The principle behind Step Two is HOPE
Greetings fellow travelers. :-) This is Susan — still here with you on the WTS journey to Recovery.
First of all, thank you *all* who have shared your Step One work with the loop, and have sent in your introductions. I'm absolutely touched by all the openness and honesty. You are all inspirational! I can hear the pain in your shares, but I also hear HOPE, and I look forward to hearing how you all progress. For those who are sharing only with your sponsors (not the loop), keep up the good work!! [Slogan: "It works if you work it!"] I wish I could reply to every one of you, but there just isn't the time for me right now. But I *am* reading every single share, and I'm quite moved.
Now on to Step Two. There's a word in Step Two that sometimes hangs people up: "Sanity." The Step implies that, up to now, we've been insane. Yikes! But for me, this kind of sanity vs. insanity is not the type we see in old black and white movies where people are locked up in "The Insane Asylum" (remember those?). For me, this sort of "insanity" is like the type described by Bill in his story: "I saw that I could not take one drink, I was through forever. ...my wife happily observed I meant business. And so I did. Shortly afterwords I came home drunk. There had been no fight. Where had been my high resolve? ...Someone had pushed a drink my way and I had taken it. Was I crazy?" [AABB p. 5] That's the sort of sanity/insanity I see in this Step: wanting to stop this CE behavior, but being unable to.
In Step Two, the very first two words are interesting: "Came to..." That phrase, "came to," can also mean "to awaken from unconsciousness." In a way, just joining TRG was like "waking up" for me. I woke up to the realization that I really had a problem with food, and that I absolutely couldn't seem to fix it in any sustainable way on my own. "My way" simply did not work. I had over 40 years to get a grip on the fact that I couldn't stop eating like an idiot, and all I got was more and more obese. All my human efforts failed me. Period. Also, Step One "woke me up" to the notion that my life was "unmanageable" (couldn’t be controled by me). Something I'd never considered before.
But now, here I was at Step Two, and they were suggesting that something *OTHER THAN ME* could (maybe???) get me out of this. [And not just with food, but with life's problems, too!] Really? Hmmmm... Well, I looked at other people — a few alcoholics in my life -- and some famous drug users in the news -- and I saw that "recovery" was possible! Right in front of me, I had walking, talking individuals who had been "restored to sanity" with their drinking/drugging behavior. And in the online meetings I went to, I heard countless 12-Steppers who had also been "restored to sanity." WOW, it's not hard for me to do Step Two, right? Proof is all around me! Step Two is easy-peasy! POOF! I've done Step Two! Yay me!!! Right...? Well...
Step Two does use the word, "us." Hmmm, that includes ME! ME? I can be restored to sanity around food and life??? Moi? I wasn't sure. How could 40 years of failure be overturned just like that?
Well, I had such a wonderful role model of sanity in my sponsor, so I had *HOPE* that it could happen for me too. She told me to "act as if," and I did. I acted as *IF* I believed Step Two were true. [I did a *lot* of "acting as if" / aka: "pretending," when I first got into the 12 Steps.] :-)
"Acting as if" (which is another great 12-Step slogan) was a good first beginning for me. It kept me “light,” it kept me from over-analyzing, it kept me moving forward, it kept me from getting bogged down in "what-ifs" [e.g., what if it won't work for me...? what if I can't resist the food?], and it kept me from acting the way I had in the past. It basically got me away from "MY WAY" which had already been proven not to work at all!
Well, the principle of HOPE was right there in front of me in all those recovered folks I met or knew or read about or saw in the news — and in my own sponsor! HOPE was there. So "acting as if" was going to be my road out of my COE life, and onto the road to HOPE.
[HOWEVER… I once met a fellow COE who said that since "acting as if" was the same as "pretending," then that was the same as lying, so she wouldn't do it. "Lying is wrong," she said. And all I could think of was all the LYING we COE's do about food and life! We lie to ourselves and to our loved ones! We lie about our food intake! We lie about how we're feeling. We lie by omission and commission! Clearly this woman's disease of COE wanted her to STAY STUCK in her COE life, and it was using any rationalization it could find to keep her there. You won't catch *her* "acting as if"! No siree! Sigh...]
So there I was, acting as if (i.e., pretending), and I was chugging along in my Step work with my sponsor, being abstinent. And then.....my husband and I were invited to a Halloween party. Ah.......Halloween! It’s one of my all-time FAVorite holidays because (before this program) it gave me a socially acceptable way to bring tons of "trigger foods" into the house. "Hey, it's not my fault! Trick-or-Treaters might come to the door!” Oh, I'm so clever!!! :-) <— Note: that thinking was pre-program.
