I am Mariam, a compulsive overeater in recovery. I am 35 years, living in Europe. I have been a member of OA since March 2004, and I have been abstinent since March 27. We have two small OA groups in my country, but several in our neighbour countries. I found The Recovery Group online, because I live in a small country where the 12 steps groups are fairly fresh, and to get some steady step focus and power spirituality, I felt I needed to "go" abroad. I found great help in TRG online and the meetings every 3rd hour helped me to get abstinent. I often found help from other members to keep me busy explaining my pain and fear, whilst waiting for a new meeting, and I the meanwhile, I "forgot" to go binging. I learned the magic of "wait ten minutes". God works in miraculous ways.
I have had an insane relation with food as long as I can remember. My pattern is to starve myself for a slimming effect or self punishment, and later binge with candy and sweets, and destroy it all. I have had anorectic periods and bulimic periods, but mostly Iím an overeater and a workout-maniac. After I stopped working out, due to knee and back problems, my weight was not able to control any longer, and I started to increase weight. My crossaddictions often took over, so I would be able to act out in other ways, and the starving circles started back on. A vicious cycle, that almost killed me. I was in very bad shape when I was driven by a friend to my first meeting. Physically, mentally and spiritually bankruptcy.
In OA I learned that I was ok, no matter what. My weight, my clothes, my financial records or my partners were not an issue, I was. I had never experienced that before, anywhere. I learned that I could just be, just sit and take place in a meeting that shared about how we felt, and how we reacted to life. I didnít know anything about that. I though my problems was food, eating and weight, or insanity. I didnít know nothing about feelings. Wasnít that for "stupid" psychologists? I had never wanted to speak to any of those. I became abstinent with the help of my first sponsor, a man that guided me to the third step, and told me to find a female sponsor before my fourth step. How could he ask me that? I couldnít stand women at the time.. I spent one year fighting and debating with three different female sponsors, and by the grace of God, I was still abstinent after that time, but my feelings were very hurt and I lacked trust. Then I finally found a female online sponsor, that helped me through the 12 steps and I could do them again and again, each time with a little bit different focus. I was able to become more honest, stronger in faith, more trustworthy to myself and others, and more courageous, more willing, with a more steady abstinence and with a lot stronger relation to God, whom I choose to call my higher power.
I do not believe the 12 steps are a dangerous route to Mount Everest, I believe itís a simple way of life. Itís simple, but not easy. It takes hard work and a lot of pain, but anyone can do it, because weíre not alone, and we understand why we must do it, and if I donít do it, I slide back into obsessions and food, and it will kill me, and I want to live. Not only exist, but live a full life, with Gods support, and my recovery friends and loving discipline to keep me alive. Because I am a very sick person, if I let my disease out, self-will run riot is a good expression, will leave me insanity; hospitalizing, prison or death. That is for sure.
I work today with several sponsors and sponsees, and I give what I have been given, and that is how it works -- itís a miracle, and I am everyday grateful for what I receive. For that I thank my creator, God Almighty.
If you donít believe in God, donít worry, you donít have to -- it still works. You can believe in absolutely anything you want! Itís the powers of belief that makes it happen, not how we describe our higher powers. Itís proven by millions of people in recovery everyday, all over the world: OA, O-ANON, AA, AL-ANON, DA, DEBT-ANON, SLAA, SA, S-ANON, ACA, NA, NAR-ANON, GA, GAM-ANON, AG, CMA, ETC.
Please join the path of the twelve steps with me, you will not regret it,
Before you fasten your seatbelt and enjoy this ride, we need some preparations.
Get a new notebook or diary, a new pen or sharpen the pencils you like to use, and brush off the dust from your Alcoholics Anonymous "big book". If you are not the proud owner of such a book, I strongly recommend going out and buying one today. You may order it online, read it online and print it, or buy it at the closest AA meeting. I recommend that you have it on paper in your hand, and if you borrow one, you cannot make your own coloured highlights. If you can not afford one today, print the first chapters from the net and consider buying one as soon as you can find the money for it.
Donít continue on old stepwork if you have done the 12 steps before, we want clean and fresh papers, a new start. Even if you like to type your answers directly in an e-mail or into a Word document, I will encourage you to use a diary, hence the fresh notebook as well.
