Step Two
1996


"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

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STEP TWO ~ INTRODUCTION


Hello to all ... my name is P, and I am a grateful recovering food addict
and your Step 2 leader for the month of February.

I want to start off by saying thank you to all the WTS
trusted servants. They have worked tirelessly to get this thing of ours off the
ground. With his clear, insightful, and inspiring Step 1 discussions,  our step one leader gave us an awe-inspiring basis for the rest of us who will follow. And the
WTS trusted servants have offered fun, (abstinent) food for thought and much
love and joy in the process.
------------
Before I begin my comments on Step 2, I want to offer some of my
"qualification" for membership in OA.

I crawled into OA 8 l/2 years ago. I was a physical wreck, at 5' weighing 179
pounds. 8 weeks before I had given birth to twins  (and had weighed 225 on
their birthday). My doctors all warned me that I was an A-1 candidate for
middle-age onset diabetes (and several other physical ailments) because of my
weight.

I was 33 and had spent the better part of 21 years running, ducking, hiding,
and waging warfare on my weight. I had tried most every diet I could think of
(I didn't do liquid fasts because they were "unhealthy"). I had supported
bookstores and authors and magazines and Weight Watchers and exercise places.
By the time I finally came into the rooms, I was bingeing every 5 minutes ...
the mere thought of an empty mouth sent me reeling.

I despised myself. I once heard a 100 lb. "loser" tell my story: I hated
being in my own skin. I was an emotional porcupine. I lived a life of fear,
self-loathing, self-pity, anger, rage, more fear, etc., etc. ... You get the
point.

If *I* wasn't in charge of the universe, then I couldn't tell you who was.
Sure wasn't God ... God had abandoned me years before. After all, I had
prayed to be kept from eating and I had prayed to lose weight. And God hadn't
seen fit to help me. I was "out there" on my own, left to struggle as best as
I could. "All the cosmic power in the universe" ... that described me. I had
power: to kill my grandmother in a car crash, when I wasn't even in the car
(at the tender age of 12) ... all because I hadn't said "drive carefully." 

I hated myself and the world ... and I believed that the world hated me right
back. I feared everyone and everything and saw doom and gloom no matter where
I turned. I was the world's doormat and victim, and the world was delighted
to treat me as such. 

Then came the beginning of the miracle. Today I am 4 years abstinent ODAAT. I
weigh about 125. I've had the same clothes for several years. I go to HP (I
call it God -- more about that later!) for EVERYTHING. A chronic nailbiter
for most of my life, I stopped biting my nails one day about 6 years ago ...
all because I asked God to help me. 6 years ago I made a decision to work
towards a new career ... which I now have by the grace of God and the power
of this program. My family life is a miracle ... I have many friends ... and
there are actually days (several in a row, even) when I don't feel
self-loathing, fear, rage or like a victim or a doormat.

Today I am happy. 

And now on to Step 2.

STEP TWO ~ PART ONE


What will follow throughout the month will be my own understanding of Step 2; I
do not speak for the WTS group or OA as a whole. Please feel free to take
what you like and leave the
rest.

Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us
to sanity.

"Once more: The (food addict, compulsive eater, etc.) at certain times has no
effective mental defense against the first (compulsive bite). Except in a few
rare cases, neither he (she) nor any other human being can provide such a
defense. His (her) defense must come from a Higher Power." "Alcoholics
Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, P. 43"

"Under the lash of (food addiction, compulsive eating, etc.), we are driven
to (OA), and there we discover the fatal nature of our situation. Then, and
only then, do we become as open-minded to conviction and as willing to listen
as the dying can be. We stand ready to do anything which will life the
merciless obsession from us." "12 Steps and 12 Traditions, Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc., P. 24"

"Honest appraisal of our experience has convinced us that we can't handle
life through self-will alone." "12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters
Anonymous, P. 6.

There's Step 2 in a nutshell: I can't -- and my life's a wreck and I'm a
wreck ... and there's gotta be something bigger than me that can.

