My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater.
Today I want to talk about what the 12th Step talks about: "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to [compulsive overeaters], and to practice these principles in all our affairs." I've been thinking about this a lot since Friday night. I was at a concert, and I saw a very obese woman. She was one of the largest people I've ever seen out in public, and it looked like everything she did was difficult. I felt just awful for her, and I wondered what my obligation was/is to help people who are still suffering from the ravages of this disease.
It was still on my mind the next day, so I talked to a friend in OA with 3+ years of abstinence and amazing physical recovery. She had some great things to say, and I started to feel some peace.
Then, amazingly, this was my reading and question on Sunday:
Read Chapter 11 (BB). Discuss and reflect upon the vision God has for you. Discuss at length what this concept means to you: "The answers will come if our own house is in order."
I love this chapter, because so much of it is about carrying the message to other people. I have been thinking about the incredible epidemic of compulsive eating all around me. I know I can’t diagnose other people’s illness, but I also know that our disease is under-diagnosed. I have been a compulsive overeater for years and didn’t know it until 2006. I’ve been thinking about this since Friday night. I was at a concert, and I saw a very obese woman in the back row. My heart just broke for her, because I could tell how difficult it was for her to even be there. At least physically. I was happy that she could still get out and about, but I wondered how to carry the message of Overeaters Anonymous to her! In A Vision for You, we read about Bill W. and Doctor Bob and how they carried the message to other desperate alcoholics. There are, of course, corresponding principles. That’s why I’m reading the Big Book! But I don’t know how to reach out to that woman… You can’t just walk up to someone and say, “You look like you could use Overeaters Anonymous,” unless you want to hurt and embarrass someone!
I talked about this with a wise Program friend yesterday, and her thoughts made sense to me. We carry the message by living it. By working the best Program that we can. By surrendering to God, by growing in our conscious contact with God, by releasing excess weight to God (in God’s time), by making calls and going to meetings and doing service… And being ready to share the message when people are ready to hear it, and when we are asked. If we are living the Program, our lives will show it. We will have what people want and when they ask us how we got it, we’ll be ready to tell them.
When the book says, “the answers will come if our own house is in order,” it is in the context of asking God every day what we can do for the person who still suffers. And the answer is just what I’ve been writing about: living a good Program, surrendering to God on a daily basis, working the steps, staying abstinent. Living the message leads to carrying the message.
The amazing coincidence (although I don’t believe it’s coincidence) is that even as I type this, I am getting direct messages on Twitter from a person who discovered my anonymous OA blog… pouring out her heart about... At this very moment… I am living out the message. And now I have this beautiful opportunity to carry the message, to point someone toward the solution. I am so grateful. Here I go!
I ended up talking with that person on the phone and carrying the message that afternoon. Then I was able to do an interview with AllTreatment.com. Then I talked with an old program friend the next evening and hooked her up with a sponsor.
I'm so grateful for a weekend of encountering God, living the message and carrying the message.