You will need:
- OA meetings or other open Anonymous 12 step meetings ("real/live") Consider traveling up to 2 hours if you have to, this meetings may save your life one day. Get in contact with Intergroups, and get telephone numbers from other OA members. Call someone from the Telephone Angel list. You will need preferably 10 numbers from sponsors and program friends. Being alone is from now on a choice, not necessary and dangerous for us addicts in recovery.
- OA meetings online in TRG
- A sponsor (preferable a "real" person, or e
- mail) If you do not have a sponsor in your homegroup, start looking for a person to share your 5th step with
- anyone you trust that can understand what this is, and who will not tell. A priest, a teacher, a psychologist, another 12 step program person.
- A diary/notebook
- Pencils, pens and colour pencils
- Internet access at least once every week
- Literature: Alcoholics Anonymous "big book", Overeaters Anonymous "the basic text/the brown book", AA 12&12 and/or OA 12&12.
- Time. Set a plan for the amount of time you are willing to spend, and share this information with those who may need to know, as your family, partner or friends. If you want to use one hour each night to read and write, you will need that time, alone in quiet. If you choose to use a few hours each weekend instead, do that. But donít let this be a personal battle of recovery against your loved ones. You do it for you, but please be considerate. The first time I did this 12 steps in 12 weeks I locked myself into the kitchen and wrote all day, and my family really hated it. When the 12th step came along, "live this program in all your relations" I had a long way to go in my private home.
- If you have gone through the 12 steps before, please take on a new sponsee. It is the best gift you can give yourself, and another person struggling with food today.
Donít think about doing anything perfectly. That is not possible. Trying is willingness to change, and that is all it takes. Whatever your problem with food, weight and eating today, this will help. This program is full of promises, and we say "donít quit before the miracles come", and I can promise you that, if you do what I have done -- it will work for you too.
Looking forward to getting to know you all,
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over food, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Open your diary/notebook and write the step 1 sentence:
We admitted.... Are you ready to admit?
What is your problem with food? Be honest and not ashamed.
What have you tried to control the above mentioned?
Did it work? For some time or for good?
What is your status today, honestly?
Our lives had become unmanageable. In what ways?
Are you ready to admit that you are a total disaster when it comes to controlling your eating and obsession with food?
Do you understand why it is like this?
What are you willing to do, to make an end to this malady?
Do you feel like giving up?
After answering these questions shortly in your diary, please read the following;
BB: Forewords to all editions
BB: The Doctorís Opinion
OA: Step 1
AA: Step 1
OA basic text: Story 1 "Keep coming back: Rozanneís Story"
While reading, take 3 colours of your own choice.
1. colour underline everything that you recognize in yourself,
2. colour underline everything that you find important, and
3. colour underline everything that you can die from.
(Donít bother about the words alcoholic or alcohol, read compulsive overeater/compulsive undereater and food instead. It is the same disease. If you are not yet agree with me, try and wait and see if it may change in time.)
Daily exercise for diary: Write a list of everything you are powerless over today! Everything! Also food report ≠ what was your plan of eating, what did you eat? Talk to your sponsor everyday! If you think you have "nothing to say", write her/him anyway!
Do you have a plan of eating? Does it work for you? If you want a plan of eating, talk to your sponsor. I recommend two brochures from OA: A Plan of Eating and Dignity of Choice. Very good!
I will write you a list of tips to get abstinent, that has worked for me. Please remember the 12 steps are a spiritual program, and no strict rules are demanded. We use the 12 traditions to cooperate and live together in peace. You choose your own definition of abstinence from food abuse/compulsive eating, please remember that! No one can or should tell you what to do! Only help by sharing experience, strength and hope. If you do not find what you are looking for in one person, keep looking for the next person. That is the magic of this program, one sick person helping another sick person, what I have so generously been given, I will continue to give to newcomers, thatís how I stay abstinent today, and thatís how the strength in this fellowship is based upon love and tolerance. It may be "tough love", but loving discipline as in routines, is what we seek.
Please define and share with us your definition of abstinence from compulsiveness regarding food, weight and/or eating. It will change over time, as your level of honesty increases, donít worry, and just work with your sponsor for a commitment and stick to your daily step work.
What in "the doctorís opinion" chapter suited you and your behaviour?
