Step Twelve


"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

Step Twelve Contents:

Introduction
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling

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Step Twelve ~ Introduction

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs."



Dear WTS Loop Members ~

Hi. My name is Penny, and I am a compulsive eater and a food addict.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I am grateful for the opportunity to help lead this month's discussion on Step 12. Before we start, I want to offer a brief "where I was, what happened, and where I am today;" followed by an equally brief thought or two on Step 12.

I have been a compulsive eater all my life, although my disease didn't go into full gear until I was 11 or 12. I was an awkward and socially immature adolescent, and food was my social equalizer. I couldn't relate to my peers socially, but I *could* eat them under the table. And food continued to be my drug of choice for the next 20+ years. Food soothed and comforted me and provided friendship. To get food, I lied, stole and cheated and did things that seem horrific to me now in recovery.

I tried controlling food to lose weight. And I succeeded in spurts and fits: binge-diets (i.e., Stillman/all-the-protein-you-can-eat); 400-calories a day (and proud of it); laxatives; diet pills. I learned that all diets work. It was relatively easy to lose weight. The painful challenge -- which I didn't learn until I came into OA 12 l/2 years ago -- was to live w/out bingeing or obsessing about my weight, size or food intake.

I was 12th Stepped into OA by a dear friend. She had been in OA for about 5 years; and I thought that it was fine for *her;* *I* didn't have a problem w/food. I was just overweight. [Actually, I was an OA "retread," having unsuccessfully experienced OA about 10 years before. From that experience I learned that I cannot continue to eat/binge and work the steps. My opinion only.] Anyway, 12 l/2 years ago my beloved twin sons were born and my disease went into overdrive. Food became my life; and I eventually got hit w/the reality that I continued to behave the way I was w/food, I was going to binge myself to death and destroy myself, my 3 children, and my entire family.

I crawled into OA. And grabbed the life raft w/both hands. And I have never left since. I worked the steps, had many years of solid abstinence, relapsed, and am now abstinent by the grace of God and the power of this program for 8 months. I re-started working the steps 8 months ago and am about to work Step 5. Abstinence and the presence of God in my life are the most important facts in my life. OA literally gave me back my life.

For those who care about such things, I am 5 feet tall (barely). I came into OA at 189 pounds (having topped off when my sons were born at 225). I initially lost 56 pounds; then lost another 35; regained 25 during my relapse; and have now lost 15. I define abstinence as refraining from the act of eating compulsively; I use a food plan of 4 weighed and measured meals a day w/no sugar or flour or binge foods. I work out daily (at least 6 days a week) with a combination of aerobics and weights.

And now a cursory look at Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Even though I am formally working on Step 5, I use Step 12 on a daily basis in my life. Each day is a new opportunity for a spiritual awakening, and I am grateful for each new awareness and inching closer to HP. I carry the message by abstaining and getting to meetings. I am no longer shy about telling people that I belong to OA. I speak freely about my eating disorder and my history w/food. I live an extremely examined life ... to paraphrase the Big Book (I think), "the grouch and the brainstorm are not for me." When I am disturbed, I need to examine myself and use the tools that OA has handed me.

Enough for now ... I am looking forward to sharing more of my story and experience w/Step 12 with you all.

One Day at a Time,
Penny




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Step Twelve ~ Part 1

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs."



Hi, I'm Penny, a compulsive overeater and food addict.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

"Having had a spiritual awakening ..."

I need to say up front that while I have worked all twelve steps, I am currently reworking the steps (I am up to step 5) as I experience a return to abstinence/recovery after relapse. So when I speak of Step 12, I speak from my hope and a past experience rather than current experience.

My recovery has indeed involved "spiritual awakening." I not only woke up from my food-binge-induced stupor; I also awoke from the heaviness of self-centeredness and fear and resentment. Whereas I was once in darkness, chaos and misery, I woke to a life filled with brightness, calm and peace, a life where my HP's sun shines on me each new day.

