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Abstinent, Loving Witness

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Active addiction leads to denial, and asking more of a sponsee than I do myself is a red flag. Stinking thinking says my extra weight doesn’t count because I carry it so well. Without abstinence, serenity eludes me, and I’m in bondage to self, reactive and thin skinned about feedback or comments.

Boundaries get lost in a food fog, and I find myself taking your inventory or offering advice to fix personal problems. Character defects flare up, and I’m more judgmental, impatient, demanding. First and last, I’m ineffective.

How has abstinence helped me be a better sponsor?

The first gift of abstinence is clear thinking so I bring more sanity to the relationship. When I walk the walk, I’m willing to be an ear and listen. I feel more flexible and less rigid. I demonstrate less judgment and more tolerance. I establish and maintain healthy boundaries that hold us both accountable. It’s obvious to both of us when I cross a line. Abstinence gives me room to own it and quickly make amends.

I am willing to be more honest about my own flaws and shortcomings. Instead of advice, I share my experience, strength, and hope in the first person: “When my in-laws visit, I go to extra meetings.” “To get off the pity pot, I do extra service.” “I felt edgy this week, so I made an outreach call.”

Threefold recovery speaks louder than words. I can honestly share my struggles, model my willingness to go to any lengths, or quote OA Conference approved literature and show its direct application to my life.

Sponsees are receptive when I give specific examples about what works for me. I tell them how I use the “God can” as suggested on page 78 of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition. When I’m out of sorts, I come to a HALT and ask if I’m Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I share, “I was tired, so I put myself to bed at 9 p.m.”

On a three-legged stool, I am more grounded, centered, and focused. Only then can I function as the “loving witness,” mentioned on page 42 in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition. I accept that each of us works our own program in our own way. I simply ask, “What are you willing to do?” and respect sponsees’ choices.

As it says on pages 86–87 in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, “Those of us who live this program don’t simply carry the message; we are the message. Each day that we live well, we are well, and we embody the joy of recovery which attracts others who want what we’ve found in OA.”

— Anonymous

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