Step Two

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

Step Two 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



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Step Two ~ Introduction

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

Hello Loop Family,

I am Beth M., a compulsive overeater and your step leader for step two this month. Thank you to Linda who started off this year with fabulous a Step One discussion.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to lead this step. When I first found this loop last April, I knew something really special was happening for me. I started reading the archives on Step One, and what other people had written mirrored my thoughts so closely that I was amazed. I had never heard someone else think and act the same way as I did, not just with food, but with so many other areas of my life. Then I started reading Step Two, and I just didn't get it. I didn't understand how a Higher Power could help me lose weight, and if HP could, why hadn't that happened already?

Even though I didn't understand what this step was about, I was intrigued with OA, and went to a meeting and bought "The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of OA" and started reading some more about the steps. While I was reading Step Two, the message that I kept reading was that I needed to revamp my image of my HP. I really liked this, because though I have a religion that I practice, I always felt gulity because I didn't agree with all the tenets of that faith. And I wondered if I was wrong to pick and choose only the parts that I liked. But the12 Steps said that I could develop an HP that is exactly what I envision, and that was not only ok, but essential to the program. That felt so freeing to me. I was able to continue working on the steps and work the OA program. Since that time, I have achieved abstinence and given up over 90 lbs. More importantly, I feel a real balance in my life between my emotions, my spirituality and my physical body. Every day that I work this program I feel like I am becoming more and more the person that I'm truly meant to be. And for me, this all hinged on being able to take this second step. I already knew I was powerless over food and my life was unmanageable, but I didn't know how to fix it. Step Two gave me hope, and that's why I keep coming back.

Love,
Beth


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Step Two ~ Part 1

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

Hello Loop Family,

CAME TO BELIEVE

That a Power
Greater than ourselves
Could Restore us To Sanity
The first part of Step Two that I would like to discuss is "Came to Believe..".

After trying many different diets and trying many times, without success, to lose the weight, I had given up all hope that I would ever be able to lose weight. I had resigned myself to being overweight. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I kept thinking "someday, when I'm ready, I'll lose the weight" but I also knew I would never be able to do it. At 28, I weighed 276, and really felt like my life was basically over and I was just plugging along, eating and getting by. I knew something was really missing from my life, but I thought that was because of the weight. I believed that when/if I was thin, my life would be perfect.

When I first joined OA, I didn't really believe it could help--and I was afraid to hope. After all the failures, I felt like this was my last shot. If this didn't work, there really was nothing else I could do. But I didn't see how just praying could be the difference between losing weight or overeating. I believed in God and had prayed many times for help, but it never had worked, so I wasn't buying it. However, because I was desperate, I did the only thing I could do--I came to meetings. That was a very hard thing for me. I remember sitting in the parking lot before meetings, waiting until the meeting was about to start, because I didn't want to go in there too early and have to talk to people or sit there by myself. I wanted to be able to walk in as it was starting, and then I would leave as quickly as I could get away. The days that I was planning on going to meetings, all day I would have to argue with myself about going, and often it just came down to getting in the car and just going. In the beginning, that's really all I could commit to myself. I wasn't ready to believe, but I could come and listen.

Each time I went to the meetings, I would feel so connected afterward. I had this great feeling that stayed with me for a good while. Sometimes the feeling would last days, other times it would be shorter, but it was always there. And each time I went to a meeting, or shared something with the loop and received responses, that feeling would come back. At the same time, I was trying to form abstinence. At the time, I think I was more in the diet mode than abstinence, but it was a start--and when I wanted to eat, I would say the serenity prayer, or say "God--I can't worry about this food right now, so you take this for me." My first trip to the grocery store when I was trying to buy only healthy foods was almost comical..I would pass certain aisles that had been my mainstay, I would get this feeling of panic, and I would say out loud "ok God, I can't deal with this aisle, so you have to take that one on..I can't worry about it right now". Even as I said all this stuff, I didn't really believe it was going to help, but people told me to try it..to "Act as if" it would work. The amazing thing, was that it did. Each time I did that, I was able to stay away from the food. But I still wasn't sure if I believed the solution to my problem was spiritual. I still, deep in my heart, believed that the problem was food, plain and simple.

