Years ago, on a day when I was feeling pretty discouraged
an older woman I knew gave me a little wooden plaque
with the picture of a funny little person with his scuba
gear. The look on his face said that he wasn’t sure about
which way to go, but the message was just to “KEEP
As I work these 12 Steps, there are MANY times when I am
confused with life and want to give up because of negative
messages that I’ll never have recovery. Fortunately, my
Higher Power, my fellows, my daily readings, all remind
me that if I keep going, keep working the steps, keep
admitting my powerlessness over food and life, I receive
the encouragement to KEEP SWIMMING!!! If I will keep
treading water, moving forward, and trust that what has
worked for others will work for me, I WILL see the
promises of Recovery. If I keep doing the next right action,
pray for guidance and not give in to the obsession, I can,
and will, reach the serenity that comes with this program.
The moral of this little story: “KEEP SWIMMING”!
Coming into this program, I thought that I had an idea of what I was searching for… I wanted to lose 100 lbs., feel better about myself, and find some peace and serenity in my life. I had NO IDEA the journey that I was setting out on, or the miracles that would happen. As I look back on the past 18 months, I realize that, for the most part, I have somehow found two out of those three things that I was looking for and the most important was a re-awakening of a relationship with this Higher Power that is more powerful than I could ever imagine.
I have always had what I would call a strong faith, but it was more of a surface belief that, if I did the “right thing” then I would be rewarded. I have come to see and understand a new realization of the ways this Higher Power shows up in my life everyday of my life… the trick is whether I choose to recognize those places that occur daily.
• It happens when I see those “holy coincidences” that happen without any of MY direction and planning.
• It happens when I listen to others who are further along in this program so that my hope will be renewed.
• It happens when I accept life as it comes and see that “it is what it is” for a reason, and then looking for what I need to learn from it.
• It happens when I see the power in this community of persons who are vulnerable and willing to be honest.
• It happens when I reach out to another person when I am on a low ebb, and in that reaching out, I find the comfort that I used to look for in food.
• It happens when I read a message in the Big Book that I absolutely need to hear at that moment.
• It happens when I step aside and allow this Higher Power to lead me and guide me to the next step.
• It happens when I recognize that I do not need to have all the answers… I only must trust that I will be shown the next step in the journey.
I am grateful for being led to this community that is often more honest and real than any other community I have experienced before. It is such a relief to believe, at least most of the time, that God will work it out the way it should work out. I am GRATEFUL….
“Life is a CONSTANT recycling process”
“Life is an ongoing adventure”
The longer I am in this program, the more I am coming to understand that it is a Process and not a DESTINATION. Most things I have done in life, I have always had this philosophy that if I take on a project, I begin, I work on that project, I finish the project and move onto something else.
I have been told that “if you want to change, you must accept that it will not happen on a timetable that I SET… rather, it will happen when my HP sees that it is time. My pre-arranged agenda should be to follow the instructions and enjoy the adventure. Whenever I fight that pattern, I only feel disappointed and disgusted with myself, and I end up feeling like a failure, resentful, and angry with myself.
I am finding a better understanding of SUCCESS… it doesn’t mean that I finish the race, but rather that I continue to do what is necessary to persevere. The analogy that “lie is a constant recycling process” now is making more sense to me… it means that I consistently sift through my days, keeping the life-giving moments and actions, and let go of what I no longer need.
The idea that “take what you need and leave the rest” helps me to sort through my feelings and actions, in light of what my HP has planned for me, and then deciding which pile I will put them. Will I save or keep them, will I give away and let go of, and what I am not quite ready to say goodbye too.
These are the twelve Steps for me….
What are my character defects? I don’t mean the list including selfishness, control and jealousy. I mean what are they? What do they mean to me? They are my weapons and my shields. My offense and my defense. They help me keep people at arm’s length before they can hurt me. Kill or be killed. As I work the steps, I find I don’t need these characteristics any longer. As long as I trust in God as my Higher Power to love me and guide me, I don’t need the shields and I don’t want the weapons. I want to be humble, not prideful. Generous, not envious. Empathetic, not judgmental. And have faith, not control. My defects were my solutions to real and perceived problems before I started working the steps. Through these steps and my OA fellows, I can see a better way of living. I don’t have to project my fears on to others. I don’t have to assume I know what they think of me or even be concerned about it. I care what my Higher Power thinks of me and I know it’s good. I only need to be concerned with what His will is for me. I ask God to take away, relieve me from my defects of character so that I can live the life He wants for me and live as an example of His love, compassion and grace.
