Reading in the OA 12 and 12 I remember back to writing my Step 2 for the first time in my home meeting. This step was strongly rejected by me. It was the first of the steps that asked me to believe in something greater than I was. You see just like the OA 12 and 12 says (page 15) "Perhaps we didn't believe that our compulsive overeating was a spiritual problem, or we felt that God was concerned with more important matters..." I was a person who believed that God abandoned them and at the bottom of my addiction I believed I was god. It took a miracle to make me teachable enough to come into the rooms. I remember my first indication that perhaps I wasn't god. It was a rude awakening really. The diets always failed, the exercise I only kept up for a few weeks till I injured myself, and I was friendly, or so I thought, to everyone — I really didn't have many friends. One night in early recovery I was working this Step and my sponsor encouraged me to look around me and see if I was really god, then to ask for a sign. Late at night I was walking home from town and there was a white rose growing on a bush near my house. It shone in the moonlight perfect and whole. It was at that moment that I realised I was not god because I didn't create that rose. Sure I created the chaos and veil of control in my life; I thought that I survived just fine on my own without this Higher Power stuff. But the truth was I was lonely and alone and my Higher Power was there all the time. He was just waiting for me to ask for help.
I still find this step a challenge after years in recovery. It's so easy for me to put the "I'm god" hat back on and stop taking suggestions, but I have found that the suggestions just keep getting louder when I do that. People who love me suggest writing down my food or going for walks when I get complacent — sometimes I don't listen. My higher power can be subtle as a spring rain or as awe inspiring as a hurricane. My job in recovery is to get to a place of calm by being abstinent so he doesn't have to hit me with a hurricane all the time. :-)
I like to break down the steps in this Step study to understand each part of them.
Came to believe – How does one come to believe something? I like to equate this to school. When I was growing up I learned all sorts of things. I learned how cars were powered, I learned how a tree grows, I learned how to add and subtract, I learned the colours, how to draw, how to sing, dance and play musical instruments. When I was a kid I didn't know why the sky was blue but with knowledge I came to believe that it was due to the refraction of light. People who were a lot brighter than I was came up with that one and who was I to argue? So I came to believe lots of things in life; good and bad, right and wrong. So when coming to believe I need a few things to be in place.
- It needs to be a logical answer
- I gotta have proof that it works
So in OA when people said there is a HP who is looking out for me. I thought there's no logical answer for it but it sure as heck works as people that surrendered to this HP seems to be getting abstinent and living happy, joyous, and free. So it proves ½ of the premise and I am still working on the other ½!
That a power greater than ourselves – Again a tough ask for this doubting Thomas. I heard in the rooms once that there are lots of things that prove we are not all powerful. You have to pay your taxes or you will go to jail or be fined. The judges and lawyers are more powerful than I am. You have to avoid parking on double yellow lines or you will get a ticket. The traffic wardens have more power than I have. You need to be vaccinated if you go to the Amazon. Even the lowly mosquito is more powerful than I am. Lots of things prove I am not all powerful but in my addiction of compulsive overeating I can think I am all powerful. But it isn't until I write down all those things in life I didn't have power over that help me to understand why I use food to gain a false sense of control over those things.
Could restore us to sanity -"I don't need that. I'm perfectly sane. I just have an eating problem." p. 9 OA 12&12.
That was exactly my reaction. What do you mean insane? I thought: It's you people who are insane spending your time talking about feelings for hours each week. I was so emotionally constipated that I thought that it was all the other people who had the sanity problem. It was then that I read and listened to what insane eating was.
I ticked them off like a list.
- Did you eat frozen food? Yes
- Burnt food? Yes
- Food from the bin (garbage)? Yes
- Rotten or almost rotten food? Yes
- Did you hide food? Yes
- Eat in secret? Yes
- Binge till you couldn't walk or wanted to throw up? Yes
Hmmm... as I went through these things I thought well yes they sound a bit odd but doesn't everybody do these things?
