My name is Isabella. Iím a compulsive overeater and food addict.
Are there any other compulsive overeaters here beside me?
(If youíve never been to a face-to-face meeting ≠ this is how a lot of OA meetings get started.)
So. Step Two.
*** Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. ***
When I first started doing the steps, I was relieved by this step. Step 1 was maybe a bit hard to relate to in the beginning but this I could buy lock, stock and barrel. And as if so often the case, I heard what I wanted and needed to hear.
Restore us to sanity.
Yes, I wanted that.
Apart from the food, there were so many things in my life that felt pretty crazy. The anxiety, for example, that I mentioned last week. Mostly it would show up in thoughts of, "Oh NO, I forgot to phone my daughterís teacher" or something like that. Always catching myself at making a huge mistake, accompanied by a sick feeling in the stomach, weak knees, totally staining the next few hours of the day.
Another piece of insanity was perfectionism. It had taken me years to realize that that was a problem of mine, and now it was driving me crazy. I was working on some studies at the time and at one point I got an "A" in a course. What? Only an A, not an A+???
Yeah. Thatís insane. And I wanted to get rid of it but it stuck to me like flypaper.
The idea of sanity it so important to me now that it is in my personal core definition of abstinence.
Abstinence for me is, "donít stay in the insanity".
You see, having realized that Iím not perfect (imagine that!) I also realized that Iíll keep doing insane things. That seems to be part of my human condition.
I can keep my eyes open for the insanity. God willing, Iíll veer off it when I feel tempted. And if I fall into it anyways, I trust my High Powers completely to help me get out of it right away. Most times, I am given given the grace to have the willingness to do whatever it takes to leave the insanity.
Iím also imagining my recovery and abstinence like a big, wide path. Sometimes I walk a straight line, and move at a good pace. Mostly, though, I crawl and stumble and look backwards and occasionally I fall in the ditch (those are the little moments of insanity). Thatís all part of the process.
True, sustained insanity (relapse and/or leaving program) lies in the impenetrable jungle beyond that path. I am grateful that Iíve only done that once so far and that I didnít get hopelessly lost in that jungle.
Now letís turn to a few passages in the OA 12x12.
Page 13, first paragraph: "OA doesnít tell us we have to believe in God ≠ only that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We are invited to define that Power however we wish and relate to it in whatever way works for us."
I have to confess that the first two years in OA I believed that on an intellectual level. On an emotional level, I was suspicious and thought there was probably some fine print that "they" will eventually present to me which will tell me what God Iím supposed to believe in.
Well, that never happened.
And one day in June I took the plunge. I wrote an ad for a Higher Power (just like a job ad), defining exactly what that Higher Power should look like. It felt weird. The intellectual in me thought it was extraordinarily silly. The little child in me thought it was blasphemy. But again I guess it was my Higher Power that whispered in my ear, "go ahead, try it!"
Within a month, my ad was answered. One unsuspecting Sunday morning I was reading a post from one of my Recovery Group buddies. One little word in it struck me like a bolt of lightning. All of a sudden, I knew in my heart of hearts that I had found my Higher Power, a Higher Power who was dedicated to me and to whom I could dedicate myself.
By the way, one of the deals that I struck with my Higher Power was that they would never speak to me in a sarcastic or punishing way, and that they would never give me ultimatums. It wasnít even in my ad but my Higher Power and I worked it out.
Itís wonderful to have Higher Powers in my life. I am aware of them daily, and I pray daily. Of course that doesnít mean that I donít fall off the path. Hereís one thing Iím working on right now: While I have no problems clinging to my Higher Power when the going gets rough or singing loud praises when things go really well, I tend to shove my Higher Power out the door when things are so-so. Fortunately, my Higher Powers are not offended. Lately, Iíve asked that they be less polite ≠ please feel free to come barging back in any time!
(Btw, you may have noticed that I go back and forth between Higher Power and Higher Powers. Well ≠ thatís what I do. Sometimes HP seems to be one entity, sometimes more.)
Here are two more passages that speak to me, both on page 15:
Paragraph two: "God loves us in our totality and is willing and able to help us in everything we do ... God will help us with every decision, even food choices and amounts."
