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Empowering Discovery

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When I first came to OA thirty-three years ago, I was a bundle of resentments. I’m sure I resented almost everyone in my life, and my coping mechanism was to try to be nice to others so that they would feel bad and do what I wanted them to. But that never seemed to work for very long, so I needed a numbing mechanism, which for me was compulsive eating.

I did feel I’d come home when I went to my first OA meeting, and I knew I had a problem far bigger than compulsive eating. The people in that meeting probably shook their heads at my dysfunction, but I was blessed that they loved me anyway and invited me to keep coming back. I quickly got a sponsor and started working the Steps. It was an earlier time for OA literature, so I used the guidelines in the “How It Works” chapter from the Big Book to structure my Fourth Step.

I bought a notebook and labeled the headings: 1) I’m Resentful At, 2) The Cause (this was the bulk of my Fourth Step writing), 3) Affects My, and 4) My Part. This way of taking inventory was tailor made to deal with my resentments. I wrote copiously about what other people had done to me, but I got stuck at “My Part” because I didn’t see how any of it was my fault; I was nice. I made a panic call to my sponsor. She said just stay with it. During the call, I paused to talk to someone at my house who I felt was manipulating me, and I realized that’s what I do to other people! My sponsor identified it as dishonesty. I was so delighted to find my defect!

Before OA, I’d felt like I could only be a victim of the bad treatment I received from others, but then I discovered I had personal power and choices. I know it sounds contradictory, but I felt empowered when I found that character defect (and there have been many more). It meant there was more in my power to change. This has been a huge program miracle, for I can honestly say that I no longer have resentments. My resentment closet is all cleaned out.

If resentments do come up, I go through the same process as my Fourth Step, but now I live on my side of the street rather than reacting to other people. Even if my part is only 3 percent of the issue, I make sure that 3 percent is clean or that I clean it up. I marvel every day in this program that the Steps really work, and that I could have a life lived without resentments.

Thank you to my HP; my sponsors; anyone I’ve ever seen in a meeting; and to those who have produced program literature, worked the Steps and keep the Traditions, and do every other service to keep OA healthy for those of us who want recovery from compulsive eating.

— Carrie

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