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Gifts “As Is”

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Before I fully surrendered, my life was an ever-increasing battle with food, weight, myself, and others. I was a child who didn’t like being given half a cup of juice; I wanted the full cup. After overhearing family conversations about my “puppy fat,” I decided, at age 9, to attend my first commercial weight-loss club. I only had to lose 3 to 4 kilograms (6 to 9 lbs) to reach goal weight and earn a life-member badge, but this experience did not teach me how to deal with life—how to go through puberty, have relationships, and become a sane adult—nor did it stop the insatiable hunger inside, the relentless thoughts of food and desire to eat.

Instead, I spent several decades trying to control my weight. I saw a dietician. I tried using pills, meal replacement shakes, and exercise. I’d eat normally in front of others but secretly sneak food at night or when nobody was home. My mind conveniently blanked that out—I remember saying to my mom, “I don’t understand why I’m not losing weight.” To me, it felt like others had their lives together while I was missing some key ingredient to cope with an ever-increasing compulsion to eat and frustration with life not going my way. Food was my comfort and friend until I realized I no longer had the control to stop. At 22, I was lonely and afraid and had eaten my way up to 15 kilograms (33 lbs) heavier within three months. I tried again to diet but just didn’t have the willpower to keep away from the food.

I recalled a friend telling me about OA. Although I was terrified of what I thought was a weird cult, I went to a meeting. For the next ten years, I moved in and out of OA rooms with varying degrees of willingness to work the program. I had an underlying sense of “maybe I’m not like them” as well as a disease that was getting progressively stronger.

Then in late 2014, on my bus ride home from work, I realized I was approaching a bottom: I was physically trembling, a state of nerves that would only subside if I consumed a drink or a bite.

Life changed after I surrendered to the OA program. By the grace of my Higher Power, I was gifted in January 2015 with abstinence from compulsive overeating. That was when I returned to OA, beaten by the food, teachable, and willing to listen. I immediately got an abstinent sponsor who was working the Twelve Steps as set out in the Big Book. One day at a time, I did the work my sponsor had done, without question. This involved working the Step I was on; following my weighed-and measured plan of eating; and committing to calling an abstinent OA fellow before I took that first compulsive bite. The result? Recovery today from a “seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. xiii).

Today, at three years and eight months abstinent, I have received these gifts:

I am no longer eating compulsively, and I have no desire to overeat or go near my trigger foods.

I’m at a healthy body weight and have a growing acceptance, respect, and love for my physical body.

I have a growing relationship with a Higher Power personal to me. When I first got abstinent, my abstinent sponsor was primarily my Higher Power. At Step Three, my decision to continue working the Steps abstinently became my Higher Power. By Step Nine, I had the beginnings of an experiential relationship with an HP who was evident in the courage I’d been given to approach those I’d harmed and in the grace of the responses I received. Through working Steps Ten, Eleven, and Twelve daily, I’m experiencing a deeper awakening to my Higher Power—like a friendship developing.

I can see more and more how “our troubles . . . are basically of our own making.” (p. 62). Most of my disturbances or irritabilities are caused by how I perceive and react to others and circumstances. If my shortcomings are driving me, I’m likely to experience heightened drama. But I’m beginning to notice this pattern sooner, and today, I have the solution: choosing to return my thoughts to my strong, steady, calming Higher Power. I can also use a program Tool—write about it or call a fellow.

I now have a process for taking an honest look at myself instead of blaming other people and circumstances. I’m learning how to implement boundaries, politely say no, and take responsibility for my part in any situation.

I’m able to see sooner any self-centeredness or arrogance in myself. I’m learning I am in this world to serve my creator by serving others. I’m learning to ask my HP and others how I can be useful, instead of diving in to fix a situation my way.

I know now that I can make choices driven less by fear and more by courage and gratitude. For me, everyday experiences like birdsong and the smell of grass are beautiful gifts “as is.” I’m accepting the lessons in situations and claiming “spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection” (p. 60). I’m learning to approach others with compassion, love, and kindness, because most of what I notice in others is in me too!

All this and more is thanks to the grace of my HP. I have come to know my HP since I put down the food, began working the Steps daily to the best of my ability with an abstinent sponsor, and started sharing my recovery journey with my fellows. Bless you all.

— Anonymous

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