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

Center yourself as you are able.
AA Big Book, Chapters 7 through 11. These chapters complete the Ďmeatí section of the Big Book -- the parts written by Bill W and the early AA-ers. Chapter 7, ďWorking with OthersĒ is the heart of step 12. Chapters 8, 9 and 10 expand on different aspects of helping others recover and on what might happen. The last chapter, Chapter 11 -- ďA Vision For YouĒ tells us what our lives can be like when we live these 12 steps and what the transition is like from the old me and you to the new me and you. It contains the story of how the founders of OA -- Bill W. and Dr. Bob met, and in this story we find the first time the message was carried to other sufferers. The rest of the Big Book is not part of the original writings, but contains stories of others who have gone before us and have succeeded.

The AA 12 & 12, Step 12. This is a good review of the steps we have taken and why we continue to practice ALL of them on a life long basis.

The OA 12&12, Step 12

OA 12&12 p. 99
We have experienced the miracle of a physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, just as we were promised when we began these steps. Ö..the central factor in this spiritual awakening has been our decision to trust a Higher Power with every aspect of our lives.

The beginning of this step: Having had a spiritual awakening
I am sure by now youíve read enough about me and my atheist roots, and how Iíve defined my higher power, etc., to be astounded that this might be where I begin thinking about this step. It is amazing -- yes -- that I can claim a spiritual awakening, but still be who I am. Thatís what the founders of our 12 step programs intended for me and for you and for everyone. I hope you have found your way to this spiritual awakening. I guess I can say that if this can work for me, this can work for anyone:

From Appendix II of the Big Book, p. 567-568
The terms 'spiritual experience', 'spiritual awakening' [Dr. Silkworth, in the Doctor's Opinion, calls it 'a psychic changeí] are used over in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms." Yet it is true that our first printing gave many readers the impression that these personality changes, or religious experiences, must be in the nature of sudden and spectacular upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous.

...Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the 'educational variety' because they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline. With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.

Isnít this just the best news ever? It sure was for me -- I can and did change! Thatís our spiritual awakening -- we have undergone a profound alteration in how we react to life. I am not the selfish [insert your own word here, and it might begin with a b] that I used to be. My marriage is healing, my adult children turn to me in times of need and trust me more. I donít need to turn to food to feel fulfilled (pun intended) and whole and worthwhile, because I am content and more outward centered and look to a power that I find in love and service to direct me. Thatís how I ended up at Step 12! And its how I can claim to have had a spiritual awakening. It has nothing to do with a capital G god for me, and I know for many thatís a stumbling block, but we can each get past it. I also know that for those of us who have a capital G god, sometimes the steps are what creates the relationship that needs to be there for recovery. I know that whichever way doesnít matter -- what matters is that this can and does happen for all of us! Super Cool!

The middle of this step: we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters
Read in the AA Big Book from the bottom of page 154, beginning with Years ago, in 1935Ö to the top of page 157. This is the story about the actual founding of AA, but its also the important story of how Bill W gave away what her had found that made him sober is what kept him sober.

AA Big Book, p. 89 -- please read this with the words compulsive overeating inserted, instead of drinking, and your own name instead of alcoholics.
Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive worth with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill
     Life will take on a new meaning.

Here we are told why we have to do this step -- to engage in a life long practice to carry the message to those who still suffer: we canít maintain our own recovery if we donít. It works where other things fail. And it gives us a new meaning. Thatís really big, isnít it? I surely needed a new meaning. I needed to be valuable in the world, and now I am. It may be only in a small place -- in my family, in my work, but it is real.

I think it is worth noting that Step 12 canít get us recovery, any more than just Step 1 can. We get recovered by working steps 4 though Nine. We stay recovered by working Steps 9 through 12.

But the middle part of the sentence of this 12th step is really important -- donít gloss over this. We can help when no one else can. We can secure the confidence of compulsive overeaters when others fail. Circle way back to the Doctorís Opinion, p XXVIII

Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight. In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives.

