Step Twelve

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

Step 12, Part 1 of 3: Waking Up

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

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we

We are at the end of this part of our journey. Not a finite end, but the beginning of another journey as we take our recovery into every aspect of our lives one day at a time.

I have blossomed from working the Steps. Beyond the facts of my life and my character assets and defects, I learned so much from each step. Step 1 taught me honesty as I came face to face with my disease and my powerlessness. Step 2 encouraged me to have faith and hope - there was a chance for recovery. Step 3 taught me that surrender is not a vulgar word. Step 4 showed me that courage exists inside me. Step 5 helped me see that I am not alone in the world, nor do I have to be. Steps 6 and 7 taught me about willingness and humility. Steps 8 and 9 taught me about repentance. Step 10 taught me the value of determination (the asset/flip side of stubbornness and defiance). Step 11 helped me calm my soul both on a daily basis and in times of trouble. And now Step 12: how to help others and how to live out my decision to join OA in the first place almost 15 years ago.

And now we are at Step 12, and we are finally let in on the goal of our efforts.

You'd think that with a name like "overeaters," the goal of working the 12 steps would have something to do with weight or food. And for those of us who literally crawled into the rooms, you'd hope that the goal would be self-confidence, ego boosting, self-esteem. While for many of us those realities certainly come true, they are simply a by-product of working the steps. The ultimate goal? According to the 12th Step, the goal of working the steps a spiritual awakening. And how do we achieve that goal? Well, Step 12 says it is *the* result of working the 12 steps of Overeaters Anonymous. It's pretty simple.

What is a spiritual awakening? First of all, it's just a beginning, not an end in and of itself, and we know this from "awakening." It means that we are just opening up to the presence of a Power Greater than Ourselves, moving beyond our own limited egos and limitations to boundless possibilities. It's comparable to the opening of a flower bud - or of a child just learning to walk or read or speak. I have this vision of me, blooming like a beautiful rose or lily, waking up to God's sunshine.

Before I came into OA, I was shut up in darkness, fear, anger and misery. I was the world's victim, and I glimpsed sunlight very, very rarely. My family was important to me, of course, but I topped my list of important things in my life … I, me, my constantly sore and bruised ego. I waited for God to pull the rug out from under me, I was sure that people were always talking negatively about me, I hated myself, my body, my essence. I wanted to be somebody else; it didn't matter who as long as it wasn't *me.*

I honestly don't understand how the steps operate. Synthesizing all the principles and the fundamentals of each step is difficult for me to do. I leave that for others who are wiser (or at least more able to do such intellectual exercises). It's kind of like the way I cook … I follow a recipe, believing that if I do everything right I should get something that looks like the picture and tastes relatively acceptable, even tasty. Following the Steps has given me what I saw in other people: a way of living that allows me to face difficulties and challenges without needing (or, sometimes, wanting) to resort to drugging and escaping with excess food. So it doesn't really matter that I can't philosophically explain how the steps work. All I need to know is that they do, and I am so extremely grateful that people told me not to debate, not to analyze, just to do and to trust.

My spiritual awakening takes many forms. I take risks now, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always being willing to give things that previously terrified me a try (like flying - still don't like it, but at least I'm no longer avoiding going places and attempting new experiences if flying is the only way to get there). Most of the time, I am no longer the center of the universe - nor am I the world's doormat. Fear and anger no longer rule my life. I experience feelings - and no longer need to act them out in inappropriate ways that impact myself and others. When I make a mistake, I admit it; when I didn't make a mistake, I no longer apologize.

Yes, I have experienced physical recovery, and that goes hand in hand with my spiritual awakening. I know that my spiritual recovery is in jeopardy when food is calling my name, when I spend my day obsessing over this or that meal/time/substance. And when those thoughts come up, I have a program, a way of living that gets me through those difficult times.

As a prelude to my next post: If anyone had told me that I would be satisfied with a spiritual awakening - or even grateful for one - when I came into OA, I would have walked out immediately. I didn't need spirituality or an awakening, thank you very much; I needed a diet and a way to stop the IV of food that I needed to stop the pain of life. I needed to be told that my weight would normalize, that I would no longer spend every day focused on stuffing my face because the pain of life was so unbearable. Part 2 of our Step 12 discussion talks about the ways we come into OA - and how we help others do the same.

Thoughts for journalling/sharing:

1. How have you changed since you began working the Steps?

2. How have your relationships changed since you began working the Steps?

3. Can you explain how the steps work - what the connection is from one step to the next? Do you really need to?

4. Have you experienced a spiritual awakening as the result of working the steps of Overeaters Anonymous? Can you describe it?

Next time: Reaching Out to Those in Need

Yours in recovery,



Step Eleven

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