Throughout February we will discuss and hopefully affirm and reaffirm one of
the few requirements for working an OA program: having admitted that we are
powerless over food ... and that our lives are unmanageable, we now turn to a
belief in a power greater than ourselves for strength and aid beyond our own
limited human willpower alone.

Assuming we've accepted Step 1 in its entirety -- and I am among those who
believe that Step 1 is the only step that we can and must take 100% -- Step
2 should come as such a great relief. After all, if *I'm* powerless over
food, isn't it wonderful and peaceful and blessed to know that there's gotta
be something out there that has power over it ... and can give some of that
power to me? 

And as I look at the damage I caused by trying to control the uncontrollable
... the utter chaos I caused by behaving like a roaring tornado, Step 2
offers incredible hope that I can be restored to sanity. And believe me, my
behavior, my attitudes, my beliefs were light-years removed from any semblance
of any definition of sanity. I tried so hard to change myself and my
attitudes, and I was stymied at every turn. What blessed relief to know that
there is a power greater than myself that can restore me to sanity.

This immediately poses several dilemmas.

~~If admitting powerlessness was bad enough, imagine what society's going to
think of someone who now openly admits and accepts a Power greater than
him/herself? 

~~No problem -- I *already* believe in God. (So how come I'm still bingeing,
purging, etc.?)

~~I mean, what's God got to do with it? (AKA: A Power by any other name...)

~~I can't believe in God -- look at all the terrible things that God's done
to me (the world, etc.).

~~I'm an atheist, agnostic, Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, secular
humanist, Jehovah's Witness, etc. 

~~Insane? Me? Who said anything about insane? So I eat too much and my life
is unmanageable ... who said anything about insanity? 

Throughout our discussions, I hope to make reference to AA literature as well
as OA literature. You don't have to purchase any of these, although I have
found the Big Book, the AA 12&12 and the AA book "Came to Believe" to be as
indispensable as the OA books. My own preference is to avoid using the OA
Workbook; I find it too analytical. However, this is *my* preference only;
there are many who have found it to be a great help.

Looking forward to a wonderful month of growth.

(()) P

STEP TWO ~ PART TWO

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
sanity."

I'm P, a grateful, recovering food addict.

When I heard about Step 2, I thought that I already believed in God. 

And I *did.* I believed in a god who would willy-nilly pull the rug out from
under me just when things were starting to go right. I believed in a god who
could be bartered and bargained with; i.e.-- I do this for you, you'll do
that for me. I believed in a god who was cruel and capricious and let people
die and was out to get me.

Clearly I had to come up with a different concept of this Power because my
own wasn't working. However, before I did that, I needed to accept the fact
that *I* wasn't the power :)

That was the first trick of Step 2.

How do I get to the place where I can admit that I'm not all powerful and
accept/believe in a Power that *is* all powerful?

As I eluded to in my introduction, I truly believed that I was all powerful.
I was a 32 year old woman wrapped in a child's mentality; children have that
idea of themselves. If only they say something right, Mom or Dad will love
them, buy them something, do something, behave in a certain way.

The great problem was, of course, that that part of me never matured past
this point. I remained the center of the universe (at least my own universe),
convinced without a doubt that somehow I had control over everything in my
life -- and everyone else's, too.

This manifested itself in my life in many ways: If a job had to be done, *I*
had to do it or it wouldn't get done right. No one could do anything as well
as I. I had the answers for everyone's problems (my own, included). If I
worried long enough, the thing I worried about wouldn't happen. 

And this was especially true with food. If I couldn't control my eating, it
was clearly *my* fault: all I needed was some willpower. And if I didn't have
willpower, there must be something wrong with me ... and that was
unacceptable. 

Except it wasn't working at all. The more power I tried to exert -- over
food, people, situations, life -- the worse matters became and the crazier I
felt and the more I ate because the crazier I felt. But by golly I wasn't a
quitter ... I could handle it. Alone. We'll get into the insanity part later,
but this is one of the signs of insanity: doing the same thing over and over
expecting different results. 

When I thought about a Power greater than myself to whom I could turn, I
faced a crisis: where did that leave me? What was *my* job? If all my efforts
to control had been doomed from the start, what did that say about my life to
this point? 

