I found I could not take Step Three until I had taken Step One and Step Two. First, I had to admit that I did have a disease of addiction and that I was powerless over that disease. Then I came to believe that a power greater than I could and would take over my food addiction if I allowed it.
Step One = I can't.
Step Two = God can.
Step Three = I think I will let God.
Acceptance was the key for me in making a total surrender of self-will and my life to the care of my Higher Power. Until I could accept the fact that I am an addict, that I cannot control my eating and that no amount of self-will could keep me abstinent, I was not ready to take Step Three.
This took me quite a long time to come to this realization. I didn't want to be an addict. I didn't want to have to give up the sugar and the white flour and the excess volume of food that I consumed. I wanted what I wanted whenever I wanted it and in whatever amounts that I wanted. How would I ever be able to manage my life without my food? Would I even have a life without my excess food? This was soooo scarey to me for sooo long that it took me two-and-a-half years of seriously working program before I came to the point of total surrender of self-will. For those years, I continuously went to meetings, worked through the Twelve Steps, worked with a sponsor and used the 8 Tools of OA. But that self- will was difficult to give up for me. There were lots of things I was willing to do in program but I still held back. I didn't want to preplan my meals and I didn't want to weigh and measure and I didn't want to do my 90 meetings in 90 days and I didn't want to give up sugar and white flour completely and I still wanted to make all the decisions in my life. Yep, that self-will was a HUGE factor in keeping me from my miracle of recovery.
But after two-and-a-half years of seriously working program, I had not made much progress. I was still binging; I could only be abstinent four or five days at a time, and any weight loss had been gained back. In fact, I still weighed 299 pounds in May of 2004. Was I working the program? I thought I was, but why didnít I show the progress needed for recovery? Because I had not given up self-will and I had not completely and totally accepted the fact of my addiction. I knew I was an addict but, again, I didn't want to be an addict. Too bad, so sad. Facts of life need to be accepted. So in May of 2004, I reached the point of either give up the self-will or completely and totally lose any recovery I had gained emotionally and spiritually. For recovery in program DEMANDS that I make progress.
I gave up the fight against having an addiction. I turned and faced that wall of truth I had denied for sooo long and I accepted the facts of my life. I was an addict whether I wanted to be or not. I could be an addict in recovery or I could be an addict in hell. Thankfully, I chose recovery; and on June 1st, 2004, I began my journey down the path of good recovery. First, I discussed what was happening with my sponsor and got her input on how to prepare. I became willing to preplan my meals and willing to weigh and measure and willing to do 90 meetings in 90 days and willing to give up self-will in regards to my food addiction and my life.
On June 1st, 2004, I woke up and began my new life in program. I was scared, I admit it. I was soooo scared that this would not work and if it did not, I had nowhere else to go. But I think I was more scared that it would work and that would lead me into a life I had never known, and the unknown was a very scary thing for me. I began the day with the Third Step Prayer:
God, I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always! Amen. I have begun every day of my recovery with this prayer, including today.
Since I had preplanned my meals, I knew what to eat; and all of a sudden the compulsion to pick up whatever food was around left me. Wow! I didn't have to figure out what to eat, I all ready knew what to eat! Hey, this is a neat way to live! I began attending daily meetings for support in my fragile existence. The first week I was sooooo hungry I had hunger pains around the clock except when I was actually eating my meals. You see, I had never known what portion control was and those normal portions looked mighty small on my plate. I had to switch to a small salad plate which looked a lot better. But the hunger pains didn't seem to matter as any thought of food was instantly replaced with turning it over to the care of my Higher Power. It was as if my mind had taken a different path in thinking and the obsession with food had been lifted when I simply accepted the fact that I was an addict and needed my Higher Power to take over my disease.
