My name is Penny, and I am a compulsive eater and leader for the 3rd Quarter WTS STep Study.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of working these steps, we carried the message to other compulsive eaters and practiced these principles in all our affairs.
We are coming to the end of this quarter's step study. I want to thank everyone involved in WTS for their support and assistance as well as all those WTS subscribers who have shared their journey through this quarter's study. To those who came into the journey "midstream," I hope you continue to recover and share when we move into the 4th quarter study.
Step 12 is where we put it all together. It's the step that combines them all and, provided we're working Step 12 every day, gives us that "daily reprieve" we hear so much about.
Step 12 talks about three things: 1. a spiritual awakening that is THE result of working the steps; 2. reaching out to other compulsive eaters; and 3. maintaining a state of spiritual fitness by exercising the principles inherent in the steps. Let's take these three one at a time.
My spiritual awakening looks different each time I experience it, sometimes quiet, sometimes loud. Sometimes I feel rocked by the sudden awareness of God working in my life; sometimes I can't even feel God's presence. My sponsor assures me that both are equally valid experiences. The common element is my awakening/becoming aware that I am not alone in the universe, that there is a Power greater than myself who can and will and does take care of my unmanageable life. This conscious awareness of HP becomes a dependable rock and foundation as I continue to work Step 12.
Step 12 tells me that this spiritual awakening is THE result of working the steps. OA doesn't promise me that I'll lose weight or drop clothing sizes. Those are (very welcome) by-products of maintaining a conscious awareness and relationship with HP. I won't feel wonderful or be in a great mood or walk on clouds all the time. Bad things may happen to me and my loved ones. The spiritual awakening promised in Step 12 allows me to cope with everything that happens to and around me, the good and the bad ... and the happy benefit is that I won't eat over these things.
Reaching out to others is the second part of Step 12, and I think it's really interesting that becoming messengers of OA recovery is only mentioned *here," when OA recovery has become more of a day-to- day "habit" as opposed to a brand-new excitement. I personally tend to "carry the message" quietly. I'm not a walking posterboard for OA, going up to obese or rail thin strangers in the supermarket and handing them little cards that say (and I do swear that I have heard of this) "it doesn't have to be like this ... call me." I carry the message by abstaining and by suiting up and showing up for a life that isn't messed up by eating compulsively. I listen closely to friends and acquaintances, and quietly speak up and tell my story when I think the moment is right. I find this very effective. I also do not hesitate to talk about OA and tell people that I am a compulsive eater. I tend to refer to it as "having an eating disorder" because I find that more effective. When I used to refer to my "compulsive eating," I most often got "oh, wow, I eat too much, too and I can't stop when I'm eating xyz" from people who honestly had NO idea what I was talking about and who were referring to the occasional binge that normal eaters experience. When people hear that I lost a lot of weight and have - thank HP and OA - maintained a normal weight for many years, I know that their response of "wow - how'd you do it" frequently means, "what diet did you do?" My response of "OA" is usually greeted with silence ... except for the people that deep inside know what I'm talking about.
Finally, Step 12 talks about practicing the OA principles in all our affairs. I read that as meaning that I work every step every day in every aspect of my life, not just in food-related areas. From Step 1's implication of acceptance and surrender to life's reality to Step 11's emphasis on closing my mouth and being quiet in the face of wisdom much greater than my own, OA's 12 steps are truly a guide to living. I live a highly examined life, and Step 12 has done its job of making sure that I can't go too long without examining my part in all of my relationships and life experiences.
Finally, Step 12 hints (well, OK, it outright "yells") that I never graduate from this program; this is one time that I won't finish a race. And so, as we move ahead once again to a new round of WTS step studying, may we all be blessed with the healing love and power of God as we each understand God.
Yours in recovery,
STEP ELEVEN ~ QUESTIONS
1. What does your spiritual awakening look like (or what do you hope it look like)?
2. Does it change form from time to time?
3. Is there a commonality to the different experiences of spiritual awakening?
4. Were you surprised to find out that the ultimate promise of OA's 12 steps was NOT weight loss?
5. Were you "12th stepped?" What did it feel like?
6. Have you every "12th stepped" someone? What was that like?
7. How do you "practice these principles in all your affairs?"
8. Are you ready to start all over again? This is a trick question! (big smile)
Yours in recovery,