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."





Dear WTS Family,

Hello and Welcome!  I am pleased and excited to be your leader for the next
step ~ Step Two~ in our Step Study Series.  Thank you Eleanor for starting
us off so well!

If I may begin with a little bit about myself...

My story is a long one and it would be impossible to give it to you all in one letter, nor do I believe you would want it!  My history with food addiction can be traced back to age four but there were many issues before that time that contributed to it. I have always had poor self-esteem, bad body image and a tendency to be introverted and isolating. But food addiction and eating disorders are merely the icing on top of a multi-layered cake, merely symptoms of a greater disease. I grew up in a dysfunctional family, in a poor neighborhood, with little money or material possessions. Food was limited, scarce, highly coveted. It was a perfect set up for me.

I have obsessed on my body and weight since about age 6 or seven, never
hugely overweight until in my 30's, but never comfortable where I was
either,even at my most anorexic. I have lived in and out of food addiction
all my life, often switching addictions for months or years at a time.
Sometimes they were healthy (though compulsive), most of the time they were not.  At times the food has been over-shadowed by these other addictions:  money, sex, shopping, love and relationships, work, music, exercise, day-dreaming, plus any number of hobbies and interests that flamed brightly for a time only to fade to a whisper.

I have had periods of freedom from this disease and periods of  tremendous
lows. My life has ranged from the terrifying control of anorexia and bulimia to the out of control horror of binging and non-stop overeating, as well as everything in between. This path eventually led to obesity some 3 years ago. I have tried every diet and diet program imaginable. I have over-exercised. I have restricted. I have hidden food, stolen food, hoarded food, stolen money for food. I have planned binges, I have starved myself. There was no relief in sight.

I first joined OA in 1992, just after my anorexic period had come to an end. I had gained weight with my first child, a lot of it, and knew I needed help. So I came in to program once again looking for a way to lose weight. To hell with God or surrender, just get the weight off.  I wanted to be thin and sexy and beautiful. I wanted men to notice me. I wanted my husband to love me. I wanted to like myself. I thought being skinny would do all this and more for me. I dove in and immediately got involved in service, long before I was ready. I acted as if, I played the game, I went through the rituals and procedures, I said the right things. But it was all self-will,  false pride, and dishonesty. Naturally, they were my downfall and half a year later I was out of program and living in the problem, again.

Life continued as before, growing increasingly unmanageable each year. My
career was successful, my husband was successful, my kids had the right
friends, the right school, the right dance and gymnastic classes, the right
possessions. But I was miserable and the weight, for the first time in my life, began to really add up. My first pregnancy saw a weight gain of 50 pounds, my second a gain of 30 pounds. My marriage was falling apart and work was not fun any more, just work. My life was so busy and and over-planned that I had no time to stop and breath. I could not take care of myself. Neither could I take care of my marriage and children.  Food was my comfort and solace, it was my husband and lover, it was my best friend and higher power. It was bad company all around.

This summer, and after much turmoil and pain, my husband and I  separated after 10 years of marriage and we are getting divorced. I moved to New Mexico in July of 1998 and through the help of a good friend, rediscovered OA. I then discovered these loops and I knew it was time, my time, time for Ivanna to take care of herself once and for all. I began to attend OA meetings and through them discovered CoDA meetings and Al-Anon meetings. I am deeply committed to the 12 steps and this program and so grateful that God sent me here and gave me this time. It has been hard and painful, as many lessons are, but I am grateful for it because it has brought about a change in my life that I would not have known otherwise.

Tomorrow, I will post my first series of questions for Step Two. I have no
idea what I will say or what I will ask but I am leaving that in God's hands. I look forward to working this step right along side all of you and hope that my service here will help you find your path to recovery.

Until tomorrow.

In OA Love,
Ivanna

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Step Two ~ Part 1

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






Dear WTS Members,

My name is Ivanna and I am a recovering compulsive overeater and bulimic. I could also add about a half dozen other addictions/compulsions to that
ominous title but they will perhaps become clear during the course of this
month anyway. I am happy to be able to lead you this month through the
second step and look forward to your sharing. I will be dividing this step
into four parts; Insanity with Food, Insanity with Life, Finding our Belief
System, and Defining our Higher Power.

