STEP TWELVE

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.




Step Twelve

Leader's Share:






God,
How can I best serve Thee-
Thy will (not mine) be done.


Hi everyone
My name is Shlomo
I am a food addict and compulsive overeater, and leader of this workshop.

Those of you who have missed my previous shares and assignments can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006

The directions for working step eleven end on page 88 with the following: "We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined."

We are undisciplined because our illness manifests in a self will run riot. God disciplines us through our working steps ten and eleven which give us balance and peace in our life.

But this is not all there is to our daily life of the steps. "But this is not all. There is action and more action. 'Faith without works is dead'. The next chapter is entirely devoted to step twelve". The next chapter is WORKING WITH OTHERS.

Without working with others and sharing our recovery with them we will lose our recovery. It is a serious warning, telling that 'faith without works is dead'. Those who don't take this warning seriously and don't work with others (which is called sponsoring) are headed for trouble.

We have to remember that the root of our illness is selfishness and self centeredness. The big book warned us that: "Above everything else, we alcoholics (food addicts) must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it will kill us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His help".

So we have to do our part which is working with others so that we open ourselves to receive God's help in the removal of our selfishness. Some people think that our program is selfish since by working the program we take care of ourselves. We have to understand that we have to take care of ourselves in order to be able to help others. We are the selfish ones not the program. "At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us."

So let us look at step twelve: "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics (food addicts), and to practice those principles in all our affairs."

This step tells us that the one and only result of working all the steps is having a spiritual awakening. This spiritual awakening is described from many different aspects in the Big Book. All the different promises that are written in the Big Book are actually descriptions of different aspects of spiritual awakening. Here I will just quote from the appendix SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE: "The terms 'spiritual experience' and 'spiritual awakening' are used many times in this book which upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism (food addiction) has manifested itself among us in many different forms."

Spiritual awakening is a recovery process that begins with the first step and grows and progresses to freedom from the obsession with food in step ten. But there is a lot more to it as experienced by the fulfillment of the different Big Book promises.

We discussed this in previous shares. Therefore I will now go over to the second part of step twelve. "…, we tried to carry this message to food addicts…"

THIS MESSAGE is the message in the first part of step twelve and nothing else. THIS IS THE ONLY MESSAGE: "HAVING HAD A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING AS THE RESULT OF THIESE STEPS…"

Working all the twelve steps brings about a spiritual awakening which manifest in recovery from food addiction and entirely different attitudes and actions towards ourselves God and the people around us. We try to carry the message. We don't always succeed because recovery depends on the other person's willingness to work all the twelve steps.

The Big Book has very definite ideas and directions about working with others (sponsoring). Those are not the prevailing ideas in OA or TRG. In OA everyone can sponsor up to the level of his step work. If someone is now working step two he can sponsor step one. In the HOW section of OA one begins sponsoring after finishing the first three steps.

I follow the Big Book's directions about sponsoring that are given in the chapter WORKING WITH OTHERS. A sponsor should be a person who has worked ALL twelve steps, is continuing to work them on a regular basis and is clean and abstinent. The sponsor should have a sponsor too, otherwise he is not working the daily steps ten and eleven as directed in the Big Book The Big Book presents such a sponsor as a person who has recovered.

Does this mean that we can't help others before we work all the steps? NO!!! But helping others is not the same as sponsoring. Sponsoring is guiding someone through the steps. I can do that after I had a spiritual awakening as a result of working all the steps.

Helping others can be done by helping to go to a meeting, listening to someone in trouble, encouraging someone to continue, giving a hug, sharing etc…I don't have to be a sponsor in order to help others. I don't have to be a sponsor in order to comfort a small crying child and I don't need to be a sponsor in order to help and old lady cross the street. I don't need to be a sponsor in order to express love and empathy to a fellow sufferer in OA or TRG. There are a lot of ways to be helpful part of which is doing service in OA and TRG. I should be helpful since it takes me out of my self centeredness. But sponsoring is a different issue.

We are the greatest experts in the world on recovery from food addiction by working the steps. We become such experts because of our personal experience with the illness and because of our spiritual awakening that results from working all twelve steps.

Would you want a medical student in his first or second year to operate on you? Or would you want a qualified person who finished his studies and has experience? If the medical student will suggest treating you, you would surely tell him to finish his studies first and get some experience under the guidance of experts.

Usually, beginning to sponsor before I finish working all the steps is a convenient way of not dealing with completing my recovery process by sticking my nose into other peoples business. What is the rush? One can complete working all twelve steps in less than three months. So first take care of your recovery and then when you have had a spiritual experience as a result of working all 12 steps, go and sponsor others. This is the way of the Big Book and if I accept the Big Book as my recovery text book I should follow it's directions about sponsoring too.

