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Real Love and Innocence

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Growing up in the home of an alcoholic father with my six other siblings seemed easy while I was in it. It wasn’t until years later that I discovered I was having problems because of it.

ln my 60s, I started to notice a problem with food, one that I had to admit had been there all my life. It was when I came to OA that I finally discovered the need to feed a vacuum inside of me that now I believe only God can fill. Though I had been spiritual all my life, it wasn’t until coming to OA that I discovered true surrender and what that means to me. I truly believe that we choose our own circumstances so we can overcome obstacles and learn from what we once thought were impossible situations. It is in taking total ownership that we find the answers we so desperately seek.

Recently, one of my sisters, who is a recovering alcoholic, came to visit my husband and me. I was so looking forward to her visit, but when she got to our house, it was one demand after another. She was rude and uncharitable, and when she left our house the following day, she left me with a not-so-good feeling that I needed healing . . . or she did . . . or more to the point, we both did.

During a long meditative walk, I realized that my negative reaction to her was part of a pattern I’d developed over the years. I had been going pathetically to the negative in my reactions toward my siblings. I’d been imagining all sorts of things that I felt were happening, though I had no proof. I’d been reacting that way to my siblings for much of my adult life. I would have very bad feelings about them after a visit—not so much during the visit as afterwards. I’d felt unloved, but during that walk, I realized that I wasn’t loving her. I needed compassion, but why didn’t I have any to give to someone so close to me? I had felt more concerned, it seemed, about being competitive and catering to an ego that needed to be stroked. I realized that, at one time or another, I had reacted just as unkindly to all my siblings, not just this one sister.

I had been expecting to get love from my siblings when, really, we get love from God. It comes from within, and it’s something we do, a choice to do something positive rather than negative. This longing for love from my siblings was catastrophic when I was young: I never was able to do enough to receive love from them. Now that I’m older, and perhaps now that some maturity has set in, I’ve realized the possibility that I can, with God’s help, give real love, God’s love, to my family and expect nothing in return. So, I began to rely on God for my sustenance and to help me really and truly love my siblings the way I wanted to be loved by them.

We can love our Twelve Step fellows and seek emotional intimacy within our fellowships, but it seemed I had been going to the meetings to seek what I could get out of them instead of what I could put into them. (Don’t we all have to come to terms with that as well?) After discussing this with my Higher Power and my sponsor, I decided to turn things around and send my siblings love and forgiveness instead. I think this has been the greatest act of kindness I’ve done for them, but also for me, because it has healed something inside of me in a profound way. My competitive spirit and longing to eke out loving relationships has been replaced with peace of mind and love for my spirit, body, and emotions.

I’m not sure anymore how disastrous my father’s alcoholism has been on all of us. We knew he loved us, but there was so much sibling rivalry—it was quite extensive in my mind. My sister’s visit brought home all of those old feelings of competitiveness, which I had never really looked at as something I was generating. I have begun to see my family, and my father in particular, as innocent from God’s perspective. We’ve all been doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.

My husband and I are choosing not to have a repeat of my sister’s visit. I want to be 100 percent loving the next time we meet up again.

I am grateful to Overeaters Anonymous and my sponsor for being a safe place to turn to and for helping me receive from my Higher Power all the wisdom and insight I have needed to continue looking for more. In OA, we are people on the path of light and love and happiness. Thank you to my Higher Power and for allowing me to share.

— A.M.A., Washington USA

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