Happy December everyone,
Region One Secretary
Like many people in the US, I celebrated a holiday where we celebrate our gratefulness with a big feast. I was grateful on Thursday. I am even more grateful today because I woke up abstinent. This is a miracle that I did not have for many years, even in program. I was able to enjoy my family, the football game, the parade and all the enjoyable parts of the holiday. I served a good meal, including the usual dessert items to the normal eaters in my family and not only did I not eat these items, I didnt WANT to eat them. I didn't feel deprived or need to leave the room or anything like that. No one but my fellows could even begin to understand how amazing that is. What a gift that is. I can say uncategorically that this is a gift because I could not stop myself from eating everything in sight no matter how many promises I made to myself or how many times I told myself I would he abstinent no matter what. My own willpower is nonexistent when it comes to certain foods. I have eaten when I did not want to eat more times than I can count - both in and out of program. What is different today than those times when I thought I understood what being powerless over food means is that I finally understand that my main problem is in my head. Dr. Silkworth says it beautifully. I have an allergy of the body, which means I react abnormally to certain foods. That isn't my real problem though. My real problem is that I have an obsession of the mind which compells to take that first compulsive bite. This obsession is the voice that says that, "this time," I can handle it and "here's why. ." It is this obsession that kept me returning to the food. I have other allergies. One that also ruined many a holiday season for me. I am allergic to evergreen. I end up sneezing and coughing and feeling pretty awful if I try to live with a real christmas tree in my home. When the allergy tests found this allergy, my parents started using an artificial tree and I stopped being sick at Christmas. When I became an adult, I didn't spend even a nanosecond considering using a real tree. When I had children, I had many a concerned freind tell me how my children were being deprived of the whole going out into the woods to pick out a tree, etc. Again, I didn't waste any time worrying about that. I prefer not to feel sick during the holiday season. Now, I have gone to bed feeling very sick from over stuffing myself with the goodies at the holiday season. Nothing says Christmas like throwing up and going back to eat more. I continued to do this, even after coming to OA, and one of the rationalizations I used was that my children would he deprived if we didn't bake goodies in preparation for the holidays. Imagine my surprise to see that Christmas still arrived, and was enjoyed by children, the first year we didn't do that. When I finally understood that my real problem was the obsession, I began to pray for the obsession to be removed. To my surprise, it was taken away and food stopped being the focus of the celebrations and abstinence just happened. I can serve dessert at Thanksgiving. It is Monday morning and we still have quite a bit of those desserts left, waiting to be thrown out. That never used to happen at my house. I am so grateful for this gift. So grateful, that I take the steps each day necessary to keep the obsession at bay. I work the Steps and use the Tools. Not perfectly by any stretch of the imagination. Thankfully, my Higher Power doesn't require perfection from me.
Happy December everyone,
Region One Secretary
Hello beloved fellow compulsive eaters:
I am in withdrawals, and it is bittersweet.
First, I am coming down to earth after having just attended the first face-to- face the Region One Assembly and Convention in four years. I was in good company; more than two hundred other compulsive eaters seeking, and finding, recovery attended the Convention. Time in OA ranged from Old Timers with over 40 years to recently arrived newcomers, the most important persons in the rooms. A goal was that everyone left the convention with a sponsor. This goal was set because it ramps up going through the Twelve Steps to do it with a sponsor. I suspect that many people left also with a new, or renewed, abstinence from compulsive eating. Being with HP’s guiding over a weekend and immersed in OA at Convention or on a retreat strengthens our recovery. I know it has for me over my blessed 38 years in OA. It is that inspirational! Come one, come all, to next year’s Region One Convention in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.
Secondly, my two-year position as Treasurer and serving on the Region One Board ended at Assembly last week. Fortunately for me, it is a gradual ending because there is a training period for the new treasurer (who is doing great by the way). One slogan I relate to is that “anything I ever let go of had claw marks all over it.” It will be good for me to practice letting go of seeing what donations are coming in or preparing this month’s financial statement. In this program I have learned I can let go and be grateful for the service as treasurer, and be eager for what is next.
I will put in my pitch for doing service at all levels of OA. I am old-school and learned to do service by being discouraged from NOT doing service. I heard that you can’t keep your abstinence unless you give it away. That is not something I want to test out to see if it is true.