What Should I emphasize when sponsoring. That the sponsee can get well if he depend son God more than he depends on his sponsor or other people. That my job as a sponsor is to help and guide him through the steps. I am not here as a mother or father substitute and not as a psychologist of dietican or any other professional person. I am here to share my experience in working the steps and not my opinions. If I don't have experience in some subject I should say so and tell him to ask someone experienced. Sometimes the problems that arise need professional help. So I tell him that I think this should be dealt with by a professional person.

The sponsee should work with me. That means that I lay down the rules. If he cannot or will not work with me than I leave him. My time is limited and is better spent with someone who can or wants to work with me and does the work.

There are two phases to sponsoring. The first phase is sponsoring someone who has not yet worked the steps or has worked only part of the steps. This is the teaching stage.

The second phase is working with a person who has worked all the steps and is continuing to work them on a regular daily basis. This is the sharing experience strength and hope stage. Remember that part of working steps ten and eleven is sharing with someone else and the best way to do it is to share with my sponsor who knows me.

Let us say a few words about the teaching stage. To teach I need a textbook. The textbook I use is the Big Book. This is the only book that has very explicit directions on working the steps and very explicit promises of recovery if we follow directions exactly. I share with the person about my illness in order to help him identify with me. I tell him about the program and how it helps me. I tell him that I am not doing him any favors by sponsoring him. I have to do it to stay in recovery. If he is willing to do the work needed to recover I ask him to read the book. I answer any questions that he has. If he wants to begin working the steps with me we begin the work.

Now let us look at the third part of step twelve. "…, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

The principles are the steps. So there is no need to look for principles behind the principles. Bill W. The AA cofounder said so himself in his forward to his book of assays AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. "A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink (to eat triggers) and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole."

We have to practice this way of life in OA, in TRG, in our homes with our families, at work, with friends and acquaintances and with strangers. Whenever and wherever we interact with someone we have to do it through the application of the steps. We have a lot of rehabilitating work to do with our families and with other people. And we continue to live in recovery as God intended. Page 133: "We are sure that God wants us to be happy, joyous and free."

Happiness comes from within. From our new relation with ourselves and God. Joy comes from our new relations with others. And freedom is the freedom from the slavery to our illness, freedom from the bondage to our liabilities. No matter what happens in the outer world around us we have our God, our program and our new way of life that enables us to match any calamity with serenity.

A prelude to the TRADITIONS. The traditions are spiritual principles that complement the steps and are part of our recovery process. It is said that the steps save us from ourselves and the traditions save us from each other. The traditions are tools that guide us to live our lives in harmony as social human beings. They are applicable not only in the fellowships but in all our affairs the same as the steps.

In the Big Book the traditions are written on pages 563-568 (third edition), pages 561-566 (fourth edition.) OA's adaptation of the traditions is written in the book THE TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS OF OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS. I suggest reading the traditions in this book. A lot of addicts are not familiar with them and therefore their recovery lacks an important component. Those who are interested may also read the AA book TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS. I found a website where you can read this book online in a gender free (God with no gender) format.

http://alcoholism.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=alcoholism&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.geocities.com%2FAthens%2FRhodes%2F8266%2Fcntnt.htm

Go to the end of the page and click on HOME, to get to the beginning.

ASSIGNMENTS: 1. Read the following pages and copy the sentences that describe the spiritual awakening or the spiritual experience. Remember that the promises are also a description of the spiritual awakening. Pages, xxvii (third edition), xxix (fourth edition), 14, 25, 27, 50-51, 56-57, 63 (promises), 75, 83-84 (promises), 84-85 (promises), 569-570 (third edition), 567-568 (fourth edition).

Share about your personal spiritual awakening.

2. Read the chapter WORKING WITH OTHERS, Copy the sentences that you think are relevant to sponsoring food addicts. Pay attention and copy the sentences that tell us the following. Why sponsor Who can sponsor What are the demands of the sponsee? How to sponsor- what to do and what not to do.

Summarize the sponsoring directions in your own words. If you have sponsored in the past or are sponsoring now, are you going to change anything in the way you sponsor? Share with us.

3. If you don't have sponsees now is the time to begin sponsoring. As the Big Book says on page 88 "There is action and more action.'Faith without works is dead'." We have to sponsor in order to stay in recovery. If you go to f2f meetings (which I highly recommend) volunteer to sponsor there. If you are a member of TRG then volunteer to sponsor in TRG too. Remember. As a sponsor you lay down the rules. The sponsee should be willing to work with you according to your sponsoring. Remember a few important basic rules. As a sponsor you share your experience in working the steps. You don't take on yourself tasks that should be dealt with by professionals. Don't be hesitant to say I don't know or I will check this with my sponsor. You cannot have experience in everything and we share only our experience and not our opinions about things we have not experienced.

