Can Do

5 min read

At my first OA meetings, I recognized myself in the shares of others. Defensiveness, excuses, blaming, rationalizing, self-loathing, failure—all those alcoholic thoughts and actions described in the Big Book—all were familiar to me around food. I’d eaten volumes and screwed up dieting every day for years. Every night was one last huge supper and a swearing off, but by breakfast I was bingeing again. Before OA, I never ate moderately in my life, unless I was pretending to be a normal eater in front of others (while planning secret binges). I’m not a joiner, but thank heaven I came back. I’ll celebrate twenty-nine years in program next month.

A few things I heard from those early meetings and my first sponsors helped me then and still help me now:

I can be willing to do something I don’t want to do. What a relief to stop being guided by my whims. It does not kill me to call my sponsor, make a plan of eating for the day, or sit quietly and talk to HP— even when I don’t want to.

I can ask my Higher Power for the willingness to be willing. I just ask, then do the next right thing.

I can stay in today. Freedom from food and weight obsession, and being abstinent, comes down to staying in today. I cannot work my program yesterday or tomorrow. Today’s all I have.

I can HOPE. Hang On. Pain Ends. It really does. I can no more keep my misery than my joy, so there’s no reason to let either feeling influence what I eat today. Whatever feeling I have that feels impossible will pass.

I can be abstinent. How do I know I am abstinent? Did I follow a moderate plan of eating today that did not include my binge foods? Am I “refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight” (Overeaters Anonymous, Third Edition, p. 2)? If I am not, another person in recovery might not call me on it, but I am not really fooling me.

I can notice the gifts in my path today. Gratitude is the bedrock of daily recovery. Even if I’m sick, or poor, or my beloved is gone, even if I’ve lost a child, my job, or my home, I’m grateful to be here talking with you today. I’m grateful to have found this program where people identify with me and I with them. I’m thankful for a Higher Power who loves me and brings the sun up every morning, no matter what. I don’t have to feel any of this before I express my gratitude: When I start saying “Thank you,” silently or out loud, my world changes.

I don’t have to do any of this perfectly. It’s all one day at a time.

For me, the short form of the Twelve Steps is “Let Go,” and the short form of the Serenity Prayer is “Lighten Up.”

Welcome to OA, newcomers and long timers. Keep coming back!

— Cate M., Aptos, California USA

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