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Danger and Dental Floss

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I came into OA in March 1977 and have been abstinent since January 1980. After losing 30 pounds (14 kg), I have maintained a normal body weight. I have been imperfectly working the Steps for almost forty-two years, and here’s what I’ve learned.

Step One is the foundation Step. I admit I am different. Everything must flow from my belief (though I fought against it for years) that I’m just not like other people and never will be. No matter how many days of abstinence I have, I’m still a compulsive eater.

Step Two is the falling-in-love Step. When I came in, I believed faith was for people who were either stupid or weak (or both), but my journey led me to explore and question. I ultimately came to believe that there is something out there that met me where I was and lovingly transformed me. My Higher Power now is a personal God, but I have seen other recoveries happen through lots of different practices. Step Two is big enough for all of us.

Step Three is the big kahuna, the alpha and omega of Steps. It is also the “impossible” Step: as a human being, I will never do this Step completely or permanently. But every time I turn my will and life over, I calm down . . . and good things happen.

Step Four: in this Step, I roll up my sleeves, clean out the garbage, and get down to work. I have done many Fourth Steps, some very detailed and some very short. This Step is critical to my recovery and oh so freeing!

Step Five is the courage Step. It takes guts to look another person in the eye and tell them what I’ve done and who I am. It also takes guts and compassion to listen to someone else’s Fifth Step. The Fifth Step is absolutely necessary for my recovery: it connects me to others and also sets me free.

Steps Six and Seven are mysterious and ironic Steps. Wait! I don’t have to do anything? How do I work these? I’m supposed to strive to get rid of my defects but also accept I can’t do it on my own. My defects feel like alien tentacles from a science fiction movie that latch onto my body and won’t let go. They are frustrating and embarrassing. Humility is hard, but so necessary. For me, progress is usually slow—but it’s progress.

Step Eight is the get-it-out Step. I have to make another list, but I’m on my way to so many good things!

Step Nine is the danger Step. I have to be really careful with this one. I could hurt myself, hurt the people I love, or hurt the people to whom I’m trying to make amends, so I need to work with a sponsor. But I need to get it done because after I do this Step, the promises come true!

Step Ten for me is the dental-floss Step. I don’t like flossing my teeth every day, and I don’t like this Step, but I have to do it. Just as I don’t want my teeth to rot, I don’t want my recovery to rot. Step Ten keeps me clean. Step Eleven is the warm-blanket-and fluffy-pillow Step. I love it so much. This is a Step of sunsets and ocean breezes and mountain vistas. I even build my vacations around Step Eleven. Basking in my HP’s presence is indescribably wonderful.

Step Twelve is the skip-along-my-life-path Step—the happy, joyous, and free one. It means I can apply recovery to everything: marriage decisions, job choices, politics, daily irritations. This program works for everything.

Step Twelve is also the responsibility Step. People are still hurting, and I am in a unique position to help. This, too, is a joy and a challenge.  Ultimately, being forced to work the Steps because I needed to save my life has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams. That is my hope for each of you.

— Jane, Towson, Maryland USA

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