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It’s Official…

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THANK YOU TAMPA BAY OA FOR REPRESENTING STRONG AT THE OA STATE CONVENTION!!!

A special shout-out for my girls and guy: Anner Bananer, Natalia, Rump Shaker Shana, Jen M, my sponsor Erin, Alexis, Melissa, Jen W, Millie-Vanillie, Andrea, Judith, Stan, Whitley

See you at the next meeting!!!

Freedom from Bondage

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“We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends.” -AA Big Book Pg 87

Woah! Not pray for myself?! What are they talking about?

My early prayers in the rooms of recovery sounded something like the following:

“Dear God, In all seriousness, please make me skinny. I don’t know what is going on with my WeightWatchers program, but it is all crazy and I’m not losing any weight. I want to feel sexy and like my body. At least for once, God, will you please just help me drop some of this weight? I’ve been working really hard at this and if you would just this one time help me…”

The OA program of recovery suggests that I abstain from compulsively obsessing over weight, body image, and food. It was a shocking moment for me when I realized that I obsessively asked God to remove my excess body fat in nearly every prayer I prayed.

OA suggests that if I change my actions my thoughts will follow and those, too, will change. What, then, is an appropriate prayer to be said by a food addict like me?

“Dear God, please help me follow your will today. Remove my obsession over diets and weight management. Make me a vessel of your will today so that I can be free from my mental bondage of compulsive food thoughts. Thank you for helping me. Thy will, not mine, be done.”

Thank you, brothers and sisters for my recovery! Keep coming back! See you at the next meeting!

Our Common Welfare

In Voices of Recovery (which is one of the OA approved daily refection and morning meditation books) the January 5th entry really moved me.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about the topic.  It was about Tradition 1 of OA, citing, “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.”

The entry discusses how every person has their own recovery program in OA and that OA needs to remain respectfully individual because everyone has individual triggers.  A certain food that might jump-start my compulsive eating might be okay for you to eat, just like how a certain food that might harm you is okay for me to eat.  Our commonality is not based in a blanket abstention; it is based in our common compulsion and our common solution – the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of OA.

Who am I to judge what is right or wrong for my OA fellows?  It is not my place to carry ‘my message’.  I am to carry the OA message of recovery.  Thankfully, “The program is broad enough for all of us to do whatever is necessary.” – Voices of Recovery, Pg 5

I love all of you!  See you at the next meeting!

Holy Partially Hydrogenated Corn Syrup, Batman!

Few but the members of OA know the depths of insanity that our thoughts can travel, especially when it comes to justifying one little morsel of our favorite trigger foods.  Our thoughts are often something like, “Well, I’ll only have one…and one won’t hurt me…I’ve eaten only one before…and I’ve been so good, not having any for so long…it’s not a big deal…I can start over tomorrow…no one will know…I can even workout for longer at the gym to make up for it…besides, it’s normal for someone to treat themselves…today has been so great/bad that I deserve it…jeez, it does look good…(sniff, sniff)hmmm, and it smells really good…what’s the harm in having just one…little…smidge…of a corner…of one…”

Talk to an OA and they will likely tell you what they told me, saying, “I had times when I could, literally, eat just one.  However, the times that I did that were few and far between.  I always, always intended to eat a normal amount of [insert preferred white flour or sugar based food here] but, as OA helped me understand, something inside of me clicked on – like a switch – and I was done.  I ate more than I intended to eat and what followed that event was guilt and remorse.  The cycle of eating would begin and I’d find myself feeling defeat, shock, and terror.”

For many OA members, these thoughts don’t totally just up and disappear while in recovery.  Many members report that they occasionally have temping thoughts over trigger foods (the foods they abstain from eating) even after a lengthy amount of continuous abstinence and working the OA program as suggested.  We, as a fellowship, are humbled and grateful to have 9 Tools at our disposal to assist us when these obsessive food-thoughts start driving us crazy!  And what is this particular tool?  The telephone!

At the onset of my insane thinking of justifying to myself the ingesting of foods that have a history of trouble for me, I pick up the phone and call someone in my network.  Talking to another person in recovery is an almost 100% guarantee that I will not eat the food that I am considering eating.  Why is this?  Because when I reach out to someone who is also in recovery I am telling on myself.  I am saying to my support group, “Please help me.”  And help is always there.

If I call my sponsor and say, “I’m thinking about eating one of my trigger foods,” then she can talk me through that bite.  The OA program leaves it up to me in the end.  Am I going to binge or am I going to abstain?  Am I going to try and be in control or am I going to give it to God?  Am I going to eat something to have a mood altering experience from the yummy taste or am I going to look at whatever is really going on with me?  Am I going to work the OA program or is my disease going to work me?

 

Thank you all for my recovery!  See you at the next meeting and just keep coming back! 