I’ll end with a passage from the AA Big Book chapter “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare” Dr. Bob writes: “I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:
When I first came into program, and heard OA had ‘tools’, I imagined me carrying around my very own ‘Bob the Builder’ toolbox. Today, I am ever grateful for all of these tools, but I have a passion for the tool of ‘writing’.
My written words are my truth. What I lack the courage to put out there in voice, comes extremely easy by pen. I found that whatever was going on in my crazy life, it liked to hang around in my head long after I quit yelling. The noise in my head would not ease until I put them to paper.
When I was a kid I used to find it funny that the space in my head was so much smaller than the space in a book of 100 pages, but I needed so many of those books to hold everything that was in my head.
Once the words are on the page in front of me, I can see feelings that I didn’t realize I had or patterns in my behavior and sometimes even solutions to a certain problem might show itself in my written word.
I can do whatever I want to with my written words. I can erase my words. What I cannot take back by voice, I can make disappear forever on paper. I can meditate with my words. I can tell stories with my written words.
And what about meditation? Our 11th step encourages us to meditate. ‘But how?’ I asked. How can I take all that stuff that’s buzzing around in my head and make it settle down long enough to meditate on it.
Meditation brings calm, insight and mental calmness even in difficult situations, in other words – Higher Power. I find it much easier to meditate when I have a piece of paper with the words on it that represent the problems I am trying to solve.
What else can I do in writing? I can make amends through my written words. I can offer up my writing for others to read. Reading is still one of few remaining things that are free in this world. I can get creative with my written words; I can make others feel good with my writing. There are many benefits to be found in writing and the one that keeps giving back is reading. Writing is my lifeline. And finally…
I can take a single word (the word ‘Amazing’ for example) and build a write around it.
discovering things you never imagined
like oranges used to be green
12+1 = 11+2, and "TWELVE PLUS ONE"
is an anagram for "ELEVEN PLUS TWO"
like pop-rocks and Wi-Fi
that a green caterpillar becomes a blue butterfly
and that I am stuck on Band-Aids
cause Band-Aids stuck on me
what's most amazing is when you finally
find your person
and you become somebody’s somebody
because you've known all your life that
you fall for a person through their eyes
and that one day you would lock eyes
and from then on
they talk about you in their sleep.
A fellow ended the Serenity prayer recently with this verse and I stopped in my tracks. I had not heard this version before and it really resonated with me.
To say that I struggle with giving up my will is a gross minimization. I am ALL about the power when it comes to my way! My mother says I came out of the womb saying, “you can’t tell me what to do.”
I know I want to give it all to HP and have him drive the bus, but I often realize after a situation, event or thought that I have taken it back. Worse, I sometimes knowingly take the power back as if I think I am winning some sort of battle between HP and myself.
This verse reminds me that HP and I are not on opposing sides, but rather going alongside. The more I practice the steps, give service and surrender the more my will aligns with Higher Power. Afterall, as that same fellow says “GOD’s GOT IT.”
I know I am more present with HP’s will then I was when I started and I am continuing to get better at working with Higher Power one day at a time.
What helps you remember to give it to HP?
I look forward to seeing all of you at convention!
First Vice Chair
MY blog submission is due today and I don’t know what to write about. I have been in a shaky place lately. I spoke with my sponsor about how I was feeling discouraged and unmotivated to practice the daily disciplines that keep me close to my Higher Power and abstinent. I have relapsed before and know that the first compulsive bite is that last step in a relapse. “My food has been good, but I am scared that I will lose it if I keep on the path I have been on.” Of course, know I was in danger is helpful, but I am still as powerless over my thinking as I am over the food. My brain has this uncanny ability to resist the very things that are good for me. I know that a meeting or an outreach call will alleviate the loneliness of isolation. I know that prayer and meditation are how I can connect with my Higher Power. I know how basic self-care activities – getting to bed at a decent hour, waking up and dressing as becomingly as I can each day, and exercise – all lead to my feeling better about myself and the world around me. Just like I always know that I needed to stop eating so much if I wanted to lose weight and be healthier. And, just as with the food, I couldn’t myself to do the things I need t”to do on my own. My sponsor didn’t scold me for feeling sorry for myself, which is what I expected. She suggested that I act myself into right thinking by writing for one minute each day and returning to the practice of sending her a nightly inventory each night. So, this blog is my writing for this morning. I have been doing this for 5 days and nights now. The nightly inventories have really helped me to see how much I had been fighting accepting life as life is right now. I have been dealing with health issues. I have been angry that I wasn’t recovering according to my own timetable and also afraid about it. I was pissed at my Higher Power because life wasn’t’ going my way. Selfishness, anger and fear. No wonder I haven’t felt close to HP and felt on a slippery slope. Thankfully, my HP has a pretty solid self esteem and loves me in all of me – angry, joyful, whatever. Admitting how I was feeling to myself, and to HP, means that I can ask to have these defects to be removed and for the willingness to take the next right action. For today, I pray for the willingness to take the next right action and that that leads to the next right action after that. I am so grateful for this program and the fellowship that gives me people I can turn to when I am struggling.
