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Guest Post

I asked a recovery sister of mine, Megan (pronounced Meegan) H., to write a guest post for Promise of Recovery.  I am honored and humbled by the magnificent words that came forth from her pen.  Thank you, Megan H., for writing a wonderful guest post to share with our recovery family.  You are very special to the Tampa OA community and we love you very much.

Am I recovering?

Perfectionism is a demon that I only recently thought I may want to dispose of.  In so many ways, it has served me well—pushing me ahead in many things I’ve tried which lead to external praise yet internal conflict, even hatred.  A year ago I started this program by enrolling in a treatment center and then realizing what I’d done once I got there!  No more hot French bread??  Ever??  Seriously??!!  Well, actually, no more just for today.  See…I’ve got the lingo.  But I also have the fear.  Mostly the fear that I’m not good enough.  That because I have not had 365 days of perfect abstinence, I have failed.  People outside this program may roll their eyes at this idea because I’ve truly lost a lot of weight.  They think, fine, now have a slice of pizza.  You’ve earned it.

In the meantime, I’m working on steps 10-12 every night with my sponsor where I’m admitting things like purchasing and eating an entire bag of mozzarella cheese sticks.  How compulsive is that?  Or binging on raisins because they are the only sweet thing I can find and I’m dying for some sugar?  To me, this is really, really shameful.  Bad, embarrassing, offensive.  I’m a failure in my own mind. 

But thank God for sponsors!  Mine is an amazing example of recovery and there she is to redirect me to the solution in the Big Book along with loving and accepting the wild food beast I am.  She points out all that  has changed by being in this program.  Of course, the major weight loss, but along with that, a new freedom.  More health, confidence, less medication, more friends and support, and a new spiritual connection that I’ve clogged up in the past.  These things are here for me!  When I slip and slide, it does not automatically negate the hours of service, reading, praying, meditating, meetings and sharing that I’ve done.  I remind myself of this as I learn to love and accept who I am right now.  “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.”   

-Megan H.

Thanks again, Megan H., for sharing your experience, strength, and hope with Promise of Recovery!  See you at the next meeting!

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Beautiful Paradoxes

If you can’t read the text, this busted car says, “Life is beautiful.” 

The longer I am abstinent, attending OA meetings, and work my steps…the more I realize that I will never ‘graduate’ from 12 Step programs.  This is one of the many paradoxes uncovered in recovery.  Some of the other paradoxes are

  • I must pass along the message of recovery to keep the message of recovery.
  • By abstaining from certain foods and eating behaviors I free myself from the bondage of food.
  • Although a feeling, serenity is not birthed from my emotions but from my actions.
  • Surrendering will win the war.

That last one used to drive me up the wall!  For such a long time I battled with diets, food, working out, body image, restricting, you name it and I have probably tried it.  Luckily, I learned at my first meeting that I wasn’t the only person who had such terribly perplexing emotional turmoil when it came to fighting the good fight.  Every single person in that meeting knew exactly what I was talking about when I described my compulsive behavior, emotional discontentment, and spiritual emptiness.

 I love my meetings…and I love all my sisters and brothers who make OA the wonderful family that it is!  Thank you for my recovery!  See you at the next meeting!

 (And a quick shout-out to Murphy for turning 33 today AND being sober and abstinent!  You are a miracle!)

The Miracle of Recovery

This is a special post to give a shout-out to Anner-Bananer for her 1 year celebration of abstinence and sobriety!  Recovery is real and possible in the rooms of OA.  Thank you, Ann, for being a walking Big Book and OA 12 & 12!

If you are still struggling from the disease of compuslive eating, please know that you are NOT alone!  Every person who walks through the doors of OA have felt those very same feelings of fear, dread, and hopelessness.

Ann is living proof that recovery works…one day at a time…

So please, if you are hurting…just keep coming back!  It works if you work it – so work it ’cause YOU are worth it!

Ann- thank you for passing the message of recovery to me!  I love you sooooo much!  See you at the next meeting!

The Lifeboat

“Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers.” – OA Tradition 5

Sometimes I venture out in a boat on Tampa’s glorious bay and enjoy the beautiful scenery.  Although my trips are lovely and spiritual, I seem to have a strange compulsion to peer over the side of the boat and into the water…and fear falling out to a doom of shark-bait madness.