Meetings

If you follow my blog at Rainbow Recovery Club then you have already seen this picture of my two most precious angels…isn’t it awesome?! Fellowship is important to many creatures, not just OA members. On to the post…

Sometimes newcomers ask me, “How many meetings a week should I attend?”

I reply, “I try to attend as many meetings a week that I used to obsess over food, dieting, exercise, or my weight. Which days of the week were you active in your disease?”

This is the moment when jaws hit the floor and eyes bulge from heads. Often what is exclaimed by the newcomer is, “But, that’s EVERYDAY!”

Meetings are one of the 9 Tools that OA suggests as a way to remain abstinent. Abstinence is of top importance to me today because I know that once I ingest that sugary substance I will crave more and more and more. I won’t be able to stop. It is proven that quality long-term recovery is found inside the rooms of OA. Therefore, one of the best ways to ensure that I am going to be living my recovery is to attend the meetings.

I believe the saying, “Meeting-makers make it.” I believe this because people who attend meetings get to hear the message of hope that OA promises. They get to see the OA Promise work through people – our brothers and sisters who once suffered alongside the pained and hurting newcomer.

Every time I attend an OA meeting I am returning home. They all ‘get’ me. They all know who I am, what my disease feels and looks like, and they all care about me. It is the one place I am safe, for each person in that room only wants me to succeed in my recovery.

Thank you for my recovery! I love all of you – my brothers and sisters! Keep coming back! It works!

Cleaning House

OA Step 4:  “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Honest self-searching is the beginning to a fruitful relationship with our Higher Power.  It is imperative that we look at who we were, both in action and in emotion, so that we might bring forth a new awareness, vision, and grace as we re-enter society within our recovery.  Every successful business conducts audits and inventories, so why shouldn’t we do the same of ourselves?

Humility develops inside our spirit as we review our conduct by completing a rigorously honest inventory.  No longer do we find that we were victim to others, life, and circumstance.  We clearly see our part in situations.  Only by realizing what part we play in our various life dramas are we then able to cast the light of reason and growth upon the dark and gloomy areas of our nature.  Though too, sometimes we are brought into truth that early childhood events are no fault of ours and we are relieved of burdens we have carried for years.  Suddenly everything that was once distorted and fuzzy becomes clear and comprehendible.

Not a single person who completes Step 4 to the best of their abilities will say, “No – I feel no difference.”  It is a guarantee that to work this step a spiritual event will unfold.  Many say something like, “I’m not certain what happened, but I feel lighter.”  Upon the completion of our inventory we begin to experience a spiritual journey.  Step 4 ushers us into a part of the OA promises.  At the conclusion of this step we begin “moving beyond the food and the emotional havoc to a fuller living experience.”  -OA, Our Invitation To You

Thanks for reading!  See you at the next meeting!

Gratitude Post on ViR

Wow…thank you to Kendra with Voice in Recovery for giving me the chance to write a guest post on gratitude…if you haven’t read it yet then please click here.

Thanks again and see you at the next meeting!

A Fork in the Road

Too bad life can’t be as forward as literally seeing ‘a fork in the road’.  If that were the case, I probably would have ceased fighting my food allergy a long, long time ago.  Unfortunately, most of the times I could have taken a different path I wasn’t even aware that another option was available to me.  I was so absolutely stuck in my compulsive eating that it had become normal for me.  Thankfully, I’m not alone.  My story is basically the same as everyone else’s story.  Hence the fellowship that is OA.

Although we might have varying symptoms, every person in OA has the exact same disease.  Better yet, we have a common solution to our shared problem of compulsive eating.  Since becoming abstinent and working the steps with a sponsor, I have come to learn that each day I am offered a choice of which path to walk.  Will I enter into my disease of compulsive eating and surrender to a day filled with insanity of my food addiction or will I surrender my will and life to the care of God and live in abstinence?

The program focuses on progress, not perfection.  OA does not lift me into sainthood and let me fall straight into hell.  All I need is a wee bit of willingness to live the program to the best of my ability, and only for today.  If I do, indeed, begin my mornings how the OA program suggests, then I begin the day walking the path of recovery.  Once on this path, I find it much more difficult to jump onto the path of self-destruction.

The OA program is a fork in the road.  It is a program that is designed for recovery of mind, body, and spirit, based on a daily reprieve from compulsive eating, and all that is asked of me is to suit up, show up, and give up.  This method is gentler than I ever thought it would be.

“[OA is the] easier, softer way.” –AA Big Book Pg 58   

Today I asked my Higher Power to remove my obsession over food and to relieve me of my compulsive eating.  It worked for me and it can work for you, too.

Thanks for reading my blog!  See you at the next meeting! 

