Step One

1997

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

Step One Contents:

Introduction
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling
Closing

Step Navigator:

Up Next Step
Index Step Two

 

Step One ~ Introduction

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

Dear Fellow WTS Members:

Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to share my experience and hope. I have a lot of experience. Today I have lots of hope. But today I need to share with you that I have very little strength. I am the proverbial Strong Woman, Mrs. Can Do. And therein lies my problem. Lack of accepting powerlessness over my disease. That is my problem. And it is basic. It is Step One. The Beginning. Numero Uno.

I ask you now to please share with me on Step One as I work this step again in my life. Rigorous honesty demands that I tell you that I must be sharing here this month by HP's design, because I have been in a very long relapse. I quit meetings, got off the big loop, got off WTS, and quite suddenly remembered just a few weeks ago that I had made this commitment during a period of abstinence. I need to feel your strength and I need to feel your hand in mine as I attempt to reflect on this first step and new beginning.

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Step One ~ Part 1

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

Back in 1988 when I had my first taste of the 12-step way, I rewrote the steps in my head. I did not believe than anyone was powerless over anything. Hadn't my parents taught me that anyone could be anything they wanted if they just had the drive and the ambition? Hadn't I been told that if you work hard you will be rewarded. Hadn't I been told that willpower was the answer to all that we hope to accomplish and that failure was simply lack of willpower? I believed, to my core, that if you would, you could (do anything you set your mind to).

I was like Lucy in the Charlie Brown cartoon where Lucy is doing her homework and she asks Charlie Brown "How many times will 24 go into 12?". "Twenty four won't go into twelve", Charlie tells Lucy. "Well it will if you push hard enough", Lucy declares. That was me, Lucy. I could conquer this food thing if I pushed hard enough.

I believed that I could conquer this food thing, by using my willpower. That's what everyone at all the diet places said, that's what must be true. That's what friends and family said. Obviously, I just needed to push hard enough. Sure. Right.

I'd tried many ways to lose weight and had lost weight. The bottom line of what I was always told was willpower, willpower, willpower. Be strong. Hang in there. You can grit your teeth and keep your shoulder to the wheel. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You can. You can do it. You can lose that weight. (Woops, they didn't tell me what to do about the other parts of my life that were a mess, just the extra pounds, and they strongly hinted that I would continue to have to be strong, hang in there, grit my teeth, etc. etc, forever or I would be fat again.)

What a wonderful future to look forward to. Summing it up they said in essence although not in word, "Hey Fatso, suffer. Forever. You're a pig and if you don't stop being a pig you're going to continue to be regarded as the low end of the gene pool." And it became a war. There was me against them. They said suffer and I said hell no and stuffed my face, went back, got humiliated and stuffed my face more. And spent a fortune to have emaciated looking girls with too much make up and skinny legs (and lousy grammar) tell me how I could lose weight (translated: be a socially acceptable and whole person).

Then I heard about OA. Another diet club. Another food plan. Another attempt at will power. What the heck. For a buck I'd try anything. I hung around OA for a while back then because it was cheap, you didn't have to stand in a line, they didn't have some skinny little thing weigh you and tell you how she lost 15 big ones by doing such and such. No one tried to sell any products, and they seemed to like me even though I came week after week and continued to gain weight while having all the answers. Heck, I'd spent thousands over the years trying to lick this food thing. I'd rather throw a buck in a basket in a church hall any old day as opposed to paying ten times that much to stand in a line and be lectured and feel embarrassed when I gained weight. And besides, I figured they needed me to buck them up, tell them they could do it if they pushed hard enough.

I didn't mind sitting there at those tables listening to people talk about their powerlessness. Poor things. I didn't mind listening to them talk about how unmanageable they were. Poor things. What they needed was my help getting organized. I was powerful when I got to OA. I was organized and I was manageable. I had all the answers. For a buck, I'd listen to them but I was gonna do it my way. I knew best.

I had great coping skills too. They were firmly in place and they worked for me. When I was tweaked about my weight, I became enraged. Or when I was tweaked about my weight, I made jokes about it. I coped beautifully. And I had food, my best friend, to help me dull every ounce of pain I never felt. I walked around pain, I slid through pain, I ran through pain, but I never stood in it and felt it. Because I had my good friend food to help me not feel pain. And I continued to cope in that same way. I continued to throw a buck in the basket. I continued to do it my way. My way, the controlled eating way.

