STEP ONE

We admitted we were powerless over food,
that our lives had become unmanageable.




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Our Invitation to You | Intro | How we're going to do this | Leader's Share | Questions |





OUR INVITATION TO YOU

We at Overeaters Anonymous have made a discovery. At the very first meeting we attended, we learned that we were in the clutches of a dangerous illness, and that willpower, emotional health and self-confidence, which some of us had once possessed were no defense against it.

We have found that the reasons for the illness are unimportant. What deserves the attention of the still-suffering compulsive overeater is this: There is a proven, workable method by which we can arrest our illness. The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous.

We use AA's Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, changing only the words "alcohol" and "alcoholic" to "food" and "compulsive overeater". As our personal stories attest, the twelve-step program of recovery works as well for compulsive overeaters as it does for alcoholics.

Can we guarantee YOU this recovery? The answer is simple. If you will honestly face the truth about yourself and the illness; if you will keep coming back to meetings to talk and listen to other recovering compulsive overeaters; if you will read our literature and that of Alcoholics Anonymous with an open mind; and most important, if you are willing to rely on a Power greater than yourself for direction in your life, and to take the twelve steps to the best of your ability, we believe you can indeed join the ranks of those who recover.

To remedy the emotional, physical and spiritual illness of compulsive overeating we offer several suggestions, but keep in mind that the basis of the program is spiritual, as evidenced by the twelve steps. We are not a "diet and calories" club. We do not endorse any particular plan of eating.

Once we become abstinent, the preoccupation with food diminishes and in many cases leaves us entirely. We then find that, to deal with our inner turmoil, we have to have a new way of thinking, or acting on life rather than reacting to it - in essence, a new way of living.

From this vantage point, we begin the twelve-step program of recovery, moving beyond the food and the emotional havoc to a fuller living experience. As a result of practicing the steps, the symptom of compulsive overeating is removed on a daily basis, achieved through the process of surrendering to something greater than ourselves; the more total our surrender, the more fully realized our freedom from food obsession.

"But I'm too weak. I'll never make it!" Don't worry, we have all thought and said the same thing. The amazing secret to the success of this program is just that: WEAKNESS. It is weakness, not strength that binds us to each other and to a higher Power and somehow gives us the ability to do what we cannot do alone. If you decide you are one of us, we welcome you with open arms. Whatever your circumstances, we offer you the gift of acceptance.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE. Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. WELCOME HOME!






12 Step Workshop Introduction

Hi, my name is Isabella. Like you, Iím a compulsive overeater. Iím also a food addict.

Hereís a bit of my story.

You just read "Our invitation to you". Let me just talk about that a little.

"At the very first meeting we attended we learned - " well, I wouldnít say that I did learn right away that I was in the clutches of a dangerous illness. Actually, it took me a few months to even say that I was a compulsive overeater ≠ I didnít really want to acknowledge that.

What I did get right away, though, was that this was going to be the place where my nasty, seemingly unsolvable problems with food and weight were finally going to be taken seriously. Where people understood what this was all about.

One person talked about how she would walk down the hallway, hands playing with the change in her pocket, telling herself that THIS day was going to be different for sure ≠ telling herself all the way to the vending machine, and even while the coins fell down the slot and while she was unwrapping the item she was getting. This woman told my story! Amazing!

Hopefully, you, too, will find your story here in the next few weeks. You might find it told by others, and more importantly, you might find it told by yourself.

And as these stories are told and heard, you will find that "there is a proven, workable method by which we can arrest our illness - we use the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions."

I wish I could tell you what it was that made me believe this. I am quite an analytical person and donít generally believe something just because someone says it. But something - oh wait, I know what it was. It was my Higher Power whispering in my ear, so quiet I couldnít hear it with my ears, only with my heart.

At any rate, I was convinced that this OA stuff was going to work. The tools, the traditions, the steps, the whole shebang. And it must have been my Higher Power because otherwise, why would I believe that 28 years of problems with weight and eating were finally going to be dealt with? I had dieted, I had starved, I had put dozens of pounds on and off over the years, I had changed my lifestyle, I had dealt with many of the emotional issues around eating ≠ but when it came to the stuff that I put in my mouth, nothing seemed to work for more than a few months.

My Higher Powerís whisperings were certainly helped by the voices of the people that I saw in the rooms ≠ both by what they said and what they didnít say. What they said was that they, too, had done really strange things around food (turned out I wasnít the only one who had mucked up her teeth with chewing on ice cubes), that they, too, werenít perfect (you mean there are OTHER people who keep forgetting to pray?).

They didnít have any problems talking about how frustrated they sometimes were with the OA program ≠ phew, that was a relief for me. If thereís one thing I canít handle is having to tow the party line. There was a lot of humour, too, and many people who werenít very bent on taking themselves seriously.

