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Newly Willing

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I joined OA in January 2016. Though I consistently attended meetings, I could not get more than four months of continuous abstinence. Program has been a miracle—I remember a time when I couldn’t go more than twenty-four hours without bingeing, restricting, or over-exercising—but I still found myself frustrated. Slips began with compulsive habits creeping back: taking little nibbles of food as I was cooking or doing dishes, eating while standing, and eating while distracted. I would allow myself to skip an occasional prayer, journal entry, or reading. My honesty would waver as I rationalized not telling my sponsor that I was struggling. And, I’d convince myself I could eat what I wanted now and pray it off later. In this state, it would take only a small trigger to send me into a binge.

Recently, it happened. On a Sunday morning, there I was eating an extra thousand calories before 9:00 a.m.! The surprise attack of this binge was enough to make me reach out to program in a way I never had before. I’d always struggled to pick up the phone before or during a binge, but in that moment, my Higher Power gave me the willingness. I texted a friend: “I’m eating and don’t know how to stop,” and then felt as though I’d been pulled out from underwater. I could breathe again. I didn’t take another compulsive bite that day.

I believe my action of reaching for help allowed me to take Step Three in a way that I only thought I had done before. Of all my slips in abstinence, this one was scary enough to send me rushing to an OA meeting. That night, my friend gave me an OA worksheet: From Slip or Relapse to Recovery. Doing the worksheet allowed me to set aside fear and shame and logically analyze the processes that led to my binge. I realized I could benefit from meditation, putting my action plan down on paper instead of relying on my head, and better committing to my action plan on weekends.

The next morning, I began working the program with a new level of willingness. As I prepared breakfast, I suddenly found myself saying over and over, “God, please give me the willingness to refrain from compulsive food behavior.” The prayer kept my mouth too busy to lick the bowl!

Now I say that prayer constantly. Now I possess willingness to make outreach calls even when I’m busy, complete my bedtime routine even when I get home late, and speak up at meetings. My heart is full of joy and love, my energy has improved, and I feel more deeply connected to my OA family. If a slip in abstinence is what it took for me to finally get Step Three, I will be forever grateful for that fateful morning.

— Elizabeth H., Florida USA

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