There came a time when I think that I believed that I surrendered. Well, actually I did not surrender. Surrender is a beautiful thing. What I did was throw my hands up. There's a vast difference. Surrender means not only admitting powerlessness but accepting it to the core. Not necessarily liking it, but admitting the reality of it and moving forward. It means on your knees surrender with the willingness to go to any lengths to get help. I believed that I had surrendered when what I did was throw my hands up and say, "The hell with it, I can't do it my way anymore. Your way is no good either but I'll try it anyway (what the heck, for a buck, it's worth a try, right?".

And for 18 months I did try it. And I lost a lot of weight. I danced around surrender but didn't do it. I talked the talk but couldn't walk the walk. And I continued to walk, slide and run through pain. I didn't stand in it and feel it. I denied. This isn't hell and I'm not hot. I didn't surrender; I gave up. And since I never really surrendered and thus had not really worked the first step I was unable to move to the second step. I did work the first part of the second step. I came. That's as far as i could get. I never really "came to" and I never "came to believe...". Why? Because I had not surrendered. I still believed deep down where I live that I had not pushed hard enough. And I was bad because I lacked willpower.

I did not accept that I have no control over my disease. I admitted it, but I never accepted it. I did not surrender. I simply gave up for a time. And that's why I have relapsed over and over. My way. I believed if I pushed hard enough I could......

I would like to suggest the following questions for your journal writing for this week. You may, as always, answer them on paper for yourself, share with your sponsor or a trusted person, or you may answer them here on the loop. In the alternative, you can ignore these questions entirely, delete this entire share and send this to the cyber trash heap. I'm hoping that you'll answer on the loop because I so need your help with my apparent inability to surrender my will. I hope that you will share your experience, strength and hope with me. I don't need advice. I never listen. I don't need a lecture. I never listen. Hell, if I want advice or a lecture, I'll just go downstairs and ask my husband what I should do about my weight problem.

Instead, please take my hand in yours and gently tell me how you surrendered, how you quit pushing hard enough to do the impossible, how you work this step in your life day after day......Share with my your experience, strength and hope.

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Step One ~ Part 1: Questions

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

  1. Do you ever think that if you could just once lose "this weight" that you could keep it off and that all would be fine in your life?

  2. Name the ways in which you attempted to have control/power over your disease (compulsive overeating, food addiction, or whatever you call it).

  3. Did you ever believe that if you were a better person you could lick this food thing?

  4. Do you view yourself as a victim of an unfair character flaw? Whyyyyyy Meeeeee?

  5. What does surrender mean to you?

  6. What is the difference between surrender and giving up?

Next Week: Admitting and Accepting - what is the difference?

Thank you for letting me share.

Love, Florence

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Step One ~ Part 2

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

Dear Steppers:

Before going in to this week's brief discussion (brevity is a problem for me), I want to thank so many of you who shared so freely during the past week. Please know that your honesty moves me.

Last week I shared with you my relapse and some of my feelings about this lifelong struggle with this disease. Some of you shared your truths and realities too. And it is to this truth and reality we will journal this week.

Admitting is an intellectual function, I think. I can admit that I am wrong. I can apologize for doing wrong. But sometimes the committee in my head meets and says things like "well you may have been wrong for saying such and such but if she hadn't done this, you wouldn't have done that". So for me, admittance has been simply an intellectual struggle. I can admit most anything. Consequences short of death do not deter me. I don't mind admitting things. I admit that I am somewhat judgmental. I admit that I am a compulsive overeater. I admit that I could get more organized, etc. But, ah, accepting, that is quite another matter.

For me, acceptance goes straight from the head to the heart, to the soul, to the gut or wherever it is that I really live. Acceptance requires that I admit and take it a step further by accepting. This calls for action .. on my part. If I don't accept, I can rationalize away. Acceptance is a call to action. Here's an example.

When I have a cold or the flu, I have symptoms. My nose may run, my eyes are watery. I don't like it, but hey, I have to accept that I have an illness. Something is wrong with me at that time and I have to accept that I have this cold and I have to do something about it. Maybe I only have to blow my nose. Maybe I need medication. I am confronted by evidence...the symptoms... that convince me that I am ill and I accept that I am ill or my body will fail me.

It's like that with my illness - compulsive overeating. I have the outward symptoms...extra body weight. But I have other outside and inside symptoms of this disease of compulsive overeating too. Some of those symptoms with which I have to reckon but which are easy to deny because I don't wear them like a red sore nose are: anger, anxiety, obsession (with food), feelings of low self esteem, denial...I needn't go on, I know you understand what the symptoms of my illness are.

