Service. That sums it up really. I came into this fellowship and found the blessings of the steps allowed me to be useful to another compulsive overeater. Through working on my past by taking the actions required of each and every step, I am the message today.
Over the past week in preparation for this Step I asked my Higher Power for examples of the 12th Step in my life. You see through all this writing for you I have been given the gift of recovery through service. The miracles I have been shown are amazing.
I came to OA to get thin. I am now free of the obsession for the same.
I came to OA to get in a relationship (or save my marriage). I am now single and happier than ever before.
I came to OA to get recognition. I now live simply and anonymously in the 12 steps.
I came to OA to get money. I am now given what I need by my HP.
I came to OA to get happy. I have found solace in hardship and joy as I am carried.
I came to OA to get popular. I now have many friends who call on me and consider me equal to themselves.
Step 12 was a step I was working from very early in my recovery. Each and every time I put chairs out at meetings, I took on service as secretary, treasurer, tea person or sponsor I was working Step 12. Even the simple act of coming to a meeting, I was recently reminded, is service. My gentle sponsor encouraged me to be of service to others in simple ways like phoning out to others and ask how they are when I was in self pity or pain in order to get out of my head and into the solution. It worked every time.
I have given service at local, regional and national levels. I give service for you all now on an international level. I have written for Lifeline. I have done PI work.
So why all the Service? Why do I do it? Is it for fame, fortune or money? Nope, it's to stay abstinent. That is what doing service today does for me. Whenever I am in pain and I can't seem to get unstuck I know it's time to do more service. Last year the lovely people who run the WTS loop asked me to give service. I said I could do it in 2009. When 2009 came I was still deep in denial and pain around my food. By being of service my food plan is now effortless and I am more deeply abstinent, more in touch with my Higher Power and more present than ever before.
That, my brothers and sisters, is the gift of service. It keeps me sober, abstinent, clean and sane 24 hours at a time.
Having had a spiritual awakening
What exactly is a spiritual awakening? I will refer to AA literature for this definition as I feel it's concise and accurate for what I experienced. “...a personality change sufficient enough to bring about recovery from alcoholism (compulsive overeating).” AA BB p567
Also the OA 12 and 12 calls it (sic) “Freedom from obsession and restoration to sanity.” OA 12 and 12 p100
So freedom and change... 4 years ago a woman walked into the rooms dressed in black holding a bottle of diet coke after having binged her brains out for 29 years. She was angry, miserable and in deep pain. Today that woman walked into those same rooms dressed in white full of humility, lightness of step and free from the obsession to overeat 24 hours at a time. That is change.
Freedom comes from 24 hours at a time eating exactly what it says on my food plan. X meals a day with life in between. Freedom comes from the removal of obsession with power, money, love and success and the acceptance of what life gives me 24 hours at a time. Freedom comes from having made amends for my past behaviour and living my life honestly 24 hours at a time. Freedom comes from daily contact with my higher power, my co-sponsor, my sponsees or my brothers and sisters in recovery. Freedom comes from working the steps and being the message.
If a spiritual awakening is change and freedom, I have had that today.
as the result of these steps
Note it says the result of these steps, not a result of these steps. I like that. So that's why I've been working so hard. That's why I am abstinent. Not so I can be thin (and perfect as my diseased head always pairs the two) but so that I can have a spiritual awakening.
So, ladies and gentlemen, the purpose of the 12 steps is what?
A spiritual awakening. Simple really. But darn hard work.
we tried to carry this message to other compulsive overeaters
Ok, this part of the step says we “tried” to carry this message to other complusive overeaters. That for me says I don't have to get it perfect. I just gotta try.
How do I imperfectly carry the message today?
I share in meetings, on the phone and with newcomers about my story. I give service at many levels of OA and often by just showing up to meetings. I continue to maintain abstinence as imperfectly perfect as I can and have released over 100 pounds by working this program. I work the steps around my denial and dishonesty and am recovering one day at a time. I sponsor in OA and other fellowships and carry my experience, strength, and hope to newcomers and long timers when asked. I do chairs at meetings when asked.
And the single best way I carry the message. I keep coming back even when I get up in the morning and think that I want to die and think why is it all happening to me. Those feelings always pass with prayer, a call or a meeting (sometimes all 3) and then I feel peace.
and practice these principles in all our affairs
What? You mean I have to do this recovery stuff in every area of my life? Yep.
I love the way the OA 12 and 12 breaks down this step into the principles that I have to adhere to in order to recover. I've been meaning to memorise these for years and imperfectly I haven't managed it yet. ;-)
Honesty – Step 1.