Blossoming Faith

I lovelovelove talking to people about the 12 Steps in recovery.  One of the most interesting conversations I have with recovery members is with someone who is working Step 2 for the very first time…and especially the one who arrives in OA already fitted with a set of religious or spiritual convictions.  These are the members I especially love to chat with.

You should have heard me go on and on when I first came into the rooms of OA.  I said, “I believe in God – a Power greater than myself – sure, I’ve already got one.  I’m way past Step 2.”

My sponsor chuckled and guided me to page 15 of the OA 12 & 12.  It read

“We religious ones had trouble because we believed in God’s existence, but we didn’t really believe God could and would deal with our compulsive eating.  Perhaps we didn’t believe that our compulsive eating was a spiritual problem, or we felt that God was concerned only with more important matters and expected us to control such a simple thing as our eating.” – OA 12 & 12 Pg 15

I went back to my sponsor and said, “But sponse, I’ve prayed real hard to God that I be skinny but I’ve always yo-yoed.  Prayer doesn’t work.”

To my surprise she replied, “So, you’ve been asking God to just take off all the fat on your body while you continue to eat whatever you want?”

Hmmm…I had to take some time to think on that one.

The next day at an OA meeting I sat next to a woman who had fought her disease of bulimia for over two decades.  After she shared with me some of her heart-wrenching story, I said, “That’s amazing you even have a throat left.”

She frowned.  “I don’t.  It’s all scar tissue.  But, what I do have is a 90 day abstinent chip that I picked up last week.  I’ve never made it more than a week without purging until I tried this program.  I’m recovering.”  She patted my knee.  “It’s all about action.”

And she was right!  Step 2 is about having faith that the actions others before us have taken will work for us, too.  Coming to believe in a Power greater than ourselves happens when we stop debating whether it works or not and we just start doing it, pretending that it does work.  Then, after taking action and seeing that it works, we begin to truly believe.

The key to Step 2 is willingness to have some faith.  That’s all.  The miracle of OA is available to any and all people who have a food issue and desire to stop eating compulsively.

“Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone.  The only condition is that he trust God and clean house.” –AA Big Book Pg 98

 

See you at the next meeting!  It works if you work it so work it ‘cause you’re worth it!!

Sponsorship

I received an excellent gift last night and I wanted to share a little bit of it with all of you – my brothers and sisters in recovery.  And no, my gift was not the manikin dressed for skiing in the above picture.  That was used simply as a rouse to get you reading!  Well, and to show you how some Tampa residents don’t play ‘round when it comes to decorating they downtown…Booyah!

So, last night my sponsor met with me over at Starbucks and we talked for about 2 full hours.  I don’t have the words to describe the feelings that I experienced – the feelings that come from an intimate communion of two people who seek recovery.  Perhaps the experience is so intense that words just can’t fully capture the spirituality of the sponsor-sponsee relationship.

This morning’s meeting at Rainbow Recovery Club had several great topics being discussed.  One of them was how the word ‘Overeater’ brings out shame and embarrassment for some people.  I was one of those people until last night.  My sponsor completely normalized me as a member of OA.  She did this right in the middle of my talking, right when my cheeks went flush and I had begun to stutter, muttering out various parts of my powerlessness inventory to her.  In fact, it was right when I said, “I would get up in the middle of the night and eat a bunch of sugary foods.”

Oh, God!  I was embarrassed admitting that to her.  I suddenly wanted to die right there, in front of my Higher Power and my skinny, sugar-free vanilla, light ice, no water, iced coffee.  Alas, thank the rooms of OA and my Higher Power that I didn’t die, for if I had, then I wouldn’t have experienced the miracle that came next.  I clutched my forehead and shuttered.  “Well,” I began, wanting desperately to retract my admission of eating in the middle of the night.  But, I couldn’t.  It was too late.  She had heard me say it.  And I was stuck (being not-dead and all), and so I dramatically said, “I know that’s weird.  I’ve never told anyone before.  It’s crazy, huh?”

And there sat my sponsor, staring at me with those tranquil ocean eyes of hers, and she said, “No.  I did that, too.”

WHAT??  I was shocked.  My chin dropped open.

“Yeah,” she said, as if she were telling me that the sky was blue, or that grass was green, or that clichés are terrible to use when writing a blog post.  “That’s very common for people who are compulsive overeaters.”

Next thing I know, instead of feeling humiliation for divulging my behaviors that derived from my food allergy, I felt humility.  A wave of peace and belonging overcame me.  No longer was I alone – isolated from guilt and horror from my compulsive eating.  Instead, I found that I was sitting with my kin.  We needed no blood relation, no genes to have that familiarity.  We were cut from the very same fabric.  I never again have to feel alone.

If you are a newcomer, it is strongly suggested to get a sponsor.  Find someone in the rooms who can walk you through the steps of recovery.  It is an experience like no other one.

And thanks for reading my post!  Keep coming back!