By accepting this reality, that I have a disease, I can quit wasting valuable energy trying to fight something over which I am powerless. I can use that energy to get some healing and some recovery by reaching out, by going to meetings, by sharing with a sponsor. But first, I have to accept, not just admit, on that deep gut level down deep where I really live, that I have a disease that has symptoms; some that show, some that don't but I know I have them.

I will share with you that my husband is an alcoholic...a recovering alcoholic. He also suffers from depression. I hate that he is impaired. I love him dearly (married 31 years) but I hate that he has a disease that has hurt him and our family so very much. I do not like that he has these illnesses. But I do accept it. I am not angry about it, he did not choose to be an alcoholic. And I accept that if he could have had it another way would not have chosen to have these illnesses. And so I am not ashamed of his illness, nor is he, because we have accepted it and we have owned it (as well as my half of this family illness) and we can move forward using the energy to work programs that deal with these issues.

Today I know that although I long for life without difficulty, I know and accept in my gut that at times these difficulties are for the purpose of making me better and stronger. Peter Marshall said "When we long for life without...difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure."

Today, by accepting my powerlessness over food, and by accepting that I have a disease (not liking it, just seeing it as my reality), I am able to see that acceptance is a blessing that preserves my energy. Lack of acceptance will not change reality. And today I can see that like an oak, I am just a little stronger for having admitted that I have a disease over which I am powerless and like a diamond, I sparkle just a little more for having withstood these difficulties. And I'm sure you glow a little brighter too for having this difficulty in your life.

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Step One ~ Part 2: Questions

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

  1. What does it mean to admit you are powerless?

  2. What does it mean to accept that you are powerless?

  3. What are the outward symptoms of your disease and what are the internal symptoms of your disease?

  4. Do you accept in your gut, down deep where you really live, that you are powerless over food and that only a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity?

  5. What are the things in your life which are your realities but which you do not like?

  6. Using the list above, think or write about which of those things you admit and which of those things you truly accept as your reality.

  7. Do you understand that pain is a part of life and that having this illness is a part of your life? Do you use your energy to recover from the symptoms of your illness or are you directing your energy toward fighting this illness?

Thanks again to everyone for your honest shares. Know that each one helped me as I continue with my struggle for acceptance, one day at a time.

Love, Florence
A compulsive Overeater who doesn't like it but accepts it as my reality.

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Step One ~ Part 3

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

Dear WTSteppers:

During the last few weeks we've been talking about the key words in this step. We talked the first week about powerlessness and last week we talked about admittance (and it's first cousin, acceptance). This week we're going to discuss unmanageability.

...that our lives had become unmanageable.

Unmanageability is my favorite part of this step. Why? Because I need labels. I need labels for things in order to understand them. I often don't know how I feel. I can't define it in words. I can only say that I have the oogies. The oogies for me are that uncertain feeling in the pit of my stomach that I really can't describe but is closely related to: "I don't know what in the hell is the matter with me, but I know that I'm not quite right". Uncertainty, fear, anxiety. I could give it lots of labels. But none describes the nondescript feeling better than unmanageable. Unmanageable; out of kilter, not serene.

I can be unmanageable physically. I can be unmanageable mentally. I can be unmanageable in my thinking and I can be unmanageable in my actions (or lack thereof). Let me explain.

I tend to be an all or nothing person. Where food is concerned I either eat everything in sight or I starve myself. It is merely a symptom of my particular form of the disease. Either way, I am obsessed with food. It occupies much of my time. It occupies much of my thoughts.

I enjoy a few hobbies. Decorative painting is one. I either don't touch the brush for a month or as today, I painted for ten hours straight. I did the same thing yesterday (which is why this is late I might add).

I enjoy the computer. As a result, I will often sit in my recliner with the keyboard on my lap until the early morning hours. I eventually will fall into bed at 2 a.m. knowing that I have to be up at 6 to face a 9 or 10 hour workday in a stressful environment (law enforcement). Not good.

