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Stepping Up from Fear

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One of my favorite passages from the OA Twelve and Twelve is this from Step Five: “Most of us find that fear is at the root of many of our damaging emotions and actions. As we grow in the Twelve Step way of life, we learn that our fears usually stem from our inability to trust that our basic needs will be met. Perhaps we have good reasons for our mistrust; perhaps people have failed us, placing us in situations we were not emotionally prepared to handle. Still, we find we have to outgrow our doubts. If we are to recover, we must learn to trust other people and entrust our lives to a Power greater than ourselves” (p. 43).

This really speaks to me. I didn’t have a bad childhood. I was loved and cared for. I was not neglected or abused. Yet somehow, I picked up two deep-seated and contrary beliefs: 1) others could not be trusted to protect me and others, and it was up to me to do so; and 2) I was not enough—not smart enough, attractive enough, gifted enough—to protect myself and others.

So I have had fear as a bedrock emotion. All my life, I’ve fought with fear and  tried to escape fear. I’ve fought fear by relying on my own willpower and arming myself with knowledge and skill. I have tried to escape fear by compulsively overeating and engaging in distraction.

Since coming to the Twelve Steps, I’ve found a totally different way to live. I don’t fight fear. I don’t try to escape it. I use the Steps and prayer and meditation to see and accept my fears and let them go, turning them over to God. That’s how I have come to trust God to give me what I need, guide me, and take care of outcomes while I just do my part. I don’t do this perfectly, but I am improving.

In doing my Twelve Step footwork, my old, dysfunctional habits of mind, body, emotions, and spirit have diminished. This includes my compulsive overeating. I see more and more how these old ways of living have harmed me, others, and my relationships and have kept me from functioning at my best. I am so grateful.

— Cait W.

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