Step Twelve

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps,
we tried to carry this message to compulsive eaters,
and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Leader's Share and Step Questions

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

You made it!

Lots of people with addictions don’t find a way to “a life of sane and happy usefulness”. You have. I have. We have. What a miracle! That is the spiritual awakening Step 12 talks about. Some of us may encounter a few burning bushes here and there. That’s nice, but it’s not important. What’s important is that we are not asleep anymore. We have awoken from denial and spiritual loneliness, from feeling bad about ourselves, from isolation, reluctance, arrogance, hopelessness, from feeling lost in our very real daily behaviour that makes us throw in the towel. That doesn’t mean that we won’t nod off again; but we have at least tasted here and there what it means to be awake. There is no going back from knowing that taste.

Maybe that was an important spiritual awakening for me: when I realized that I had taken a path that would be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. As you know, metaphors really work for me. My metaphor for abstinence/recovery is a comfortable highway, with a shoulder and a ditch beside it, and a field beside that, and then beyond that the “wild blue yonder”. Often my vehicle on that road is on old beater, you know the one where part of the windshield is taped up with duct tape, and you can’t use one of the doors, and you have to know just how to tap the clutch. But it works. Sometimes the journey just purrs along, all too often I veer off to the shoulder, sometimes I land in the ditch, and then I try and pick myself up as soon as possible, or ask for help from one of the fellow travelers. But I’m always going in the same general direction, have never landed in the “wild blue yonder” and making a U-turn is simply out of the question. That feels like such a grace. I’m not sure why but I suspect it’s because I simply put my little old beater on the road and started going with the recovery flow. By the way, this happened exactly 10 years ago this weekend. I had a spiritual awakening because I opened the door to a meeting, plonked my behind on a seat and kept coming back. Just like you have.

And now we get to practice these principles in all out affairs. What are these principles? There are different variations out there, and as you reflect on the steps, you might end up making your own. Here is one version:

Step 1 – Honesty. For me, that particularly means self-honesty. Today I stepped on a scale for the first time in a long time. I needed to be honest with myself about my weight. Yup, there are 15 pounds that definitely shouldn’t be there, no matter how I look at it.

Step 2 – Hope. That’s a big one for me. Huge. 15 years ago, knowing there is a weight problem, YET AGAIN, would have thrown me into a tailspin of hopelessness. Today it’s – oh. Here we are again. Well, we know what to do.

Step 3 – Faith. “All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well” is a saying that I absolutely love. I don’t have a friggin clue what’s going to happen in my career life in the next few months. I have faith it will all work itself out.

Step 4 – Courage. Ouch. Courage is not nearly as easy for me to come by as I used to think (thanks for that little bit of self honesty, HP!) For example, I need courage with finishing my taxes (not being afraid of the mound of paperwork that I think is involved) and also, I need courage to allow my sponsor to teach me.

Step 5 – Integrity. Admitting. Admitting that there are some things about those 15 pounds that I don’t want to do, for example. Admitting that to my sponsor.

Step 6 – Willingness. By now, we can see how these principles work together. In order to be willing, I need to have faith, courage, and integrity. Otherwise I might just say $#%#@ this and walk away.

Step 7 – Humility. Always coming back to the ground of reality. For example, I have received many compliments for my work lately. Clearly, that means I’m a genius! Oh, wait. I also keep misplacing my cell phone and keys at a rate that is absolutely ridiculous. My family sees that, laughs with me about it (thank God they do that rather than berating me!) and keeps me humble.

Step 8 – Brotherly Love. What a delightful old-fashioned phrase! By realizing that my brothers and sisters have feelings just like I do, and contradictory and simple and complex ones just like I, I can love them more.

Step 9 – Justice. “You break it, you fix it.” Simple.

Step 10 – Perseverance. You know what, program work is the only thing I’ve ever stuck with for 10 years, other than my important relationships. I didn’t even last for 10 years in school, dropped out of Grade 9 because my teachers irritated me too much. It is the Hope, the Faith and the Brotherly Love that kept me – as well as the two last principles.

Step 11 – Spirituality. The God of my understanding (GOMU) and who continually invites me to evolve in my understanding, deeper and wider.

Step 12 – Service.

Let’s talk about service, carrying the message.

What’s the message? We’ll all have our own version, different types of people to whom the message is carried, and we probably also adjust how we carry the message depending on who we talk to.