The Power of Prayer, Meditation and Community
The longer I am a member of Overeaters Anonymous, the more I have come to learn and value the tools of this program. It, at least for me, is what continues to help me take steps, (sometimes 3 forward and 2 back), in this program.
One tool that I value greatly is the individuality of the program… this community is AUTHENTIC because it is made up of unique individuals who are each valued and accepted as they are, and wherever they are. We each must find our way of working this program, yet we are united in a common purpose of recovering from the disease of compulsive overeating.
After returning to OA after several years, I found myself where I really needed a meeting… I needed to hear the strength and hope of others. When I looked online, I found a meeting that evening, but it was a “Reading and Writing” meeting. At first, I was hesitant, but then decided to attend, and in the past several months, this has become a pivotal part of my program.
Not the typical format, we begin with introductions, and then once we have read the OA Preamble, there is a 3-minute meditation time, where “we invite our Higher Power to be present with us”. After that quiet time, we read from either the “For Today” or “Voices of Recovery” readers, and then write for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up, we have time to share what we have written about, if we wish, and almost always sharing what we have written is very powerful.
When I started attending, it might be only 2 or 3 people, which really made it easy to get to know each other., but because this is a virtual meeting, we have also had many people from different places, and some have stayed to form a core group. I have read that very often, when a group begins with a time for centering prayer and meditation, there is a closeness that develops which allows honesty and trust. This is what I have experienced in this group… the level of sharing, the trust that we share together, seems to be deeper (at least for me) than in other meeting formats.
The tools of prayer/meditation, writing, and sharing have been so helpful for me since I have sometimes been hesitant to share in other meetings. The closeness that I feel to these people has grown and become a very important part of my working this program. We tend to lift each other up during the week more, as well as welcoming others into this meeting space., and as we read the closing part of the meeting, we share together the “WE” version of the Serenity Prayer…
God, grant US the serenity, to accept the things WE cannot change, the courage to change the things WE can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
There are as many different ways one can work this program as there are people, but I am so grateful to have found a tool that really works for me. I have grown in my ability to trust others and be honest, and many times, what I may write is something I was not even aware of that I needed to pay attention too. We each must find the way that works for us, but I am so thankful that OA allows us to find our own personal way. This community of persons, who truly understand this disease, is what helps keep me coming back, believing that the miracle will happen.
“Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve”
So, another year has passed. We start our daily reader from the very beginning. Although reading the same book over and over seems dreadful, I have come to learn that in the OA program we are continually growing. The passage I read last year means something completely different to me now.
Practice of repetition only leads us to a new place of growth. It’s funny how doing the same thing over and over again can take us to different places. Working the program, using the tools, doing service, and being present for our fellows and our meetings is how I experience that growth OA promises.
“Recovery offers me a LIFEtime of DAILY living.”
– OA slogan
Here we go with another one! Nothing momentous today…just a typical full Monday. Sometimes I need program even more when there is a mundane, routine day. I’ve got to be aware that my disease likes drama and sparkle.
Not every day can be a sparkle day.
And while drama days seem exciting and ‘living on the edge’ they are draining and challenging and distracting.
I am seeing today’s mundane day as a gift and am grateful for its steady routine.
Hope you enjoy your day – mundane or not!
“If people in this program love us, it is not for our strength, but for our weakness and our willingness to share that with others.” – Our Invitation to You. Overeaters Anonymous
Asking for help is something I have had to nurture. I have pride surrounding my competence to handle life or sticky situations. Yet in reality, there are multiple occasions where I just don’t do it, or what I do is poorly done because I do it on my own.
Somehow, I have bought into some standard somewhere that asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure on my part. I wonder if it is a societal thing that I have picked up that asking for help somehow subjugates me to another.
