STEP THREE

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over
to the care of God as we understood Him.





ESSAY

The most notable thing about this Step in terms of action is that it asks us to make a decision to do something, not to come up with a full blown theological definition. People who think that spirituality and religion are the same thing have difficulty with this Step. But they are not the same thing.

It has been said that addiction is an “I” disease, that is, an addict puts the ego at the center of the universe. In classical psychology, the task of the ego is to survive in the short run. The ego, therefore, seeks short term solutions to immediate problems. For me, this meant finding something to ease the pain I felt. Food was available, and it worked. I had no problems easing the pain with food. Until my life began to revolve around food, and I became addicted to the results of eating. And even eating itself became a part of the results!

At this point in time, I became an addict, and a compulsive eater. From that moment on, I no longer dealt with the long term issues. And now, too, a part of the pain became a chronic depression, which needed self medication. Self, of course, = ego.

A major part of the process of recovery is to find a way to dethrone the ego, and to relocate the center of our being outside it. A healthy ego is a good thing, but mine was not healthy. It sat on the throne and ruled my will and my life like a petty tyrant. This simply had to change.

Many people already believe in a God who can do what is needed. They believe, often have full theological definitions, but they do not act to dethrone their egos. They are true believers, who do not surrender and submit to the God they know. I am not casting aspersions – I was once one such person!

R. M. Brown once said, “The Devil’s never so near,/ As when the smell of piety’s in the air. “ Alas, that described my situation all too well.

For many addicts, it is necessary to “admit that they are powerless over – food, in our case.” That is to say, we have to come to realize that we are defeated by our disease. We cannot continue the downward spiral into death, and we cannot stop it alone. Something outside our self must come in if anything is to happen. Now, that doesn’t mean that the outside force has to be any given divinity, or even a divinity at all. Those who believe in God as generally understood are not called upon to give up anything, and those who do not are not asked to be converted. It isn’t necessary that our God be anything more than our acting as if our decision to dethrone our egos can have some kind of healing reality. Personally, I find it easier to believe in God than to perform what seems to me to be mental gymnastics, but that’s just me. It may be, however, that my understanding of the God I believe in has changed somewhat dramatically since coming to recovery. This God I know is at the center of my being, and if also afar off, that is God’s business and not mine. In this sense, God is not my copilot; God is the pilot. I am the copilot.

So I do not see this Step as requiring any particular theist belief, but rather a call to make a decision to put something, someone, almost anything, on the throne in place of the ego. Your Higher Power is the one you understand your Higher Power to be. And that can be the Steps themselves, the group of recovering people, or the God of theism. It matters not to this Step, or any Step. What matters is making the decision to do something, something that puts the ego in its place, which is a healthier place anyway. That is the beginning of sanity, and that is the beginning of our journey to recovery.

 

QUESTIONS

  1. Are you defeated by the disease of compulsive eating? Think of some of the ways you have tried to control your compulsive eating, apart from the Steps, and note the long term results.
  2. Look at your history of why you began to eat compulsively. Can you date an approximate point when a survival mechanism became an addiction? What was going on in your life?
  3. Self medication for pain of whatever sort, psychological, physical, emotional, or spiritual, is usually a part of why we ate compulsively. How and to what extent has this been true for you?
  4. The decision we are called upon to make will change our lives in a new and healthy direction. It is a momentous decision, as we will be changing many important factors in our lives. This decision is, in a sense, only tangential about food. Food control follows the life led in the Steps. How do you see your decision, and are you ready to make it?
  5. How do you see your God, as you understand God? There are no right or wrong answers to this question. Your spirituality is personal to you. Note that a creedal recitation is not the answer to this question, however.
  6. We are called upon to make a decision. Given the nature of our disease, this decision is one we will make every day for the rest of our lives. It is more of a process than a one time act. What would you think might strengthen your decision day by day for the rest of your life? (Think what nurtures you spiritually, for example.)

 

MY ANSWERS

  1. I tried any number of diets, and even fasting. The results were sometimes temporarily successful, but in the long run, nothing seemed to work. By the time I came to OA, I was defeated. I know now that I was rather severely depressed, but I seemed to know that nothing I could do was going to do me any good. I was grossly obese, and it was killing me, and I could see nothing for it. I had decided that an early grave was going to be my fate. I was not suicidal, unless a death certificate could read death by compulsive overeating.
  2. I was abused as a child, and I am certain that I began to eat at some point in middle childhood to deal with the pain. I do not know exactly when my eating became compulsive. When I was 16 I went to camp one summer, and they put me on a good diet, which I was happy to follow, and I lost a goodly amount of weight over that summer. Once home again, however, I was back to the old situation, and regained that weight and more. Since I remained unable to stop eating ever thereafter, I think this may have been the point of transition. I needed support from home, and there was none, so things went downhill from here.
  3. I was happy in college, and not extremely obese, but my self image was that of being fat and ugly, despite being rather popular in some ways. It was in graduate school that I can remember being overtaken by depression, and that remained thereafter as a major cause of a need for self medication, too. This depression was not treated. I knew something was wrong, and I went to a psychiatrist, who misdiagnosed my situation. This compounded the problem, as for many years thereafter I felt that therapy could offer me nothing, and therefore did not attempt to seek it again for many years. Food was my medicine. Toward the end of my days in the food, I became exceedingly obese.
  4. I think the degree of my desperation as I have noted elsewhere was a driving factor in my willingness to make this decision. Also, I had finally sought therapy, and found a therapist who was helping me deal with my real problems. OA was recommended, and after a few weeks of great fear and trembling, I attended a meeting. The meeting was a beginner meeting, but the speaker was an old hand, a man, and his story moved me to believe that this was something I could do. Hope returned, blessed hope. This was April 12, 1993 .
  5. 5.The God I have come to know in recovery is a gentle and loving God, who has been there for me in this journey. I feel a part of this God, and in the center of my being, God has a place that has always been there, for so many years waiting for me, so that the miracle of recovery could begin. My God does not fail me when I turn to my God for help. A true friend.
  6. I have learned to meditate and to contemplate. Meditation may cover it all, but I add the contemplation because that means listening as well as talking. My first sponsor was a deeply spiritual man, and he encouraged me to read OA’s For Today, every day, and to sit with it for a little while, and listen to the resonation it set up within me. There are many excellent recovery meditations, TRG has one, and there are many more, in books, tapes, and emails. Every day, I continue to read these, and to listen to what happens. I find this to be the most powerful thing in keeping daily resolve to let go and let God. The other thing has been to work the Steps. There are daily steps, and then at least once a year I have worked the Steps thoroughly. The tools are all helpful, too. I go to meetings, and so on. I’ve even made phone calls. I have a sponsor. I sponsor. And so on.
Love,
John







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