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The Handrails Out of Hell

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As an abstinent compulsive eater since May 1993 with a 100-pound (45 kg) weight loss, I love to read things that remind me of where I came from:

“If willingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens those doors so that we may walk freely among the living” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 317).

The funny thing about hell on earth is that since I had abused food to deal with life for so long, I didn’t even feel the heat anymore! My life was unacceptable, but food made it survivable. Today, I don’t want to simply survive. I want to thrive and walk freely among the living.

Working the Steps of OA made me willing to approach that gate. The order they follow is magnificent, each one clearing the way for the next. I can’t work just the first three and then jump to the last three; it just doesn’t work that way. Sure, Steps Four through Nine may seem hard, but as I look back, my living hell before program was far more difficult. I also found as I worked the Steps that there were handrails all along the way for me to grasp on my journey. Those handrails were the Tools of Recovery.

In For Today, it says, “Repetition is the only form of permanence that nature can achieve” (p. 204). Well, I tend to repeat myself. I repeated compulsive eating behaviors over and over, hoping for relief but achieving only depression and morbid obesity. Now, repeated use of the Tools keeps my hand on that handrail and me out of hell. The Tools allow me to work the Steps with assurance that I’m not going to fall flat on my face as I did with so many diets in the past. The key, however, is working the Steps.

And what a life I have today! We just heard from our kids that our little grandson could arrive at any time. Wow! I feel such awe and gratitude for life now. The passageway that got me here looked difficult when I first started, but I’ve been on the other side for a long time now. When I consider the pros, I know that the path was so worthwhile. I’m grateful I was willing to embark on this journey to freedom and fearlessly take the actions it required. For those just starting out in the program, I’m living proof that it’s totally worth it!

— Edited and reprinted from New Beginnings newsletter, Central Florida Intergroup, April 2018

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