My sick and immature belief system said that "I *should* be able to handle
things." Recovery and program smile and say, "says who" :) And I have taken
to heart what I heard a wise OA say once, "The 4 most dangerous words in the
English language are: I Can Handle It."

I have to realize that *my* way isn't working ... and that it is OK for me to
look to someone/something else for a better way. And that better way was/is
this Power greater than myself. 

Some thoughts for consideration:

1. Am I holding on to the idea that *I* have control over (whatever)? 
2. What fears, beliefs, etc., are blocking me from admitting that I'm not
all-powerful?
3. What would happen if there *were* a Power greater than myself? How would I
feel, how *could* I feel, how might I react?
4. What would happen if I relinquished control over food, life, other people,
etc.? (I know that this borders on Step 3, but in Step 3, we're actually
making a decision to relinquish control ... while in Step 2, we are getting
ready to consider making that decision.)

While we explore these thoughts, bear in mind the words of the AA Big Book:
"Remember that we deal with food: cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help
it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power -- that One is God.
May you find Him now."

Next time: God? Who said anything about God? But but but but ..... :)

Peace ... P

STEP TWO ~ PART THREE

Hi, I'm P, a grateful recovering food addict.

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
sanity."

God? Who said anything about God?

My path to an understanding of God that I could live with as my Power greater
than myself is pretty convoluted.

When I first heard about this Power greater than myself thing, I figured, "no
sweat ... I believe in God." But when I was asked to explain what my concept
of a HP was, I became terribly confused.

When I really looked at it, God had blue eyes and blond hair and looked an
awful lot like my mother. She had been my Higher Power through my entire life
to that point (I was 33). I had given myself -- body and soul -- to her, to
making her happy, to appeasing her, to placating her ... and she had failed
me. And if *she* were my HP, then how could there be a HP who could/would do
anything for me?

And I looked again, and came up with a powerful teacher ... who had also
failed me. And if *she* were my HP, then how could there be a HP who
could/would do anything for me?

And I kept looking and I kept coming up with people ... who had failed me.
And I felt so frightened because maybe there wasn't a Power greater than
myself that could or would do anything for me.

And then I thought about all the times I had gone to "God." God was
primitive, capricious, vindictive, negotiating and bargaining ... that's how
I related to God. Well, a God who would pull the carpet out from under my
feet was not something that was going to do anything for me.

When I came into OA, I heard people share about going through crises that
made my life look tame. And they were abstinent. And they talked about God as
their Power greater than themselves. I heard these people talk about going to
church and finding God. And I thought they meant Jesus. And I was (still am)
Jewish, and I felt threatened and attacked and less-than, and I walked around
with a chip on my shoulder the size of a 2X4. I thought they were saying that
I had to believe in Jesus in order to have a HP.

It says in the AA 12&12 that I could relax ... that "the hoop I had to jump
through was wider than I thought." It said that I could take step 2 piecemeal
and not swallow the whole thing at once. It said somewhere that "faith as
small as a mustard seed" could do miracles.

So I slowed down and began to relax.

I *had* believed in a Power greater than myself, it was just that these
Powers had been human. Was I willing to move away from the physical to a
spiritual plane? That scared me a lot. How could I trust something that I
didn't see, didn't experience in physical form?

In the literature I read about having faith in lots of things I didn't see:
electricity, radio waves, TV waves, that the sun would come up in the morning
and the moon would come out at night, etc. That made sense to me.

I *had* believed that there was a God, it was just that my understanding had
been deformed and stunted and immature and primitive. Was I willing to move
away from this
to an understanding of a God that was healthy and loving and mature? That
scared me, too.

I started to do some exploration of God in the literature of my religion, and
I soon discovered that there were wise men and women of my religion who
explained God in a loving way, and I felt at peace.

I learned that God speaks to me through people and places and things ... and
every so often, I needed to see God/HP as working through the collective
power of the group: people who had found a solution to life's problems and
clearly knew more than I did about how to redirect my thinking. My sponsor
knew more than I did ... and I became willing to listen to her wisdom without
making her a godlet.