So what's wrong with being an all or nothing person? What's wrong with my workaholism, my obsession with perfection, my drive to do my job 100%, paint better than others, find the coolest sites on the web? I get unmanageable. I get the oogies. I get disorganized. I get tired. When I get tired my defenses are down. I overeat and I graze. I obsess about things that wouldn't bother me otherwise. I have no sense of time, it drifts by me. My house gets disorganized. I'm late for work. I get behind at work. My kids call me at work and I am annoyed that they have called because I am behind. I'm tired when I come home from work. I have to figure out what to fix for dinner. The dog is barking. The phone rings. My husband is hungry and testy. Yikes. I am unmanageable. I cuss more. I walk faster. I rush. I am anxious. I am in panic mode. I remember that I forgot to call the Dr., I forget to go to the dry cleaner, I forgot to make an appointment. I'm behind at work so I rush and can think of nothing but how behind I am. And my mind races and my body races. Why? I have to trace it back. Because I am tired, and because I am all or nothing kind of person and I stayed up too late and I am now unmanageable. I sit up and paint or sit up on the computer, which makes me tired, etc. etc. etc. In order to become manageable, I have to trace it to its root. I have to figure out why I have the oogies. The purpose of these examples is to show the cycle.

I'm unmanageable because.....let's find out why. Why did I procrastinate? Why did I left something important undone but find time to do something that is not important?

And I have to change the behavior that made me feel oogie. I need to see what are some of the problematic behaviors I have developed which cause my life to become unmanageable. (For me procrastination is 6 feet tall and in neon here. It is at the root of my unmanageability).

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Step One ~ Part 3: Questions

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

  1. What areas of my life are currently unmanageable? What are those things in my life today that feel "out of control" or are causing anxiety? What is causing me stress and causing me to feel not serene?

  2. Rank the things that are unmanageable with the thing that bothers me most at the top and the thing that bothers me least last.

  3. Look at the list of things that are currently unmanageable and define which are those things that you have the ability to change. Which of those things are you unable to change in any way in order to feel or be more manageable? Which are those things that are totally out of your control and you have no ability to do anything to change them or the situation. List three that you can change.

  4. Look at the three areas in which you feel unmanageable and see if you can see where things passed you by - where things went wrong - where things "got out of control". Think back to that time, event, etc. and see if you can figure out what is the cause of this event or action or lack of action. (Suggestion: wasted time watching too much television, procrastinated, spent too much money on things we didn't need, got too tired, got too hungry, etc.) Find the root. Find where things started going downhill in that particular area.

  5. What can you do to change the first three unmanageable situations and make them more manageable. Example: When I paint, I do not fix meals. We eat out. When we eat out, I overeat. When we come home I feel guilty that I overate. When I feel guilty that I overate, I beat myself up and I either isolate or I continue to overeat to soothe my feelings of guilt. What can I do? Set a time limit on painting. If I have to, set an alarm clock and when it goes off, quit. Fix dinner. This will: save me time and money, will not trigger my guilt because I will not overeat, will give me a little time when dinner is cooking to do a few odds and ends of things I would not get done if we go out to eat, etc.....

  6. Do I ever neglect self-care things because I unwisely use my time? (example, wait too long for a haircut, put off a dentist appointment, wait until I have no medication to renew a prescription then run around like a chicken with my head cut off to get the medication before the drug store closes? You get the idea now list them. This is unmanageable behavior. These are the things that show us we are unmanageable.

  7. Do I neglect my responsibilities because I do unmanageable things? (example, have the money in checking but not take the time to write the check which causes a late charge; not return a library book on time which causes a fine, wait so long to return a phone call that I am embarrassed to even call, allow myself to get so low on gasoline that I have to sweat making it to a gas station late at night and don't know where one will be open...you get the idea, these types of things. List them.

  8. Can you see where unmanageability in other areas of your life affect your disease of compulsive overeating? How? Can you see where these other areas bleed over into the very basics of your disease. (Example: went to bed too late because I was on this computer so I don't have time for breakfast and there are fat and sugar combo items at work and I'm hungry so I want them and I either have them or they call my name for hours. How does the round things with fat and sugar calling my name relate to my unmanageability? When I go to bed late, I'm tired. When I'm tired I move more slowly. When I move more slowly, I am late. When I'm late I don't have time for an abstinent breakfast. When I'm hungry the wrong foods call my name. The cycle...can you see the cycle and the connection between other areas of your life and the food. Name one such example.

  9. Finally, list one thing you can do today which will make your life more manageable for today. Just for today. Because today is all we have. What one thing can you change for today that will make you feel more manageable? Then do it for today and evaluate how it made you feel at the end of the day before you answer this question.