And they didnít say that there was a particular God I had to believe in in order to make this 12 step stuff work. I really needed to hear that, even though for the first few months I didnít quite believe it.

But thatís what kept me coming back for the first few months.

"If you will honestly face the truth about yourself and the illness; if you will keep coming back to meetings to talk and listen to other recovering compulsive overeaters; if you will read our literature and that of Alcoholics Anonymous with an open mind; and most important, if you are willing to rely on a Power greater than yourself for direction in your life, and to take the twelve steps to the best of your ability, we believe you can indeed join the ranks of those who recover."

The momentousness of this promise only struck me much later. The only thing I really heard right away was "keep coming back", "read the literature" and "you can indeed join the ranks of those who recover."

So I kept going to meetings and read literature voraciously. Oh, and I also made up and folllowed a food plan (which again was much more Higher Power inspired than I first realized). I lost about 55 pounds within a year. It felt like much more, both physically and emotionally.

Physically, I felt lighter, a knee problem got much better, my hemmorhoids disappeared, and of course I liked how I looked. Emotionally, the fear that I was helplessly going to stand there and watch myself get heavier and heavier, disappeared.

So what did the steps do for me, specifically? Here are some things that happened: - my problems with anxiety seemed to drop with the weight. I was one of those people who would torture herself by, say, sitting on the bus, happily reading away when suddenly I would startle and think, "Oh God, did I turn off the stove?" - my fear of the dark diminished dramatically - I found a Higher Power that works for me (or maybe I should say, a Higher Power who works with me) - when I have a persistent problem, I KNOW now deep in my gut that there are ways of dealing with it - I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that when I turn to my Higher Power, I will ALWAYS get the answer that I need - I am becoming more and more comfortable with being imperfect - I know that sometimes I need to experience pain but that I do NOT need to suffer - I am beginning to understand the true and delicious meaning of this:

"But I'm too weak. I'll never make it!" Don't worry, we have all thought and said the same thing. The amazing secret to the success of this program is just that: WEAKNESS. It is weakness, not strength that binds us to each other and to a higher Power and somehow gives us the ability to do what we cannot do alone. If you decide you are one of us, we welcome you with open arms. Whatever your circumstances, we offer you the gift of acceptance. YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE. Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. WELCOME HOME!"

To all of you at WTS, Welcome Home.

Letís walk the 12 steps together.

Isabella






WHOíS THE BOSS?
Remember tradition 2: "For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority ≠ a loving Higher Power."

TRADITIONS/GUIDELINES
If youíre not familiar with the TRG guidelines, please read them here http://www.therecoverygroup.org/support/guidelines.html This is what governs everything that we do here at TRG and is based on the OA traditions.

ONLY MY ESH
In the spirit of traditions 2 and 12 ≠ we are but trusted servants, we donít govern, and "principles before personalities" ≠ what I say here is a glimpse of my experience, strength and hope (ESH). It is not ALL my ESH, and it is only MY ESH, not the opinion of OA as a whole. Be open minded, take what works for you, and leave the rest. This goes for all the wonderful shares we are going to read here.

SHARES
After reading the weekly reflection on the steps, please feel free to share your answers with us. We will all learn from them. Please donít hold back because you feel you donít have much to contribute. EVERYONE has something to contrubute. You can share as much or as little as you want.

SPIRITUALITY NOT RELIGION
Spirituality is perhaps the most important aspect of our recovery. We all have different views of spirituality. Therefore, I openly welcome you to talk about your spirituality ≠ but please, leave religion aside.

SPONSORS/BUDDIES
If you donít have a sponsor, please get one. You will get a post about how to do this. A step study buddy is another alternative. Unfortunately, I will not be able to sponsor anyone on this list; I already have quite a few sponsees.

ANONYMITY
Please remember anonymity. Please do not mention any names or distinguishing characteristics to anyone outside this group.

THE PLAN
This step study will last 12 weeks, so weíll be done just before Christmas. We will spend one week each on steps 1, 2 and 3, two weeks on step 4, one week on step 5, one week on steps 6 and 7, and one week each on steps 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

EMAIL ETIQUETTE
When you reply via email to the weekly step study reflection, please reply to the group only. Before you send off your email, please check in the "to" section that you are not also accidentally replying to someone else.

Conversely, if you would like to personally reply to a specific post, please reply to that person only and not to the group. If you have feedback for someone, please ask them first whether they would like feedback.

QUESTIONS TO ISABELLA
If you have a question for me, please mark it QUESTION (all caps) in the "subject" are. I may not always be able to look at every single post but I will do my very best to answer every post marked QUESTION within 24 hours.

HAVE FUN!!!






Hello everyone!

My nameís Isabella. Iím a compulsive overeater and food addict.

Letís get going on step 1.

As I said, what Iíll do here is pick out a few of my favourite passages from the OA 12x12 and offer you my experience, strength and hope around it. You, dear fellow travelers, are encouraged to take what you like and leave the rest. MAKE THIS PROGRAM YOUR OWN. Make it work for YOU.