My reluctance to ask for help manifests itself in not wanting to feel “a burden” or maybe interrupting someone who is busy.
The truth is that it is community in which strength is found. It is in reaching out in weakness that I offer someone else the opportunity to fulfill their mission. Especially in a 12 Step program, the act of helping someone who needs counsel is VITAL to recovery. So, by asking for help when I need it from others, there is an avenue for their further growth.
When I am weak, others are strong. When I am struggling, others can offer me support. When I am in fear, others can give me hope. When I am spinning, others can offer me a clear path.
We then further strengthen our recovery web together!
May we find connection in our journey through life today.
“Just for Today” – OA Slogan
“Just for today” has helped me get through some not so easy days. When it seemed like I was going backwards, it helped me to remember that all I had to manage was today. I do, however, find it helpful to look back to see how far I’ve come every so often. Especially when I am feeling tempted to look forward to see how far I have to go. It helps me to pause and see I DO have some recovery. As long as I keep coming back I’m always progressing. I don’t have to tackle the week or my life right now. So here’s to living just for today.
- “God, grant me the willingness to see my imperfections as a means of getting closer to others and to You.” Overeaters Anonymous. Voices of Recovery (p. 86).
Why is it that it is so hard for me to admit it? My weakness is that I am a compulsive overeater, and a person who does not fully accept these imperfections of myself. I would rather cover it and hide it (or think that I am hiding it anyway). This is me. I am powerless over this enemy because this enemy is me. I lived in this isolation that my weakness brings to me for a long time. It goes something like this. . .
“Nobody else struggles with this kind of thing, I am out here alone, all by myself”.
But then suddenly, I came into a group of people and the first thing that they say is, “Oh, you have this weakness also?”
A little nervous and perhaps for the first time I say, “Y-e-s?”, and I begin to wonder what their reaction will be.
“Oh, that is cool, we all have that here. Hey, welcome home! Isn’t being a compulsive overeater just the worst?”
And they go on to make it sound as though, it is just an ordinary thing and you soon realize, that where I thought I was alone, there are a whole bunch of people just like me. In a weird sort of way, we all are here on our own little island of “weakness” and someone hands you the group tee-shirt and all of the sudden, they snap a group photo and now you’re a part of a family. Welcome home!
Membership requires your confession (Step One) but that is down the road a little way; being accepted by this group is based solely on being present, just showing up, and it happens the very first time you come. They even go as far as to say, “That confession part, if you need to wait for a while before you say it, that is totally fine with us, just keep coming and hang out with us, we promise you’ll have a place here with us. Welcome home!”
At first, you’re thinking, I know I am kind of a weird because I am this way, and therefore all these other people must be weird too, but as you listen and spend time with them, what you find is there are some pretty amazing people in this group from all walks of life, in all types of situations and circumstances with pretty cool stories, and one thing that they all have in common with you is that they fight that same weakness that you have fought with. Being with them then starts to feel like home!
A wise fellow once said that two are always better than one and that a three-cord strand can’t easily be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). That’s the beauty of this thing, we don’t face it alone. Can a ragtag group of people who are flawed and defective, really fight against something this big that you have lost to most everyday of your life? Can they really help you overcome it? You bet that they can!
“How?”, you might ask, well first of all victory is not found in these people’s skills or abilities. Victory comes about only because of their weakness. When I am weak, then and only then, is it that I am strong. Why, because my Higher Power, has overcome the weakness that I can’t overcome. And so, people like David, Jennifer, Barbara, Rick, Richard, Al, Michelle, Becky, Connie, Margaret, and a host of others around the world have found that their Higher Power or as we call him, “HP” has helped them to overcome. “HP” He is the leader of this bunch of this rag tag group of folks. They can tell you how HP helped them, and if you’ll let Him, HP can help you as well.
Our group then, is a collection of weak people who have come to understand that a power greater than themselves can move on their behalf and they can be set free from this weakness. We don’t live on that island alone, rather we all share life together in our weakness and marvel in the power and strength that our Higher Power has. As we like to say when we invite folks to join us, “Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous, welcome home!