Greetings to all the OA fellows out there in cyber world who are signing on to journey through the 12 steps with me. This step work comes at a critical time for me. Life has presented me with some serious challenges, and in my world when the going gets tough, the tough get into service and the steps. In program we call problems situations - situations that we face with faith and grace, showing up and doing the next right thing and leaving outcome to HP, who I will be referring to as God. I'm dealing today with a recurrence of ovarian cancer, and a new business that hasn't gotten off the ground yet (my sole source of financial support!) but I’ve gone through many situations in the past 15 years that have “passed”, as the slogan goes, and I can look back and know that I am being taken care of. I love the slogan “do the next right thing and the right thing happens”. Grace and courage are gifts I’ve received from this program. I wish the same gifts for all of you.
I recall as a young girl of about 10 going to see Max, the guy at the candy store, to tell him that I had 28 cavities. He didn't look amused and I didn't understand why he wasn't. Snacking was a way of life for me. I’d come home from school, make complicated snacks in the kitchen, an hour or two later I’d be hungry again, and my mother would say “have a piece of fruit”, which always made me angry. Weekend evenings were spent in front of the TV with snacks. All family gatherings were huge eating and drinking affairs. We’d get up in the morning, over a big breakfast we’d discuss what we were going to have for lunch, cooking would commence after breakfast. While we were cooking we’d be munching something, then we’d have appetizers, the meal, dessert, lie down for a nap afterwards, then get up and ask what’s for dinner. I wasn’t extremely overweight, but I was emotionally addicted to food. It was the only relief I had in life, the one thing I truly looked forward to. When I was old enough to drink, the food took a back seat to alcohol, which was a faster, more efficient way to check out. Plus it loosened me up a little (a lot) and I experienced things I’d never have done sober. I had a pretty wild early adulthood as a budding alcoholic in Manhattan, and when I bottomed out on alcohol, and came to AA, it didn’t take long to go back to the recreational eating I was comforted by as a young girl. Snacks were back. Anything was OK as long as it wasn’t alcohol. After 2 years of undisciplined recreational eating, I felt very similar to how I felt just before I came into AA. I was isolating, watching the food channel, shopping for food, preparing it, eating it, dreaming of the next meal – that’s all I did in my free time. On the job I was growing completely mortified at how I couldn’t stay away from the free Danish tray. And for the first time in my adult life, I went up a clothing size. That scared me, and knowing what I knew about addiction, and the progression of addiction, I knew that I was on my way up to big numbers if I didn’t do something.
One night in a Big Book AA meeting, as we were reading, I substituted the word alcohol, with M&Ms. I am powerless over M&Ms and my life has become unmanageable, M&Ms was my master. It rang true, and I had enough faith that if God could remove my compulsion to drink the way I drank, that it was possible that I could stop consuming food the way I was. I always say that I came in to OA on the second step. I got abstinent my first day in OA, and on top of 5 AA meetings a week, I added about 4 OA meetings. That’s what was necessary. I’d go to AA during my lunch break, and OA after work. The food insanity was lifted, and I proceeded to do the steps the way they are outlined in the OA workbook. I had about 7 years of easy abstinence, lost a bit of weight and was at probably the most perfect weight and body shape I’d every been in as an adult. But I wasn’t taking a lot of risks out there in life, I was playing it pretty safe, and as a result, I grew a little disillusioned with my life. Little by slowly I got looser and looser with my food plan, and what followed was a 3 years period when I was practicing controlled eating (similar to controlled drinking, in that I didn’t compulsively overeat, but I wasn’t happy, and I wanted to a daily basis). I continued to go to meetings, but I felt lost and not as committed as before.
In 2008, I was getting frustrated with how big my stomach was getting, no matter how little food I ate, it was getting bigger and bigger, until one day it occurred to me that it might not be weight that was making my stomach so big. I went to the doctor and after a series of sonograms and lab tests, was told that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Startling news. Now I was not only disillusioned with my life, but I was at a fork in the road about carrying on. Fortunately God sent some loving people to me to remind me that I have a place on this planet and I should take on the job of getting well and continuing my journey. So I did. Surgery, chemotherapy, hair loss, a lot of time incapacitated and at home. Eventually I got back on my feet, but I felt a little shy about returning to my OA meetings. I had changed a lot, gained some weight, and didn’t want people to see me that way. It was at that time that I discovered TRG. Connecting online with fellows was my first step in coming back into program. I started counting days with these online OAers, and after a few weeks, decided I wanted to return to face to face meetings as well.
I am currently still attending local meetings, and have re-united with some of the fellows that I have known all these 15 years in OA. I have also stayed active on TRG, having made some good program friends here that have helped me through many things in the past 3 years. My current challenges are that I have had a recurrence of cancer, and that I want desperately to open up my own business. Work and health, big life challenges, but not too big for God, and that’s what this program is all about, faith and action. Am I eating to comfort myself? I am, so I need to step up my work in program, including working the steps again. So – here I am working with all of you, taking the next right action with regard to my health and my work, and trusting that with continued recovery, I will remain present for my life, and everything will happen exactly as it’s supposed to.
In loving service,
The Twelve Steps