My name is Lawrie Cherniack, and Iím a compulsive overeater.
This is a practical Step Study. It is designed to use what Iíve been taught are the directions from the Big Book to recover from compulsive eating, and to maintain that recovery on a one-day-at-a-time basis for the rest of your life.
Donít forget to go to www.oabigbook.info to download (for free, of course) some forms and documents Iíll be referring to in this Step Study, as well as a book Iíve written, based on a 2005 Step Study I did for WTS, which provides the theoretical background for this 2008 Step Study.
If youíre offended by anything I write, please donít be critical until you have read the book Iíve written to see where Iím coming from. In this Step Study I am deliberately getting to the nub and not trying to justify and explain everything Iím saying.
First, have you been abstinent throughout your Step Four?
Have you been abstinent throughout your Step Four? If you havenít been, it's still not too late to start, but I respectfully suggest that before you go on to do a Step Five you go back to the Resentment Form and put down some statements about your abstinence that make sense to you. Some suggestions:
After youíve finished writing down these statements (or statements that make more sense to you), fill out column two for each of those statements, then fill out all the six sub-collumns in column three for each one of the points youíve given in column two, and then work out where youíve been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened.
Then put down all the fears that have become uncovered in this process in column one of the Fear Form, then fill out column two for each of those fears, then write down that youíve been relying on your finite self and that it didnít work, and say the fear prayer for each of the fears in column one. Then figure out what your higher power would have you be.
Maybe youíve uncovered some sexual conduct issues. Deal with them in the sexual conduct forms.
Where we are:
We have completed Step Four. Through the Resentment Form we have moved from things that bother us to a powerful understanding of how our wish to be in charge of life shows up in four major character defects (selfishness-in the Big Book definition, dishonesty, self-seeking, and fear). Through the Fear Form we have begun to outgrow fear by realizing that we can only be the best we can be, and accept that there are limitations to what we can be and do. Through the Sex Conduct Form we have received guidance as to how to live in relationships (sexual or otherwise) without selfishness, dishonesty, and self-seeking.
Now on to Step Five! Are you now ready to do Step Five? Well, if you donít do it, our experience is that you will go back to eating. And going back to eating, for a compulsive eater, is a death sentence-a slow, lingering, debilitating, death sentence. So do it!
Besides, you will end up unburdening yourself, you will find that you arenít alone, and you will receive great feedback to help you understand yourself.
Instructions for Step Five, first part:
Here are the instructions as Iíve been taught.
Find someone who is not an object of resentment or whom youíd hurt if you shared your Step Four with, who can keep a confidence, who fully understands and approves of what youíre doing, and who will not try to change your plan.
My own experience is that I find these kinds of people within the fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous, or sometimes within the fellowship of other Twelve Step fellowships. I have many friends, however, who find these kinds of people through their own or other religious institutions, through therapy, or through their own dear friends. No problem. Just find someone!
Arrange a two to five hour session with that person.
When you meet that person, explain to that person what youíre about to do, and tell him or her that this is a life-and-death errand for you,
People who have heard my Step Fives and people whose Step Fives I have heard also will ask for gentle feedback and questioning so the person who is doing Step Five neither takes him- or herself too seriously or too lightly. Sometimes I have left blanks in some of the columns on the forms; I ask for assistance in trying to figure out what I might have left out.
[Note to those who may be hearing a Step Five: If youíre given permission by the person giving Step Five to give feedback and ask questions, hereís some advice, based on experience. Donít impose your own morals or standards. Do listen carefully. Do nod or say things like "I understand that completely." or "Been there. Done that." or "I think that makes sense, but could you just explain it a bit more." Feel free to say things like, "You know, I may be off the wall on this, but if I had that experience I might be feeling dishonest because I didnít acknowledge the truth; is that possible with you?" In other words, donít put words in their mouths, but feel free to talk from your own experiences to see if the person giving the Step Five recognizes something that fits. When you get to the Fear Forms, feel free to explore possible things that personís higher power would want him or her to be. When you get to the Sex Conduct Forms, feel free to explore possible things that person might have done instead. But do only what you're moved to do, not what you think you should be doing. Don't judge! You're there to listen and to help that person unburden him- or herself and assist that person to understand him- or herself better. No gratuitous advice, either.]
Take out your forms.
Take the Resentment Forms first and read off the first column and the fourth column-in other words, the person, principle, or institution, which has troubled you (column one) and where youíve been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened, in relation to that person, principle, or institution. You might have to provide some background to explain the fourth column ("this is my son", "this is my co-worker", "this is someone I bullied in grade four") but donít dwell on why that person, principle, or institution, is on your list --- in other words, don't read off columns two and three. Just explain the background/context and then go on to column four. Invite feedback. Invite questioning. Invite understanding.
