First OA Birthday 2019
Ever since I was a little girl, my higher power, was food. And before OA, my weight was weighing down my soul. The hopelessness, had me planning to take my own life. But then I joined OA.
Step 1 - I learned honesty. Admitting my powerlessness over food. I didn't just do step 1, one time. I do it every day. I've realized the power in today, this moment. Because that's where my decisions are made. I admitted that my abuse of food, stole my mobility & robbed me of so many things; my self-worth; my confidence; my quality of life; my sanity and more. Food warped my sense of reality and made me it's slave. But admitting my powerlessness, gives me the opportunity to plug in, to a power other than food. I had to admit that I had a life-threatening disease that is not just physical in nature, but emotional & spiritual as well.
Step 2 - I learned hope. There is such isolation in food obsession. There is a real power in others bearing witness to your life. When I first tried to read the "I put my hand in yours" promise... "No longer is there a sense of hopelessness... and... we are all together now, reaching out our hands for power & strength greater than ours and as we join hands, we find love & understanding beyond our wildest dreams"... I couldn't speak those words, because I had a lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes. There truly is something to be said about the camaraderie with people, who understand your struggle. To be able to share your story with others is immensely validating. OA has breathed life into my heart & soul. For the first time in a long time, I now want to live. I feel like I've been lost at sea for a very long time. The boat has finally arrived and is gearing up for a rescue and now is the scariest time. God, please don't let me die now, before I get to fully experience recovery.
Step 3 - I learned faith. I came to the realization that my perceptions of God were skewed by my disease. I had made food my higher power. I had to become willing to surrender to the process. It's about the wrestling, not the resolution. I had to strip away my preconceptions of God and start fresh. And it was o.k. to be struggling. Where there is dependence on food, there is so little freedom. But when I use my free will, to depend on my higher power, I'm not wasting my energy on the disease.
Steps 4 & 5 - I learned courage & integrity... by facing the truth about my defects & having the integrity, to show the world my true self. It's a process of increasing honesty & self-awareness that will gradually free me from my bondage to self.
Step 6 - I learned willingness to let go of my shortcomings (we fear that our defects are like threads in a fabric and by letting go of our defects, we will somehow come unraveled). Working this program is sometimes like trying to write with my right hand, when I'm a lefty. My character defects have been useful to me up to now, so I had to be willing to let go of them.
Step 7 - I learned humility as I humbly trust God to remove my shortcomings. I must always be willing to yield to my HP. I learned that humility, is awareness of who I am today & a willingness to become all that I can be.
Step 8 & 9 - I learned self-discipline & love. To be less likely to hurt others & being quicker to make amends. To realize that my grievances have boundaries. Meaning, they do have an end to them and love, by accepting others as they are and not as I would have them be.
Quote from For Today - "Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be".
Step 10 - I learned about perseverance by working the steps & continuing to allow God to remove my stumbling blocks. I spent my life avoiding discipline in favor of self-soothing and instant gratification. I've avoided suffering and am always trying to make myself comfortable. I started taking a daily inventory & realized that pestering my husband until he got angry required an amends. I asked myself why I did it? and realized that I have a high desire for connection. All I ever wanted was to be loved.
In the 12 & 12 book there is a statement that says, "Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve", so I continue to persevere and work the steps.
Step 11 - I learned the principle of spiritual awareness through prayer & meditation.
It was OA that brought me back to my faith in my HP. Over 10 years ago, I used to be extremely religious. Not just on the outside... I really tried to live it. But when I was separated from my first husband, I put my faith on a shelf and left it there, until a year and a half ago, when I joined OA. I struggled at first. But eventually I stripped away everything I was ever taught about God and started from scratch, with what I felt I knew for sure. I couldn't look at this world and think that there was no creator; so, I began to relate to God from that place. And it was from that place, that I wrote a letter to my father.
My father and I were estranged for many, many years until two years ago, in 2017. He called me on Christmas day and said to me "I didn't want to leave this place, without talking to you", and all I could do was cry and thank him for calling me. We've talked on the phone ever since.
Growing up, my father was a crass man. He was critical, opinionated and sometimes cruel. But just for a few hours during the holidays, he would try to be different. I loved those times. And for the past two years, he would speak to me on the phone with that same "holiday" spirit. There's been a kindness in his voice, that was never there before.
You see, growing up, the biggest thing that my father ever taught me, was that I was good for nothing. And I have operated from that mindset my whole life; so, when I was asked if I would write a letter to my father for a retreat that he was attending, I prayed desperately, asking God, what I could possibly write to my father. I summed up my childhood by simply stating, "Dear dad, life has been difficult and when I think about the past, I often feel sad. But God has taught me that the most powerful thing we have control over in life, is how we choose to think, and how we choose to move forward." Then I chose to write what little good things I could squeeze out from the past... like how he had a good sense of humor and how he provided a roof over our heads and food on the table and took us places on vacation.
After finishing the letter, that's when it happened... I had a spiritual experience of something lifting off my chest and I realized it was forgiveness. I hadn't prayed about forgiving my father, and I didn't decide to forgive him... it just happened. And in that moment, I realized that I am finally rising above what happened to me.
Two weeks ago, my father died. OA brought me back to my HP, and ultimately to a place of forgiveness and the best moments with my father, that I have ever had.
Step 12 - I learned service. OA is a reciprocal program. The assistance that I received was freely given to me by OA members, who received assistance before me. If I don't give... that circle is broken.
Some additional lessons that I've learned in OA:
My thinking has changed. I've learned that it's o.k. to have conflicting emotions about something. I don't have to force myself to think one way or the other.
I've learned how to reframe a situation from a negative picture, to a positive one.
I've learned that this disease is insidious. It would have me believe that it's only food, when, in reality, it's slowly robbing me of my life.
I've learned that my old ways of coping are now harming me and I'm slowly changing them as I surrender to my HP.
I've learned that my expectations are higher than my level of acceptance.
I've learned that my weaknesses do not devalue me as a human being. And instead of shaming myself because of them, I should love myself by helping myself to make improvements in my life.
I've learned that most emotions are responses to perception. If my perception is false, then my emotional response to it, will be false too.
I've learned that you don't let fears run the show.
I will end with some things that I am grateful for:
I am grateful for the camaraderie in sharing this journey with my fellow OA members.
I'm grateful for my sponsor, who guides me on my journey, shares her journey with me and makes me feel that I have value.
I'm grateful for writing, because it's bringing clarity to my life and teaching me more things about myself.
I'm grateful for my food plan. It helps me to recognize if I'm straying from a healthy routine of eating.
I'm grateful for my action plan, because it confirms that I am moving forward, in the direction of my goals.
I'm grateful for the phone, which keeps me connected to kindred spirits.
I'm grateful for literature, that acknowledges my disease & provides suggestions, facts & reminds me that I am not alone.
I'm grateful for my husband, who supports me on this healing journey.
I'm grateful for my mom, who has always been my strongest advocate.
I'm grateful for my sister, for her many, many words of encouragement.
I'm grateful for my son, who loves me despite my flaws and gives purpose to my life.
I'm grateful for OA, which has brought only positive things to my life.
I'm a grateful compulsive over eater. I'm grateful because I now have hope.
I'm grateful for being alive, to experience this kaleidoscope of things that speak to the resilience of the human spirit.