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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!)

Reflection

At the close of this wonderful Mother’s Day, I sit in contemplation of my day and its events.  This is the time of my day when I work my 10th Step, which suggests

Step 10:  “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

Where and when have I been selfish?  Did I lie to anyone?  Did I intentionally people-please, or say something to cover-up my real feelings?  Have I been present and willing to experience closeness with my family and friends?  Have I sought the place where I am able to be of use to my fellows?  Did I thank my Higher Power for my abstinence today?  Am I grateful?

Of course, on a special day like Mother’s Day, I ask myself even more direct questions:     How are my living amends to my mother going?  Do I listen to her?  Do my actions show her that I love her?  Am I emotionally available for and to her?  Have I thought of her needs and wants today, instead of just my own?

The miracle of recovery is that I can answer those questions in a way that I was unable to for many years prior to working the 12 Steps.  My relationship with my mother, which was once rocky and unstable, is now filled with love, honor, and acceptance.  The co-dependent rope has been broken.  We are both free to be ourselves and to accept each other – the good and the bad.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!   The promises of recovery are real and true.  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! 

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!

Waves of Peace

I went to a great meeting last night.  One of the women there (who just celebrated 10 years of consistent abstinence) shared about how she was meditating and realized that she doesn’t talk about God enough.  She said, “My Higher Power saw me through all this time.  You’d think I’d mention that part of my recovery a little more often.”

Her share made me think about Step 3 in the OA 12 & 12.  Part of it says, “Once we compulsive overeaters truly take the third step, we cannot fail to recover.”  OA 12 & 12 Pg 27

This quote is clever because of one single word: truly.

In my recovery, I have made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God…but, how many times have I changed my mind?

I’ve caught myself thinking, “Well, I can control this,” or “I want the outcome my way,” and especially, “That’s not fair.”  The less I am willing to give control over to my Higher Power the more calamity and stress I will endure.

Food is but a symptom of my real problem – and my problem is a spiritual malady.  If ever I am wronged (be it real or in my skewed perception) and not working my OA program I am quick to grab for that sugary item so that I might feel better.  However, if truly I work the 3rd step of OA I get to find relief by living in God’s will.

“We have what we need any time we are willing to let go of self-will and humbly ask for help.”  OA 12 & 12 Pg 27 

Spiritual peace sometimes comes in waves.  It can feel like I’m splashing around at the beach as comes roaring a frothy tide, nearly drowning from a tsunami, or sitting by a calm and still lake.  The more I actively work Step 3 (all that means is to pray, “God, please help me do your will.”) the less waves I will have to endure.  I want my serenity to be gentle and consistent.  How willing am I to stop playing God and to start living recovery?

 Thanks for reading my post!  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!