Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Last week we looked at the principle behind step one which is all about honesty. So much of compulsive eating and addiction is about hiding the truth even though we can’t. Wearing black for years on end was a way I tried to hide the truth of what this disease had done to my body by hurting it with food and punishing exercise. When we finally get honest and admit there is a real problem, and that our way isn’t working, we can begin the process of recovery.
The Big Book tells us that the entire purpose of the Twelve Steps is to help us find a Power greater than ourselves that can relieve us of the obsession and compulsion with food (restore us to sanity, if you prefer). Working the steps IS the solution, it IS the message we carry to other compulsive overeaters and it is the method for having a saner, more manageable life.
The principle behind step two is hope. Here is what the OA 12 and 12 says (in step 12):
“In step two we learned hope as we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This same hope will now need to underlie all our actions. Even in our loneliest hours, we can remind ourselves of the great truth that we are not alone; even in our weakest moments we will find the strength we need if we believe it is available to us and ask for it”.
Being honest about my food and my life with another compulsive eater leads me to a feeling of great relief. If my whole life I have felt that I could never tell anyone the real truth about who I am and I finally become willing to do so (thanks to the gift of desperation), something extraordinary happens. I suddenly begin to have hope that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as bad a person as my disease tells me I am. I am given hope when you don’t run away upon hearing all the horrible truths and honesty about what I do with food and how unmanageable my life is. I tell you I did the Snickers Bar diet (as many of them as I want, as long as the calories are “moderate”!), you give me acceptance that I am not a crazy freak but a sick person trying to get well and that gives me hope.
The OA 12 and 12 tells me about finding hope in step two. I find hope by doing what other people have recovered do. I don’t have to believe it will work: I just have to have hope. I remember being told to make a phone call before eating the first compulsive bite by a fellow in early recovery. I thought she was completely insane! (“What is she gonna do? Reach into the phone and grab the chocolate bar from my hand?!”). But you told me that you did it and it worked for you and it gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, it might work for me, too. It did and it still does.
What about practicing the principle of hope in ALL our affairs? As my ego is reduced in size by doing what you tell me, the food and my life become right-sized. I don’t have to be Superwoman. And I don’t have to be the lowest creature of the low. I become less arrogant and also less despondent. What emerges is hope that, as long as I endeavor to practice the principles in all my affairs, my life will become saner and more manageable, neither the best on the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous … nor wearing men’s shoes and wandering around homeless in a shopping cart, both mental fantasies my head takes me to when I am running on my own power.
The principle of hope reminds me that, while the first thought in my head may be that of my disease (As one woman says, “The fear speaks first, and the fear speaks loudest!”), it is not the only thought. I can pause, as the Big Book reminds me to, and allow the hope of a possibility of another possibility for my life to arise. That can be about finally recovering from this disease, attaining and maintaining a healthy bodyweight, trusting that something better than the doom-and-gloom in my head is possible, giving trustworthy people the benefit of the doubt or any number of other ways of being in the world.
Here are some questions and assignments for you for this week.
· Last week we worked on practicing the principle of honesty, which might have been both painful (“Oh wow! Is that how much I am REALLY eating? Is that how I am REALLY managing my life?”) and inspiring (“When I am honest, I find of that I am really NOT alone!”) for you. Why do you believe that hope is the next principle to help you recover from compulsive eating?
· Do you have hope that you can be recovered from compulsive eating one day at a time? (NB: the title page of the Fourth Edition of Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says it is: “The Story How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism”). What do you believe is required for that to happen?
· How have you been given hope by other compulsive eaters? Perhaps your sponsor has shared with you how he/she manages to abstain one day at a time, or you have heard a fellow share about how he/she abstained for just ONE day. What specific actions (e.g., writing a food plan, committing your food, bookending a phone call to another compulsive overeater when faced with a buffet or other difficult situation, etc.) have given you hope?
· How have you shared your hope with other compulsive eaters? Do you write on the loops or share at a meeting when you use a suggested a step or tool and share HOW IT WORKS?
· Would you be willing to share your hope by emailing and/or calling one OA/TRG fellow every day this week and sharing with them how the program is working for YOU?
· Do you believe that you can get well? Why? How, and in what ways?
· How does pausing during the day (instead of plowing ahead) give you hope?
· What has given you hope in your life today?
· Defiance is one of the hallmarks of the compulsive eater. Do you have hope today that you might come to follow Good Orderly Direction one day at a time?
· “We needed to ask ourselves but one short question.—“Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?” As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.” Does this quote from the Big Book give you hope? How
· “Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? Well, that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.” Does this quote from the Big Book give you hope? How have you found Power by practicing hope in your life?
Get a sponsor if you haven’t already. It doesn’t have to be a “till death do us part” relationship with THE Perfect Person! Just someone you feel comfortable sharing your step work and assignments with for the duration of our study.
· Read step two in the OA 12 and 12 and in the AA 12 and 12. The latter can be found here online at http://www.aa.org/twelveandtwelve/en_tableofcnt.cfm. Also read “We Agnostics” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Feel free to respond to the assignments this week to the loop as you wish. Some of you might want to do a little bit each day, and send a reply with your work each day or a couple of times during the week. Others of you may prefer to do all your work and then send an email to the loop. Whatever method you choose, the most important thing is to ask for the willingness to be honest and to allow that to be in reflected in your work as it feels best for you. Only you and your HP know what is in your heart and that should be primarily reflected in what you share with your sponsor. I have always had a sponsor in recovery and know it is vital for me to share the truth of who I really am, with just one other person and my HP.
Wishing you a sane, abstinent week full of hope!
The Twelve Steps
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