Is there any reason for me to fear falling off the side of the boat and dying?  Is some strange and mystical wind going to come and shove me off the side and plop – fall directly into the mouth of a vicious shark?  Doubtful …but I still insist upon staying near the center of the boat, lest I forget myself and slip and…whoosh!  Over the side of the boat go I!

Recovery is like that for me, too.  I like to stay in the middle of the boat for fear that I might clumsily forget to pay close attention to my program and find myself flailing about in the murky waters of relapse.  My safety is found when I pay close attention to the direction of my program, when I focus on my relationship with God, when I attend meetings, and use the tools provided to me in OA.

Tradition 5 provides OA groups with this very same degree of safety.  It retains the singleness of purpose at an OA meeting – which is only to pass the message of recovery.  If we did not have this tradition we would have complete chaos.  Meetings might have beauty consultants, dietitians, or other unrelated-to-recovery professionals granted access for purposes other than recovery.

See, the reality of recovery is that a person “who still suffers” isn’t necessarily a newcomer.  It could very well be the OA member who has the longest amount of abstinence in the meeting.  So long as the group adheres to Tradition 5, anyone and everyone who attends will receive the message that recovery is real and does work.

…which is something you have all done for me.  Thank you for reading my blog!  I love you!  See you at the next meeting! 

OA Spirit

A few more thoughts on Tradition 4…

“Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole.” –OA Tradition 4

Tradition 4 goes hand-in-hand with Tradition 1.  It is an extension of the 1st Tradition, which states, “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.”  -OA Tradition 1

All OA groups have certain things in common.  Examples of these commonalities are the 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, the OA 12 & 12, the OA Tools, and all the various literature that has been approved by the entire group-consciousness of OA membership.

These approved suggestive recovery materials are workable and functional methods that promote our common welfare of abstinence.  They provide us with helpful insights on how to work the steps and traditions in our daily lives so that we can personally experience recovery.  Abstinence often begins by literally removing from our lives those foods and eating behaviors that cause us suffering and anguish.  But, is that all that is abstinence?

No!  Recovery is three-fold…just like how the disease of food addiction it three-fold.  Abstinence is spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness.  Tradition 4 provides an open forum for any and all OA members to create an OA meeting with their preferred format, time, and location…so long as the commonness of the OA spirit of unity is present.

Fun Acronyms!

These are some acronyms that are commonly used in 12 Step programs as endearing mottos about recovery.  I’ve changed them a little to fit OA…so I hope you like them!  A special “thank you” goes out to Anner-Bananer for helping me!

F.I.N.E.

[I’m] Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional

F.E.A.R.

Face Everything And Recover

N.U.T.S.

Not Using Tools/Steps

E.G.O.

Edging God Out

D.E.N.I.A.L.

Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying

H.A.L.T.

[Don’t get too] Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.O.P.E.

Happy Our Program Exists

H.O.W.

Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness

A.  S.P.O.N.S.O.R.

Abstinent Smiling Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery

G.O.D.

Good Orderly Direction

B.I.G.  B.O.O.K.

Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge

S.L.I.P.

Steps Losing Its Priority

A.C.T.I.O.N.

Any Change To Improve Our Nature

P.R.O.G.R.A.M.

Person Relying On God Respecting Abstinent Meals  

A.  S.T.E.P.

Abstinent Solutions To Every Problem

K.I.S.S.

Keep It Simple, Shnookie

Thank you for my recovery!  See you at the next meeting!  I love you all so much!

Autonomous For The People

“Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole.” –Tradition 4

The recovery program of OA is filled with paradoxes.  Autonomy is another one of them…and so I shall do my best writing about it without my head exploding.

We each have individual autonomy in OA.  That means that I can choose to work the steps of OA as suggested or we can try to make up my own way – which I have actually done before – something of which I now call “Lauren’s Anonymous”.  I did not stay abstinent for very long – maybe a week?  Probably less than that – it wasn’t pretty.  I don’t suggest “Lauren’s Anonymous” to anyone.

Anyway, every person gets to do whatever they are going to do in OA and is allowed to do that until they directly affect other people in the program.  This is when members who have long-term abstinence and have worked the steps will jump in and explain the function of autonomy.

