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Shorthand Process

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A time eventually came in Overeaters Anonymous when I realized I no longer felt impossible. Somehow, working the program had brought about that change. My Twelve Step history is longer than my specific OA history, so it took years, but that change did come about.

Today, my sponsee was writing about letting go of the idea that one should feel good all the time. Personally, I need those times when Higher Power prods me with a twinge of “Oops! Wrong thing to have done!” I especially appreciate any twinge that stops me before I goof up. Probably the hardest times to get through without eating are when I don’t feel good about myself.

My first sponsor told me to get to a Step meeting once a week to become familiar with the Steps. I was fortunate that the handiest Step meeting was one at which a single leader took us through all Twelve Steps; a twelve-week service by a person whose life led them to serve in that way.

Specifically, the Steps are designed to help us handle not feeling good about ourselves. That’s what the Step Four inventory does: it gives us practice at calmly seeing wrongs, including wrongs in ourselves, and writing about them. Step Five is three-pronged, and I missed a lot the first time I worked it, concentrating only on reading my writing to someone else. I skipped over admitting my wrongs to myself and my Higher Power first.

A couple of sponsors later, I got to Steps Six and Seven, and my new sponsor wanted me to linger there and reflect on my life in light of those Steps. Though they get short treatment in the AA Big Book, living under their glare gave me lots of practice with not feeling good about myself. Steps Eight and Nine continued my practice of not liking myself very much, until I figured out how to reach the point of being comfortable enough with myself to make amends.

You get the picture. At some point I began to notice the times when “Oof, I did that!” came along, and to say to Higher Power, “Make a note of that; we’ve got to work on it.” That was when I realized I no longer felt impossible. I knew that change, though gradual, was possible, and it was okay to be a work in progress.

Working the Steps is really shorthand for the process of becoming comfortable with myself, discovering my wrongdoing, and doing something about it (starting with admitting it). Steps Ten through Twelve continue the practices that help me be comfortable in my own skin. That doesn’t mean I feel good about myself all the time; I just know it’s possible to roll with any feeling.

I find Step Eleven especially helpful. When I meditate these days, I get silent and still for twenty minutes; my intent is to spend that time being acted upon by my Higher Power, beneath my awareness. Whenever I realize that I’ve gone back to thinking, I let go of those thoughts. I make the small effort to return to the “yes” I say to Higher Power. “Yes, I want you to be at work in me. Yes, I trust you to change me. And yes—I believe you are saying yes to me too.”

— Anonymous

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