I work this in my life by sharing my food, my feelings and my life with others.
Hope -Step 2
I work this in my life by believing in something greater than myself is in charge and I am not running the show.
Faith – Step 3
I work this by handing over each and every decision in my life to my Higher Power and waiting for his answers for me.
Courage – Step 4
I work this by blindly following the 12 steps 24 hours at a time. I live in the solution today.
Integrity - Step 5
I work this through being honest in all areas of my life and facing up to my denial.
Willingness - Step 6
I work this by coming back no matter how hard it is and working each level of my recovery as it's shown to me when my HP is ready.
Humility -Step 7
I work this by handing over my self will, my food and my life to someone who has walked the path before me.
Self-discipline - Step 8
I work this by adhering to my food plan, my work plan and my dating plan one day at a time.
Love - Step 9
I work this by giving to others without expecting anything back.
Perseverance -Step 10
I work this by sticking to it each day. By showing up for meetings even when I don't want to be there.
Spiritual Awareness - Step 11
I work this by believing that there is a faith out there for me and exploring all avenues to bring me closer to God.
Service - Step 12
I work this by being the message and carrying the message to anyone who needs it 24 hours at a time.
By working these 12 principles in my life I continue to work the 12 steps. I love the gift of these steps as I am never finished. I can always go back and do another set. The OA 12 and 12 and other literature agrees with this. The steps never finish — they continue for life.
What a miracle that is as I can continue to be in the solution and work through my past so that I am free to be a vessel of my Higher Power's will.
That is freedom.
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 12 in the OA 12 and 12 page 99-106
Share your feelings around this what you have read with your OA home group (whether on line or in real life), this step group, and a trusted friend or sponsor.
Questions Part 1
- What is a spiritual awakening?
- Give examples of how the previous 11 steps have brought about a spiritual awakening in your life?
- How has working the 12 steps helped you with Fear? Control? Obsession?
- What is the freedom you are experiencing from working the 12 steps daily in your life?
- Why do we never graduate from working the 12 steps?
- What is the gift of continuing to work the 12 steps in our lives?
- Why must we give service?
- What are 5 examples of your giving service in OA? (these can be as simple as going to meetings)
Working the Step
OK, I am going to ask you something big. Huge even. This week I want you to go out and give service in OA.
How do I do that, Dawn? You may ask?
I don't know. That's for you to decide.
You could call a friend in OA you haven't seen for a while. Pick up the phone to talk to a newcomer. Go out for coffee with a friend. Volunteer to put chairs away at a meeting. Take on a service position at your home meeting. Sign up for the Sponsor list for the next TRG step study, (yes, you are ready to do that now). Go on the newcomer loop and sponsor someone there. Talk to someone about OA in the street if they ask you how you are “doing it”.
Just do it.
Now come back and write to the loop about how that service made you feel.
That's all. No biggie. Just do it.
Questions Part 2
- How does working with others enhance our recovery?
- What has your experience of working with a sponsee given you?(if applicable)
- What is keeping you from sponsoring?
- How do you carry the message to those outside of OA?
- How do you attract rather than promote OA by being the message?
- Why do you think we most effectively carry the message when we speak only about our OA experience rather than the therapy, diets or other advice that has helped us to recovery from overeating?
- Why do you think service should be done with humility and with no expectations?
- Taking each of the 12 Principles of the 12 Steps give examples of how you are working these in your life?
- Are you ready to begin a lifelong journey of working the 12 steps in all areas of your life?
- If no what are your reservations/fears?
- How does being joyful, showing up for service and speaking about OA mean that you are the message?
For the last time in this Step Study! Let's do a Step 3 prayer, our Step 7 prayer, the serenity prayer and move on to extra credit.
- What footprints am I making for others to follow?
- What is the message I am carrying?
- How do I confirm I have turned my back on old ways forever?
- How do I remain spiritually awake and fully alive?
It is with great sadness and grateful tears that I close this Step Study. I have been so blessed to walk this path with you for the last 12 weeks and I have been given a reprieve 24 hours at a time from compulsive overeating by giving this service. I can say that for the first time in my life I have freedom from food obsession. That was the miracle of this service for me.
I would like to thank my Higher Power, TRG and my previous sponsor for being the message for me for so many years. I would like to thank all of you for bearing with my often long winded God inspired step work.
Thank you for walking with me and I look forward to meeting you all along the path as I continue by the grace of God to work the 12 steps 24 hours at a time for the rest of my life.
Walking with you,
The Twelve Steps
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