Please remember that only answers to the step questions themselves should
be sent to WTS. Any private sharing that you would like to do, either to me
or other members of the loop, should be sent to private email addresses
only and not to the loop as a whole.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~  STEP TWO ~

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

When I first read this step, some 6 years ago, the first thing that jumped
out at me was the word insanity. I completely by-passed the parts about
"came to believe" and "power greater than ourselves". I knew these would be hard and I didn't want to think about that yet.  Living in my disease as I
was at that time, my first reaction was defensiveness.  "Excuse ME!",
shouted my twisted, uncomprehending psyche, "but I am NOT insane!" I can joke about it now but this was a very hard step for me. Step two, like step one, is a step that has to do with Acceptance. All the other steps require
some sort of action from us, physically and/or intellectually, and this I could at least understand, if not apply. But this step baffled me because it meant that I had to change a mental construct, a way of thinking and acting on life. It also meant that I had to dig further into the mire of my compulsive past, look my disease squarely in the eye, and accept the awful truth of my behavior. I had to look at my insanity.

At first it seemed very easy.  I had already done much of that in my first step inventory. I began to list once again all the nasty things I had done for the love of my addiction: hiding, hoarding, and stealing food, stealing money for food, lied about what I had eaten, eaten until I was sick, forced myself to purge, starved myself, went on dangerous diets, overexercised, ate in the car nearly killing myself and others, isolated or hidden myself in order to binge, eaten off the floor, out of the garbage, while washing dishes, off of other people's plates, disfigured myself: mind, body and soul, damaged my relationships, destroyed my health, denied myself a social life, abused my loved ones.  I wrote it out grudgingly and quickly, a list similar to what I have just done, and was soon finished.  I looked at it, checked it for thoroughness, and paused, briefly. I did experience a momentary tweak of conscience, a very soft whisper of something unintelligible, but true to form I ignored God's voice and simply sat back, feeling very satisfied that I had gotten this most tedious task out of the way.

I recently looked over that list, this time from the perspective of one who is a little more recovered, a little less out of her addictions, and for the first time saw some words that made me cringe. They were easy to see, since they were listed rather than wrapped up in long, lengthy discourse.  They popped right out at me:  "lying, stealing, purged, binged, danger, kill, starved, garbage, sick, disfigured, damaged, denied, abused."  There were others as well. My pause was considerably longer this time. These were hard and horrible words, mean, cruel, immoral, unethical words. Was this really me? Did these words have anything to do with me? These were words for evil people, mean people, nasty-cruel-bad people, criminals  and irresponsible, insensitive people.  Surely this didn't relate to me, right?

Needless to say, it finally sunk in. I had seen my insanity.

Thanks for listening.

In OA Love,
Ivanna
 
 

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Step Two ~ Part 1: Questions

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







"Insanity with Food"

1) My disease is dangerous and destructive to myself and others. How have I
acted in irrational, irresponsible and/or  insane ways when it comes to
food?  Be specific.
 

2) My disease creates in me a desire to avoid pain and deny reality. Going
back through my inventory in question one which words strike me most
deeply? How do these words make me feel about myself  and my disease?
 

3) My insanity with food is a way of dealing with my feelings, fears, and
problems. What have I been trying to smother and what are some positive
ways to handle these feelings and situations now?
 