As I continued to go to meetiings and participate on the loop though, I started reading and hearing other people talking about their Higher Powers, and various spiritual experiences in their lives, and I started, slowly, to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, the spiritual nature of all this stuff was maybe, the answer. I mean, even though I wasn't sure about it, it did seem to be working for me, and others really believed it was working for them. So I continued to try..and the more I tried, the more I was able to see the results for me in how I felt about life.

Very slowly, I came to believe. I wasn't sure what I believed in yet--I still needed to really look at how I defined my Higher Power, but for me personally, I couldn't have done that, unless I was starting to believe that the spiritual nature of this program was the answer. I had to open up my mind to that possibility, and at least "act as if" I believed it was the answer. Now, I realize that the only answer for me, is spiritual fitness. When I stop talking to my Higher Power, that's when the rest of my life, including the food becomes a challenge. When I am strong in my relationship with my HP, then the rest of my life runs smoothly, even through difficult events. But all of this would not have come about for me, if I hadn't been willing to try to believe. That was the key, for me, to getting started.

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Step Two ~ Part 1: Questions

"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."
  1. How willing have you been to accept that this is a spiritual program? Do you find your focus based on the spiritual portion, or are you focused more on the food?
  2. If you haven't believed fully in the spiritual nature of the program, are you willing to "Act as if?" In what ways?
  3. What actions do you take to foster/build spirituality into your life?
  4. If you have struggled with the spiritual nature of this program, what things did you do, or are you willing to do to try and move forward?

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Step Two ~ Part 2

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

Hello Loop Family,

Came To Believe

THAT A POWER
Greater than ourselves
Could Restore us To Sanity
A large part of taking step two is defining a Higher Power. The Big Book says on p. 45-46,
"Some of us have been violently anti-religious. To others, the word "God" brought up a particular idea of Him with which someone had tried to impress them during childhood. Perhaps we rejected this particular conception because it seemed inadequate...we look upon this world of warring individuals, warring theological systems, and inexplicable calamity, with deep skepticism."...."We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power.."
When I looked at this step, I first thought "oh no..someone is going to try and push religion on me." I was skeptical and suspicious. I did believe in "God", but it was through the religion of my upbringing, and I really felt that God of my religion was very far/distant from me. However, the foundation of our twelve steps is spiritual, not religious. We are invited and encouraged to define our own Higher Power. As I tried to work on this step, I thought I didn't have any problems with believing in a Power. I believed in God, so I figured I was finished working on that part of the step. However, I often found an unwillingness to pray or meditate. I can remember going through a week fighting tooth and nail not to eat compulsively. When I was talking to my sponsor about it, she said "have you asked your higher power for help?" I didn't know what to say...because I hadn't. And I didn't know why. This kept happening, too. Each time I was struggling, she would ask me the same thing, and my answer was always "no". Finally, I realized that my problem was that I hadn't really defined my Higher Power as I see it. I was still using my idea of "God" from my upbringing. The problem was that in my conception of God, I saw God as TOO big of a "power" to worry about helping me through my daily problems. I didn't have a Higher Power that I could relate to and have a relationship with. That's when I had to re-evaluate my beliefs, and develop a Higher Power that was what I needed, not what my religion had told me was out there. I needed to personalize my Higher Power.

I started with thinking about how I felt at meetings and after meetings. There is always this feeling of warmth inside me, like a spark that glows brighter. It was easy for me to think about that feeling and believe that maybe that was my Higher Power with me. I wrote out what I traits I believed my Higher Power should/did have. For me, my HP is full of love and care for me. My HP is always with me, whether I am in touch with HP or not. My HP is also full of laughter. My HP doesn't get care about the "right" way or wrong way for me to talk to my HP. I don't have to be on my knees, or in a church, or serious---I can get angry with my HP, and its ok. My HP gives me comfort, support, care. My HP will also give me guidance, if I ask for it and trust. Even if I don't, my HP will still be there for me, always.

