My name is Tami and I am a compulsive overeater.
I can remember when the words "compulsive overeater" stuck in my throat and I could not utter them out loud, let alone admit them in my head. I did not know that I would have a spiritual awakening when I started OA, I just wanted to be able to stop eating and stuffing my face 24/7. I could only see just a little bit ahead and felt deserving of just a little improvement.
I shared with you earlier that I was at the brink of suicide, not at all convinced I wanted to live. But, I was thoroughly convinced I did not want to live the way I had to that date. I experienced a dramatic awakening the night I decided to live and try OA. I had been reading on the website for two days with a growing conviction that there was hope in OA recovery. The night I decided to work recovery was very strange. I was up late alone, but not binging or stuffing my face, as was my usual custom. I remember that I sat in the dark, and decided sometime during that night that I would commit to this path 100% and I would not quit. This was strange behavior for me because I had begun many things and stopped when I got bored, frustrated or sidetracked by some other thing to do. I was notorious for starting many things, but not finishing them, or staying with them to a conclusion.
I didn't know my decision to live and to work the twelve steps, to find abstinence, and to ask my HP for help would bring about a spiritual awakening. That night, I talked honestly to my HP and began to open up. It was just a little hope and light for my path, but, it was enough to make a choice to choose a path laid out by the Twelve Steps. I focused my energy on pursuing my recovery as wholeheartedly as I previously did to my addiction.
Not everyone has a dramatic spiritual awakening by working Twelve step recovery. Some waken to their spirituality slowly. No matter how it is experienced, the wording of Step Twelve assures us that a spiritual awakening will result in working the steps. But, a spiritual awakening is not enough alone, it must be accompanied by practicing the principles of self -honesty, hope and surrender to our Higher Power as outlined in the first three steps. As I began to practice and make changes in my attitudes and behaviors, I began to notice nature once again, and to rejoice and delight in it. I began to feel comfortable with people again, and to take interest in the world. Before I was ready to tell anyone about what I was doing, people were asking me what was different about me. I did the best I could at first to give simple answers and give credit to working the steps of OA. Some were interested, other's lost interest when it wasn't the latest diet. I learned to not control it, or to take offense. I learned to let people ask me and when they did, I had their interest and I'd share as much as they would listen to.
I have an OA pamphlet that I gave to my close family to explain what I was doing. I do not preach, or evangelize; I know those methods would never have worked on me. My aim is to stay centered and peaceful. Most people need to see your walk before they hear your talk. If it is in consistent then, I've earned the right to answer when others ask. Some are mildly polite, others more interested. It's harder when it is a family member and I know they need OA, also. I never push or preach. I give an honest answer, and breath a short prayer surrendering what I've said to my HP. I look at what I say as similar to planting garden seeds. If they never leave the package or my hand, they cannot grow. When I surrender what I say to my HP, then it can be used in the best ways for my HP and the other one. I just do my footwork, practicing these principles, working my own program, and allow God to bring those into my life as it is willed. I am continually willing, and allow God to grow what my Higher Power has in mind in divine timing and ways.
There are many ways to give service. There are as many creative ways as there are people. When I share my experience, strength and hope in a meeting, or in a Step Study share, then perhaps it will resonate with someone else. Many give service in meetings, or on the loops as Trusted Servants, even as simple as greeting people at a meeting. Sponsoring is a wonderful way to strengthen one's commitment to this wonderful way of life. Sponsoring has helped me to give back a small portion to others what has so freely been given to me. Sponsoring has helped me to find a purpose and meaning to my life and to help others. Being able to give has helped me to also receive so much pleasure in giving selflessly to others. It is a wonderful way to grow in recovery. And I've made some wonderful friendships and relationships thru this service.
I've discovered that a spiritual awakening to learn to trust my HP with my fears and to give me the grace I need is the answer I needed all along, when I used to look to food to numb me. It has meant that I've had to go through my own pain, rather than avoid it. But, as I've faced it, I've learned to ask for the courage and the strength that I need. I've discovered that rather than having a perfect pain-free life, I have the life my Higher Power has given me, with the companionship of my Higher Power to come into a closer relationship. Together God and I can do what I could not do alone. If this was the only lesson I'd learned, it would be well worth all the pain and effort of recovery. To my joy, I've discovered my best self is the one who humbly asks for help of this Higher Power and I am complete because of this. It's taken an addiction that nearly killed me to teach me this, but I'm glad now that I've learned it.
The Twelve Steps of Recovery in OA have taught me to forgive myself, and to learn to love myself just as I am without condemnation or recrimination. I've learned to give that to myself, and when I do, I am able to give that acceptance to others, also. All of us long to be unconditionally accepted just as we are. We do it to create a safe climate for spiritual growth, not to reward ourselves when perfection is reached. We all know that isn't attainable. When I feel safe and accepted, then I am better able to live consciously in this world. I am a co-creator with God in making myself feel safe, as I let go of my defects and rely on God. It does not mean I sit back and let God do all the work, it means, I am guided by this HP to which actions will work for me as I begin to do my footwork. I am less apt to procrastinate, or dive into frantic activity just to appear busy. I've learned that it is not a waste of time to listen for directions first. It ultimately saves time, and when I am in doubt, I work a step and I let go. I've come to trust that my HP will get my attention when it is needed as I stay willing and connected to my HP.
I've lost some weight on this journey. The fact that I have not lost all of what's needed I've needed to surrender time and time again. I've had to deal with the underlying reasons why I needed the fat to insulate me from the world in the first place. As I've worked through my fear and anger and defects, I am learning a lot about myself, and what is needing healed through the spirituality of this program. I was shocked for awhile that weight loss wasn't instant or guaranteed. It is a by product of my spiritual, emotional and physical growth through working the steps. I never graduate. I am never done..... for now, I am content to becoming spiritually, physically and emotionally fit one day at a time.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
I hope you will stay to continue to work the steps with Dodee when the Step Study starts in 2004 on January 1st. Thank you for the privilege and honor of being your Step Study Leader this Quarter.
Blessings in your recovery,
WTS Step Study Leader
STEP TWELVE ~ QUESTIONS
1. Please describe your spiritual awakening from working the steps.
2. How have you grown spiritually since you began recovery?
3. Have you awakened to the beauty and joy of yourself?
4. What areas of your life would you like to experience healing and more
growth and change?
WTS Step Study Leader