 

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Step Two ~ Part 2

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




Dear WTS Loop Members,

My name is Ivanna and I am a recovering compulsive overeater and bulimic.
I am pleased to be your step leader for this month and hope that my shares
and questions are of help to you as you work your program. Last week we
began step two with a look at our behaviors around food and acknowledged
the insane and irrational things we did for our addiction. This week I
would like to look at how this disease impacts the rest of our lives, both
directly and indirectly.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~  STEP TWO ~

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

Until very recently, I never believed for a moment that the insanity in my
life was caused by food. Yes, I knew I had an eating disorder, yes, I knew
that I often went to great extremes to meet the needs of my food addiction
and, yes, I knew only too well that I needed to lose some weight but surely
the rest of the "stuff" that was happening in my life was unrelated? These
were things that were "being done" to me or out of my control, not the
other way around. And I knew that if only other people would just take care
of their messes and leave me alone, that life would be normal. It took a while but I have finally come to admit that this is just not the case.

The first thing I had to do was to admit that my life was indeed insane,
unmanageable, and unbearable.  I had to look at how I was handling my home life, meeting or NOT meeting the needs of my children, my husband, myself.  I had to look at my work situation and acknowledge that I was spending much too much time and energy on work-related issues. I had to look at my irresponsibility with things like housework, paying bills on time, arriving at places on time, forgetting engagements and backing out of social
committments. I had to see how I had made my life, and the lives of my
family, so busy and whirlwind, that there was simply no time for anything
else!

Second I had to accept that fact that I had created much of this turmoil
myself, by reacting to life rather than acting on it. I had to acknowledge
the fact that as a person of extremes, as so many compulsive overeaters
are,  I had overeacted to situations, blew them out of proportion, or acted
out my feelings on others. I had to admit that at other times I would smile
and said "yes" when I wanted to say "no",  that I did not stand up for
myself in an unhappy relationship, that I tried to solve everyone else's
problem while ignoring my own. I was either compulsively busy or totally
exhausted, fully engaged or coldly distant, black or white, all or none.

Yet even after looking at my history yet again, I still had a hard time seeing the correlation. It took the words of a good friend for me to make the connection between the food and my insane life. She said that it was not so much that food or bad eating behaviors had caused these crazy situations but rather that my habit of turning to food instead of dealing with life directly caused me to REACT in ways that made my life crazy! The food issues were a symptom of my emotional and spiritual immaturity. When I first turned to food at age 4 to numb myself from the reality of my feelings and my life, I stopped growing and learning. I never developed the necessary emotional, social, and spiritual skills I would need in order to handle life in a healthy way.  Food was both my reaction to life and my way of acting on it.

And imagine that, trying to solve my marital problems by eating? Just think
of it, trying to make my kids behave better by going on a binge? It simply
doesn't work that way! I had created an insane way of living, through both
my actions and my inactions. I needed help. I had made the mess but I couldn't clean it up. I needed help. Food was the culprit and I couldn't
control it. I needed help. No one else in my life was able to fix it. I
needed help. To whom would I turn?

In OA Love,
Ivanna
 
 

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Step Two ~ Part 2: Questions

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






1)  Food issues and eating behaviors aside, in what ways has my life been
insane and unmanageable? In my home? In my relationships? In my work? In my relationship to God?

2)  To what extent has my emotional, social and/or spiritual immaturity
caused this insanity? What skills have I lacked in order to act on life in
a healthy way?

3) What are some healthy things I am able to do today to act on life
without turning to food? How have my emotional, social, and spiritual
skills matured since I started working this program?
 
 

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Step Two ~ Part 3

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





Dear WTS Members,

My name is Ivanna and I am a recovering compulsive overeater and bulimic. I am happy to offer you the the third part of the my step two questions and
that these will help you as you work this important step.  The first two
weeks we looked at our insanity with food and the insanity in our lives. This week I would like to look at how we "come to believe" in a higher power.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~  STEP TWO ~

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

Last year at this time, my life had become insane, truly truly insane, and I hated every moment of it. In my effort to escape a plethora of scary, angry, hopeless feelings I made myself very, very busy, and in so doing made the lives of my children unbearably busy as well. There was never time to do anything. In fact, I was so busy that I was paralyzed into inaction.  There was never a moment to myself, and when I had one it was such a guilt-ridden moment that I never enjoyed it. I was so busy, running frantically to escape my life, that life began to back up: bills didn't get paid on time, laundry sat for days on the bedroom floor, appointments were
forgotten or broken at the last minute. I knew something was not working in
my life, something needed to be done.  Remembering nothing from my previous attempt in OA, I had already taken a baby step towards "coming to believe".

