Step Twelve

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


Dear Friends,

My name is Penny, and I am a compulsive eater and 2nd Quarter WTS Leader.

I am an OA "retread." I joined OA in 1976, when my mother (may she rest in peace) joined a group at a hospital in my childhood neighborhood. Something must have clicked (for me, if not for my mother) because when I married and moved to another state, I joined the local OA group. I didn't hang around long because it "wasn't working." I tried to follow the proscribed food plan, but was constantly hungry; and quite honestly, getting to meetings was a pain in the neck and a waste of time.

I crawled back into OA almost 15 years ago. For at least a year, I had listened patiently to a dear friend tell me about (and physically demonstrate) her OA recovery, denying that anything that she experienced had anything to do with me (she was sick - I wasn't, I just ate too much). Finally, when I could no longer stop eating and when eating became significantly more important than my health, my life, and my relationships with family and friends, I called my friend and told her that I couldn't stop eating. I mean that literally; I could not get through a 5-minute period without putting something in my mouth. Forget weight loss - I needed to stop eating, and something inside me prompted me to call my friend. I had been "12th Stepped;" I just didn't know it at the time.

Step 12 calls on us to carry the message to other compulsive eaters. How we do that is up to each of us, but I want to offer some thoughts on how we can carry the message that there is recovery from compulsive eating through the Steps of Overeaters Anonymous.

1. Abstain from eating compulsively. Plain and simple, we are leading by example. If we thought that we watched what everyone else was eating when we were actively bingeing, I can assure you that an awful lot of people watch what *we* eat, too.

2. Be honest and yet discreet. If people ask me why I don't eat this or that food, I tell one of several things, depending on the occasion and the environment. I have found that telling people that I am a compulsive eater gets odd and curious looks because people don't really understand that expression. So instead I answer honestly and simply: I have an eating disorder, and I refrain from eating certain foods. Usually that creates one of several responses: interested looks and questions, outright ignoring and/or sympathy.

3. Tell your doctor, clergy person, therapist, etc., that you are in OA recovery. You'd be amazed how many references you will get. Even if you don't get referred calls, you will have perhaps opened someone's eyes to OA recovery.

4. If you're comfortable with it, tell your friends that it's OK to tell others who might need it that you are experiencing OA recovery. 5. Go to meetings - let your experience be an example - share honestly and openly (about the bad times as well as the good).

There are other ways to carry the message - this is just a short list.

None of this means that everytime you tell someone about OA that you'll have someone jumping up and down for joy, shouting "hallelujah!" In fact, chances are that you'll tell your story over and over and over and have very few results. But this doesn't matter because by the simple act of talking about your recovery, you will have strengthened your own recovery, kept the memories of active addiction alive, and - who knows - planted a seed that might take years to root. Don't let your ego get crazy just because someone didn't immediately experience a spiritual awakening; it's not about *you.* Just keep plugging away, working your steps and abstaining.

Next time: ... in all our affairs.

Thoughts for journalling/sharing:

1. How did you come into OA?

2. Have you "12th stepped" someone? What happened?

3. Why is it important to remember that it's more important for us to talk about OA recovery than it is to absolutely convince a prospective newcomer that s/he should join us?

4. What does abstaining, getting to meetings, sharing honestly and openly have to do with the 12th Step?

Yours in recovery,



Step Eleven

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