I still have trouble being willing to talk to my HP and work on the relationship, and I think its because I still get stuck sometimes with the overall concept of all the different faiths and religions and things that happen in the world. For me, sometimes, that is too overwhelming of a thought, to think of a Power directing the universe, and this causes me to start thinking again "why would my HP help me with this when all that stuff is happening out there?" But in my heart, I do believe in my concept of my HP and I trust my HP, so I try not to figure out how everyone else's Higher Power works for them.

The thing I love most about this program, is the openness regarding this portion of the step. It doesn't matter if my HP is like anyone else's--there is no "right" answer. We each define our own Higher Power that works for us, and that openness is what allows me to continue to work the spiritual part of this program one day at a time.

With love,
Beth M.

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Step Two ~ Part 2: Questions

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

  1. What is your description of your Higher Power?

  2. What do you believe you need most or receive from your Higher Power?

  3. Have there been times when you have struggled with defining your Higher Power? How are you or did you deal with those times?

  4. How does your definition of your HP now differ from whatever Higher Power you believed in growing up?

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Step Two ~ Part 3

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

Hello {{{Loop Family}}},

I am Beth M., a compulsive overeater. I am so glad to be writing this month--each week I discover more and more about myself through this step. Thank you for being here and sharing.

Came To Believe

That a Power
GREATER THAN OURSELVES
Could Restore us To Sanity
In the OA 12x12, p. 13, it says "...OA doesn't tell us we have to believe in God--only that a power greater than ourselves could restores us to sanity.". When I first struggled with Step Two, it was the Higher Power that I was focused on trying to come to terms with. However, there was another part of this step that I didn't accept for a long time, and that is the "greater than ourselves" part. I never thought that I had a very big ego--in fact I spent much of my life feeling "less than" every one else. In social settings, I often felt other people looked prettier, thinner, more attractive than me. I thought they were funnier, more at ease, friendlier, accepted more quickly, etc. So when I got to this step, I didn't even think about the "greater than ourselves" part, because I thought that was no problem for me.

My actions contradicted my thoughts about being "less than" others. At work, I always felt overloaded. I felt like I had more work than everyone else, and I did, because I never said "no". In fact, I often would decline help because really, I didn't think anyone else could do it as well, much less "greater than myself". And I wouldn't say no, because I knew I could do the work and a part of me really liked being involved in all these different things. I felt important. I was my own higher power--I could do it all--handle everything--didn't need any help with anything. At home or with friends, I would never ask for help, and felt awkward receiving help. If I had to ask for help, then perhaps I wasn't so strong--perhaps I couldn't handle things.

I also made other people my higher power. My parents, my boss, my friends--whatever they wanted was fine. My wishes didn't really matter as long as they were happy. I was a martyr "look at all I do for them...I am such a good person". But I was full of resentments and felt terrible. And of course, at the same time, my life felt unmanageable, and so when I couldn't give myself what I needed, I would escape in the food. When I was stressed, I ate. When I was too busy, I ate. When I was overloaded, I procrastinated, and ate. When I needed help, I ate. I turned to food looking for love, comfort, friendship, acceptance and to numb out. Food became my other higher power, and was for years. But it was a false Higher Power--because it never really gave me any of those things. All it gave me was the numbness, the escape. And I escaped for years of my life, never really developing as a person--just increasing my clothes size.

When I started working the Twelve Steps, and became abstinent for the first time, I felt wonderful. I was starting to learn how to say "no", how to take care of myself better, how to let go some of that need to please everyone. And becoming willing to turn things over to my Higher Power helped me do that. I thought I had worked through the first two steps and was on step three--and things were going great. I was losing weight, I wasn't overeating, I was much happier. But after about six months, I started playing around with my food. And I wasn't praying much, or writing much. I also wasn't working as much with my sponsor. I still went to meetings quite a bit--and I loved it. Everyone told me how great I looked, people asked me how I did it, they asked me for my experiences--I felt like an OA "star" and I basked in it. Because I really believed that *I* had done all this. I was so proud--my ego was growing for every pound I lost. And of course..it eventually led to me breaking my abstinence and going through a relapse.

