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Make My Needs My Wants

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I’ve been in OA since September 1983. I helped start a local retreat in the 1990s, which I’ve attended now for many years. In 1998, I heard someone at the retreat say that they could be abstinent 100 percent of the time, and somehow that really hit home. That same year, the retreat leader emphasized looking at my part in things. What did I bring to a situation? What was I willing to do? That was October 1998, and I’ve been abstinent ever since.

My food plan calls for three moderate meals a day and healthy eating at least 85 percent of the time. I weigh once a month, and I’ve lost and am keeping off about 50 pounds (23 kg). It hasn’t always been a losing abstinence, however. One month a while back, I gained 3 pounds (1 kg).

Seeing that gain could have been devastating, and I did have a few such thoughts when I weighed that morning. But the OA program has come to mean so much more than just weight loss. It means the loss of insanity and emotional instability. Going to meetings to learn that other people have similar feelings and experiences brings me balance. My daily readings and meditation remind me to be kind, considerate, and accepting toward others, and that “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 77). When I’m sane and abstaining, the body that HP wants me to have will show up. It’s up to me to accept it.

At the retreat in 2000, the two leaders spoke about following a daily discipline. As part of their recovery, they had committed to attend three meetings a week, talk to their sponsor daily for fifteen minutes, and make at least three outreach calls a day. They spoke about weighing and measuring everything: their food, their time with their Higher Power, their meetings, their phone calls—everything. They used almost every one of the nine Tools daily to arrest their disease.

As the saying goes, “Winners do what they need to do; losers do what they want to do.” For this reason, I ask HP to make my needs my wants. From 1983 until 1998, I had periods of abstinence, but I’d always wanted to have long-term abstinence. Now, I’m having it. I don’t consider myself special; I’m just doing what it takes—working the Steps, studying the literature, making those calls, attending meetings, writing, being of service. I respect myself, take care of myself, and do esteem-able things.

Stay for the miracle; I’m certainly proof that miracles do happen!

— Carole C.

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