Profound Change

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Change is good, they say, and like medicine, it’s often prescribed to solve problems. I cannot tell how many times I tried this remedy. I tried fewer carbs, more lean protein, a new fitness regime, a fresh hairstyle, new clothes—just to give myself a much-needed boost and create the impression of doing something worthwhile so that everything would change and be all right. I kept deceiving myself, and none of those quick fixes lasted long.

In truth, it was never about the hairstyle or the types of food I ate, or whether I did sit-ups or ran on a treadmill. It was not even about losing weight. All those life changes I maniacally introduced were only a distraction from the core problem I desperately wanted to solve (though I did not want to face it): the deep, ever-present hole in my soul. No matter how hard I tried to fill it with my mood-boosting solutions, it always sucked me back in. Depressed and defeated, I would only hate myself more.

Most perplexing was that I was desperate for a profound reorganization of my life, but I only used temporary solutions. Even when I found OA, I saw it as yet another miraculous solution. I did not want to work the program. I still believed all I needed was to change my eating patterns to rid myself of anger and finally be happy. I did lose weight, but the feeling of happiness did not last long. So I quickly turned to other ways of lifting my mood and left OA. It took me over a year to realize that I’d gotten it all wrong. I came back. This time, I was ready to listen, do the work, and change myself instead of trying quick-fix solutions.

In OA, I had to learn the difference between being elated and being serene. The program and Steps One, Two, and Three have shown me that we find true happiness in acceptance (though sometimes acceptance comes through tears).

I also realized that to change is to undergo a process. Steps Four through Nine taught me that profound change also involves grief—the pain of saying good-bye to my old ways, the pain of facing my own defects, and the shame of acknowledging harm I caused, instead of sweeping it all under the carpet. I realize now that a character transformation can only take place over time. Once a change is initiated, it requires daily effort from me to become a real shift in my behavior.

Now I know that change is good. But to have a profound effect on my life, change must be grounded in the Steps and supported by my everyday effort to sustain its benefit. Some mood-boosting changes are not to be condemned—they still can serve a purpose, so long as I remember that real change must come from within.

— Anna, Sheffield, United Kingdom

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