Keep in mind I still had *no idea* how this 12-Step program was going to work. How could this strange program be better than my 40 years of FABulous dieting??? [Forgetting all the falling OFF of diets...] How could this program work when no one in the program would ever tell me how to not eat like an idiot? Some of this stuff didn't make sense!!! Ahhh......making sense. I had a wonderful sponsor. You know what she said? "It doesn't have to make sense. Just do it."
[Your disease will tell you that if it doesn't make sense, then you don't have to do it! That's right -- your disease of COE wants you to STAY STUCK in your COE life, so if it doesn't "make sense" to you, hey, make up your own 12-Step program! “I can do it *MY* way! I can be petulant! I can be arrogant! This program is not the boss of ME!” [Hey, those are some of my "best" character defects! ] “I can white-knuckle my way thru my Plan of Eating, right?” Sigh... Thank you, Mr. COE Disease. Now, back to my share.] :-)
Ok, so, following my sponsor's lead, I told myself, "Act as if, act as if, act as if..." I put my head down, stuck to my abstinent meals, and chugged along, acting as if -- even though it didn't make sense. [Hey, 40 years of stuffing my face didn't make sense either, right?] :-)
So, back to the Halloween party. I get there, I come into the foyer to greet the hosts, and there...way across the room...is a giant bowl of Halloween candy. OMG, they're some of my all-time favorite "trigger foods"! [Aka: "alcoholic foods" / "troublesome foods" etc.] Ok, so now I'm curious! What will I do? How will I react? Well, prior to going to the party, I'd had a day of abstinent eating. I knew there would be food at this evening party, so I decided to have an abstinent dinner *before* I went. [That wasn't the *usual* thinking of my compulsive-over-eater-self, but it was my "new" thinking since joining this program and working with my sponsor.]
So I remembered what I'd heard old-timers say in meetings -- that they had a *new* way to be social -- they went to parties to see other people, not to "get into the goodies." [Gee,THERE'S a concept! LOL!] So I concentrated on the hosts and their guests, but by and by, I ended up near that giant bowl. So I decided to just walk right over and take a nice long look to see what would happen. I looked at all that previously-tempting candy, and......nothing happened. I felt no lure. I felt no cravings. I felt no interest whatsoever. I could have been looking at a giant bowl of paperclips for all they did to me! OMG! This is absolutely *NOTHING* I could have done for myself in 40 years -- or even 40 lifetimes!
When I got home, I thought about what had happened, and realized that "a Power greater than myself had restored me to sanity." [I was guessing it was a “Power greater than myself," because it sure wasn't me!!!] Gone was the insane ENSLAVEMENT to that candy. Gone was the insane CRAVING for that candy. Gone was the insane OBSESSION for that candy. This was truly a miracle.
In the past, I would have walked around that party, passing that bowl (and reaching in!) umpteen times to be sure I got my fill -- I would even have grabbed handfuls for my pockets for when I got home. That whole party would have been an excuse for me to have a party in my own mouth -- and I would barely have noticed anyone else there. In fact, I would have resented anyone's interference with my getting my fill of those candies! ["Stop talking to me! I have to get back to that bowl!!!"] FOOD (especially Halloween candy!) would have been my main focus. But not this time... Not this time... Wow, I had been freed from that "monkey on my back."
So for me, Step Two actually happened twice. First, I *believed in* this power's ability to relieve addicts of their cravings because I saw it for myself -- I saw, met and knew recovered addicts. I wasn't quite sure about my OWN relief, but I acted as if it WOULD work for me too. Then, the second time, it actually *happened TO me*! My cravings for my trigger foods were removed. ["...the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us." AABB p. 85] <--- [Pssst. Guess what! That's one of the "promises" of the 12 Steps!] :-)
This actually brings me back to the subject of abstinence. I happen to believe there are two kinds of abstinence; one, we do for ourselves (listing and eliminating our "trigger foods," and stopping the eating between meals - or other food behaviors); and two, there's the kind that happens *to* us (like what happened to me at that party): my cravings were removed from me by SOMETHING OTHER THAN ME. That's often called "the gift of abstinence," or "grace." That's what this program offers -- a power greater than me that can do for me what I could never do for myself (and not just with food, but with life, too). And that's why the principle behind this Step is HOPE. "Wow.......if it can remove *her* cravings, then I can have hope it can remove mine." "If she can be serene during a crisis, then I can have hope about my own life."
But don't forget -- I received this gift (this grace) when I was working this program as if my life depended on it (because it does!). I wasn't bopped on the head by the Abstinence Fairy when I was doing a face-plant into the Halloween candy, and I think that’s a clue! :-) I see it this way: I worked diligently on my own abstinence, and I got busy working on the Steps, and my focus stopped being on food; and as a "reward," if you will, I got the "gift" of abstinence -- no more cravings, longings, obsessions, desires, etc. [e.g., I did the footwork (abstinence, working the Steps, believing in a power greater than myself), and something-other-than-me restored me to sanity.] [Later, what we'll see is that I had assumed a position of humility, not self-will running rampant, and that is what made the difference.]