Frothy means light and entertaining Ė those kinds of things donít reach those of us who suffer from a phenomenon of craving. Frothy things are partly the kinds of things people say to us: ďYou have such a pretty face, Why donít you eat just a little less?, etc.,etc.Ē But it is not only that -- it is the professionals that we consulted who may or may not get our problem, but they surely do not yet have a skill set to help us in any real way. We sought help from doctors, psychologists, therapists, nutritionists, exercise and personal trainers. These folks helped us or not, but they didnít help us with our real problem -- the compulsive eating -- the disease of our minds and our wills. No one yet knows how to do this -- Science may help us soon, but it canít yet. [I am a scientist, and I have done a literature review]. My ESH: I spent years in therapy, and didnít gain as much help as I did from these steps and my sponsor in three months. Thatís because these steps and my sponsor are not frothy. They, and now we, are the folks who understand the disease and what our newcomers are going through. It is us alone who can really reach others who suffer from our disease. We are the only ones who have the depth and weight of message to reach others.

The end of the step: to practice these principles in all our affairs. The principles are the steps. We practice these steps in all of our affairs. This is a life-long practice. This doesnít mean sit at meetings and talk about our food. This doesnít mean to write about our problems. This doesnít mean to stalk on phone or online meetings. This doesnít mean to spend years working on one step at a time. This means to dig in and do these steps -- it really should take more than three months. This means to get out of our isolation and PRACTICE these steps. And we, for our life times, carry our message to those who still suffer. As we recover we become the life lines for others.

Step 10 talks about continuing our practices. Step 11 talks about seeking and improving, and the step 12 talks about in all our affairs. These steps may be simple to understand, but they aren't easy to practice. They take diligence and vigilance, but the reward -- wow! The reward . Its the best! We get recovery and our Life will take on a new meaning.

Work Step 12
The most important thing is that you can model the program. Are you in fit spiritual condition and working towards a healthy body weight?

Read Chapter 7.

We should work towards or maintaining a healthy body weight -- thatís abstinence and that surely let us carry the message by modelling it. But thatís only a part of what we have to model to carry our message. We have to model our spirituality. Our spiritual awakenings leave us in a state of serenity. We cannot be dieting and we canít be living in whatís known as fat serenity -- that won't model our recovery.

We engage in service. But that's not quite enough:

Sponsoring is service. And we should do that as soon as we find recovery -- remember thatís step 9, and we should do that to the extent of our abilities. It is not an inconvenience; it is an honor for us to do that.

Speaking at meetings, on line, even in, say, a cashiers line at a grocery store, is service. We share our stories -- our stories are the only place where frothy emotional appeal is avoided. We are the only ones with the depth and breadth of message to reach others.

Talk to those who still suffer. Thatís service. Make phone calls, go up to folks at face to face meetings, send emails with your ESH, make connections.

But acts of service may or may not carry the message [perhaps service, by itself, is not slimming]. You simply must stay in fit spiritual condition. Service work by itself will not keep you in recovery. Only a lifelong and sincere practice of the steps does that. If you are actually in fit spiritual condition, laughter and joyousness and recovery will just come from your pores, and thatís carrying the message.

So remember that we can recover in just weeks, with very simple tools and some hard work. Get a sponsor -- make working the steps a priority. Make the time.

Abstinence is not the most important thing in my life. For me the consciousness of the power of my higher power is. Abstinence is a consequence of that. As long as I am in fit spiritual condition, I do not need to eat compulsively, and I donít.

You canít take what you want and leave the rest. You can leave the whole program if you want, but if you do it, do it all. Thatís where recovery comes from.

AA Big Book P. 164
Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you havenít got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.

This brings me to my favorite part of the book --, and it is the conclusion of the part of the book that contains the precise directions for our recovery.

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shap be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
     May God bless you and keep you -- until then.

Thank you all for this opportunity.

How did you experience your spiritual awakening? How does it work for you in connection with the 12 steps. At what point in the 12 step work did you connect your spiritual awakening to the 12 steps. When did it become real for you?

How do you carry the message?

What Step practices do you have that keep you in fit spiritual condition?


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