It was subtle and of course at the time I never considered it as part of this step but I can see it clearer now. I had come to the conclusion that my way of life was causing pain and anguish for myself and my loved ones and that I needed to make a change. I looked around and tried to determine exactly how and what to change. At first, of course, this was all very materialistic. I decided that maybe if I owned this gadget or subscribed to that service that life would ease up a little. Maybe I should enroll myself in this program or insist others make these little compromises, perhaps try to structure the day a little more or maybe eliminate some of the things I was trying to  accomplish. Maybe these efforts would help me to gain control of my wildly spinning life.

Well, much trial and error proved that none of these methods, changes,
gadgets, or anything would help. My life was insane. No person seemed able
to help me fix it. No "thing" seemed to make it easier. I needed something
short of a miracle to fix this, something drastic, some really big change, is what I told myself. Amazingly, it never once occured to me to ask God or to even consider a Higher Power at all. I thought about changing careers, I
thought about moving, I thought about ending my marriage, but I didn't
think about God. I had locked him away so tightly that I had forgotten all
about him. It wasn't done out of anger or fear, as far as I can recall, just simply because I really didn't think he was there for this purpose, didn't think he really cared about it or should be bothered with such nonsense.

And it is not that I didn't ever think about God/HP. I went to church,
taught Sunday School every week, took my kids with me and enrolled them in classes, read books about religions and spitituality, even prayed to him on
occasion when someone was ill or in a moment of supreme weakness. But for
issues related to daily living, and especially issues with the food, it simply did not occur to me to bother him. I must have heard the phrase as a child, "God helps those who help themselves" because thats what I thought I was doing. If I just kept trying to do the best I could, take on my responsibilities (and those of others!) and dive headlong into life, that eventually God/HP would notice how hard I was working and lend a hand.

Upon my return to OA this past fall, I reread this step for the first time in maybe 5 years. I read it with different eyes and a different attitude. I had made changes in my life, took those drastic measures which I thought would fix everything. I was now without a husband, 2,000 miles from my home of 18 years, supporting my two children alone on a limited salary, and feeling pretty desperate. I knew I needed help and could not do it on my own. I knew I needed someone really strong, or something really powerful, to help me find myself and find my way. My renewed contact with OA showed me that it was time to pull the God of my understanding, as well as a few hefty skeletons, out of the closet, dust Him off and reconnect. I  looked at my life, the good and the bad, and recognized that He had been there all the time, however subtly, and knew the He was the only one that could help me. I am still in the process of "coming to believe" and I am thankful that the step is written in this way. It does not say that we have to come to believe immediately, right now, but rather, "We came to believe"......gradually, over time. I work on it daily.

Thanks for listening.

In OA Love,
Ivanna

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Step Two ~ Part 3: Questions

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



"Finding our Belief  System"

1) Before coming to OA, most of us chose to make ourselves, or other people or things around us, our Higher Power.  Discuss how you have used (or
continue to use) the substitution method of accepting the presence of a higher power.  How have you looked for these substitutes in your life?

2) Defiance is an outstanding characteristic of every compulsive overeater.
Discuss how the following concepts played (continue to play) a part in your
spiritual life:
a) Self-righteousness and intellectual self-sufficiency are defiance in
action
b) Belief means reliance, not defiance.

3) For many of us, attending an OA meeting is the only part of our day or week where we feel the hope of a new life and the presence of higher power.
Discuss and reflect on why every OA-meeting is assurance that God/HP can
restore us to sanity.
 


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Step Two ~ Part 4

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




Dear WTS Members,

My name is Ivanna and I am a recovering compulsive overeater and bulimic. I am happy to offer you the the fourth and final part of the my step two
questions and that these will help you as you work this important step.  This week we will discuss the concept of Higher Power and how we have come
to define it.

