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Surrender the Crutch

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At first, I thought Step Six would be easy for me—of course, I want my defects removed! But just as it warns in OA Twelve and Twelve, Second Edition, this Step is a little more complicated:

At first glance, Step Six seems easy. After all, who among us would not want to have all our defects miraculously removed, once we have identified them? As soon as possible, we want to get on with the business of being perfect people. Many of us are tempted to pass quickly over this Step without giving it due thought.

“Go ahead, God!” we say. “I’m entirely ready.” Then we swear off the old self-destructive behaviors, only to find ourselves right back in their grip within a short time. “I know better than this!” we berate ourselves. Our character defects seem to stick to us like glue as we try time and again to turn them over to God.

In practice, Step Six may be one of the most difficult of the Twelve Steps, because we find that saying we’re entirely ready and being entirely ready to take action are two very different things. What we are entirely ready for, actually, is to have the difficulties our defects have caused us removed while we hang on to the defects themselves (pp. 45–46).

Why is it so hard for us to be entirely ready to part with our defects? One major reason for most is fear. Compulsive eating has been a crutch for me, a way to deal with uncomfortable situations for which I was ill-equipped. I used it all of my life, going back to childhood. So, for me, “surrender the crutch” has become a mantra.

I noticed that, when I had hip pain from arthritis, I would unconsciously adapt my movements to avoid pain. The adaptations, essentially, were crutches to help me do what I needed to do. But as a result, my leg muscles weakened and my ligaments tightened. After two hip replacements five years ago, I no longer have pain, but it’s been an effort to stop using the crutches of those adaptations and rebuild leg strength. My fear is this: What if I can’t do it? What if it’s too hard?

My compulsive eating is similar—except that I lived with it as a crutch much longer than I lived with the restrictive movements of arthritis! So, it’s not surprising that it has taken me more than eleven years to stop eating compulsively and to completely surrender that crutch. Now, I’ve built strength by turning to God using the Steps, and asking others for help. I had to let go of compulsive eating in bits and pieces over the years, and I‘ve stopped using the crutch in most trigger situations—thank you, God. I know it works, and I trust that if I persevere, more will be revealed.

— Cait W.

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