My share: It's already too late to go to bed early. So, I plan to start my day with an abstinent breakfast even if it makes me late for work. If I have to, I'll use annual leave and be a half hour late. Just for tomorrow (which will be today by the time I hit send) I will do this one thing. I will take this small step to become manageable for breakfast.

I have shared with you that I am relapse. You have rewarded my honesty with shares that have touched me. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share honestly with you. Before OA, I would have told you my problem was "glandular" or that I didn't understand why I was so heavy what with how active I am and how little I eat. But today, I can be honest with you. I am a compulsive overeater. I am in relapse. thank you for letting me share. I need to say those words so that I can accept them.

Love, Florence


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Step One ~ Part 4

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

In the first weeks of our study of Step One, we talked about powerlessness over food. We talked about admitting we are compulsive overeaters and admitting we are powerless over food and we looked at admitting it versus accepting it.

Then we talked about the concept of leading unmanageable lives and about how tied together this unmanageability can be with our disease. During this, the fourth part, I'd like to continue for a short time with the subject of unmanageability. Then I'd like to discuss how our disease is not understood by others around us who may see us as weak people with no will. And about our powerlessness over other people and what they think and feel about this disease.

Unmanageability:

If we are to work on a program of recovery, and turn our will and our lives over to the care of a Higher Power, are we expected to do nothing, to take no further action, to sit back and let our HP do all the work? Or are we called to action to work a program that will help us to recover from this fatal illness? Are we to surrender and then to work toward a recovery which includes making our lives manageable and lived according to a blueprint that history shows us works; the twelve steps?

If we look at this illness as one that affects us physically, spiritually and mentally then it is imperative that we become manageable in all of these areas of our lives. We cannot ignore bringing manageability and order to our lives if we are to bring about recovery from this disease. To this end, [at the close of this share] are some questions to answer (to the group, to your sponsor, to yourself in your head or on paper) and perhaps to take action upon. By simply taking this mini-inventory of items which can serve to make life more manageable, we are taking a large step toward manageability.

Powerless Over Food - Powerless over our Disease - Powerless over Others

This subject is very emotional for me and I hope that I can express myself in a way that you will understand even if it has not been your experience. It is my hope that if you cannot identify with my experiences, that you can identify with my feelings.

I'd like to preface this portion of my sharing by saying that having lived with an alcoholic (now recovering and I have his permission regarding his anonymity) I understand the anger, frustration, and hurt of watching someone killing themselves with the disease of alcoholism. Yet I never saw that I too have a fatal disease - compulsive overeating. Today I can compare many of the things I did to try to control his drinking to what others did to prevent me from eating. I have, through my recovery in another 12-step program, forgiven myself for my appalling ignorance of his disease. So too, I must forgive others for their ignorance of my disease. The steps teach me so.

Many of my experiences are newly remembered. Many feel disloyal to remember. I need to remember these experiences and accept them as the reactions of others to my disease (their role in my disease) and not with anger.

  1. From the time I was a young child, my parents ate sweets and treats in front of me and I was denied them because I was a chubby kid. From the time I was 8 years old and was an issue at every meal that my family had together.

  2. My Mother told me that if I kept eating she would have to take me to Omar the Tent Maker - big laugh to the family. Very hurtful to a child with no emotional safe place; not school, not church, not Girl Scouts...always, everywhere, it was about how chubby this little girl was. I learned that I was not emotionally safe anywhere and at 8 - 10 I began to sneak food, lie about food, hide food. By making it a large issue, I felt unloved and soothed the hurt feelings with food. The more I ate, the more they said, the more they said, the more I ate.

  3. As a teenager, when I would place food on my plate my father would oink like a pig. In later life he was to tell me that someone had to make me ashamed so that I would stop eating.

  4. As a teenager, I was denied spending money or an allowance because they knew I would spend it on food. Thus, I never had any money and could never go places that others could go. I stole money from my mother's purse and pockets to buy food every chance I got to be away from the house and near a store of any kind.

  5. Two weeks before I got married, my mother made a comment about how large my wedding gown was (size 18 or 20) and said that she'd hoped that I would have been able to get married looking more like his wife than his mother.

  6. One Thanksgiving, while in my 30's, dinner was spoiled for me and for my husband when my father watched my plate and commented several times loudly that I was "digging my grave with my teeth". My children would later tell me that they cried for many nights in their beds because they believed that I was going to die and they didn't know what they would do or where they would live.

