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Show Me the Ropes

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The recovery Tools I have learned in OA have recently enabled me to overcome one of my greatest fears. I had always been terrified of heights, so when I heard that my coworkers and I would participate in a ropes course as part of our staff training—climbing sixty feet up in the air and balancing on ropes and small pieces of wood before whizzing down a zip line—I thought of the Third Step Prayer: “God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 63). I thought this assignment must be God’s plan for me, and part of me was excited about doing it. That same part trusted God would help me.

Before OA, I used to deny and avoid fear and other difficult feelings by overeating and obsessing about food and weight. OA taught me to face my feelings and problems head-on. Instead of ignoring fear, I looked for ways I could prepare. I took a one-hour beginner’s class at a local rock-climbing gym to gain confidence. When I became paralyzed with terror and couldn’t move, I called out for help (a skill I developed in OA) and was assisted by a man who had only one hand.

One of the greatest gifts of working the Steps and Tools in OA is that my shame has been greatly lessened. I realized if I wasn’t able to finish the ropes course, it would be okay. Even if I freaked out in front of my new coworkers (my biggest fear) or froze, that would be okay too. I have limitations and make lots of mistakes, but my Higher Power is so powerful he can help me live a happy life.

On the day of the ropes course, I prayed the Serenity Prayer dozens of times and found the courage I needed. I took suggestions from people who were ahead of me on the course, and I encouraged the people behind me, calling back to them what had worked for me. I desperately wanted to quit several times, but the cheers of my coworkers gave me the extra strength I needed. I asked people for help many times. In difficult spots, I prayed, trusted God, and relaxed. As my fear lessened, the course became more and more fun.

I enjoyed being of service to my coworkers by enthusiastically cheering them on. This helped me relax and remember I’m not alone. OA also taught me the benefits of having an attitude of gratitude. When my coworkers told me I was doing well, I said, “I couldn’t do it without you!” After the course, I felt incredibly grateful and thanked them for their support. I thanked God too. This experience, which felt miraculous to me, makes me tremendously grateful for the life-saving skills I develop as I work my OA program, embracing the support of my loving OA community and learning to trust my Higher Power.

— Sheila H., California USA

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