What in Step 1 suited you and your behaviour?
What in Rozanneís story related to you?
Do you understand that you are a carrier of a disease called addiction/co-addiction?
In what ways do you understand it to be physical, mental and spiritual?
A threefold disease, with a threefold cure/solution. Do you accept that this disease can and will continue to make your life miserable if you do not change?
Have you accepted 100% that you are powerless, and it means you can not pull yourself together or try harder, it will not work?
Are you finished trying new slimming products or believing that Santa Claus will fix you without you doing nothing?
Are you really ready to surrender?
Waving the white flag?
Have you honestly admitted that the consequences of this disease are making yourself and others around you a living hell?
If not, why are you not ready to admit it?
Surrender and admitting defeat is necessary to continue this path. Are you ready to admit that it is your responsibility what you eat, and no one elseís?
Are you ready for some hard work, when you know it will be for the better?
If so ≠ congratulations, youíve completed step 1! Write a list of good-byes in your notebook. What will you leave behind from now on?
It can be some specific food types, it can be eating patterns, it can be starving yourself or self-pity, the scale, anything you feel is not good for you and that you will leave behind from today. Illustrate what you will leave behind. This will be what you come back to when doubt of mind in the future. This will be a memory from the past. This will be what you do not want to go back to, no matter what. One day at the time.
Step 1 guarantee:
IF you have completed this list, please understand: - You do not have to fight any more. In fact you must stop the fight if you want to change. Giving up is how you break the vicious cycle of trying to control. - You are not to blame for your situation. You are an innocent victim of a disease called addiction. It can be transmitted from various reasons, most of us grew up in dysfunctional homes (alcoholism, drugabuse, co-addiction, overeating, overworking, overreligious, too straight, no rules, any system of family bonding that is not healthy).What ever reason you have it, the same solution works for all of us, the 12 steps as they were presented first by AA, in the 30ties. - You are not alone anymore. You will have many friends in the fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous, and we can and will help you at the level you let us. - There is nothing to be ashamed of. We all did crazy things, and we did them because we didnít know another way at the time. - You are truly beautiful. Whatever your weight, your age, your damages from years with compulsive over/under eating ≠ you are a beautiful soul within that is created by a loving higher power, that loves you very much indeed. And we love you too! You will come to believe it, I hope you do. - You have to sacrifice some "good" to lose some bad. We can not stop eating chocolate or cakes one day and start over the next. What ever our "drug of choice" is, we have to find a way to get sober and stay sober, one day at the time. This means we do not start drugging again, no matter what! I use the word drug because sugar is a very strong sedative, stronger than heroine when used in large amounts over time. You will come to learn that the "good" you think of today is in fact no good at all, itís a scam. In OA we learn how to not start overeating, and not go back into food, that is the challenge, anyone can stop, I bet youíve managed quite many times also, but it always came a day when we couldnít resist it with our failing willpower. - We know how you feel. Weíve been there and weíve done what youíve done. We are the same, we all have the same disease. We may have various symptoms and weight, but we have the same underlying problem, we do not cope with lifeís pain without hiding and acting out from it. - You now have a new family. We will help you and support you; you can be safe with us. We are anonymous and we do not ask questions, you are accepted whatever you did, you are welcome, always. We do not speak about what weíve heard, we leave it in our memory. - We want to have a better life. We will go through a lot of pain, remorse, fear and regrets, but it will always pass. We strive to grow and heal inner turmoil, and we seek progress, not perfection. We love to be humans, and have the right to fail; each day is a new day with new choices. And you always have a choice! - You must do the "footwork" yourself. This is a spiritual program, based upon action. We use the program, we do not preach it. We use the tools in action, it means YOU pick up the phone and press the numbers to dial your sponsor or program buddy. YOU walk to the meetings and cook coffee and share your experience, strength and hope, YOU pick up your book and read it, YOU write your thoughts and experiences in your diary, YOU choose to follow your plan of eating, and ask for help when you want to fail, YOU learn how to be in charge of your own life, and be responsible for your own recovery. No one can do it for you, but you do never do it alone. WE walk this path along with you! We hold your hand when you need it, we wipe your tears when you need it, and we listen to your stories when you need it, but you must walk the line yourself. And YOU CAN DO IT!