Those first 90 days were difficult, not because the food was calling me, but because my mood swings were so wild and the feelings I had spent a lifetime suppressing were overwhelming me. It occurred to me that it would be a good time to rework through the Twelve Steps with my sponsor. This time, I had such clarity of mind with abstinence that I could put into action what I was learning. The weight began to drop off and I began to get scared. I told no one that I was in OA, that I was losing weight and that the program of OA had made such a significant impact on my life. I didn't want anyone to notice and "jinx" me. It took me a full six months before I would allow even my mother to know I was in OA and what was going on with my life.
At the end of 90 days, our area was devastated by a hurricane with massive flooding and mud slides. I will always remember that horrible day, September 14, 2004. But mostly what I remember is what my first thought was, "Hey, this is an excellent reason to binge." Then I began to laugh as I realized that there is NO reason on the face of the earth good enough to give up my abstinence and lose my recovery. That is the day that I knew I never had to binge ever again. As long as I am willing to take Steps One, Two and Three in my daily life, I will be free of the obsession of food. From that day forward, I became willing to do whatever it takes for me to continue being abstinent and stay in good recovery. Whatever it takes!
Surrender of self-will and acceptance of my disease of addiction allows me to formally take Step Three each day of my life. In doing so, I am free of cravings, free of binging and free of obsessive food thoughts. I am free to become the person that I have always wanted to be.
Are you willing to let go of self-will and accept the fact of your addiction so that you might also have that freedom?
Love in recovery,
Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
The Third Step Prayer:
God, I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always! Amen.
Principle of Step Three:
In Step Three we learned faith as we made the most important decision we had ever made, the decision to trust God as we understand God with our will and our lives. Practicing the principle of faith today means that we will no longer go through life acting however we feel like acting at any given moment. Instead we will look to our Higher Power for guidance and strength as we face each decision.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
of Overeaters Anonymous: Page 104
To help comprehend the questions, please read The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Read the chapter on Step Three, then answer the questions, go back and reread the Step Three chapter and add on to your answers if needed.
You might also like to read in the BB of AA (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous) the chapter titled, How It Works, Pages 60 through 63, as well as Page 417. (Fourth Edition)
1. In giving up my disease to the care of my Higher Power, am I willing to let go of my obsession with weight control, body image and eating? What has been my attitude towards food and eating? How will I adopt a whole new attitude in regard to these factors?
2. Am I truly ready to give up self-will? How do I feel about completely turning my life over to the care of a Higher Power?
3. Do I have eating guidelines? Can I pray to my Higher Power for the willingness to live within my plan of eating? If my obsession with food returns, how will I handle it? What can I do when I feel fragile?
4. How can I reach the decision to turn self-will and my life over to the care of my Higher Power? Do I have the willingness to earnestly seek God's will for me and act accordingly?
5. Why do I need to let go of self-will and hand my disease of addiction over to the care of my Higher Power?
6. What do I need to do to take Step Three? What will it take?
Realize that no one is telling you what to do in program. Whatever directions you receive, they are suggestions only and it is up to you whether you follow through or not. We each work our own individual programs. My sponsor lovingly reminds me that a suggestion is like telling a person jumping from a plane they MAY need a parachute. So, keeping that in mind, it is suggested that you:
1. Find a sponsor, if you do not already have one, to help guide you and to listen to you while you are working through the steps and beyond. When sending in your answers to the step questions, send a copy to your sponsor also. If you do not have a sponsor, you will find directions in getting a sponsor at this link: www.therecoverygroup.org/sponsors.html
2. This is an excellent chance to do your 90 meetings in 90 days while also working through the steps in 90 days. When I first became abstinent, the 90 & 90 suggestion really helped support me through those first fragile days.
3. Get a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous along with The Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions of OA. Both will be a huge benefit to you. To get a copy, visit www.oa.org or visit your local face to face meeting.
4. Keep on file your answers to all step questions, as you will need to refer back to them in Steps Five through Nine.
5. Remember, you are not alone in this. Reach out to other members and your sponsor to help you through difficult sharing.
6. If you have a question, please type in the subject line of your reply: "Question" and I will try to answer as soon as possible. Thank you!