In reality, my first step two had been "came to believe that a Power could restore me to sanity". The "greater than ourselves" was missing for me. And so really, deep down, I thought "well, yes, there is a Power that can restore me to sanity, but I also can do it.---I have done it". But it wasn't me who did it. When I first began, I was really trying to follow the steps, but as I went along, I started thinking that I was the one who had brought about all this success. And as soon as I started believing that, I was making myself my own Higher Power again. I was believing that my HP I had developed was powerful--but only AS powerful as I was. And I ended up binging, and going through a really tough period trying to get back to a stable program. I have discovered that when I make myself my own Higher Power, then I want the food to help me escape that pressure. But when I accept that only a Power GREATER than myself can restore me to sanity, then I remember that I am not in it alone--and that pressure is eased. I also become more willing to work on my relationship with my HP. I pray more, meditate, journal, and those things all help to keep me sane.

I am so grateful that my HP is greater than me--but I always have to remind myself of that often, because it is easy for me to fall prey to my ego. I know that I can not restore myself to sanity...if I could, I would have done so years ago. Only a power greater than myself can do that--and only if I am open and willing to accept that help.

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Step Two ~ Part 3: Questions

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

  1. Discuss any ways you have made yourself your "higher power" in the past.

  2. Have you made food your higher power in the past? If so, how?

  3. Describe any other "false" higher powers you may have had.

  4. Do you believe your current HP will provide you with the things you sought from the powers you listed above?

    With love,
    Beth M.

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Step Two ~ Part 4

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

Hello {{{Loop Family}}},

I am Beth M., a compulsive overeater, and your grateful step leader for February. Before we look at the last area of this step, I just wanted to tell you how helpful this has been to me. This is the first time I have ever led a step, and I really didn't know if I was "qualified"--I haven't been here very long. I do know that I really really didn't want to write on this step, because I knew it would be a tough one for me to really look at--and it has been. But because I have had to look at Step Two, I feel like I've gotten a lot out of it, and for that I am very grateful--so thank you for the opportunity! And now..on to Step Two:

Came To Believe

That a Power
Greater than Ourselves
COULD RESTORE US TO SANITY
The OA 12x12 begins this step with a discussion on the insanity of our disease. It says "When we look with complete honesty at our lives, we see that where eating is concerned we have acted in an extremely irrational and self-destructive manner. Under the compulsion to overeat, many of us have done things no sane person would think of doing." I know that this was very true for me. Even at an early age, I hid my eating habits. I would hide food containers and wrappers under my mattress so that my parents wouldn't know what I ate. When my mom found them, and asked me "why?" I never had an answer...I didn't know, and honestly I still don't really know. I do know that for me, I ate in secret, and I isolated myself so that I could eat secretly. In high school, at home, I would stash food wrappers and eventually try and throw them out in a public trash can--not the ones at our house. I would buy carry-out food, eat in my car, and then litter with the containers so that there wouldn't be evidence of the food in my car. In college, I would leave parties where there was food, so that I could go home and eat and no one would know. I can remember a Saturday class that I dropped, but for several weeks, I kept pretending I was going, so that I could go get food during that time that the class was in session. After college, when I started living alone, I would order a lot of food in, but always thought about where I was ordering food from, because I didn't want to order from one place too often--they might figure out how much I was eating. I can also remember ordering huge amounts of food, and then when the delivery person came to the door, I would pretend there was someone else inside the house--I would yell for an imaginary person to come help me get the food, and then pretend he/she must not have heard me. I didn't want the delivery person to know all that food was for me. I also used to go to different convenient stores in the same night buying food, so that no one store would see how much I bought. I live in a very large city---it's not like a small town where people might actually notice--but I really believed everyone would know if I wasn't careful. And of course, at the same time, I was continuing to gain weight--so people did know I was eating. But I completely avoided that fact, and just continued my secretive habits.

