My Dearest Companions on the Journey of Recovery,
Thank you all so much for your arduous work in answering the questions of the First Step in depth. It is supportive for me to identify with all of you and to read my story in a variety of versions again and again. Being reminded of who I am and what will happen to me if I fail to remain spiritually fit, helps to keep me on the path of recovery. I am pleased and honored to have you all walking with me.
Step 2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Doing the rigorously honest work of looking at our addiction and how it has affected our lives can make the situation seem dishearteningly bleak. The consoling news is that this is not the end of the story. There is a solution. Compulsive overeating is a disease of hopelessness. Just as mold grows in darkness, food addictions grow in despair. The principle behind Step Two is HOPE.
I always saw my spiritual life as rich, fulfilling, life-giving., and dynamic. I am a woman religious after all! I have participated in community prayer enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. Though I struggle to be attentive and free in personal prayer, a connection with God has been a centering force in my life. Regular retreats have nourished my faith. Spiritual direction calls me to be real and authentic. I am something of a “spiritual thrill-seeker” and am intrigued by diverse ways of expressing faith and finding God. My spirituality calls me to relationship with others, active concern for the poor and marginalized, and a commitment to justice and peace.
Yet, there seemed to be gaping holes in my soul which challenged the authenticity of outward appearances. The first was that, though I had done a plethora of activities to nurture my spiritual life, I had never truly seen my Higher Power (who I call God) as reliable and trustworthy. The second stems from that errant belief. I never really believed that HP would and could help me with my compulsive overeating. These attitudes allowed me to lead a life that was pure insanity. I believe my craziness around food and its consequences has been well-established in the First Step.
If my spirituality was so rich and dynamic, one might ask why I never placed my misery before HP to ask for healing. I prayed for relief and could not understand why HP did not respond. I now comprehend the reasons. First, I never truly wanted to give up the food. I wanted my weight to be whisked away in some miraculous healing. The second reason was that I had my food addiction secured in a fireproof vault with 2,974 locks, a chain on the door, physical and psychological troops surrounding it, and armed guards at the entrance. This is violent imagery and it felt that way. No one could touch my disease; not friends, not family, not HP, not even my innermost self (Where HP dwells).
When HP failed to miraculously dissolve my excess weight and remove my food problems, I became convinced that HP had abandoned me in disgust, viewing me as an irredeemable wretch. I began to cry out to HP in the words of the prophet Jeremiah in the Hebrew Scriptures, “You duped me and I let myself be duped!” I embraced the notion that if I wanted to control my eating and live according to my values, I alone had to find the strength and courage.
Reflection on my posture towards HP during that time brings some painful truths to clarity. HP did not abandon me. It was I who checked out. I also effectively closed off the most concrete and available channel to HP, other people (HP with skin on!) by harboring the secret of my overeating and attempting valiantly, yet erroneously, to overcome it in isolation. My shame, guilt, fear, and self-reliance blocked me from asking for and receiving the help I so desperately needed.
Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, HP’s love remained steadfast during the years in which the insanity of my disease manifested itself. It took a tidal wave, a powerful combination of enough pain and the grace of HP to destroy my defenses of denial and independence. It was only then that I could truly believe I needed God and others to manage my addiction. I came to believe that a Higher Power could and would restore me to sanity.
Perhaps your story differs from mine. Many people do not believe in a Higher Power at all, or have serious doubts about the existence of one. All that is required in Step Two is that you have an open mind. This is a spiritual program, not a religious one. You are free to believe in whatever Higher Power has value for you.
I struggled mightily to believe that HP was willing and able to restore me to sanity when I had failed so many times in so many ways. Through faithful practice of letting go during prayer and in my daily life, my image of and relationship with HP were transformed. I see HP as merciful and forgiving. My HP is reliable and trustworthy, willing for me what I need, though not necessarily what I want. I see a myriad of ways in which HP’s salvific action manifests itself in my life. I came to believe that HP can and will restore me to wholeness.
My shame and desperation have been replaced by hope. I have been transformed to a point where addiction and its accompanying insanity are not controlling my life. Sanity is a natural state and can be defined as accepting myself as a person with strengths and weaknesses who is not perfect, but learning. It means that I AM loveable and worthy of care, though I make mistakes. I never believed this in the core of my being before.
For me, sanity involves maintaining abstinence as a top priority in my life. If I can do that with the help and grace of HP, everything else will fall into place.
I believe that HP has led me to recovery for a particular reason. I have read that 1 out of 19 people recover from addictions. Why have I been chosen from that staggering statistic? I know in a deep place within myself that HP has better plans for me than I could ever imagine. My petition is simply to be given the gifts of sanity and wholeness, so that I can live as HP intends.
Questions for Reflection and Sharing
- How do I define hope?
- What is my spiritual life like?
- Do I believe in a Higher Power? What is that HP like? How would I like my HP to be? Write a job description for my HP.
- Do I believe that HP could and would restore me to sanity? Am I open to the possibility?
- What is my definition of sanity?
- What is my petition to HP?
- Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book) “We Agnostics”
- The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - Step 2
- The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous - Step 2
The Twelve Steps