I joined OA over 27 years ago and feel very grateful that the vast majority of that time I have been able to keep 150 pounds off and not compulsively overeat. A critical part of that has been working the 12 steps. They were quite easy until I hit 8 and 9. Let me give you some of the back story on the earlier steps.

Step 1 was pretty easy to see, having more than doubled my weight in college and continued to have binges exceeding 10,000 calories as an adult. When you are 335 pounds and a 56” waist…as they say in the movies, “Houston, We Have a Problem.”

When it came to Step 2 - there is a power greater then myself that can help me not overeat - my thought was there better be, or I will die. That made it pretty simple. To this day I can’t exactly tell you what that power is other than the fellowship of OA and the process of working the 12 Steps.

I was told that Step 3 simply means keep working the other steps; it didn’t matter what I did or did not believe about God. That was a good thing, as to this day I have no idea how the universe works or what the words “God,” “Higher Power.” or “spirituality” mean.

Steps 4 and 5 felt like a form of free therapy. I came to OA to lose weight, and now this total stranger (my sponsor) was going to guide me through an inventory and listen to all my life traumas and challenges. “What a great program this is!” I thought.

Step 6 just acknowledged that the problems that I identified in Step 4 were ones I wanted to be free of. No arguments here. And Step 7 asked me to try to live free of them and ask for help from HP, which by this time to me was OA.

So for Steps 1 to 7 I was a happy camper. I was losing weight and getting emotional wellbeing with the support of the Steps, my sponsor, and the Program. This put “Pay and Weigh” programs and therapy to shame in my book. OA was something better than both combined, all for only a buck in the basket (back in the 90’s). Then came Steps 8 and 9.

My list had over 70 items and I was quite intimidated by it. I realized the reason I had such a large list was that for most of my life I had a total “me” focus. In my very difficult childhood I learned that getting my needs met at any cost was the way to survive. So I gave little or no thought to how my behaviors affected others. I could eat your food, lie, or really do anything so long as I didn’t get caught. I realized that if I was going to make these 70+ amends, I had to change my fundamental worldview from a “me” focus to a “we” focus.

I can recall discussing the decision with my sponsor and he said if I didn’t change, I would likely eat again. So I made that decision and, one day at a time for over 20 years, I have stumbled through the Steps. I now choose to consider others in my decision process asI work on the “me-we” balance. I don’t do it perfectly, but I do make progress. We are in this together, from the rooms of OA to the planet we share. I need to live in this community with integrity in order to stay abstinent. The world is not just about you or me - it is about us. I thank Steps 8 and 9 for this awakening and the gifts that followed.

Peace, kindness, and abstinence,