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Adopting a Loving Attitude

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Mid-afternoon triggers one of my compulsive food behaviors—munching. Every day, hungry or not, food thoughts start to pester me. One day, I asked my Higher Power, whom I call Loving Mother, to handle the urges for me. “I’ll do what you tell me to,” I assured her.

“Well, it’s not really about doing; it’s just about loving.” Her reply surprised me.

“Loving Mother, you sound like a cryptic hermit from a fairy tale. Would you explain?”

She just said, “That’s all there is. It’s not about doing; it’s about loving.”

I stewed on that little riddle for a couple of weeks, then brought it to my regular OA meeting. As members shared their thoughts, I began to see more clearly, and by the time the last person had given it a go, I understood. Hallelujah!

Here’s what I understood: I like being in control. I don’t mind taking direction from my Higher Power, but once I have my assignment, I like the implementation details to be in my hands (“It’s okay boss; I can take it from here”). When I pledge obedience, I’m offering my HP the whole range of ways I can manage and control my behavior.

Conversely, adopting a loving attitude makes me available for her to guide me, heal me, and teach me a better way. She doesn’t want obedience; she wants all of me. She wants both the disobedient brat in me and the stern disciplinarian. She needs them both to restore me to inner peace, sometimes called “sanity.”

I learned insanity in a crazy childhood home, where the two responses to desire were indulgence or deprivation. I’m really good at both: a fine muncher and a world-class depriver. I just draw down my brows and say to that naughty child, “Oh, no you don’t. That would be bad, and we are going to be virtuous!” Golden sunlight bathes the head of my virtuous self-image! Then the sun hides, and the brat says, “I don’t care what you say. I’m eating it anyway.” Interestingly, this oft-repeated scenario never challenges my belief in the goody-two-shoes fantasy.

In OA, I’ve learned a third option to the indulge/deprive duality: surrender. When I surrender my desire—an immature desire for things that harm me—to a loving Higher Power, the ruler-wielding disciplinarian is sent to the corner, the brat becomes tractable, and I grow up a little bit. Over time, I’ve grown to the point where some of my unhealthy demands have mellowed and matured into preferences for healthy things. I’m not depriving myself, and I feel no need to be virtuous. The power struggle becomes unnecessary, and peace descends on the kitchen.

Thank you, OA, for showing me the way to sanity and healthier eating as a by-product.

— Anonymous, Maryland USA

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