The same goes for each individual group.  For example, the Saturday Serenity meeting is at 10AM and the Monday Focus on Abstinence is at 6:30PM and they are two separate groups.  Each autonomous group voted on these two different meeting times.  They did this completely independent of each other.  (I’m not sure why that is relevant but I hope you come to both meetings.)

The paradox is that we all have the right to be individuals in OA and each OA group deserves that same freedom…MY HEAD IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE…and so we can do whatever we want to do…ABOUT TO BLOW…until it impacts others and their rights regarding autonomy.

Okay, I made it.  Phew!  I’m not sure why this tradition is so difficult for me to write about.  After a couple years in recovery I started to scratch the surface at genuine comprehension of this tradition.  It is all about love, forgiveness, freedom, and change.  It seriously makes my head nearly explode to think about the depth of this tradition.  See, no person can force another person to get recovery.  A genuine willingness to surrender is essential to genuine recovery.

I love you all!  Please comment on this if you are willing to talk about Tradition 4!  I love hearing back from everyone.  You help me grow and evolve so much…see you at the next meeting!!

Group Purpose

“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscious.  Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”  – OA Tradition 2

The first time I ever entered a 12 Step meeting I learned all about Tradition 2.  I went to the restroom only to find it had no toilet paper.  I returned to the common area of the club house in search of toilet paper and asked, “Who’s in charge around here?”

The stranger I asked literally said, “A loving God.”

WHAT???

Ha!  True story!  Don’t worry, though.  I did find the toilet paper and all was right in the world again.

The 2nd Tradition of OA is all about the “group purpose”…and in all reality the group purpose is simply to pass the message of recovery.  That’s it!   So, whoever is collecting the donation basket, or ordering literature, or replacing the toilet paper is doing so voluntarily and in a role of a “trusted servant”.  That sounds like utopia, right?  Eh…

The sticky part is the “group conscious” area of this step.  Sometimes people want the meeting run this way and not that way, or at this time and not that time, or whatever.  For this situation I would like to refer to the OA 12&12 because it does a great job of breaking down how the collective individual needs come into being the consciousness – or awareness – of what is best for the group as a whole.

“The group conscious is not the same as majority rule.  This conscious is an expression of the group unity spoken of in the first tradition, a common bond which grows among us as we each let go of self-will.” –OA 12&12 p. 120

The Traditions found in 12 Step Recovery is the method of WHY the groups work so well.  Tradition 2 asks each of us to put aside our selfishness and remember that OA gives us a chance to recover from compulsive food behaviors.  And with something like that in my mind, why wouldn’t I want to seek for answers that would benefit everyone there?

I love you all so much!  Thank you for giving me recovery.  See you at the next meeting!!

Sleeping On Step Work

My preciouses do more for me than just snuggle-buggle late at night.  I have learned A TON about unconditional love, God, forgiveness, and patience from them.  Most of all, though, they seem to remind me about things I am doing…or better yet…the things I am NOT doing.  ARG!

Here we see Magnolya doing what I have been doing with this blog for about a month now:  sleeping on my step work!  This blog was created to pass the message of recovery (mostly to myself so I don’t forget it) and I haven’t been passing much around.  It is an important part of my recovery to talk about the program because when I am not doing that I am forgetting everything people have taught me.

“The principle of service which underlies OA’s twelfth step can now guide our actions both inside and outside the program.” –OA 12&12 p. 106

This single sentence has many important lessons for me.  The first is that I had no idea that the word ‘twelfth’ has an ‘f’ in it.  Did anyone else know this??  Anyway, the second is that my recovery is based in service.  This fact begs the question of me:  What am I actively doing to live recovery?  Am I reaching out to the newcomer?  Am I involved in service positions for the group?  Do I even bother to hold the door open for the person behind me?

And with that I shall leave you, my lovely friends, with one last quote from all 12 Step books that sums up 12 Step recovery like nothing else does…

“We”.

Thank you for my recovery!  I’ll see you at the next meeting…and don’t forget about the new ‘Monday Keep Comin’ Back’ meeting held at Rainbow Recovery Club at 6:30PM!  I love you all so much!!!

HAPPY 1 YEAR, NATALIA!!!

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You are a miracle! We all love you! Recovery is real…YOU are walking proof!