Lisa S. Region One Secretary
I wanted my first blog to be uplifting, something insightful, beautiful, inspirational. But that’s not where I am at today. Today, I am struggling. When I first came to OA, I thought I was at the lowest point in my life. It was easy to admit my life was out of control and that I needed help. I wish I could say that my journey in OA was solid from that point forward, but I would be kidding myself and lying to you. No, I dragged my feet, tried to do the program my way and was selective about what advice I would follow, and not surprisingly, I did not recover. Truth be told, I am still not recovered. Today, I am abstinent by the grace of my HP and I am grateful because in the last year alone, I have been arrested and briefly incarcerated, homeless, my wife filed for divorce, and two of my kids are choosing sides and not talking to me. And I don’t think that things are going to get better from this point forward. I might lose everything, my home, my dog, my job. I am scared to death. But I am not compulsively overeating. No, I am maintaining and working toward a healthy body weight. So that is a miracle. And if this miracle is possible, maybe HP has something in store for me that I can’t see either. Because when I was 355 pounds with diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, I didn’t believe that I would be alive to see my 50th birthday next month. I hope I do make it. But you know what, I am not alone in this journey. I have my
OA family praying for me and encouraging me. I still make mistakes and I owe amends, I am far from perfect. I am just another member of OA who found that service is a lifesaving tool. So for Today, I will trust in my HP a little more, I will admit my mistakes and make amends, and I will survive another day.
James G. Second Vice Chair
As I sit here on a beautiful, sunny Sunday in Seattle knowing that this blog post is due, I am feeling grateful for the type of recovery I have today. I’m not anxious that I won’t get it done or that it won’t be perfect (what does that even mean anyway?). Everything used to be black and white for this sugar addict. And what do I mean by the “type of recovery I have today”? I mean that the phrase “like a loose garment“ feels really applicable and true for me in this moment. Not that there haven’t been other times in my almost 6 years of sobriety in OA that have felt similarly but this feels like a new, deeper, sensation.
What do I attribute this sense of ease and peace to? Hmmm… well I wish it was something profound like - oh I don’t know- I have learned the secret of inner peace ….it’s pickle ball!!!
But honestly, I think it’s just continuing to put 1 foot in front of the other in recovery even when I don’t want to. One of my favorite phrases is “I can be willing to do something I don’t want to do“ - often that’s the case. And I’ve learned to call that willingness grace. I’m on a streak of regular meditation right now and as much as I don’t understand it, 10 minutes of meditation can really change how I react toward people and events in my day. I also still make time for 3 to 4 meetings a week, and I am really fortunate to be able to do that - even on mornings when EVERYONE IS ANNOYING ME AND I DON’T LIKE THE WAY THE MEETING IS BEING LED AND THAT PERSON IS MAKING ME FEEL FRUSTRATED!!!!!!!! Oh Erinbryn.
Most of my meetings are early morning before my day really gets started; if you had told me almost 6 years ago that I would be happy to wake up in the morning and sit in the quiet Sun rising I would’ve told you you were crazy, all while wiping last nights binge off of my sheets and clothing. My relationship with my higher power keeps growing and while I still don’t understand this power that has helped make my life manageable, easeful and yes, even SERENE some of the time, I know it’s there. I trust that if I keep showing up and putting one foot in front of the other, I will continue to have a life that allows me to feel, grow and even thrive! HP has never let me down yet. I just have to keep practicing the trust that when things don’t go the way I THINK they should that’s probably an indication that everything is going to work out better than I could have imagined. :)
Practice, practice, practice.
I’m so grateful for the willingness to keep showing up.
Erin F. MAL R1
BLOG POSTS ARE THE EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH AND HOPE OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS AND DO NOT REPRESENT OA AS A WHOLE.