Step One

We admitted we were powerless over food,
that our lives had become unmanageable.







Leader's Share and Step Questions


Hello Everyone! Welcome to WTS 4th Quarter! So glad you are here, working with all of us. Together, we get better. Please remember to share your step work with your sponsor...and, if you wish, here on this loop. Sharing your ESH (experience, strength and hope) with others is service, and we cannot keep recovery without service. There may be times when you wish to share only parts of your work with the loop...that is fine. Step work can (and should) go deep and personal, and it may be better for your recovery to share those deepest parts with only your sponsor, trusted friend, clergy person or therapist. I commit to reading everything that you post on the loop, for I know it will help my recovery.

Below, in purple, I will share my answers to these questions.

Blessings to all of us on this journey.

STEP 1: “We admitted we were powerless over food—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Here are some questions that pertain to step 1.

  1. How do you/did you KNOW you are/were powerless over food? How have you tried to maintain control and failed? What else is left to try?
  2. Are/were there other things in your life that you are/were powerless over? What are they? What have you done to try to control those things and failed? What else is left to try?
  3. In what ways and what areas has/had your life become unmanageable?
  4. In the questions above, I have included both the past and present tenses....in your journey today, do you see yourself as powerless now....or in the past? If you don’t see yourself as powerless NOW, or your life as unmanageable NOW, what has made the difference?
  5. What does it mean to you that this step says “We” and “our” and not “I” and “my”?
  6. What blessings might be found in knowing and admitting that we are/were powerless?
  7. What blessings might be found in recognizing that our lives have/had become unmanageable?
  8. The principle underneath Step 1 is HONESTY. How have you feared honesty in the past? How might honesty be the key to freedom? What might it take for you to be willing to embrace honesty in all your affairs? What are you willing to do THIS WEEK to nurture the seed of honesty in your life?
  9. How do you introduce yourself at meetings? Compulsive overeater? Compulsive eater? Food addict? Sugar addict? Anorexic? Bulimic? Or? What does this say about how you see yourself? What are the feelings attached to that title? What feelings do you carry about your relationship with food? How much of your extra weight is shame? (Note to the anorexics/bulimics in our midst....you carry extra weight too...others just can’t see it as easily as they can see mine.)
  10. I once attended a 12 step group where a crusty long-timer always introduced himself as a ‘grateful’ 12 stepper....I thought he was NUTS. I now know better. How does your willingness to honestly take step 1 open the doors to living your life out of an attitude of gratitude? For what are you grateful now, that you might not have been grateful before you took this step?

Here are my answers to these questions:

I knew I was powerless over food when, having been threatened by my doc that he would put me on cholesterol meds if I didn’t lose the 15 lb I had put on that year....I waited for 7 months...then white knuckled off 25 lb....then promptly put back on 30 when life had some bumps in the road. My health is my number one asset, and I was unable to do the ‘simple’ thing of losing a few pounds and keeping them off.

I have tried Weight Watchers, Atkins, Ayds (chocolate candy that was supposed to suppress my appetite....I became addicted to them and still ate!), multiple strange diets, fasting, white knuckling, smaller plates, smaller forks, chewing longer. 12 step. There is nothing else I am willing to try. I know 12 Step is the answer. I am an addict from a parentage of addicts, and I cry UNCLE. This IS the last house on the block, and I am grateful I have the key to the front door. The key is willingness.

I was powerless over my emotions, over fear, over my self-loathing, over my parents’ drinking, over my husband’s addictions and mental health, over the abuse I suffered as a child, over procrastination, codependency and perfectionism. I have tried shame, strong self talk, perfectionism, isolation, religion, controlling. None of those helped. 12 Step, along with therapy with an addictions specialist has helped me let go of most of these issues, and let God handle them, at least most of the time. I have no need to look elsewhere. I am so very grateful.

My life was unmanageable because I was trying to run the world singlehanded. I was brought up (by two alcoholic parents) to be extremely codependent, to fear abandonment, to fear everything in life that I could not do perfectly. I was constantly sick—my persona was “sick”. I was constantly tired, behind, and scared.

Today, I am closer to being free of this unmanageability....some days more than others. But I know the answer is in 12 Step, in letting go and letting God...and I know that I am not condemned to live an unmanageable life. That brings me great hope.

