STEP TWO: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
~ Finish last week's reading if you haven't as yet
~ The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - Step Two
~ Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Alcoholics Anonymous) - Step Two
~ Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) - Chapter 5 "How It Works," first 2 pages, up to the paragraph that begins "Being convinced, we were at Step Three."
Let it out.
Connect with Higher Power.
I'm Cait, compulsive eater, binge eater, grateful to be living in recovery today.
Thank you so much for your shares, which are inspiring to me and enriching my recovery.
BELIEF. What did I believe about my compulsive eating, my life difficulties, and my ability to change? Before coming to this program I believed that I had the power to control my eating and most things in my life. I believed I had the power to change the things that weren't working for me - the things I hated about myself and my life - the things that were harming me and keeping me from being the person I thought I should be. I just couldn't understand why I wasn't doing it. I couldn't understand why I couldn't change - I would apply every skill I knew of - discipline, learning, planning, vowing, drawing on support from others, yet I couldn't stop compulsive eating and I couldn't stop messing up the good things in my life. I thought I just wasn't trying hard enough. Or maybe - big fear - I was so bad, so defective, I was fatally broken. I had a false belief about my power. But I couldn't give it up. I had nothing to replace it with.
This step offers a different belief. It offers hope.
Step Two seems to me to have three parts:
1. Came to believe
2. That a power greater than ourselves
3. Could restore us to sanity
1. CAME TO BELIEVE - How do I "come to believe" that what I have going on my own isn't enough and that there is something more that works? I've been disappointed so many times by so many efforts I've made to control my eating. How am I now supposed to "come to believe" that I can recover in this very different way than the ways I have tried before?
I like some little slogans about this which I heard early in my recovery work:
"Came; Came to; Came to believe" - In other words, "Showed up; Woke up; Joined up."
This makes it clearer - the only thing I have to do of my own will power is SHOW UP and do what they say to do.
My husband always talks about this as the most important quality in a person - SHOW UP. I can't control how smart I am, how talented, how loveable I am, but I can show up and do the work. The AA 12 & 12 on Step Two makes a good point, however - I have to show up with an open mind. "True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith." So I come to meetings, I do my 12 step work each day even when I don't feel like it, even when it seems useless, and the other things follow - I begin to wake up to the truth about how I have been living, and what I need to do. And I do the things that are suggested. And I see progress, and I begin to believe that I can stop eating compulsively and change the way I deal with other people, situations and difficulties in my life. I feel like the little girl in the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" when she has lost hope that she will get her Christmas wish, a wish that is SO BIG, probably too big, too much for Santa to provide. Hoping against hope, she repeats over and over in a discouraged and resigned voice: "I believe, I believe, it's silly but I believe." And then the miracle comes.
2. THAT A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES
As it points out in our reading, this can be a sticking point for many of us, but it need not be. If I make a thorough assessment of the unsuccessful way I have been trying to solve my "eating problem," and how I have tried to change my life, I see that I can't change myself of my own unaided will power. But other people have recovered. They were like me. They weren't more powerful than me. Something changed them. They say it is a power greater than themselves. I want that.
3. COULD RESTORE US TO SANITY
Another sticking point! As the OA 12 & 12 says, I was certain that "I'm perfectly sane. I just have an eating problem."
I spent 50 years fighting this one - I repeated over and over again the same actions, the same vows never to eat X again, never to eat alone at night in the car again, never to eat in bed again, never to hide the wrappers again, to eat only healthy meals, to stop eating after dinner, after 7 p.m., 10 p.m., midnight, only to find myself doing it again. The OA 12 & 12 says it perfectly: "After a while we became battle-weary and discouraged. Still we could never accept our powerlessness . . . . The more we ate the more we suffered, yet we continued to overeat. Our true insanity could be seen in the fact that we kept right on trying to find comfort in excess food, long after it began to cause us misery. Once we honestly looked at our lives, it became easy for us to admit we had acted insanely where food and weight were concerned."
And then I looked, as the book suggests, at the other ways my life was out of balance - my relationships with others, with my family, my work habits, how I spent my time. "Too much of the time we had lived in fear and anxiety. More comfortable with food than with people, we sometimes limited our social lives. We drew the drapes, disconnected the telephone, and hid in the house." I yelled at my children when they wanted attention and love, but I was so depleted I had nothing to give. I resented them if they ate "my" food. Once I felt so unworthy I let my then-spouse abuse me. I was critical of others and could clearly identify their faults, but my own were an unexamined mess I was afraid to touch because it would be so overwhelming.
"Little by little, we saw how much pain our way of living was causing us. Gradually we came to believe we needed to change. In all of life, as well as with the food, we were irrational, unbalanced, insane." OA 12 & 12
What about the "Higher Power" thing? The OA 12 & 12 suggests that if we don't have a "God" or a spiritual resource, that we can believe that the power of this group of people who are recovering, who understand and accept us, and who wish only the best for us - that this power is greater than ourselves, and can restore us to sanity. Or we can just "act as if" there is a God that is powerful and good, that cares for us, guides us, embraces us and is always willing to share its power with us for our good. "We became willing to let go of any concept about God which wasn't helping us to recover from compulsive eating. We had to replace our old ideas about God with a faith that worked. This was both humbling and frightening for us, but once we became willing to do it, surprising things began to happen. . . . we began taking actions which others told us had worked for them. Whether or not we believed these actions would work for us didn't seem to matter. Once we took the action and saw it work, we began to believe."
So for me, there is that initial "willingness to believe" made of hope and desperation, that gets me to just take a chance on working this program. Then I do the things they say to do. Then things start to change, and "the proof is in the pudding" - I see that it works, and I really "come to believe."
"This willingness to act on faith, then, was the key to step two. It was the beginning of a healing process that would relieve us of the compulsion to overeat and bring stability to our unbalanced lives."
FOR YOUR REFLECTION AND COMMENT:
1. What did you believe about your compulsive eating and your life before coming to this program?
2. How have you experienced "Came to believe"?
3. In what ways do you or did you need to be restored to sanity?
4. How difficult is it for you to "show up" with humility and an open mind about this step?
5. How have you experienced God or a higher power in your recovery?
6. Any other thoughts or reactions to the reading or Step Two?
Attached is a little cartoon I like, about belief:
The Twelve Steps