No... it was my sponsor who asked me to sit in restaurants and in public and watch other people eat. Watch as they left food on their plates and even sent bad food back
What was normal for me was not normal for everyone. And the things I was doing with food were insane, dangerous and obliterated my self-esteem with toxic shame.
Once again a gentle set of reminders of how I worked this step that may help you:
Select a home group (this can be on-line, on email, in person etc.) and attend meetings regularly and share about your step work and your feelings.
- Get some numbers, email addresses of people you can speak to and share with.
- Get a journal and write down your feelings around this step. I am a great procrastinator and tend to put things off. Journaling helps me.
- Think about asking someone to be your sponsor if you don't have one. A sponsor is like a kind older brother or sister. They are a bit further down the road and they have what you want.
- Work with that sponsor on what comes of this step work. They are a great source of inspiration, clarification and support.
Read Step 2 in the OA 12 and 12 page 9-17.
Share your feelings around this step with your OA home group(whether on line or in real life), this step group and a trusted friend or sponsor.
- Ask 3 people what/whom they see as their higher power today?
- Ask how they found that higher power.
- Ask how they communicate with that higher power
But how do you know you need a higher power? Haven't you been doing just fine? I found writing a list helped me to see how I needed help and couldn't do it on my own.
- Make a list of all the insane things you have done around food
- Take note of some of things in life that you didn't do yourself or you don't have power over. It can be as obtuse as the discovery of America or the creation of the solar system.
You may be thinking at this point: What if I don't believe in God? What if I don't believe in the God which others(parents, religious leaders, friends etc) told me about?
This is really really important. I love this about OA. You now can choose your own higher power. It doesn't have to be your parents, your sponsors, the one you grew up with, the one that's a majority in your country, state, county, or family. You can make this higher power into exactly what you want and need from him/her/it/them.
You may ask how do I go about doing that? Choosing a Higher Power?
The way that I did it was by thinking what characteristics I would want in a loving parent
ü All Knowing
ü All Forgiving
These characteristics are what I choose in a Higher Power and I asked for these in Him. I use that pronoun as it's easier. It could as well be She, It or Them for me.
- List a set of characteristics that you want in your Higher Power
You may ask: Does my higher power have to be an entity?
Nope. It can be a group of people, the universe, a deity or nothing at all. In OA it's suggested to believe in something greater than you. For me this can be the collective consciousness of millions of addicts all over the world working the program to get well. I didn't create the 12 step program and I didn't keep it going. After I die it will still be going. Therefore I am not God. As simple as that.
You may think: Nope still not convinced! I suggest reading the AA Big Book Chapter to the Agnostics or the lovely OA Pamphlet entitled, "What if I don't believe in God?" Both give more credence to the argument that you don't have to. You just believe in something greater than you. A good agnostic friend of mine described it as a force in her (her higher self) that knew what was right. I like that. Simple and to the point and not some unobtainable bloke on a cloud somewhere. Though you can believe that too if you like! If by the end of this Step you believe or don't believe that's just fine. It took me ages to get this. My experience with this Step tells me that everyone has to come to believe in their own way.
I love the phrase said before the serenity prayer in some of my meetings.
Using the word God as you do or do not understand him, them, she or it.
This gave me permission to work the steps even if I did not have that amazing flash of light belief that others seemed to get. (Still comparing my recovery to others is dangerous for me). I worked the Steps imperfectly and made note of the miracles coming true in my life. This helped me to see that there was a God and 'twas not me!
Here are a few questions from the OA Workbook which helped me:
- In what ways have I been obsessed with diets and or weight loss schemes? To what extremes have I gone to get food or to control my weight?
- If I do not believe in a Higher Power can I "act as if" I am getting help with my life? How?
- Do I believe in God but not really believe that God can or will deal with my compulsive overeating?
- What actions am I willing to take that others have told me worked for them?
I hope you know how amazing you are for doing this Step work. It's a commitment to your recovery, a commitment to yourself and a blessing to so many other compulsive overeaters who will read your shares and gain from them. Thank you for being a part of my journey.
Walking with you!
The Twelve Steps
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