STEP ONE, PART 5
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater. It is time to sum up step one and be ready for the next step which will be dealt with in the next post.
Taking step one means admitting defeat. I have a chronic fatal illness from which I cannot recover by myself or with the help of another human being. It is not a moral issue. I am not a pig who does not stop stuffing himself because he does not want to. Compulsive eating is not a result of a broken home, or abuse, or incest that I suffered sometime in my life. I have an abnormal physical reaction to certain food substances, just as an alcoholic has an abnormal reaction to alcohol, and I have a mental obsession with food.
I cannot stop using and abusing food no matter how much I want to stop, and I cannot recover while still using. A very nice catch 22 situation. But there is a solution and there is hope in the twelve step program. And as long as I commit to it I can recover.
The Big Book describes the commitment quite clearly:
"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it - then you are ready to take certain steps." page 58.
This is sometimes called Step Zero, the willingness step. Usually people become willing when they reach bottom.
The "certain steps" are of course the twelve steps and the "it" we are willing to get is a spiritual awakening as the result of working the steps. Which means in simple terms, " ... the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from compulsive eating." BB page 569.
I know quite well that change is frightening and sometimes painful, though I came to realize that what is really painful is my resistance to change and not the change itself. Anyway, this is why a lot of us are not willing to take step zero. It is much easier to seek temporary relief, by going to meetings and sharing, and not really working the steps. Temporary relief is a fake coin and of no real help. But fear of change drives us away from really working the steps. We have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired in order to be really willing. It usually happens at some stage in our life since our disease progresses, and we become more and more desperate as time passes.
The Big Book assures us that anyone can recover if he honestly, willingly, and with an open mind works this program.
"Most emphatically we wish to say that any compulsive eater capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or
belligerent denial. We find that no one need have trouble with the spirituality of the
program. WILLINGNESS, HONESTY, AND OPEN MINDEDNESS ARE THE ESSENTIALS OF RECOVERY. BUT THESE ARE INDISPENSABLE." page 570.
Having this illness does not mean that I cannot stop using for a short period of time by using my willpower. I can stop for one day if I take step Zero. And while stopping for one day I can begin taking the steps and thus make it easier for me to stop one day at a time, till my obsession with food is removed by working all 12 steps of the recovery program. I also am not a failure if I slip or fall. I fail only if I don't get up immediately and continue with my commitment to abstinence and with my step work.
Let us sum up what we did till now.
We understood the three-fold nature of our disease.
We admitted defeat by admitting powerlessness, and unmanageability of our lives, and thus took step 1.
We identified our trigger foods and began writing a food plan on a daily basis.
We committed to abstinence on a daily basis, and began some daily actions to help us in our abstinence, of which the most important action was getting a sponsor.
There is one more action that I want to consider. It is called EXERCISE. This was something I really hated. As a person who had trouble breathing while tying his shoelaces, I abhorred exercise in any form. But my sponsor told me that I can begin by just a few minutes walk on a daily basis. And he said that exercise will help me in my
physical recovery since it helps balance the body metabolism. Such fancy words, but I was willing to try. And now I take a brisk walk daily for about an hour and really enjoy it. It does make me feel good. I use the time to talk with my H.P., pray, and think about
the program. Actually a lot of my program work is done while walking; I even have a sort of walking meditation.
ADDITIONAL SUGGESTED ACTION:
It can take the form of a walk, or dancing, or swimming , or bicycling, or other activities. Whatever catches your fancy. As long as we do it regularly every day, and set a time limit, not more than one hour a day. A time limit is important since I have the tendency to exaggerate in everything. My self will run riot can manifest even under a beneficial disguise. This program teaches us moderation and balance, so limits are important.
SHARING SUBJECTS AND QUESTIONS:
1. Share about the physical activities you take or are planning to take on a daily basis.
2. Do you think you have reached bottom?
3. Are you willing to do all that is needed in order to recover? What does this imply that you have to do?
4. What in your opinion is the importance of HOW (Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness) in the recovery process?
Have a nice day,
and see you in Step Two.
Shlomo, Step Leader
WTS 2002 Study, 1st Quarter