June 30, 2021
As a low bottom compulsive eater (that used to turn to all kinds of unhealthy binge foods to stuff my negative feelings until I became overstuffed, bulimic, and obese), one of the real gifts and surprising blessings that came into focus during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the widening availability of OA meetings and events, either online or by phone. While I had previously depended upon my local, ‘in-person’ OA meetings and events for recovery and fellowship, after March 16, 2020 (the shelter in place public health order), the internet made it possible to go to places far and wide, to enjoy the fellowship of OA members from around the globe – what an amazing gift to arise out of the tragedy and burgeoning challenges of a pandemic!
Once so many OA meetings moved from in-person to the online world, they afforded me the ability to attend a vast array of meetings and workshops originating from all over our beautiful planet. And what a joy that has been to gain access to the experience, strength, and hope of a worldwide fellowship of compulsive eaters just like me! I’ve had the pleasure to get to know so many diverse members, each living a life of recovery, one day at a time, free from the obsession to eat compulsively.
Although this pandemic has proven to be a painful and trying reality for so many hard hit families and frontline workers, with the growing availability of the vaccine, we are, at long last, seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. While social distancing and sheltering in place was a necessity for the good of all to avoid viral contact and transmission, it was a blessing to discover that I was far from being cut-off from the people I refer to as ‘my tribe’ – my OA chosen family. Upon the unprecedented closing of in-person meetings (due to public health orders), OA swiftly opened up in the online world. The result of this was that I got to celebrate my 4 years of abstinence and recovery from this debilitating, progressive, and ultimately fatal disease (OA 12×12, p7), with my newfound fellows from various cities, states, and nations – something I could have never before imagined possible!
During shelter in place, having the means to be ‘a part of’ a meeting or workshop in another city, state, or country, has been an enormous blessing. It enabled me to avoid those isolating feelings of being ‘a part from,’ that reside at the core of my disease of compulsive eating. When I got into my binge foods, I always made sure I was entirely alone! Heaven forbid that anyone should see me cramming cartons, bags, and boxes of food into my my mouth each night! Truly, together we get better – and this past 15 months has been such clear evidence of that precious fact!
One of the things I overheard at an online meeting and then later, discovered as part of an online workshop, was a quick and easy Tenth Step. The Tenth Step reads: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. My sponsor encouraged me to work this step by reviewing my day, at its conclusion, and doing what is often referred to as a spot check inventory. As a guide, she referred me to the Big Book, page 84, where it suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for a lifetime.
This is why I was delighted to discover this quick and easy-to-remember Tenth Step practice referred to as the ‘AEIOUY’ inventory. Each letter represents a question as follows:
A = Have I been Abstinent today?
E = Have I Exercised today?
I = What have I done for myself today?
O = What have I done for Others today?
U = Am I holding on to Unexpressed feelings/emotions today?
Y = YAY!/Yippy!/Yes! What ‘good’ have I reflected/for what am I grateful?
Doing this daily Tenth Step has really upped my experience of recovery and been an invaluable and game-changing aid towards acknowledging my powerlessness (Step One), surrendering my will and my life to a power greater than myself (Step Three), while growing my conscious contact to that Higher Power (Step Eleven). Per the Big Book, love and tolerance is to be our code. And I can cease fighting anything or anyone – even my trigger foods!
I do a daily Tenth Step because I no longer want to live a life riddled with unspoken hurts and resentments. On page 66 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it says that deep resentments lead only to futility and unhappiness. In the process of doing this simple inventory, I get to forgive, heal, and expand my relationship with others, as well as to love and forgive myself. Such a simple practice serves to remove all the blockages towards a life well worth living – a life I get to enjoy fully, walking in the sunlight of the spirit, rather than being shutoff from it.
Today, I get to live ‘free’ of the things that used to lead me down that well-worn path of pain, shame, and suffering (which, on page 30 of the Big Book, is referred to as pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization). This is what inevitably led me to pick up all the sugary/doughy/chocolatey foods that were killing me, slowly, by a thousand cuts – a living death I would not wish on anyone! Thank you, Overeaters Anonymous, for the many gifts I have received in recovery, not the least of which is this useful daily Tenth Step practice.
I hope you give this very simple daily inventory a try. It delivers tremendous benefits – I highly recommend it!
A Grateful OA member in Willow Glen, CA