When I am asked how I have lost weight (and "managed" to keep it off), I know that the questioner really wants to know what *diet* I followed. If diet clubs had something like a Step 12, it would read, "having had a *physical* awakening..." Yet the thought that I will experience a *spiritual* awakening is the very thing that differentiates OA from diet clubs. I know from experience that thin does not necessarily equal sane. When I was thin (and not in OA), my life was just as unmanageable and crazed as when I was fat. While my recovery certainly involves physical healing, it is spiritual above all ... a sense that some kind of Higher Being is involved in my life.

I find it interesting that the step says "had." This implies that my spiritual awakening was a one-shot deal, never to be repeated. My experience is that a full spiritual awakening awaits me at the end of my step work. It's equivalent to waking up from a physical sleep. I have little glimmers of *awareness,* then some more and some more until I am finally fully awake and ready to take on the day. My first glimmer of spiritual awareness came when I surrendered to the idea that while my problem/disease was very strong, my Higher Power/solution was even stronger. And I became willing to work towards that solution rather than wallow in the disease. Each new step has offered new insights and awarenesses.

My initial spiritual awakening came when I decided that yes, my disease was strong, but YES, my higher power was stronger. My first awakening involved my decision that I needed to look to a solution for my food and living problems, rather than live in the disease and problem. Each new day has brought more spiritual awakenings.





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Step Twelve ~ Part 1: Questions

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs."





Some thoughts to ponder:

1. Why does Step 12 make it clear that we will have a *spiritual* awakening?

2. What was your first spiritual awareness?

3. "I find it interesting that the step says "had." This implies that my spiritual awakening was a one-shot deal, never to be repeated." What do you think about that statement? Do you agree, disagree?

4. What do you hope to experience when *you* spiritually awaken?

Yours in recovery,
Penny





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Step Twelve ~ Part 2

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs."



My name is Penny, and I am a compulsive eater and food addict.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

.. we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters ...

First a little history. I have been in OA for 12 l/2 years; I was 12th-stepped by a dear friend. Actually, I don't believe she was intentionally carrying the message. Sure, she told me about OA and her successes. Maybe that was a 12th Step for her. But I was absolutely not ready. I looked at her ... and I looked at myself ... and I decided that my life was just fine the way it was and that she was crazy. Not too long later my life began to fall apart, and I hit bottom and called her immediately.

Now I, too, try to carry the message. What is the message? It's that life can be lived without resorting to using food as a drug. It's that my life is grounded in a Power Greater than Myself Who can restore me to sanity each day and Who daily gives me freedom from the obsession and compulsion to overeat and binge. The message is that I don't have to act out my feelings ... nor do I have to eat over them.

I used to think that "carrying the message" meant that I had to be so charismatic and influencing that people would stand up, cheer and follow me to a local OA meeting ... that they would "get it" immediately. And I tried to do this, and was quite disappointed quite frequently. I found that people (like myself and my own experience) didn't really want to listen. Or if they did, they were polite and continued doing what they were doing (which I, of course, knew to be wrongheaded and stupid and if they would only listen to me, they'd have all the answers. LOL!).

Today, "carrying the message" means that I abstain no matter what and that I work to maintain my conscience contact with God and work the steps to the best of my ability. It means that my actions can set an example. I am very open about my OA affilation and my need to abstain from eating compulsively. The biggest difference is that I no longer take personally what people choose to do about their own lives. It is no reflection on my program or my value if the ones I love and care about make the choice to not join me in their own OA adventure. I *wish* they would listen, and I *hope* they will, but if they don't, it's OK.






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Step Twelve ~ Part 2: Questions

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs."


Some thoughts for consideration:

1. Step 12 talks about "the message." What do you think the message is?

2. Were you 12th Stepped? How did you respond?

3. Have you tried to 12th Step someone? What was your experience?

4. How do you "carry the message?"

Penny





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