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All Good

We, at Promise of Recovery, have been jam packed with life over the past several weeks.  We apologize for the delay…

And that is going to be the topic of my post today!  My life ROCKS!!!  I’m so grateful for the OA program.  Well, I guess I’m grateful for the gift of all 12 Step programs.  It is only through recovery that I have found myself back in college (GO USF BULLS!!), hanging out with a wonderful set of friends (I ❤ Tampa OA!), love is knocking on my door, and Petunya’s asthma is finally getting under control.  But, more important, I feel a connection with my Higher Power that is nearly indescribable.  And I love that.

Before I began working a 12 Step program I felt lost and unlovable.  No longer is that the case!  I have a purpose in life today.

And real quick, before I wrap this up, if you ever think that the promises of recovery can’t come true for you, please be advised that everyone is ENTITLED to all of the promises…so long as we remain in recovery and are willing.

Thank you for my recovery!  I love all of you very 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.

“Must”

“Clearly, if we are to live free of the bondage of compulsive eating we must abstain from all foods and eating behaviors which cause us problems.”  OA 12&12 p.2-3

It’s easy for me to declare that I am powerless over some things…like XM playing “Moon River” about three times this last hour – hey!  I am not the DJ!  I’m also able to quickly accept my powerlessness over stubbing my toe on my treadmill – hey!  Life happens!  And also if one of my preciouses has a hairball and relieves it on my carpet – hey!  That’s what kitties do!  So, I’m powerless and that is that, right?

Kinda…because I can always change the channel, pay more attention to where I’m walking, and give my cats whatever that fur-ball juice is that helps them to excrete hair.  And what that means is that I’m powerless over everything except that which lands on my side of the street.

This concept is also true regarding my powerlessness over food.  Abstention is of utmost importance because without it I have no foundation for recovery.  The above quote from the OA 12&12 is talking about my side of the street when it comes to compulsive eating.  It declares (and I mean that it STATES AS FACT) that to get peace I MUST stop the chaos.

BLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH to that!  (Just kidding, sponsor Erin!)

Here is the real deal…and I’m not making any of this up.  It comes right from our literature that was written by people who have tried everything to not be compulsive about food.  “As long as we refuse to recognize that we have this debilitating and ultimately fatal disease, we are not motivated to get the daily treatment for it which brings about our recovery.” –OA 12&12 p. 6

Yikes!  But, what’s the “daily treatment”?

12 step recovery!  Yay!

Thank you for reading my blog!  I love all of you!  Shout-out to Tampa Bay OA!  See you at the next meeting!

Support Network Post

I had an amazing experience the other morning.  Before attending the OA meeting (Sat 10 AM Rainbow Recovery Club) I met up with several of my OA friends at the local Starbucks and we did something amazing:

We sat, talked, laughed, and loved each other as if we were all sisters.

Isn’t that great?!  Now, let’s get real for a minute, ‘cause I know what some of y’all are doin’ right now…

Surely, a couple of my readers (Yes, I have read your emails!   Thank you for contacting me!) are thinking, “Oh Lord, not more hokey ‘We-covery’ stuff.  I can’t take it.  Doesn’t Lauren L know that I am suffering over here?!”

Yep, I sure do know that!  I suffer sometimes, too.  Guess who it is that lifts me out of my murky mire when I don’t have enough humility to call upon my Higher Power?  That’s right.  It’s my OA family.  Just with a single smile and a hug they pass to me the message that recovery is possible.

You know, it’s true that I am all about my recovery network.  They keep me abstinent and they keep me honest.  If you haven’t come to an OA meeting, or if you have come and then rushed out before meeting anyone, please just keep coming back.  The promises are true and they can come true for you, too.  Together we can do what we could never do alone.

See you at the next meeting!

The Weight of Meetings

Meetings are a very important part of recovery in OA.  It is a tool that members use to connect with other members.  Usually, I make 2 meetings a week.  The other days I spend at my AA groups.  This week I wasn’t able to make my 2 OA meetings…and I can really feel the difference.

I’ve received some emails from people asking what, exactly, my reasons for being in OA are.  I’ve been asked, “Are you bulimic?  Anorexic?  Are you morbidly obese?  What ARE you?”

Well, lucky for me, the 3rd Tradition of OA states that, “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.”

No, I am not bulimic.  Nor am I anorexic.  Nor am I obese.  Seriously, folks, I got to the rooms of OA because I am an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In 12 Step groups, the 10th Step is a daily personal inventory.  By doing my personal inventory in AA, I realized that I was exhibiting some abnormal and unhealthy behaviors revolving around sugary foods.  So, I stopped doing all the diets I was trying and I went to OA.

In the rooms of OA I learned that my obsession to try different diets to lose about 20 pounds wasn’t normal.  It was compulsive behavior.  I realized that once I ate sugary food, I always went back, even if I was trying to avoid eating more of it.