I love that this step is written in the past tense....and that life is to be lived in the present tense. I WAS powerless over food....until I took the 3rd step and tapped into a power greater than I. I am no longer powerless...unless I choose to be. My life is no longer unmanageable...unless I choose to wrest back to power from my HP. Some days I do that...I am a stubborn, forgetful person! But, I know that my HP is just waiting for me to wake up to my stinkin thinkin and hand back the keys to the bus....and s/he is always willing to get back into the driver’s seat. I bought a vanity license plate this year....it says, “HAJFOUI”....and stands for Happy, Joyous and Free, YES! (Oui is French for yes, for those who don’t know that already.) This makes me smile every time I go to my car, for it reminds me that this is my new reality...as long as I stay connected to my HP and work my program.

The fact that these steps say ‘we’ and ‘our’ and not ‘I’ and ‘my’ reminds me that I am not terminally unique...that I am not alone on this journey. Most of my life I have felt alone, totally responsible, and have been taught that being weak and needing help is the worst thing possible. I am so very grateful that this program teaches that we get better together.

Knowing and admitting that I am....or have been.... powerless over food frees me from having to try to control food and all the rest of the uncontrollable things in my life. It is simply exhausting, and futile to boot! Unlike Sisyphus, who was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll a boulder uphill and then watch it roll back down...my deceitfulness is overwritten by this step of honesty, and I can step away from the insurmountable task of controlling my food...and my life. What a gift of freedom that is! Recognizing that my life has been...and continues to be...unmanageable is a gift because it gives me a new perspective. Growing up in an alcoholic home, my understanding of ‘normal’ was skewed. I remember a road trip I was on...down a mountainside....where I would say to a recovery friend (who was driving), “My dad or mom would do such and such” and she would turn to look at me in the back seat and say, “And you think THAT’S NORMAL???” We got down the mountain in one piece, but my understanding of the manageability—and normalcy--of my life was greatly shaken. Admitting to the unmanageability of my life also gives me a chance to realize that I was expecting myself to be able to do things that are not humanly possible...and that need HP’s power and help. I was so very grateful to be able to give up the ‘responsibility’ of keeping the world turning all by my little old self. Now I realize that I have footwork to do, but the end result is HP’s responsibility. That is wonderful news!

Honesty was not something that was modeled in my alcoholic home.... We certainly were taught not to openly lie...but what was clearly modeled was the presentation of a ‘good face’...half truths...hidden family secrets. I grew up with the deep seated fear that “If they only knew what I was REALLY like, they would run for the hills.” This is an unbearably paralyzing fear. I ran away from many things—swim team, an honors degree, studying abroad—for fear that I might not be able to do them perfectly (and thus be known to be an abject failure—the second biggest sin in our family). I was 25 when I finally realized that SOME things might be worth doing less than perfectly rather than not getting them done at all. And I was 40 before I realized that if this was as good as I got, I wasn’t all that bad. (AND that was decades before 12 Step!) Today, as I write this on Oct, 3, I turn 60....and I am so very grateful that honesty has a much more solid place in my life. It has been the key to freedom for me, because how I IMAGINE people might respond is so much worse than reality has proven. Also, being honest with myself and with others has opened the door to being able to enjoy my humanity, with all its successes AND failures, rather than fearing it. This week, I will work to be more honest about my feelings with my HP....I tend to ‘protect’ HP from my feelings, which I know is self-defeating and unnecessary.

I introduce myself as a compulsive overeater, grateful to be in recovery. I see myself as someone who has an incurable disease, and who has access to treatment that will offer the possibility of a quality of life far better than I had before my disease was diagnosed. I have released my feelings of shame around my weight and my disease. I accept that this is a chronic illness, and that I have footwork to do every day if I don’t want to get back to where I was. I am clear that it is not a moral failing....it is a disease, so there is no need for shame or self loathing. My extra weight is just that....and my HP will decide if I am to lose more or if I am to be content at the weight I now carry. It is none of my business.

My willingness to honestly take step 1 frees me to live my life out of an attitude of gratitude, for it uncovers the lie that I am in control, that I need to be in control, and that I am a failure if I am not in control. Freed from that lie, I am able to be grateful that I have a HP who cares for me, a program that supports my life, and fellows who walk this journey with me. I need never be alone again. Step 1 gave me all this, and for that I am VERY grateful.

Hugs to all, Lainey







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