I have someone in my life who carries a lot of extra weight. I’ve dragged her to a number of meetings. It turns out OA just isn’t her thing – but she knows what it means to me, and understands some of the ideas behind program. Two years ago, this opened the door for a conversation about another area of her life that she found difficult. The idea of admitting her powerless over that issue was a great relief for her. She has since encountered much relief in that part of her life.

It’s my job to carry the message. What happens afterwards is decidedly not my job. It’s also my job to be willing to carry the message, and what happens with that willingness may very well not be under my control, either. I have a job right now where the word “recovery” is part of my job title, for Heaven’s sake. What is THAT about?! Ok, I don’t know, but I’ll do what I can to embody that word.

Some people carry the message by carrying chairs – the chairs that people sit in at meetings. If no-one sets up the chairs, the meeting feels empty and uninviting.

You just spent 12 weeks carrying the message. Each of your shares carries the message. You carried the message that you are willing to look at yourselves, that you struggle with food like so many others here, that you have found ways to be in touch with your Higher Power.

I’d like to invite you now to keep doing that. There are many ways. Let me say a little about sponsorship. Sponsors are OA members who are living the 12 steps and 12 traditions to their best ability, and are willing to support another OA member in their recovery journey. Sponsors are committed to abstinence. Sponsors share their knowledge and experience up to their level of experience. Sponsoring can begin at any time.

If you’re not already doing it, you are ready to sponsor.


You are ready to sponsor.

You will have received a message from Shlomo, the sponsorship coordinator. Please try it out and put your name on the list. Give the people who participate in the next cycle the gift of your sponsorship. I have wonderful, deep relationships with my sponsees. Give YOURSELF the gift of being a sponsor! If you feel you need some help with this, join the Sponsor-Sponsee loop, which is super helpful, at SponsorSponseeTalk.

There are also service positions open here at The Recovery Group. Contact to take a peek at the delicious buffet it has to offer!

A little quote from Lifeline, November 2010, about service:

“At my first meeting, only one other person was present. I am grateful she had not decided to go home. The meeting had struggled for months and closed soon after my visit. But it was there for me when I needed it most. I sat across the table from a kind, patient OA member and cried while we took turns reading from OA materials I now love. With this one person, I knew I had found the solution. I had found my home.”

Okay now. Here we are then. This is our last round of questions. I will say my good-byes in my reflections for this step, so for now, let’s launch into some more work!

Our last questions:

How have you awoken?

Which ones of the 12-step principles speak to you, and how have they been enhanced for you during this WTS cycle?

Is there a principle that’s missing?

What is YOUR message of recovery?

Are you ready to sponsor? If not, what’s missing still?

Is there a part of the promises that is becoming true for you?

What is a piece of program writing regarding Step 12 that speaks to you?


Top of Page

Leader's Reflections #1

Hi there

So here’s my sponsorship rant. Here’s what I have heard both online and offline people say why they cannot sponsor (yet). Because they

- are not ready
- don't have enough time
- don't know how to do it
- aren't perfectly abstinent

- don't really understand the program/12 steps/traditions/tools/principles yet

And probably a few more reasons.

Some actually point the finger in the direction where, in my admittedly sometimes not so humble opinion, most of this comes from - which is fear:

- I’m afraid I'll do it wrong
- I’m afraid my sponsee will find out I’m a fraud
- what if my sponsee won't like me?
- what if my sponsee won't do what I tell him/her?
- what if my sponsee doesn't become abstinent?
- what if my sponsee leaves?
- what if I have to dedicate all of my limited free time to sponsees?
- what if they call me all the time and I can't say no to them?
- what if my sponsee asks me a question and I don't have an answer?
- what if they see that I’m not perfectly carrying the message because I am not at my ideal weight/have a slip/acted out on my character defects/am taking too much time to make an amends/etc.?
- what if I ruin/traumatize my sponsee?
- what if my ESH is not enough/boring/scary/irrelevant/etc.?
- what if this pushes me back into codependency?

So, people, here’s some extra questions for those of you who don’t have enough of this cycle yet. Tell me how we can react to those fears. You can tackle all of them, or just one or a few of them – but let’s tackle it together!

Some time next week I will write my last reflections. I’ll also tell you where I’m at with my taxes :)

Have a wonderful weekend!


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