Please remember that only answers to the step questions themselves should
be sent to WTS. Any private sharing that you would like to do, either to me
or other members of the loop, should be sent to their private email
addresses only and not to the loop as a whole.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~  STEP TWO ~

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

Even before I first joined Overeaters Anonymous some 7 years ago I was
aware of the fact that the program involved something to do with "God". It
is probably the main reason that I resisted looking into OA at all, for fear  that it was some kind of religious program, that I would have to be "born again", read the bible from cover to cover, or listen to long, unknowable, incomprehensible sermons. It annoyed and angered me to even consider that I would have to endure it for the sake of losing weight. For that was my only purpose in joining OA back then, to lose weight. Why would I need God to lose weight anyway? What did HE have to do with dropping these last 10 pounds when all I needed was the right diet, right?

Despite my negative attitude, I found and attended my first meeting, and soon became actively involved in program and service. I had at a very minimal level come to terms with the fact that "God" was part of it, but I
had placed Him/It on a very high shelf, way out of sight and out of mind.
This "yeah, yeah, whatever" attitude is what eventually brought about my
downfall less than one year later. Six years of relapse, and an additional
35 pounds, have now brought me full circle, back into the arms of OA, and
back into the realization that they had NOT rewritten this step, nor any of
the others! The idea of God was still there.

But the years of relapse had served a purpose, however painful they may have been, for I had grown in some ways. I am sure this was exactly the intent of my higher power. I had done a little more reading about spirituality and religion, gotten a little bit of background into Zen and Taoism, had a better understanding of what it meant to rely on a power greater than myself and so it was easier this second time around to come into program and face my old demons. I read the words, as if for the first time, "ours is not a religious program but a spiritual one" and felt ready to accept it. Now I needed to face the hardest task of all, defining what it would be for me.

As a child I had certainly been exposed to religion and church but was
never taught any practical application of that knowledge. I simply didn't
understand (nor was I taught) the importance of or need for higher power in my life. We just didn't "do" God in my family. As I got older and more
cynical, I actually began to turn away from the notion of God. Look what
people had done in His name? Look at what He allowed to happen in this big
crazy world? He simply could not exist or didn't care about us peons down
here on the planet.

Thank goodness my higher power was looking after me, despite myself, and
had provided me with just enough background, knowledge, and willingness to come into program and accept that there MUST be something out there;
something that knows more than I. By looking at my history, my behaviors
and attitudes both past and present, I had to believe that something had
been, and was still working for me, something unseen, something powerful.
When presented with this step again I first turned to others, to help me
define this presence in my life. I was told to look to the group as a source of strength until I could look higher. I pulled out some of the names and ideas from the many books I had read. I tried the God of my childhood. But I tried all of these with no success.

It was not until I uncovered a core issue from my past that I was able to find a definition of my higher power that felt comfortable and real and worked under all conditions. Having not only suffered through both emotional abandonment and emotional incest as a child, further compounded by the pain of a divorce never discussed, I could now name what it was that I had been seeking all my life; a loving father, a protector, a mentor. The patterns were all there in my past, in my bad choices, in my relationships, in my actions and attitudes. I knew that this was the image I sought for my
higher power, not the stern, angry, jealous God of my childhood, nor the
unreachable, untouchable, indefinable God of my youth, but a loving father,
strong but gentle, wise but kind, arms encircling me, guiding me, protecting me, loving me. He even lets me call him "Dad".

Thanks for listening and sharing with me this month.

In OA Love,
Ivanna
 

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Step Two ~ Part 4: Questions

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


 


"Defining Our Higher Power"

1) Looking at your past experiences with religion and God, what are the
"demons of the past" that you have had to overcome, or are still working to
overcome, in order to define your Higher Power?

2) What experiences have you had or actions have you taken that have helped you to come to believe that there is a Higher Power working in your life.  If you have not yet come to this belief, what actions might you take in
order to believe?

3) Discuss how it is that Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness have
helped you (or can help you) to find a faith that works under all conditions.



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