  7. When my youngest daughter was in second grade she brought home a mother's day card which she made in school. It was the typical roses are red verse and at the bottom it said "some kids say that you are fat, but I hit them". I sobbed for days after having read that. When she was very little, she would pat me and say "you're not fat, Mommy" out of the clear blue sky. As a small child, she knew something was terribly wrong.

My husband never mentioned my eating or my weight. I was unmerciful with my reaction to his alcoholism. While successfully dieting once (meaning losing weight rapidly) I asked him if my weight ever bothered him or affected our sex life. He just said "well it would be better for your health". The end. No other discussion ever of my weight. Talk about the elephant in the living room. (No elephant pun intended, only the analogy). Even today he will not or cannot discuss it. He says that he cannot tell me what to do; he has a terrible illness of his own to battle and that only working a 12-Step program has brought him sanity. He understands that my disease is an addiction, a compulsion; whatever you choose to call it, it is a disease over which I am powerless by myself. Today because of this man I have a safe place. My home is emotionally safe. Even during the worst of his alcoholism, my home was not a mean place about my disease.

Those that hurt me did not understand that I was powerless. They did not understand that I could not control this illness. I did not understand that I was powerless. I did not understand that I could not control my way thin. I did not understand that it was not a fat or thin issue.

I did not understand, I did not admit, I did not accept that I have a disease which can be fatal if left untreated. Today I do. Today thanks to my program and to my higher power, I understand.

Today I also know that I am powerless over other people, places and things. I cannot control how someone views me because of my disease. Today when I hear disparaging remarks about overweight people being "pigs" "gluttons", etc., (as I have in my office when referring to another person who works in our building) I renew my commitment to my powerlessness and feel no anger. I was ignorant of this disease too and I had this disease. How could those who stand in judgment know it is a disease.

Today I know that well-meaning people believed they could shame me into not eating. Today I know that I cannot recover from this disease by myself and that it is so powerful that only a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. Today I practice the twelve steps in all areas of my life, including how others view my illness.

But for today, I can become manageable. For today, I can surrender. For today, knowing that I have an illness, knowing that the twelve steps are a blueprint for recovery, I can take the steps suggested by the questions above, and I can work this program of recovery for me...not so that I will be thin so that others will view me as "normal" but for me because I want to recover from this disease which affects me physically, mentally and spiritually.

This has been difficult for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with me. I continue to be in relapse. I work an honest program. And even in relapse, I work the twelve steps. If I continue to do that there is hope. If I write off the twelve steps because I am not abstinent, there is no hope.

Love, Florence


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Step One ~ Part 4: Questions

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

  1. Do I care enough about myself to make my physical well-being my priority?

  2. Do I eat regular meals according to my abstinence as I have defined it?

  3. Do I get enough sleep?

  4. When was the last time I went to a dentist or doctor for a check up?

  5. Do I keep myself clean, neat, nicely dressed and is my general appearance a priority? Do I understand how these contribute to my self-esteem?

  6. Do I take breaks from physical work or mental work in order to rest my body, my eyes, my mind?

  7. Do I ask for a hug when I need one?

  8. Am I growing more aware of my inner feelings and am I more becoming more willing to explore them and express them?

  9. Do I have a sponsor and do I regularly attend meetings to aid in my recovery?

  10. Do I celebrate my successes and do I take time to enjoy myself; to do good things for myself?

  11. Is any of the time and attention I once gave to food-seeking and to self pity used to focus on my recovery? On my gratitude? On positive thinking and acting?

  12. Do I have a relationship with a power greater than myself or am I willing to give it a try?

  13. Do I make time to read my literature and to meditate daily?

  14. Do I thoroughly work the first step by applying the concept of powerlessness to other people, places and things, understanding that I am the only thing I can change?

By simply taking this mini-inventory of items which can serve to make life more manageable, we are taking a large step toward manageability.


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Step One ~ Closing

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

Dear Steppers:

I just wanted to post one last note to thank so many of you for sharing so honestly and so willingly. Living the 12-Step way is a marvelous blueprint for me. Some of us are just great at life. Not me. I need a blueprint. I need a manual. I need directions. I need an example. I need a way that looks good to me. When I saw it,(the 12-step way of life, I knew it... I knew it was for me. I said, "yup. That way of life right there, the 12-step way, that's what I'm looking for". And I grabbed onto it with both hands and I took hold of it and I decided that I would "work it" and make it my way to live. And whether I am in relapse or not, today I am more serene than I ever dreamed I possible. Relapse or not, I am a 12-step success. I am a 12-step miracle. Because this program is about porgies not perfection. And I know that I make progress each day.

