet and deals simply with
how I choose to approach the reality of my powerlessness as I live through each 24-hour packet
of time. I sincerely believe that love is the key to working my program successfully. What does
that mean for me? It means that I am willing to be open to my Higher Power's plan for me;
willing to listen; and willing to change. 

Love is is part of the reality of my being, a miraculous gift, all around and within us. I need only
to humbly accept this gift and the miracles that Love makes possible in my daily life. 

Self-love is essential for me to work my program. I must recognize that I am God's creation,
that we are all miracles on two legs. I am just the way I'm supposed to be today. 

I am loved today..... as I am..... without exception. 

I am grateful beyond words for the miracle of my life....as I am today. 

I know that I am loved.... unconditionally...now, for who I am. Acceptance of this reality in my
life allows me to love others, allows me to forgive others, allows me to forgive myself, and love
myself. The unconditional love of my Higher Power gives me my life and I am forever grateful.
Being loved unconditionally, I can accept my powerlessness, I can accept that I have a
life-threatening disease, I can accept the reality that my life is unmanageable. I can surrender this
to my Higher Power for this 24-hour space in my universe, and my Higher Power will do for me
that which I am incapable of doing for myself. I need only to humbly ask for and accept the gift of
recovery that my Higher Power gives so freely. Recovery and abstinence are gifts that I cannot
get for myself, I know, I've tried...I can't.... I can only be willing to receive them when my
Higher Power gives them to me... A true gift of life. 

This is the closest thing to a genuine miracle that I can think of. This is the simple reality of
working Step One each day. I am truly grateful. As my good friend, Billie, says "God must love
us very much, indeed"! 

Questions for Journaling: 

       6. Can I visualize how surrender of my powerlessness (and the unmanageability of my
       life) is a victory, and not a defeat? 

       7. Do I visualize the taking of Step One as a positive, or a negative, event? 

       8. When I look in the mirror, what do I see? 
       a. How do I feel about the person looking back at me? 

       9. What can I do about my helplessness and the unmanageability of my life, for today?

God bless, 

Chuck 

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