Step One

We admitted we were powerless over
our compulsive behavior with food
that our lives had become unmanageable.


There are some statistics for AA that suggest that about 50% of those who come get sober almost immediately, and continue in sobriety for the long term. The rest have relapses, but 40-60% of these will eventually find long-term sobriety. I do not know what the percentages are for OA. My feeling is that they are lower. Alcoholism has come to be viewed as a disease by the culture, but overeating still has a way to go, I sense.

I say this because I am one of those who became abstinent from day one. Therefore I have no perspective on relapse. I feel quite certain that I have no more recoveries available to me, and that a relapse would result in my demise. I am not ready for that yet. There are those who say that they eat unconsciously, and wake up at 4:00 a.m. standing in front of a now empty refrigerator. I had a sponsee who could do that, and he was a diabetic to boot! He was already blind from it, and he couldn't get abstinent. Eventually he died from it all. COE was not on the death certificate, but it should have been. Another friend had her husband put a lock on the cabinets and keep the key. It worked for her. Consciousness is a part of the program for me.

The morning after my first meeting I weighed in, and made myself a food plan for the day. As I reread my journal written during that time, I find that the greatest challenge I faced was the hunger pangs. They were not due to starvation. My food plan had lots of food in it - it was no "diet." The hunger pangs were my disease speaking. How they came under control you will learn from me in subsequent steps.

I had come to the place where I had signs of impending severe health problems. My blood pressure was high, my blood sugar was borderline, my cholesterol was high, and my feet hurt from the activity of transporting me across the room, and I was breathless. Since I knew of nothing that would work for me, I had about made up my mind that I was simply going to die before many more years, and had pretty much reconciled myself to it. I think I was very depressed.

I had a history of certain kinds of abuse in childhood, as do a good many of us. That is something for which there are highly successful therapies, and I commend that to anyone who has any such problem. Having had such problems, however, is not a reason to back away from program. I learned to eat in childhood as a survival technique. That technique has become a technique of destruction now, and I must change or die. Therapy helped me to remove much of the burden of the past, and even gave me a clearer vision of the future, but therapy is not the program. Only the Twelve Steps can save me from my disease.

Someone said something that I could believe and hold to at that first meeting. It was that if I began, my Higher Power would fill in the blanks as I went along, working the steps. At least I was ready and willing to believe that. It didn't take away the pangs, or make me any less crazy. I did not have a serenity then. It was simply that if this had worked for these people, why not me? I did not have a Higher Power that I could address with these things, but I was told that I could just accept these people as "my people" for now, and find my Higher Power also as I went along. This would work. But Step One required that I admit defeat. I was powerless over food, it was killing me, and my life was a mess.

How much of a mess was my life? In a later time I went back over my credit card records, and found that in the year prior to OA, I had spent about $10,000 eating out. Very little of this was business. I was often accompanied by my wife, but was sometimes quite alone. And I ate most of the time at home, not out. I was spending more on food than on car or housing! And I was lying to myself about it, and concealing the truth from others, especially my wife. And you can imagine the state of our relationship - someone who doesn't love himself enough to want to live doesn't love anyone else very well either. My answer to any crisis was to prepare a festive meal or go out for one. What a dialogue!

Green your memory. Share with me.

Love, John


Step Two

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