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Forgetting or Accepting

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Sometimes, I have resentment about being in this program. I say the Serenity Prayer daily, follow a food plan, and try to give myself ten minutes each day to pray or meditate. I go to a strength and flexibility class three times a week and walk three to five times weekly. I read the literature, listen to podcasts, go to meetings, and meet with my sponsor. Yet, sometimes I still think a magical hand is going to come down and make me the perfect weight, the glorifying payoff for all my efforts.

But then my sponsor says, “Why are you here? Only to lose weight?” That might be why I joined OA in the first place, but it’s not why I stayed. OA has three components: spiritual, emotional, and physical. So, getting to a healthy weight is part of it, but is the physical greater than the emotional and spiritual?

The spiritual growth I’ve experienced has been one of insight. Who is my Higher Power? I have called that presence in my life “Spirit.” Most of my life, I have given thanks daily. I’ve seen synchronicities that occur when Spirit is present, when I have faith. But in my sickness, I lost that faith and let my shadow side rule. My shadow side kept my thoughts obscure and obsessive. It kept me striving to carry out my own will. My shadow side told me that no Higher Power cared for me.

At first, I was just willing to give my power to Spirit. But at some point, it became evident that I really had guidance and could relax into that. I could trust in that. Even so, I questioned it often: Is that true? Is Spirit really guiding me? Well, I was driven to OA at just the right time. I’d tried nearly all imaginable diets; some worked. But each time, I wanted sustainable support. That is why I sought out OA—for support, fellowship, and guidance in losing weight. What I found is so much more.

But first, I had to admit to myself that so many things had become unmanageable and that my eating was out of control. In the beginning, I could not call myself a compulsive eater. I ate well, I thought: mostly organic, real food, including food from my garden. But I ate six or eight cups of it at a time, and I’d also go seven hours without eating, so my hormones were a complete mess. I felt unloved, unworthy, undesirable. I was alone and lonely. Just getting to the point of admitting all this was not due to my will. I didn’t want to admit it. I believe I had a helping hand with Step One.

Second, I had to figure out whether a Higher Power existed for me and, if so, what it was. I realized I had one, but I’d lost faith in relying on its direction. When I decided to be willing to believe my Higher Power was guiding me, I started seeing the many ways I was guided, not just in food choices but also in my family and work life.

So, I got a sponsor. Then I had to give up my will. I still struggle with this. I have desires I want met, and I’m conditioned to believe no one except me can satisfy my needs. This little piece of false thinking keeps me struggling. Yet I can turn to faith. Faith in the guidance I get from Spirit is one of the mainstays of doing my OA work. Desire is one of the hindrances that keeps me stuck. Having faith means having acceptance for all that is and recognizing that my thinking-head need for control can be changed. It takes faith and it takes surrender. I ask for this daily.

Listing my inventory in Step Four has brought about much of my emotional change. I am nowhere near resolving all the issues I brought up in the forty-one pages it took to write my inventory. I struggled with the term “character defects.” To me, these are traits or strategies that I used to cope. I tried very hard not to deal with guilt, shame, resentment, anger, arrogance, self-centeredness, and unmet expectations.

I was sad as I read my inventory to my sponsor in Step Five. I could see part of myself as a child without the support I needed. I could see why I had become such a strong-willed person: to find that support in myself. I can stop blaming myself for my headstrong, feisty independence that brought me into the chaotic life I now lead.

Here at Step Five, I find myself 20 pounds (9 kg) lighter, yet still struggling with wanting to be at my healthy weight. Now, I can see how I let my inner critic blame me for not being at my healthy weight, just as I blamed myself for being raped and molested, for having a difficult daughter, for giving a child up for adoption at 15, and even for the rape of my sibling. I really can’t control any of that; but inside myself, I was holding onto responsibility for it all. Now, I accept it all happened. I accept that I did have guidance, even if the tools I developed to deal with my life were misguided. They kept me alive and functioning. Now I know I can turn all of that over to Spirit. Spirit was there then and is there now.

Spirit guides me all the time. Sometimes I slip into my isolating, self-willed coping mechanisms and forget to allow that guidance. My shadow side wants to argue and do it in a way that maintains my struggling. I am used to it. Other times, though, I see that what I call my will has often been my direction driven by an unseen force: Spirit. My action plan is definitely driven by Spirit, and it is working. Sometimes, for me, it is just a matter of accepting that guidance.

So am I working on all three aspects of OA? Yes. Do I get impatient now and again? Yes. Do I struggle with releasing those character traits/defects that keep me in my old way of life? Yes. Is this a journey? Hell yeah.

What guides me now? Faith and acceptance.

— Darlene M

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