Although this is not my own experience, I know many people who choose *not*
to call their Higher Power God. They see their Higher Powers in terms of
exactly that: a spiritual being that cannot be named but exists nonetheless.
It makes no difference ... a Higher Power is a Higher Power, no matter what
you call it.

Today, I have a firm faith in a Power greater than myself. I call it God.

Some thoughts for consideration:

1a. Write your current understanding of a Power greater than yourself.
1b. Is this understanding working for you?
1c. Are you willing to rethink your understanding of a Power greater than
yourself?
2. Write a "want-ad" for a Power greater than yourself.
3. Write a "job description" for a Higher Power.
4. "The hoop you have to jump through is wider than you think." Explain this.
5. "Faith as small as a mustard seed works miracles." Explain this.
6. How can we use the power of our OA group or OA as a whole as a Power
greater than ourselves?

Next time: I'm perfectly sane. (not)

Love and blessings ... P

STEP TWO ~ PART FOUR

I'm P, a grateful, recovering food addict.

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
sanity."

Insane? I just eat too much. (Not)

My daughter still talks about the day I banged down a bottle of soda into the
sink, and it (the bottle) exploded, and I sat on the kitchen steps sobbing
uncontrollably.

Then there was the day that I got so enraged that I hadn't done something
(responded on time to an invitation) that I punched the wall of our apartment
and watched in horror as the nails popped out up and down the wall.

Or the times when I looked at myself (waist up) in the mirror and became so
enraged at myself that I punched myself in the stomach.

Or the times I would take food frozen from the freezer and try to eat it. Or
throw food into the garbage, cover it up, and then retrieve it and eat it. Or
scoop handfuls of food and stuff them into my mouth. Or spend a day fasting
(for religious purposes) only to come home and eat pounds and pounds of
candy.

Or the time I went to a nutritionist (paying lots of money), hoping she would
put me on the diet that would work, going back to her each week, gaining
weight steadily, and bald-faced lying about what I had eaten. It got to the
point where I honestly believed that I HADN'T eaten anything not on the list,
I truly believed I had just eaten what I had been told to.

On a more "civilized" note: I've heard that one definition of insanity is
"doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." God
knows how many times I went on this or that diet ... or food plan ... or
joined an exercise club ... or swore off this or that food ... and honestly,
each time **I REALLY MEANT IT. ** **THIS TIME*** it would be different ...
**THIS TIME** I'd really do it right... **THIS TIME** I'd lose the weight and
never put it back on.

I also heard (somewhere) that rationalization is a pretty word for making
excuses for unacceptable behavior, and this is in itself a form of insanity.

Then there's the more subtle insanity of seeing the world through fog-colored
glasses, where I am the perpetual victim and doormat, where my attitudes
cause emotions, and these emotions take on a reality of their own (despite
what is truly *real*) and cause behaviors that are bizarre, alienating,
frightening, and socially unacceptable. For instance, I feel disappointment
... and I become the disappointment (and I act out in order to "prove" that I
am not a disappointment). I feel threatened ... and I believe I am honestly
being threatened (and I act out in order to "protect" myself).

As a concrete example, I used to fancy myself an opera singer (nothing too
grandiose, eh?). I was going to be in a production (less-than amateur status)
of something or other in New York, and I got it into my head that the
director hated me and was trying to destroy my voice by making suggestions of
how I should sing. Well, I was going to show him: because of *his*
suggestions, I "lost" my voice and couldn't sing the performance. Funny how I
was so much better the next day in the shower. Huh.

And here I thought I just needed to lose some weight :)

Some thoughts for consideration:

1. What are some of the irrational behaviors I have done with food?
2. What are some of the irrational behaviors I have done other than with
food?
3. How have my attitudes caused me to behave in irrational ways?
4. How have my emotions caused me to behave in irrational ways?
5. How have my irrational attitudes caused harm in relationships:  in my
work, in my social world, etc.?

Hang on, folks, we're going to be RESTORED to sanity!

