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A New Light

“[Newcomers] need to understand that food is not our problem – the compulsive behavior is.”  – Abstinence p. 27

I remember my first time in OA, hearing that my compulsive behavior/eating was my problem.  I wanted to blame particular foods, spices, sauces…well, basically anything edible.  Somewhere inside of me, I wanted someone to tell me to remove a particular food or ingredient and then I would be forever cured!

That was not the case.  It was far from the truth.  I grieved the knowledge that I ate for one simple reason:  COMPULSIVE EATING WAS MY DRUG.  This concept does not negate the other truth that, for many compulsive eaters, particular foods causes an allergic reaction that propels them to overeat.  In fact, it completely supports the notion that compulsive eaters have a disease that is manifested within the body of a compulsive eater.

The A.A. Big Book describes “the phenomenon of craving” in the chapter The Doctor’s Opinion as, “the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity.”

I would like to take a moment to expound on this idea because something happened to me last Wednesday that scared me.  I met up with some friends in OA for dinner.  I drank two glasses of diet soda…only to find out later that the restaurant had accidently used regular soda instead of diet.

At first I didn’t care.  It really wasn’t a big deal…I got some diet soda and went about my business.  My friends and I ate dinner and continued on being merry and serene.  But then…about fifteen minutes later…I felt a sugar high come over me.  It felt kinda good and I began to fret.  Did this mean I was going to binge?  Had I accidently lost my abstinence?  Was I bound to an evening of massive sugar consumption?  Was all hope lost for me?  I sat in my chair and worried that my stint in OA was over…for good…and I was destined for relapse…I saw my tombstone read, “An OA at heart, though from sugar she never did part.”

OH SH*T!

Hey – I never said I wasn’t dramatic!

Anyway, I happen to be sitting directly across from my step sponsor and my food sponsor.  I told them how I was feeling.  Soon enough my body felt alright…it was my mind that kept obsessing.

This taught me a very valuable lesson in my recovery.  IT REALLY ISN’T EVER ABOUT THE FOOD.  I know for a fact that for me sugar is a trigger to my compulsive eating behavior.  However, ingesting sugar or not ingesting sugar is NOT the end-all-be-all of my recovery.   Life happens and, if I continue to live free from the bondage of food, life will continue to happen and something as scary as accidently drinking a bunch of sugar in soda might happen again.  That’s living life on life’s terms.  And that is okay today.  It’s not about the food…it’s about my willingness to surrender, trust God, and clean house (and I don’t mean my apartment).

I’m still abstinent, folks!  I did not go home and eat a bunch of sugar!  Thank you for my recovery!  I love all of you so much.  See you at the next meeting!

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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!!

My Cankles

This post is going to open with a very important quote from our literature because if not I’ll never write it…

“Honesty is a key factor in our recovery from compulsive eating, and so we will want to develop this trait.” OA 12&12 p. 51

With that being said…

I have cankles.

Yes, my lovey friends out there in blog-land, I have natural-born cankles.  I’ve always had cankles and I will always have them.  It does not matter how skinny I get…my cankles are a part of my body that will never go away.  They were a genetic gift from one side of my family and they did not come with a return receipt.  Oye vey!!

I used to be ashamed of my cankles.  I hated everything about them!  Sometimes I would squeeze them and try to make them smaller.  Other times I would beg God to let me wake up cankle-free.  I only wore pants – never shorts – for fear that my cankles would be exposed.  I even listed my cankles as one of my resentments on my 4th Step!

Recovery has taught me that my cankles are not my character defect, rather my self-loathing of my cankles is my real character defect.    The OA 12&12 says it best, “In fact, poor self-image keeps us in bondage to self and thus makes it impossible for us to find true humility.” –OA 12&12 p. 59

So…I have cankles.  So what?  Recovery teaches me that cankles or no cankles, I am a beautiful person where it counts…inside.  And whether or not I have cankles isn’t any of my business until I have something nice to say about them.  I have to give my obsession for not having a perfect body to God.  If I don’t, I could relapse.  And it’s just not worth it.

So…I have cankles.

And that’s okay today.

Phew!  Thank you for my recovery!  I love all of you!  See you at the next meeting!

A Bunch ‘A Pucky

Sometimes newcomers exclaim, “God?!  What does that S.O.B have to do with my compulsive eating?!”  This freak-out moment, which almost all of us have had, occurs only when the first two steps have not been completed by the upset new OA member.  And I put this out there because Step 3 is actually really simple once we have taken 1 and 2.

Once we are on Step 3 a couple things should have happened.  The first is that we have fully realized that we have an abnormal reaction to food that will never leave us and we have stopped trying to fight that reality.  The second is that we realize that fighting our compulsive food behaviors is completely nuts-o and that only something greater than ourselves (and greater than food) can bring us peace.  If these two things have occurred within the soul of a food addict, then Step 3 is a very simple task.

The OA 12&12 keeps it real for us by saying, “Note that we have said the step is simple; we have not said it is easy.” –OA 12&12 p. 19

I love that our literature keeps it real and totally on the up-and-up.  Step 3 is very simple, yet it isn’t easy.  Isn’t that the truth!  Suddenly, I am living on a spiritual basis…and no longer trying to manipulate and control things so that I get my way.  Step 3 asks something of me…something that for some reason is very difficult to do…and that is to be nice to other people, be honest, and love others.

Yes!!  It is that easy to work Step 3!  My first sponsor, Ms. Angel, said it best, “Lauren L, the way to work Step 3 is to stop acting like an a**hole.”

So, what does God have to do with my compulsive eating?

“Once we compulsive overeaters truly take the third step, we cannot fail to recover.”  OA 12&12 p.27

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

Dis-Ease

Woah!  Disease…Dis-ease…

I did not come up with that, however, it is awesome and so I thought I would write a little about dis-ease.

When I first came into recovery I was filled with dis-ease.  I felt nervous, fearful, and angry.  If I wasn’t busy crying, I was screaming and yelling and carrying on.  A part of me had awoken; and a part of me had died.  There is no internal pain known to mankind as that of the [insert mood-altering substance here] addict who is coming off the sauce…and I ain’t talkin’ alfredo sauce…although for some us food addicts…it could very well be that, too…

We all come in hurting.  If we didn’t hurt so badly then we wouldn’t seek recovery.  The OA 12&12 really drives it home in the quote

“We ate to sate the fears, the anxieties, the angers, the disappointments.  We ate to escape the pressures of our problems or the boredom of everyday life.” –OA 12&12 p. 5

Okay, I’m taking a quick second to mention that the next sentence is just unbelievably hardcore.  It reads

“We procrastinated, we hid, and we ate.”  -OA 12&12 p. 5

This translates to, “We were dis-eased in our disease.”

The second part of Step 1 is all about my dis-ease.  For those of us who are unsure of what I mean by the second part of Step 1, I am referring to “that our lives had become unmanageable”.  Unmanageability is an open word that incorporates all the feelings of dis-ease that we have when we are newcomers.

The reality is that once the food is removed all the emotions are left there…which is why it’s important to go to meetings, get a sponsor, and works the steps.  The promises are real and they come true every day for people.  If you are struggling with compulsive eating, just keep coming back.  The promises can come true for you, too.

I love me some Tampa OA!  Come check out the new ‘Monday Keep Comin’ Back’ @ 6:30 PM over at Rainbow Recovery Club!