If you find yourself repeating things, feel free to say things like: "I was selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened in relation to the next three people-Dan, Frank, and Joan, all co-workers-in the same way I was to the first co-worker I talked about" You will see patterns, and, so long as youíre honest and complete, you don't have to say the same things over and over.
After youíve finished with the Resentment Forms, then take the Fear Forms and go from left to right for each fear. You might want to save time and say, "For each fear, I have relied on my finite self (column three), it didnít work (column four), and I said the fear prayer (column five), so Iím going to read columns one, two, and six to you." Then read off the fear (column one), why you have that fear (column two), and what your higher power would have you be (column six). If when you filled out the form you couldnít figure out what your higher power would have you be (column six), ask for help and discuss the matter until you get to a point of understanding what your higher power would have you be.
After youíve finished with the Fear Forms, then go to the Sex Conduct Forms. Again, go from left to right for each fear. You can save time and say that the relationships were selfish (column five) and that you said the fear prayer and mediation (columns six and seven). Then tell the person whom youíve hurt (column one), where you were selfish, dishonest, and inconsiderate (column two), whether you aroused jealousy, suspicion, or bitterness (column three), where you were at fault and what you should have done instead (column four)-and ask for help in this column if you couldnít exactly figure that out.
If in fact you still canít look the world in the eye, etc., you have left something out either in filling out the forms (Step Four) or in telling something to your Step Five person. Donít worry, youíre just peeling the onion. Itís happened to many, if not most, of us (including me). Just make another appointment with the person, and go back and fill out the Resentment Form some more. If other resentments donít come to mind, here are some suggestions:
Then do column two, and then column three, etc. Then fill out the Fear Form, and then, if youíve discovered a new sex conduct issue, fill out a Sex Conduct Form. Donít re-do anything you did in your previous Step Four unless you recognize that thereís more going on.
Then meet with your Step Five person and give that stuff away! The first time I used these forms, I did four Step Fours ad four Step Fives before I could finally say that I felt delighted, I could look the world in the eyes, etc. But at the fourth Step Five, I felt great!
If the answers to those questions are "yes", you're on your way! Here are instructions---Step Five, second part:
At some point, perhaps now, you can answer that you are delighted, that you can look the world in the eye, that you can be at perfect peace and ease, and that your fears have fallen from you. You have almost completed Step Five. You have one more task to perform. Youíve admitted to yourself and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs. Itís time to admit it to your higher power (for agnostics and atheists-to contemplate how your reactions to life have been inconsistent with your highest values).
Right after you have shared your Step Four with the other person, go home.
Say this prayer: "God, I thank you from the bottom of my heart that I know you better." (For agnostics and atheists, if you need another prayer: "I am thankful from the bottom of my heart that I know and understand my highest values better.")
Now review what youíve done. Read all the forms and make sure that youíve covered everything. Read the first five Steps and ask yourself whether youíve omitted anything. If you have, phone or meet with your Step Five person just to cover your bases.
Now youíve completed Step Five! But Wait! Thereís More! You still have Steps Six and Seven to do.
Step Six right after Step Five:
Would you like to have your selfishness, dishonest, self-seeking, and fear, removed from you?
Iíll bet you do! Theyíre paralyzing you, theyíre clouding your mind, theyíre inciting you to hurt other people, they are screwing up your entire life.
You would like to have them removed, wouldnít you?
Letís not pussyfoot around this. Can you honestly say that even a part of you wants to continue to be selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened?
Well, if there is a part of you that does, then say, "God, please help me to be willing to have my character defects of selfishness, dishonesty, self-seeking, and fear, removed." (For agnostics or atheists: "I would like to concentrate on my higher values rather than concentrate on being selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened.")
Once you acknowledge youíre ready to have these four character defects removed, youíve completed Step Six. But Wait! Thereís More! You still have Step Seven to do.
Step Seven right after Step Six right after Step Five:
Say the following prayer:
My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.
(For agnostics and atheists: "I am now willing that all of me, good and bad, should be devoted to my highest values. In order to devote myself to my highest values, I ask that every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to those highest values and my fellows be removed. I ask that I be granted strength, as I go out from here, to be and to act according to my highest values."
Okay. Take a break!
Next week, Steps Eight and Nine.
Donít destroy your Step Four Forms. Youíll be using them to make a list. Download the Steps Eight and Nine Form from www.oabigbook.info and make copies of them (or save them on your computer to fill out on your computer). Youíll be making a list of persons youíve hurt. If you want, you can start out filling the list (column one of that form) right now.
That was pretty quick! Recovery is now just around the corner!
See you next week!
The Twelve Steps
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