I have had a spiritual awakening as a result of working the Steps while being abstinent one day at a time. I know this because I am much different today than when I was either trying to control the food or else stuffing my face. The Big Book refers often to a spiritual experience or spiritual awakening; for me, that awakening resulted in a “personality change sufficient to bring about recovery” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 567).

Today, I am not compulsively overeating or fighting a compulsion to eat, nor am I worrying about when my next meal will come and whether it will be enough. I do not have that “bottomless pit that cannot be satisfied” feeling. The food-chatter in my mind has its volume turned down; most days it is switched off completely.

Today, I take responsibility for my abstinence and recovery. Things I do to keep myself well come first: connecting with a God of my understanding, speaking honestly with a sponsor, speaking courageously and kindly with sponsees, taking necessary actions to provide myself with balanced meals that align with my plan of eating, being open to opportunities to be useful to others, and taking a daily inventory. As I write today, I am at peace.

This is vastly different from a year ago when I was running the show—trying and failing to control the food and outcomes in my life. I thought if I worked harder and smarter and achieved all my goals in one year, then I’d be happy, joyous, and free. I developed a weekly planner to account for every half-hour of my day outside of work. Study, exercise, personal development, free time, and other task categories were all shoehorned in, each with its own color code. Only now can I see how nuts and utterly unsustainable it was, with self-will, control, and fear written all over it. I was setting myself up to fail, just as I had done with countless diets.

Thank God, I have been released from that prison just for today. Now I have a daily inventory and have been directed to connect with God whenever these old patterns start to sound like good ideas. Today I choose to remain teachable. I don’t want to go back to that mad, hollow, fearful life, and I know that misdirected self-will would take me there. The good news is that I can seek God’s will for me.

Working the Steps while being abstinent has been pivotal to changing my thinking, attitudes, and reactions to life. The Steps continue to be educational and experiential processes for me. It is through working them that this personality change has happened in spite of me. I have found a Power greater than myself who, with the help of my abstinent fellows, gives me a shot at being sane and abstinent today. I pray that I continue to be honest, thorough, and teachable as I walk this path with my Twelve Step family. Bless God.

— Sam P., London

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