Share with us.

4. "…in all our affairs"
Read the following and chapters.
TO WIVES
THE FAMILY AFTERWARDS
TO EMPLOYERS.
A VISION FOR YOU.

Look for the sentences and examples that tell you how to practice the steps in all your affairs and copy them. You can also deduce how to behave with others from the advice given to the wives and the employers. Copy the relevant sentences and explain what you learn from them.

Give a short summary in your own words on how to practice the steps in all our affairs.

5. Prelude to the TRADITIONS Read the following pages in the Big Book: 563-568 (third edition), 561-566 (fourth edition). Copy each tradition in its short form and write below it how you think you can apply it at home with your family.

Also read the traditions in the OA and AA books 'The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions'. The AA book can be read online as explained in this share.

I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important. When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop. In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.

Wishing us all a life full of recovery
Shlomo
Food addict and compulsive overeater




Questions for the Leader

QUESTION:

Will you please clarify your statement on clean and abstinent sponsoring? If one is still overweight and not currently losing, is that a problem for sponsoring? Is there room for the plateau?

ANSWER:

The Big Book refers to a sponsor as a recovered person. A recovered alcoholic does not drink alcohol. If He drinks alcohol he is in relapse and for the duration of his relapse is not recovered. I have discussed relapse in one of my shares on step one. Eating trigger foods is the physical and last phase of relapse. If I am a bulimic then physical relapse is a return to purging and bingeing and if I am an anorexic then physical relapse is a return to starving.

The first phase of relapse is the spiritual relapse that is described briefly by recurrence and /or strengthening of the bedevilments (page 52) This means that I am resting on my laurels and not progressing and/or neglecting the spiritual work of steps 10-12. The second phase is the return of the obsession with trigger foods which is the mental relapse.

If I am eating trigger foods I think should concentrate on dealing with the three aspects of my relapse beginning with the spiritual aspect, and tell my sponsees that till I get out of the relapse they should find another sponsor. I should also help them to find one if I can.

If I am overeating my permitted foods (which results in gaining weight) than I am not abstinent. Although overeating my permitted foods deals with eating, it is part of the spiritual malady like fears and resentments and other liabilities. If I don't deal with it I am in the spiritual phase of relapse. I should pay attention to it and work harder on my spiritual program which in this case may also include a stricter written food plan, and committing to my sponsor. This is something I should deal with on a daily basis like I deal with other liabilities. It does not mean that I am not in recovery or can't sponsor unless it gets entirely out of bounds and leads to mental and physical relapse.

I didn't say anything about body weight. The state of my body weight may depend on many factors including all kinds of health problems. This should be checked with a doctor or some other professional person. As an integral part of my recovery I should take care of my health and that includes body weight and exercise. If I have to lose weight because of obesity or other reasons that are decided by a doctor, I have to adapt my abstinence to that situation and combine it with a suitable exercise program.

Gaining weight when I am abstinent is a sign of overeating or some medical problem that should be taken care of. Neglecting to take care of it is the first phase of spiritual relapse. If one continues to gain weight as a result of overeating his abstinent foods and does not follow a food plan as advised by a doctor or some other professional then I think he should stop sponsoring and concentrate on getting well.

The current state of the weight of the person is not necessarily an indication anything. But gaining weight may be an indication and should be taken care of.

A plateau is not necessarily an indication of anything, unless the person has to lose weight and the doctors don't see any reason for a continuous plateau if he follows the food plan and exercises.

A fat person may be in wonderful recovery. It just may be that his weight takes a long time to lessen for different physiological reasons, or that he still has a lot of weight to lose. And a thin person may be deep into the illness. So be careful and never classify your recovery by weight alone.

Shlomo


QUESTION:

I just wanted to know whether after working all the 12 steps, I should just continue with the maintenance steps 10 to 12 or if I should keep re-doing the steps at different times in my life. I know that there are the daily steps that I have to always take, each day. However, I'm just not sure if I should ever do another whole 12 step study.

ANSWER:

Everyone who has worked all twelve steps should continue with the daily growth steps 10-12 Those steps contain all the steps in them. But there is still a great benefit in working all the twelve steps beginning with step one every six months or every year.

When I work the steps again I am at a different stage of growth and therefore my understanding and application of the steps will be different. This will also give me an indication of how I progressed and grew and will give me the opportunity to work on subtler points and problems that I was not aware of in my former round of the steps. Every house needs a thorough house cleaning every once in a while and so do we.

When I lead a new step workshop I also work the steps again. The workshops are always different since I am at a different place of growth and understanding.

I gave a WTS step workshop at the first quarter of 2002. You can read it on the WTS website. That workshop is different than this one. I think reading it may better illustrate the point I want to make.

Shlomo



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