OASV Blog Editor
July 7, 2023
I’m a compulsive overeater; what some might consider a “garden variety” overeater. In my disease, when I start eating, I cannot stop. I would graze constantly throughout the day, take multiple servings of food at mealtimes, and nibble on leftovers during clean up. Of course, my day wasn’t complete without something sweet before bed.
I’m mostly addicted to sweet creamy foods (an infantile vestige from early childhood), but my preferred drug of choice is chocolate. I am grateful for freedom from this substance starting at my first meeting on April 3, 1993. At the end of that first meeting, before I even left the room, my Higher Power whispered, “You have no business eating chocolate if you are going to be a member of this fellowship.” I feel so grateful that I was able to take that seriously, because I have no power over that substance.
After nearly 30 years of abstinence from compulsive overeating, working the steps and traditions, sponsoring and being sponsored, doing service and using the tools, I’ve discovered that the 12-Step program of recovery offers an approach that applies to all aspects of my life by providing a method for working through problems and working out solutions.
This beautiful system consists of four major elements, which are contained in the Serenity Prayer:
The combination of these elements leads to serenity. In my mind, Higher-Powered serenity gives me the physical, emotional-intellectual, and spiritual “space” to live life on life’s terms.
Working the 12-Step program of recovery from addiction helps with more than just abstinence, per se. My compulsive eating and struggles with weight comprise just the tip of my iceberg of low self-esteem, the resulting problematic behaviors, and misbegotten thought patterns. This charming package of maladjustment are “character defects” in 12-Step recovery programs (all of them, that is, not just Overeaters Anonymous).
In recovery, living in the solution (the solution is the program) means using the Steps, Traditions, and tools to first understand my part of a problem (the only thing I can do anything about) and then find a viable solution. Most of the time, I am the culprit either causing or exacerbating most of my problems. I tell myself a story about what’s going on, and then I react to my own story. At that point, it’s all doom and gloom and completely impossible.
Living life in the solution is about looking for ways to make things better rather than dwelling on what’s wrong, difficult, or someone else’s fault. Most of the time, my problems are usually “things I cannot change” or caused by one of my own character defects; therefore, my solutions generally boil down to acceptance and letting go or finding the courage to make some change in myself. I work with my sponsor to identify possible approaches when the solution requires taking an outward action.
The 12-Step program provides an effective method for defining problems and developing and implementing solutions rather than emotionally reacting to the sad or scary scenarios I create. This approach helps me stay positive and focused on the solution. Using the program’s Steps, Traditions, and tools to work through a problem or challenge allows me to make progress in my recovery. This is what “working the steps” is all about. Living life in the solution has given me a full happy life on life’s terms rather than my miserable imaginary rabbit hole where food was the only answer to all my problems.
A gentle disclaimer: I am a recovering compulsive overeater with over 29 years in OA. These comments are based on my personal experience, strength, and hope gained through working the 12 Steps and Traditions and using the tools of the program. ~Julie T. 2023