And now a word about this "power" greater than yourself. As one program fellow once pointed out in another loop, we *already* have a power greater than ourselves, and it's FOOD. Think about that for a second. [Tic-toc-tic.] It's true, isn't it? FOOD can absolutely rule us! Food can absolutely control us! Food can absolutely make us sick! Food can certainly ruin our relationships! Food or food “behaviors” absolutely “call to us.” FOOD is what we turn to for comfort! So yes, we *DO* have a "power greater than us" already working in our lives — FOOD! Now we just need a power greater than THAT! [And I think of it as "greater" because it *heals* addicts, it doesn't push them deeper into addiction.]
If you can't wrap your brain around your own "higher power," you are welcome to use mine (the one whose grace I described in my Halloween story), or you can use the "collective power" of the group, or you can use the entire 12-Step concept that *HAS* brought millions of addicts out of their addictions. You can't deny that *SOMETHING* has restored all these people to a sanity around food. That “something” can be *your* very first "Power" greater than you ("Higher Power" or HP).
But as we've been reading in the AABB, this program is not just about the drinking (for alcoholics) or the compulsive eating (for overeaters/under-eaters, etc.); it's also about how we live our lives. I used to live a life run on self-will. True, I had no idea I was living that way, but the AABB opened my eyes. [Just re-read "Bill's Story" to see how Bill was "managing" his life.]
One way in which my self-will was quite evident was in my need to always be right. Yes, I was a right-fighter. It's not a pretty thing to behold, but when **I** was the Right-Fighter, **I** thought it was abso-LUTE-ly the way to live. Who would want to have a life where people were running around doing things WRONG? People want and need to be straightened out, right? Well.....not really. :-)
So when I realized that this "right-fighting" was not going to fit my "reborn" life that I was learning about thru this program, I decided to let that new "Power greater than me" restore me to sanity with my "need to be right." Since I didn't know how that would work, I decided to "act as if." It worked with my food, so now I thought it could work for my life. So what did I do? All I did was to keep my mouth shut. Yes, in my mind I "let go of" the need to “prove” my rightness, and in a practical way I "acted as if" I didn't need to comment on something's right-ness or wrong-ness; I just kept my mouth shut.
How did that work? Well, the first time I actually thought my head would explode. :-) Yes, it was all I could do not to jump up and point out the wrong-ness of something since I was RIGHT. But I didn't. I sat quietly. I said nothing. And guess what. The world did NOT come to an end because "the right thing" hadn't been imposed. Nope. The world went on. And you know what else? I was HAPPIER! How was that possible? I don't know, but it was! Maybe it was because there was no tension. No tension between me (the great and mighty RIGHT ONE), and the other person (doing it all wrong). The other guy was happy in his activity, and I was happy because there was no confrontation or tension or anything! Wow, this Power greater than me restored my sanity in all that "right-fighting" nonsense!
So, Step Two brought me to this "Power greater than myself," and this whole concept was beginning to work miracles for me, and I was determined to continue these Steps to see where else it would lead.
Now, before we get to the assignment, I want to say a few words about ABSTINENCE. You know, that’s the thing that will help keep your mind clear for all this great work. :-) Another “Trusted Servant” in TRG once sent out a blog, and with her permission I’d like to share some of her thoughts on Abstinence:
“My first two and a half years in OA were spent trying to get abstinent and stay abstinent. For the life of me, I could not do it and often wondered why. It seemed to me I was working program and I knew that program worked because so many others had shared that it worked for them. So, why was it not working for me? As I reflect back to those days, I realize that my sole focus in OA, at that time, was to get abstinent and lose weight. Abstinence was the single most important thing to me and now I realize that is why program did not work for me then.
The shift from struggling to be abstinent to being in actual recovery came about when I changed my focus. I gave up the struggle to lose weight and to get and stay abstinent…”
I share this with you today because, even though abstinence is important for our recovery (we need to have a clear head to even work toward recovery), it can't be our focus. Think of it as a tool (it is one of the Tools of the program); think of it as a "hand rail" along the "staircase" of the original 12 Steps. The original 12 Steps should be your focus, not controlling your weight. There's a great slogan about this. "When you focus on Recovery, you'll lose the weight; but when you focus on the weight, you'll lose Recovery." What helped me was to begin to think of my abstinence as a way to clear my head for my Step work, not as a way to control my weight. I had to let go of the results, if you will, trusting that my weight was going to end up wherever it was supposed to end up as long as I was doing "the next right thing" in my recovery work (abstinence, other Tools, and (most important) the 12 Steps). This "Power greater than me" was going to continue to restore me to a sane life. I believed that -- I lived it -- and that's what worked for me.
