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Many Forms of Footwork

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I am a compulsive eater and have been in program for thirteen years, but abstinent consistently, if not perfectly, for only the past year. I don’t like to count numbers and days, but I consider my first twelve years in program as vital to me and my recovery as this past abstinent year has been. For me, recovery isn’t a race; it’s a journey, and I don’t have to feel guilty if it takes me longer than I thought it would. I have a lifetime to recover, and I plan on using every moment of it to do just that.

There is no one definition of footwork in recovery—it can take as many different forms as there are people working the Twelve Steps. Footwork, for me, is the action of this program. It is the actual work I can do that helps me and helps my Higher Power lead me to abstinence and recovery. Without footwork I wouldn’t have a program, plain and simple.

To start, I use the Tools of Recovery vigorously to work my program. I could not work this program without the nine Tools (anonymity, action plan, a plan of eating, meetings, literature, sponsorship, service, telephone, and writing). These are as vital to me as the air I breathe, and without them I would be lost.

Of the nine Tools, writing is my lifeline to sanity and out of my compulsive nature. Writing provides two key things for me: 1) a direct link between me and my HP—I feel closest to my HP when I am in the act of writing and when I write directly to or from my Higher Power—and 2) a way to get all the crazy stuff out of my head and onto the page where I can look at it with a little more clarity and reason and let it go. Otherwise, that stuff will wander in my head until it drives me mad or, worse yet, back to my compulsions.

Writing may be my favorite Tool, but I couldn’t do without the rest either. Even the thousand-pound phone is vital to my program. I phone an OA buddy daily and text other OA members. There is power in texting when it’s used for recovery. Never forget that another compulsive eater is just a call or text away. It will save your life!

Besides the Tools, there are other vital forms of footwork: working the Steps and Traditions and working the Principles of the Steps and Traditions every day. I use these Principles: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, self-discipline, love, perseverance, spiritual awareness, service, unity, trust, identity, autonomy, purpose, solidarity, responsibility, fellowship, structure, neutrality, anonymity, and spirituality in all my affairs. Without them, my program would be hollow and meaningless. It just doesn’t work, unless you work it.

I just don’t know anymore how one goes through life without using the Steps and Traditions. Working the Steps and, yes, even the “boring’’ Traditions is how I recover. It tells us so in all the literature, and longtimers will tell you the same. I tried working a program without really having to work at it, and I can tell you from personal experience that does not work! So, if you want a program that works then work it! It’s as simple as that.

Prayer and meditation is something I’ve found vital to my program. Now, I don’t really “pray and meditate.” I came to OA with an aversion to these words, and I have a mile-a-minute brain that does not easily turn off, so meditation has been freaky to me. But I have learned that the concept is vital to my recovery. So, I talk and listen to my HP daily, usually through my writing. Listening can be tough, but I have learned that I can sit quietly and listen for that still, small voice in short sessions throughout my day, and it doesn’t take much to hear from my HP. I also write letters to myself from my HP (like taking HP’s dictation). This helps quiet my mind to a purpose.

Other footwork, like willingness, surrender, trust, and faith come in baby steps. I find if I can come up with even the tiniest amount of these, a well can spring up if I am open and ready. I have no clue about the how or why of it, but it’s amazing how it just works. It’s about letting go of my expectations and reaching out for something other than the food.

The final piece of footwork I’ll touch on is service. Service has been key to me staying in program and achieving abstinence. I know for a fact I owe my life to OA, so it’s my duty and responsibility to give back through service. Whether it’s big stuff, like volunteering at intergroup, or small stuff, like sharing at a meeting, I would not be here today if it weren’t for the service I give that keeps me coming back and keeps me accountable both to someone else and something else besides my disease. Service has kept me out of my own head and into helping others. Service just isn’t slimming; it saves!

Remember, footwork isn’t hard; it’s what we do to recover. It is the action of our program. “Faith without works is dead” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 76). In other words: It doesn’t work unless you work it. So work it! You are worth it!

— Christina, Salem, Oregon USA

 

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