I love reading the divergent opinions and experiences in this loop. There are those who say that it is really simple. You just admit your powerless and unmanageability and go from there. Your HP steps in and whamo, you are abstinent and a changed person. Yup, easy they say. You don't gotta do nothin', just admit this stuff. You get to do stuff later.

My HP apparently has other ideas for me. I didn't get the lightening bolt that I had ordered. I didn't get instant understanding. Maybe I'm from Missouri (would you believe New Jersey?), I need for him (through you) to Show Me. You can tell me I am powerless. That's nice. You can tell me that I am unmanageable. I'll probably be thinking, mind your own damn business. That doesn't work for me.

I believe that I need to be shown. I need to be shown how and why I am powerless. I need to talk about it. I need to be cited examples. If I get in a cycle where I am late for work for a week, my sponsor tells me, Girl, you are getting unmanageable. That I can grasp. Because my sponsor does more for me that worry about what I put in my mouth. She is about helping me to live, one day at a time, in a way that will make my life manageable and serene and joyful one day at a time (sometimes I have to break it down to an hour or a minute at a time).

I need for you to tell me how you found out you were powerless. I need to be shown that being unmanageable is about more than the food. It is about my WHOLE life. Caused by the obsession to eat, but encasing my whole life. I couldn't get, at first, what being late, and forgetting obligations and not being responsible had to do with the food, with the disease of compulsive overeating.

Today I know that if I start thinking that everything in life is only about the food, I am missing the point of the entire Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (from whence we came). To think that only my food addiction really matters is to be in denial as to my life as a whole. The founders of AA knew that if a person merely stopped drinking and did not study these steps and CHANGE themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually, their sobriety did not matter. If we apply those same principles, than a person who stops eating compulsively but who does not study and live the steps and grow in other ways, would also not be having emotional sobriety.

That is why we study these steps. That is why we talk about them. That is why we don't just take a line of print in a book and turn our lives around with it. If you can do that, I applaud you. But for me, I need to be lovingly taught. I need to be lovingly shown. I need some examples. I need to compare. I need to see and hear someone else's experience. I need to hear your pain. I need to hear your joy. I need to see success which validates, yes, I am powerless. Yes, my life has become unmanageable. And that's where I believe this loop has value.

I got a couple of tsk tsk emails during this month. Nothing hurtful or hateful. Just opinions. And I don't mind. For today I know that I am powerless over what others think. I am powerless over other people. And if I get into someone else's stuff, I can't do for me what I need to do, and that is work the steps for me and keep moving forward. Because this disease can only be fought and won by me and my HP. What you think of me or how I work my program, won't change my life tomorrow.

When I first started f2f OA meetings there were a folks I envied. They had years of abstinence. They had what I thought I wanted. They were thin. But the longer I stuck around, the longer I realized that many of them who had long term abstinence had what some of my AA friends called the dry drunks. They weren't eating compulsively, but they were not growing mentally and spiritually. Some were actually quite mean and judgmental. This is simple, they would say. You just turn it over and whamo your Higher Power steps in and you are abstinent. How come YOU can't do that???? Goody for them. But their HP musta been otherwise engaged when they were assigning HP's, cuz mine has not seen to it to hand it to me so easily. My obsession with food was not instantly lifted.

Today my spiritual and mental growth is tip top. I can gain physical recovery but if I do not care for my spirit, I have gained nothing. I believe that if I can grow spiritually and mentally, that it is impossible for my physical recovery to not follow. I sometimes wish that I could dictate the timetable on which I think HP should hand over this physical recovery. But today I must thank him for giving me my soul. I must thank him for teaching me what living a kind and loving life, free of trying to control how others think and feel and live, and today I know, I know in the depths of the soul that he has returned to me, that I will someday have that physical recovery.

Thank you to those of you who do not have all the answers. It validates me. Thank you to those of you who do not think you truly have the key to the secrets of life. It validates me. Thank you, each of you, who read and feel and take the time to tell others how you feel, how it is and was for you, and step out there, putting yourself and your feelings on the line for folks like me who not only don't have the answers but who sometimes don't even know what the questions are (grin).

January, 1997 has been a real growth experience for me and I thank each one of you who made that possible just by being here.

Love,
Florence


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