And now I offer a Step Two prayer. [Note from last week: Even though it's called a "prayer," this doesn't mean it's to "God" or any other deity, necessarily. Say it to God, if you choose, or just say it out loud to the universe. And consider saying it every day of this journey.]
STEP TWO PRAYER
Oh, "power" out there that others have used successfully,
I know in my heart that only you -- not me -- can restore me to sanity
because I've seen it work for others, or I've heard
that it has worked for others.
I humbly ask that you remove all twisted thought &
addictive behavior from me this day.
Heal my spirit & restore in me a clear mind.
Thank you all for being here! - Susan (COE / Sugar Addict)
Gentle Reminder: Only emails regarding the study should be sent to the loop. Personal emails should be sent to others’ private email addresses.
Now on to the assignment. [Remember, you have a week between assignments, so you don’t have to do them all in one day. You can even send them in in parts. Whatever works for you. But do try to keep up, week by week. You don’t want to fall behind.]
[Pre-Assignment Note: You will often see the use of "God" in the AABB. We've seen it already in the assigned readings. If this is a word or concept or deity that bothers you greatly, you are absolutely free to use it as an excuse to quit this program. :-) Your disease of Compulsive Eating (CE) would like nothing more than for you to do just that. Trust me, the disease of CE wants you dead, but it will settle for you fat or dangerously underweight or miserable. On the other hand, you can bypass the "God talk" in the AABB and use your own words for this "power greater than yourself" or "Higher Power." Whatever works for you, use it. Don't let the disease "win" because of one vocabulary word! It's not WHAT you call this power, it's that you believe there is one. [This is not a religious concept, by the say -- it's a spiritual one -- there is a difference.] I sure believe there's such a power -- simply because I was relieved of those cravings. Feel free to use mine - and give it any name you want.]
A. Read AABB Chapter 2 "There Is A Solution" [GREAT CHAPTER TITLE, HUH?? ] and read Chapter 3, "More About Alcoholism". [Of course, as we read the AABB, we have to mentally substitute "compulsive eating" for "drinking" etc. The AABB is really a book about addiction -- any addiction -- it just happens to focus on alcoholism, but it works for every addiction on the planet.]
Questions for the readings:
1. What "HOPE" do you see in Chapter 2? Share some sentences or phrases that jump out at you.
2. List the similarities you see in both of these chapters and yourself.
3. It has been said that as long as I continue to eat in some compulsive manner, then I'm using food as my "solution" to life's ups and downs. What does the AABB say is "the solution," if not the food?
4. What do you think of the "jaywalker" story? Where do you fit in?
5. What do "resentments" have to do with our "eating problem"?
B. Answer the following questions:
1. If you haven't found a power greater than yourself, can you use mine? Can you trust that you will get what I got (what others have gotten)? If not, what steps can you take in the next 24 hours that will get you closer to believing in a "power greater than yourself"? [i.e., What can you do that will get you out of fear, lack of willingness, petulance, arrogance, whatever it is that's holding you back?]
2. Daydream a little... What do you think Step Two will give you? What will your life look like with this new "freedom from food issues" that recovery folks talk about? What will your life look like if your "self-will" isn't running amok?
3. The AABB says, "If you have decided that you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it -- then you are ready to take certain steps." *DO* you want what "we" have? Are you willing to go to any lengths to get recovery? What aren't you willing to do? What do you think you need to do to get willing? If you are willing, how did you get to that point?
C. The AABB lists some "promises" you will receive by doing the Step work.
I.) Here are some of the "promises" for Step Two:
• There is a solution.
• We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree...
• [This power greater than ourselves] has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
• A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, "a design for living" that really works.
• 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.
• In the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, they found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them.
• Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.
II.) Questions on the Promises:
1.) What do you think of these promises? Do they seem ridiculous? Are they believable?
2.) Do you know anyone for whom they have happened?
3.) Do you want to "thoroughly follow our path"? Why does it say, "thoroughly"?
4.) Daydream a little... What would your life be like if these promises happened for you?
5.) Are you *willing* to move forward in these 12 Steps? Are you willing to become willing?
Don't forget to get a copy of the AABB (online or your own copy), please get a sponsor to help you during this session, keep a journal or notebook, keep your commitment to this Step study and your abstinence, and ask questions if you need to. [A more detailed "Housekeeping Section" can be found in my Introduction and my Step One, now in the WTS archives.] ODAT!
The Twelve Steps
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