My Side

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I’m abstinent and quite fired up this morning! I’m fired up and a bit frustrated because, at the moment, I seem to be surrounded by fellow members who are struggling with abstinence and sharing excuses for why they can’t be abstinent. I know this program teaches me to focus on my side of the street, which requires a daily cleaning (and often a water blast!), so here it is.

I am a garden-variety compulsive overeater, no better and no worse than anyone else. Today, I choose by the grace of my God to plan and eat three times this day with nothing between my meals.

Almost without exception, I plan my meals before going to bed the night before, and when I wake fresh to each day, I thank God for the gift of abstinence, which is given to me freely each morning. How unbelievably amazing is that?

God does not feed me breakfast in bed, however. Our program gives certain strong suggestions. My first sponsor taught me self-discipline and accountability with my food, and this is what I try to share with my sponsees. I believe that if I fail to plan, I plan to fail, and that is a real and tangible thing for me. Planning my meals is a safety net. It saves me from indecision and temptation. It takes the food obsession from my mind, just as promised.

I also have to be willing—it is no good saying I’m trying! I have to be willing to be comfortable with the uncomfortable at times. Sometimes I have to do what I don’t want to do, but I know the rewards are beyond measure. Food planning requires organization and dedication. I am tired of receiving half-hearted food plans because I know, as the Big Book says, “half measures availed us nothing” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 59). I am frustrated at hearing excuses about why that first bite needed to be taken— how there was “no choice”! There is always choice, and God gives us the ability and strength to make the right choice. I remember this phrase: “God will help us with every decision, even food choices and amounts” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, p. 14).

So how do I get this message across? The simple answer is by being abstinent today. It is not my place to dictate, only to be a demonstration of the way God wants me to live and to follow the simple steps required of me on a daily basis. Having a food plan is one of those simple steps, and for me, it provides proof that God works if we follow these simple guidelines. I haven’t needed to make non-abstinent choices for eighteen years—not by my own strength, but because I prayed for, and was given, the willingness to do what was suggested.

I cannot muck around with my food. I tried that for many, many years prior to OA, and it just doesn’t work! I am a compulsive overeater, and I always will be. Thank God for that!

Heather E., Wellington, New Zealand

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