Therefore, I went to OA.  Since then I have been abstinent from those sugary foods.  For the record, my abstinence is truly a gift from my Higher Power, the Fellowship, and the rooms of OA.

So, to answer the question of weight loss:  Yes!  I have lost weight!  But, weight is only a symptom of wellness or sickness.  My weight, though lower, is not what OA suggests I focus on.  OA suggests that I look at whether or not I am in right relations with my Higher Power.  Do I love me?  Yes.

Thank you, OA, for helping me learn how to love myself!  See you at the next meeting!     

I Love My Sponsor!

“In this Fellowship we begin to learn right relations with people who understand us; we don’t have to be alone anymore.” – AA 12 & 12 Pg 116-117

Those in our Fellowship who work with a sponsor know exactly what I mean when I say, “I love my sponsor!”  …and no, she hasn’t slipped me $20 to write that.

This evening I spent about two hours with my sponsor.  We laughed, cringed, drank coffee, and talked about really important and interesting stuff…ME!  Ha!

Yes, folks, it is true that my sponsor will sit across from me, all peaceful and patient, listening to my insanity as I go on and on about myself.  She nods, smiles, sips her coffee, and then says something really brilliant and sane that I could never think of, like, “That belongs to God.”  Or, “Nobody gets to be the rooster in OA because we are all equal.”  Or, “Try praying for him for two weeks and see if that helps you with your resentment.”  And most importantly, “I did that, too.”

Working with another food addict brings me to a spiritual place that I hadn’t ever ventured while outside of the rooms of OA.  During the time I was stuck in my disease I felt alone.  I was certain nobody would or could understand.  Go figure how surprised I became when I first began working with my sponsor and she identified with me!

My sponsor has an excellent grasp of the OA program.  She lives, breathes, and walks the principles and spirituality of OA.  If I honestly tell her what is going on inside of me, she can relate and share with me her experience, strength, and hope.  Instead of my one (and usually warped) perception of my drama, I can hear a suggestion for a solution that will actually work.

Are you new to OA?  Sponsorship is a great tool to use.  Look for someone who has a recovery program that you like and ask them to help you!  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!

Recovery Is Not A Diet

Today is a great day to reflect on the truth that no matter how much abstinent time I have acquired in OA, no matter how many steps I’ve worked, friends I’ve made, or weight I’ve lost (or, respectfully, gained), I will always have the compulsion to act out in my food allergy. Most days this concept baffles me. While my lingering compulsion is abstract and easily deniable, some things smack my face right back into reality. For example…

I couldn’t even believe my email ‘inbox’ this morning! It was the most perfect reminder that my life outside the rooms of OA is unmanageable and…well, crazy. It’s totally and perfectly nuts. Here is the list of emails in my inbox as of 1/9/12:

  • BIGGEST LOSER: Ashley lost 183 lbs! The next Biggest…
  • WeightWatchers.com: PointsPlus® 2012 is here! Come back…
  • Atkins Special Savings: Dear Lauren L, Where have you been l…
  • No-Diet Weight Loss: Loss 30+ pounds with no diet and no e…
  • The Dr. Oz Diet Plan: This week you can re-join for FREE and…
  • The ACAI BERRY Diet Works: An amazing little fruit that only grows…
  • JennyCraig.com: Mariah Carey lost weight with Jenny C…

I mumbled, “Wow.” That was all the response that I had for having an inbox filled with those emails. It made me sick to look at them. I felt a sensation that I hadn’t experienced in quite a long time. It was a blend of defeat, bitterness, loneliness, and desperation. Worse, those were all the feelings I often experienced when cycling through diet after diet, sometimes being successful and other times flunking right from the start. Regardless, the weight always seemed to come back and, no matter how skinny I got, I never once liked my body. I never could figure out why I was plagued by horrible nightmares of yo-yo diets and negative feelings – and I even hated myself for hating myself.

I started deleting the emails like a clicking maniac. One, after another, after another…click click click. And then, I saw one other email, right below all the diet advertisements that (for the record) I had voluntarily signed up to receive before I started working the OA program. And that email was from a woman who attended a meeting with me just last week. Hope and awe entered me and with a swiftly beating heart I opened that email. It read:

Lauren,

Hey, girl! How are you? Thanks for what you said at the meeting. I agree that my spiritual fitness is totally everything. It trips me out, like, when I think about all the dieting stuff I ever tried. I feel so free today. How cool is it that recovery is not a diet and yet, thanks to the program, I’m successful at losing weight and I’m happy? Haha! I love OA. Let’s get coffee soon.

Love,

[Anonymous]

Thank you, my brothers and sisters in OA! You keep me abstinent and teach me how to trust my Higher Power. I love you all so much! The promises of OA are true and real! Thank you for my recovery!!

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