Paragraph three: "Most of us also needed to learn to ask other people for help and let God speak to us through our fellows."
Even though Iím very lucky to have grown up in a household where I was encouraged but not coerced spiritually, I was still very much shaped by my the Protestant upbringing of my parents and their forbears. And in that worldview, God was a very busy man, building churches, trying to talk politicians into forging world peace, working on producing saints like Mother Teresa and Gandhi ≠ for sure, an executive like that would never deign to bother about my food choices or, heaven forbid, about a hangnail?
What I found out over the years is that Higher Power wants me to be happy and whole and sane. Higher Power wants me to know that I matter. If I canít pay attention to a conversation because Iím distracted by a hangnail, Higher Power WANTS to help me with that. (Iím not making this up, guys; my Higher Power cares about my friggin hangnails.)
So I have conversations with my Higher Power about these things. Yes, food included.
Me: "What do you think, is it a good idea to have a piece of cheese right now?"
HP: "Are you hungry? Do you really need it right now?"
Me: "Weeeeellll .... "
HP: "Itís not necessary then, is it?"
Me: "No, I guess not. But I really want it!"
HP: "Listen, sweetheart, youíre free to do whatever you wish. My recommendation is to let go of that piece of cheese. Yes, like that. Yes, you can put it in the garbage, itís ok. Good girl!"
I canít tell you how often Higher Power talked me out of eating like that. Once I was in the car, had one of those you-know-whats unwrapped and was ready to sink my teeth into it and Higher Power gave me such a jolt that I flung the thing onto the backseat. ("We recoil from it like from a flame", it says in the Big Book.)
So whatís that got to do with the second passage, "Most of us also needed to learn to ask other people for help and let God speak to us through our fellows."
In some ways, this is still a mystery to me. I donít know exactly what the mechanism is (what a surprise, huh? I donít know most of Godís mechanisms)
What I do know, though, is that I learn so much from others, and these teachings are literally Godís words. ("Living scripture", a Christian friend of mine calls it when people tell her their stories.)
(Sidebar #1: If youíre uncomfortable with the term "God", I invite you not to get turned off. Here, we sometimes use the term "God" as shorthand for WHATEVER shape your Higher Power takes. And I mean WHATEVER. I know people who see their Higher Power embodied in a teddy bear, in their car brakes, in the principles of science. No, there IS no fine print.)
I learn from the people at meetings. I learn from literature. I learn from the people here at Recovery Group. I learn from the people I call on the phone. I learn from my sponsees. I learn from my sponsor.
And even ... right now our face-to-face meetings are held outdoors because of a city strike. The acoustics arenít so great and sometimes I canít hear what the people in the meeting share. Then I listen to the crows. They teach me, too.
(Sidebar #2: Some of you may wonder, whatís up with all this talking and listening? Is she hearing voices? Isnít that supposed to be a mental health problem? You know what, thatís just the way my Higher Powers present themselves to me. It doesnít matter. All we need to do is be open to the possibility of a Higher Power and he/she/it will come to us ≠ through words, dreams, books, art, whatever ≠ even crows.)
Letís close with the ending of Step Two:
Step two is "the beginning of a healing process that would relieve us of the compulsion to overeat and bring stability to our unbalanced lives. As we responded with action to the love we had been shown in OA, the result was a new faith in ourselves, in others, and in the power of that love. We had begun to develop a new relationship with a Power greater than ourselves, and we were ready to move ahead with our program of recovery."
Questions for Step Two:
What passage in Step Two of the OA 12x12 stands out to you? Why?
What does your insanity around food look like?
Are there other kinds of insanity in your life?
List 10 things you currently believe around the concept of God. How helpful are these beliefs?
How would you like your Higher Power to treat you?
If you were to write an ad for a Higher Power, what might it look like?
If you have a Higher Power, where do you see, hear or feel the presence of your Higher Power? If you donít have one, how MIGHT this presence be evidenced?
In what ways are you ready and willing to move ahead in your program of recovery? In what ways are you not? What do you need to do to make the willingness to move ahread bigger than the unwillingness?
"We respond with action to the love we receive in OA." What action, what footwork are you willing to do TODAY? If you want to, share on that in a separate post marked FOOTWORK.