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Push from Within

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I am working through Step One with my sponsor. She suggested that I submit these two responses to her prompts:

Write on the need not to push a person until they are ready.

“Rock bottom” is a tricky concept. In AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions they had to “raise the bottom” (p. 23) for functioning alcoholics to benefit from intervention. Humans are stubborn, and selective understanding of ourselves is a great weakness. As long as we believe our addiction is a choice, no amount of help will ever truly change us. Years of diets and exercise fads have shown me this.

If, two years ago, someone had sent me to OA, I would have assumed I was the exception to all these experiences—that I wasn’t that bad, that I was in control—so who needed OA? It took me realizing on my own how out of control I was for anything to truly change. The intensity of the Twelve Steps and the honesty required means you cannot do them until you are ready to face the truth about yourself. No amount of coercion will make the still-suffering compulsive eater ready. It took a series of events to get me to the place where I was ready for this program. I’m sure the same is true of everyone because without the true fear of what our addiction does, we don’t see the need for OA.

Write on the fatal nature of the disease and how it has diminished your life.

Thinking of compulsive overeating as ultimately fatal is terrifying. AA’s Step One chapter makes clear that the disease will, not might, end this way. Death by overeating may seem dramatic, but heart disease, strokes, and high blood pressure don’t come from nowhere. Overeating has diminished my life. I’m overweight, which is to the detriment of my knees, back, stamina, and blood pressure. I can’t run or play. I’m tired all the time, and my fibromyalgia is worsened by the weight.

Mental effects can also be severe. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are all part of feeling hatred for yourself and your body. “Willpower, emotional health, and self-confidence, which some of us had once possessed, were no defense against it.” (Overeaters Anonymous, Third Edition, p. 1). My disease had taken over my entire nature. I’ve had few friends, less energy to do things, and chronic illness. Left unchecked, I have no doubt my inability to stop eating will kill me, so I see only one way forward.

I am nine days abstinent.

— Hannah, England

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