We admitted we were powerless over food ≠ that our lives had become unmanageable.

Page 2 ≠ "We are not like normal people when it comes to eating."

Sometimes I get confused and think, "there is no such thing as normal." That may be so. However, there are many areas where I behave in ways that donít bother me. For example, I am lucky that gambling doesnít affect me. Two or three times a year I go to a casino or participate in a charitable poker tournament. Itís entertaining, I have fun, and when itís over, itís over.

I certainly donít behave that way around food. Thatís because Iím a food addict. While I have times when abstinence is easy and I donít even think about eating in other than healthy ways, there are many other times when I do things like daydream about the menu at an upcoming business meeting; want to scour the last corner of the house to see if there isnít a morsel of chocolate; open the fridge 15 times in one afternoon.

And thatís after I started coming to OA. Before that, I would not just daydream about the menu, I would find ways to have two appetizers, a hefty lunch, and then dessert (and then of course have a good dose of cake for afternoon tea). I wouldnít have to scour the house for chocolate because the whole place would be full of it (because Iíd make sure there would always be a good supply). Iíd only open the fridge 6, 7 times in an afternoon ≠ because Iíd be busy eating every time Iíd open it.

No, when it comes to food, I am not normal.

Page 3 ≠ "Sooner or later, we always started overeating again and gradually (or rapidly) the eating worsened until at last we were out of control."

Oh boy. Yo-yo dieting. I was very good at that. I used to be proud of how much weight I could lose. Just like the alcoholic who would say, "I can always stop", only to start again a while later. I was also proud because I would never do a "stupid" diet; I thought I was "better" because I didnít go on any diet fads.

No, no, only healthy diets for me. I kept that up for 20+ years. Iíd gain weight, go on a diet, lose weight, and slowly, slowly gain it again, and then, of course, go back up to a higher weight than the one I originally started out with. Iíd be able to live with that weight for a while, then not stand it anymore, then go on another diet. Like a hamster on a treadmill.

And things that seemed easy at the beginning of this spiral would get more and more difficult. In the end, I realized there was no more dieting left in me. That was scary. Was I going to keep on eating and gaining weight for the rest of my life? How long and pleasant (or rather short and unpleasant) was my life going to be if I kept that up?

Thatís how I ended up in OA. I had tried it all; it didnít seem to work; I needed something radically different.

This program of recovery, these 12 steps, are magical. Each step, each tool, each program slogan carries infinite wisdom with it, and I think I will spend the rest of my life understanding it. Each time I mull something over, something new happens. I donít think I can ever totally "get" the steps. Paradoxically, that also means that every little bit of comprehension counts.

So my first little bit of comprehending Step One, I think, was simply to take the first step ("do the footwork", we say).

Go to a meeting.

Read the material in the newcomerís package.

Phone someone who had scribbled their name on that package.

Think about a plan of eating.

Go to the next meeting.

In doing that, I admitted maybe not that I was completely powerless over food ≠ but at least that I was powerless enough to need to check this OA stuff out.

Page 5 ≠ "We procrastinated, we hid, and we ate."

Okay, so the reason why we came to OA is because of problems with food, right? Why then say that "our lives had become unmanageable"?

Well, when I joined OA, my life, while not being a complete mess, certainly had lots of unmanageable parts. Minor panic attacks. Getting worked up over conflict at my job. Second-guessing myself. Oh yes, and procrastination (not to mention this unshakeable feeling of heaviness, and hemorrhoids). It soon became pretty clear to me that there was a connection between the eating and those unmanageable aspects, and if it was only that I needed to put all those unmanageable cards on the table, just like I needed to put my overeating card on the table.

"Here it is. It drives me crazy. I donít know what to do with it."

Page 6 ≠ "In step one, we acknowledge this truth about ourselves: our current methods of managing have not been successful, and we need to find a new approach to life. Having acknowledged this truth, we are free to change and to learn."

There is a beautiful ray of hope at the end of each chapter. The ray that I see here is freedom. I donít need to be chained to the food anymore. I donít need to be chained to behaviours anymore that may have served me in the past but donít work anymore. I am free to become a new person.






QUESTIONS:

What passage in Step One of the OA 12x12 stands out to you? Why?

How long have you had a problem with food?

How long have you tried to overcome your difficulties with food? What worked, what didnít?

In what ways are you powerless over food? How are you "not normal" with food?

What areas of your life are difficult to manage? How long has it been that way?

What "footwork" can you do, right now, within the next 24 hours? Please report back on it, giving it the subject, "footwork". In doing this, you may want to remember the eight tools of OA: anonymity, service, meetings, telephone, writing, sponsorship, a plan of eating, and literature.

Daydream a little. What do you hope to learn? What will your life look like with this new freedom that the OA 12x12 talks about?





 
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