I can't tell you how many times, in the midst of a huge binge, I became so disgusted with myself that I threw away the remainder of the food in the trash---and then an hour later, pulled it back out and ate the rest of it. Even writing this, I can feel the shame that I felt doing it, but it didn't stop me. I often ate canned foods straight from the can at room temperature because I didn't want to take the time to cook and then eat from a plate. If I was fixing food and I dropped some on the floor, I almost always ate it anyway, even if I had plenty of food I didn't drop. It didn't matter--I still had to eat that one little piece that fell.

In the later (more recent) years, as my disease really progressed, I became even less social. I wouldn't go out with friends, using the excuse in my mind that I didn't want to be out with them because I was so fat. But really, I didn't want to go out with them because it interrupted my eating patterns. I preferred to stay home, eat and numb out. Then, when I would accept invitations to go out with friends or go to dinner at someone's house, I would eat a huge meal before hand, feel stuffed when I got there, eat "normally" there, then come home and eat some more. Even with all that food in me when I arrived, I always felt a little panicky that they wouldn't have enough food, and I would obsess about any leftovers they might have, because I wanted them.

And yet...if someone had told me that I was acting insanely about food, I wouldn't have agreed. I didn't see it---I avoided looking honestly at what I was doing, and didn't think I was "insane". I just sectioned off each part of my life, and I told myself that each moment that I was doing those food things, was the "one last time" before I stopped eating. But after a while, I knew it wasn't. I knew I would never stop, and I thought I would die from eating. At 28, I weighed 276 pounds, with no end in sight to the weight gain. I had been well into the 200+ pounds for probably 6 years, and by that time, had given up. Since I couldn't stop, I figured I might as well enjoy it while I could, and I continued my irrational, insane behavior.

Thankfully, there was a way out--a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. Once I heard other people tell how they had acted insanely, I had to admit that my actions certainly weren't "normal"...why else did I hide them and why was I so ashamed of them? I could see that I had acted insanely with food. But a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. There was an answer. I wasn't really sure at the time what that Power was, or HOW It would restore me to sanity, but the step said that's what could happen, and I was ready to grasp at anything.

I still act insanely about food at times--the compulsion is not always lifted. I still sometimes obsess about what I'm going to eat and when. I still tend to want to undereat around others, or explain why I'm eating something if I'm eating more than someone else. And believe it or not, I still sometimes find myself taking empty food containers out to my trash outside, rather than putting them in the kitchen trash where others could see it. This is especially strange to me since I don't have reason to be ashamed over what I ate--AND--no one else is going to see my trash anyway because I still live alone! Those kind of urges remind me that I have a disease and always will. I simply try to deal with those insane feelings each time it happens. I have a plan of eating that I follow, and I trust it, so when those feelings come up, I acknowledge them as "insane" feelings, and just try to continue along my plan. I also try to build my relationship with my HP so that I am more spiritually fit. When I am having a good relationship with my HP, the "insane" thoughts or urges are very infrequent, because the compulsion to overeat is relieved more often. I am SO grateful for this. I am so grateful that the constant insanity is not a part of my daily life today. I am so grateful that my HP could and does restore me to sanity each day.

With love,
Beth M.

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Step Two ~ Part 4: Questions

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

  1. How have you acted insanely with food in the past?

  2. If you have experienced or are experiencing freedom from compulsive overeating, what insane thoughts or urges do you still struggle with from time to time?

  3. Discuss any other areas in your life you feel you have acted insanely.

  4. What steps do you take or are you willing to take if you are faced with the urge to engage in "insane" behaviors?

  5. Do you believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity? If you're not sure yet, what actions will you take to help your belief/understanding of this step?

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