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Adjusting Focus

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I was a great believer in whatever the next diet, philosophy, or trick was. You see, I knew there was a solution. Desperate, bingeing, swearing off, gaining weight, once-in-a-blue-moon losing weight through unhealthy restricting, and begging God to help me, eventually I found my way to OA.

I was in another Twelve Step program, so I knew asking for help from a Higher Power could work. Today, when I see fellows struggling before finding their footing in the Steps, I remember how my experience took time.

But that’s why I turned to food in the first place—don’t tell me anything takes time! Eating was the quickest hit to block pain. And the idea that it blocks pain is addictive. So if I have a problem and eat over it, then I have two problems.

I like the adage, “Focus on the problem and the problem grows. Focus on the solution and the solution grows.” So how do I focus on the solution?

To find support, I go to at least two meetings a week. My magical-thinking, catastrophizing mind needs to see and hear real people like me talk about this disease and recovery. For someone who has broken so many commitments, one of the hardest things is honoring the healthy ones I make to live. But I have to do it, and this means showing up. When someone says just what I needed to hear, I go tell them after the meeting because if I focus on applauding someone who helps me, then I cannot avoid getting a sponsor.

Using a sponsor? Now that takes persistence. But if I did it for my disease, I can do it for my recovery. I was willing to call out for food, so I call out for help. I was willing to leave my cocoon to go buy food, so now I go to meetings. I was willing to make time for binges; now, I make time for phone calls, emails, and connecting with others.

I have a Higher Power, and when I ask for guidance, I find support to make different choices. My HP never tells me to wait for the perfect meeting, sponsor, or program friend to connect. My HP suggests I reach out in service to others, which ultimately helps me. (My HP also listens to my excellent reasons for not working the Twelve Steps as they are laid out, and luckily finds this entertaining.)

Almost three decades into this program, I’m still surprised by the freshness of the Twelve Steps. I easily forget them, so I need meetings and literature. The Twelve Steps always apply, and they were never meant to be worked in isolation. Today, after struggling on my own toward a solution to a problem, the Third Step is ringing out. I’ve been turning the problem over. Now I’m feeling the surrender to whatever happens, knowing I’m in HP’s care. Now that’s finding support.

—Cate M., Aptos, California USA

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