Blessings to all... P

STEP TWO ~ PART FIVE


Hi, my name is P, and I am a grateful, recovering food addict.

Caveat: What follows is *my* understanding of Step 2. I speak only for myself
and not for anyone else or OA as a whole. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT WHILE OA
CHERISHES ANONYMITY, CYBERSPACE IS NOT AN ANONYMOUS VENUE. If you wouldn't
want it put on the front page of the New York Times, you might reconsider
sharing it in cyberspace. Even at IRL (in real-life) meetings, we encourage
members to "share in a **general** way what we were like, what happened, and
what we are like now." We encourage members to share the more specific
details of their past and their recoveries PRIVATELY with a sponsor.  

I also want to thank you for allowing me to be your "leader" for this month.
I have grown from my own experience of sharing on Step 2 and from reading
*your* shares as well. Thank you, too, Mar and the WTS trusted servant group,
for all your support and encouragement.

-------------

"Came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to
sanity."

"True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith, and every (OA) meeting
is an assurance that God will restore us to sanity if we rightly relate
ourselves to (God)." AA 12&12, p. 33

As we come to end of our Step 2 journey, at least this go-round, I think it's
appropriate to share how I use Step 2 and how Step 2 works in my life on a
daily basis.

Step 2 moves me on a daily basis from a self-centered, frightened little girl
to a self-centered, frightened little girl  with a grownup woman taking
care of that little girl with the help of a Higher Power's love and strength.
When I am feeling frantically fearful or shaken up, I have a place to go for
help ... and I am almost never failed or forsaken. Whether my insanity has to
do with food or the way I interact with others or myself, there's God, always
waiting for me to acknowledge my own limitations and ask for help. 

For today, the presence of God is the single most important fact in my life.
For today, I approach life with humility: not humiliation, not behaving like
the doormat, but with humility: the attitude that I am teachable, a peaceful
awareness of my place in the universe (neither above nor below anyone), an
awareness of my own God-given unique qualities, given to me because I am a
unique creation of God. For today, I no longer have to compete with anyone
for the air I breathe or the room my body takes up (nor do I have to
apologize to anyone for either thing).

For today, I am open to the possibility (more likely, the probability) that I
don't know everything about anything and that there is a Power greater than
myself (sometimes transcendent, sometimes internal) that is the Source for
all my knowledge, insight, creativity, etc. 

For today, I can let go of the idea that I have to be in charge of the
universe ... much less my own self. 

For today, I can let go of the beliefs that my insane and destructive
attitudes need to be my reality or that my behavior can be rationalized or
that I am doomed to a life of fear and misery.

I don't always get it perfectly, so I have a sponsor and a therapist to
remind me that I'm not God and that maybe I need to relook at Step 2. The
real glory of this Step (which I don't need to do perfectly to have miracles
happen in my life) is that it says specifically "can restore me to sanity." To
me this means that I might go off the wall from time to time ... and that's
just a fact of life, nothing to be ashamed of. I might want to eat, I might
want to rip someone's head off, I might want to throw a plate or have a
temper tantrum. This happens. The wonderful news is that I don't have to give
in to these temptations and that the temptations will pass because I can be
"restored to sanity."

I have a "ritual" that I use to help me act out my Step 2 surrender. When I
am  feeling frantic or crazy or whatever, I go up to my bedroom. I get down
on my knees (not to pray, because I don't get on my knees to pray, but
because it's easier to reach my bed!) and put my head on my bed and relax. I
close my eyes and take several deep breaths. "God, there's gotta be a better
way." 

I've heard it said: 

I came ... I bring my physical self to meetings, to OA literature, to prayer,
to the telephone, to my sponsor, to a pen or a pencil.

I came "to" ... I become aware of reality, my own limitations and the
possibilities for recovery.

I came to believe ... on a daily basis, even with doubts and questions.

I feel the presence of God ... and I feel calmer and stronger and able to
take on my day. But that's moving me into Step 3 ... 

Some thoughts for discussion:

1. What are your hopes for Step 2?
2. How do *you* work Step 2 in your daily life? 

Blessings to all ... P

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