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Lifeline, OA’s international magazine, serves as an indispensable “meeting-on-the-go.” Since 1962, when the first issue debuted as the OA Bulletin, Lifeline has offered encouragement and hope to thousands of readers. Tucked in a purse, a suitcoat pocket or a lunch bag, Lifeline accompanies members around the world, ready to provide inspiration and support when needed. Print and/or digital versions available. 

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Surrender the Fear - Working the Steps

I was appalled the first time I heard the Twelve Steps. Take inventory? Make amends? The Steps seemed punitive. But I kept coming back. I liked the honesty I heard. I took what I liked, the food plan; and I left the rest, the Steps.

After a year of Step meetings, the Steps seemed less negative. A slip scared me into writing a quarter-page Step Four and giving that away. A few months later I was at my goal weight and crying in the middle of the night. This scared me, so I did a more detailed inventory. It was too late. Over Christmas, I decided it was safe to binge on turkey because it had no sugar. This began my worst weight gain ever – – 20 pounds (9 kg) in two weeks. I kept coming back, but it was six months before I was willing to stop bingeing and nine more months before I was able to stop.

I had more willingness but stopped after one amend. Within a few weeks, I moved to Germany and started bingeing again. I kept three meetings open by myself over the summer. As a result, I met my sponsor.  

My sponsor shared that she repeatedly relapsed until she became willing to work all the Steps. Her message was that we eat over inner conflicts. Yes, we can stop bingeing temporarily but without Step work, those conflicts will drive us back into the food. Without finding nonfood coping strategies, we eventually binge again. That is just what happened to me.

She told me that completing all the Steps was necessary for long-term recovery. This was not what I wanted to hear, so I ate over it. Once I stopped bingeing, I reread Step One in the AA Twelve and Twelve and then asked myself if I was willing to binge and be miserable for the rest of my life because of the people I hated. I realized that somehow they would win if I continued to binge, so I became willing to make amends. It took a month to complete the letters.

A few weeks later, I couldn't finish breakfast. I called my sponsor, and she explained that this was recovery. Once I had cleaned up my past, there was no need to emotionally overeat.. A regular Tenth Step allowed me to stay abstinent. Continuing on, I explored ways to work Step Eleven as an agnostic. The Step Twelve spiritual awakening was for my food compulsion to be largely removed. A few months later, I tried one last time to avoid something difficult and binged over it.

Since then, many difficult life circumstances have come up. I haven't wanted to eat over any of them. To work my program, I go to Twelve Step meetings, meditate, and write my responses to daily readings in my journal. I do everything in my power to keep OA strong through service and sponsorship. My last binge was August 4, 1983.

Q. What fears hold you back from the Steps? What baby steps can you take to better manage those fears?

-- Barb G., Walkersville, Maryland USA From OA’s Lifeline – A Meeting on the Go, Lifeline 50th Anniversary
1965-2015 Nov/Dec 2015, p.16

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