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Reflection on the Reflection

 

Weigh and measure the fishes, too!

This little guy is not on my food plan.

Good morning, brothers and sisters in recovery!  Shame on ME for not having blogged in such a long time.  Thank you for continuing to support my recovery blog.  All of your emails and especially Murphy giving me that little push has gotten me back here typing this morning.  Thank you!

I’ll do most of the “catch-up” part later and fill you in on all the mysteries and gloriousness (good and bad) that stem from program promises coming true in my life on another blog.  Now let’s take a moment to honor those of us who have returned to their HP, our shared disease having taken them from us. 

The light in them is neither dimmed nor extinguished, for they shine brighter today than ever when captured behind our fleshy masks.

Today’s Voices of Recovery was AWESOME!  Has anyone else read it yet?  I know Murphy did (who gets up at 6am EVERY morning???)!!  “Denial of the truth leads to destruction” from pg 6 in the OA 12&12 is a GREAT reality check for me to read in the morning.  Right after reading the reflections I looked up this sentence in the 12&12 and the next line reads, “Only an honest admission to ourselves of the reality of our condition can save us from our destructive eating.”

Most newcomers don’t realize that Step 1 sets us up for the “searching and fearless moral inventory” found in Step 4, the “asked Him to remove all our shortcomings” in Step 7, and the “continued to take personal inventory” found in Step 10.  These four steps are known as the “honesty” steps.  If we take the HOW (honesty, openmindedness, willingness) and assign them to the Steps – literally in the HOW order – then what you see is something like…

Step 1 – Honesty

Step 2 – Openmindedness

Step 3 – Willingness

Step 4 – Honesty

Step 5 – Openmindedness

Step 6 – Willingness

Step 7 – Honesty

…and so on until 12!       

If I am to be translucent and work the “To Thine Own Self Be True” part of recovery, I have to live in my Truth as best I can.  Just because I have a little bit or a lot of abstinent time under my belt does not mean that I am cured or better than admitting my struggles to my fellows in OA. 

Thank you all for my continued abstinence.  I’m grateful to be writing this blog today and I love all of you – my brothers and sister in recovery.  See you at the next meeting!

 

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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!

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!)

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!

Living Amends

“Only by permanently changing our harmful attitudes and actions can we make it up to ourselves and our loved ones.”  OA 12 & 12 p. 79

Step Nine begins my path of reconstruction; a path that begins a long time before the literal act of making a direct amends to those I have harmed even occurs.  The AA Big Book blatantly states that Step 9 is reconstruction, saying, “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead.”  It goes on to state, “We must take the lead.”

The word used – reconstruction – is of vital importance to note when discussing the 9th Step.  While we are in our active disease of compulsive eating we ‘construct’ a particular frame of a life.  But this frame is structurally damaged.  It is filled with mishaps, resentment, guilt, and an overall sense of self-loathing.  This disease is not limited to only the one who suffers from compulsive food behaviors, for every person who has contact with an active food addict experiences the thunderous tornado through with life we pass.

The permanent change that recovery asks of us is unlike any intention of dieting, exercise programs, or (for our bulimic and anorexic members) avoidance of compulsive eating behaviors like purging and restriction.  Our permanent change is simply a willingness to continue on in working our steps.  Each day we permanently change by writing a moral inventory, promptly admitting our wrongs, developing our spiritual life, and passing the message of recovery to newcomers.

Thanks you so much for my recovery!  I love all of you so very much!  See you at the next meeting

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!

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!