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I think I always had honesty, OA’s First Step Principle. I was 15 in 1971 when the disease descended upon me, and I knew something had gone seriously wrong in my life. “A human isn’t supposed to live this way,” I thought, as I scarfed holiday sweets and felt an overwhelming sense that I would never be able to control my eating again.

In the years that followed, I read For Today and began to know the hope of Step Two. I read of a Higher Power who could relieve me of my compulsion and provide the blueprint for living I so desperately needed. But faith, the Principle of Step Three, was a tug-of-war for me. For a long time, I just didn’t believe in OA. I didn’t buy it until I finally came into abstinence and recovery in 2003. At long last, I admitted my life was unmanageable—a wreck—and with the rudiments of faith became willing to accept a sponsor. Turning it all over continues to be a challenge and requires me to act as if.

In Steps Four and Five, I practice courage and integrity as I face myself, warts and all, and work with another person to admit my defects and accept them. I’ve started to learn who I really am, aside from the “perfect” persona I had presented to others.

I learn willingness, which is vital in our program, at a deeper level in Step Six to become entirely ready to have God remove my defects. I allow that Power to change me in whatever way it will and hold nothing back. This trust leads me to Step Seven, where I learn humility: being right-sized. I become less of an “egomaniac with an inferiority complex,” and more my authentic, God-derived self.

Then I move beyond myself to see how my actions, inactions, and attitudes hurt others. I apply self-discipline in Step Eight as I monitor my words and actions. I have found a pause in my mind now, and I consider my words before speaking. This usually results in me choosing to keep my mouth shut.

In Step Nine, I practice love, as I am challenged to accept others as they are, wholeheartedly, like my negative coworker. I accept like God accepts me, with all my shortcomings.

I practice perseverance by taking a daily Step Ten inventory. It’s amazing to pinpoint areas of difficulty and address them. For balance, I also highlight evidence of progress and growth.

Step Eleven is all about making contact with my HP and practicing spiritual awareness to link me with the Source and stabilize me emotionally. Daily, persistent prayer connects me with God, stabilizes me emotionally, and opens me to people in my life who may be struggling and needing help.

I provide service to others in Step Twelve through attentive listening, making outreach calls, and prayer. I believe this program is one of attraction. I hope that what I have through the grace of this program is evident to others, just as it has drawn me to these rooms since that day in 1971.

— Christina R., Montvale, New Jersey USA

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