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“We learned about honesty and integrity—that the truth matters... that you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules... and success doesn't count unless you earn it fair and square.” -Michelle Obama
“The truth matters.” It matters in all aspects of our lives, but for those of us who are compulsive overeaters it matters the most and is most complicated regarding our relationship with food. I’ve been working this program for two and a half years, and I still struggle with the truth: that I am a compulsive overeater, that it’s not enough to just admit defeat, that to truly recover I have to be honest. So I’ll be honest with you: Instead of truly working toward a healthy body weight, I have been taking shortcuts and playing by my own set of rules. Sure, I’m not eating sugar or binging, but I . . .
“In step one we learned the principle of honesty as we admitted our personal powerlessness over food, and the fact that without help we could not successfully manage our own lives. Now we will want to continue being honest with ourselves in all our affairs. One important way in which we practice honesty today is by admitting that we are still compulsive overeaters, that we still need daily help.”
Reprinted from The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, page 103
On page 58 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous we read, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves…. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” (Emphasis added.)
At first glance I skimmed over that statement about honesty. After all, wasn’t I an honest person? I gave back excess change to the cashier, I didn’t cheat on my taxes, and I didn’t lie . . .
I have been thinking a bit about how we welcome newcomers. So I am wondering: what can I do to "extend the hand and heart of OA" to others who share my compulsion? What made me feel welcome and stay? I have a few ideas, and thought I would jot them down and share them, in case you would like to try some of them. What other ideas do you have?
The principle of honesty is a cornerstone of our way of life. When I came to OA in March 1999, I couldn't lie to myself anymore. I was beaten by the food. I had tried everything. I was tired. I finally knew that I was out of ideas. So I called directory assistance (does that even exist anymore?) and I got the number for Overeaters Anonymous. I went to my first meeting that night—the Alexandria Friendship Wednesday night meeting. And here's some honesty . . .
By the husk you may guess at the nut. -Thomas Fuller
How do I shape up under scrutiny? Is my appraisal of myself an honest one, or do I fall back on variations of the theme, “Thin is not well,” or “Appearances aren’t everything”? Do I use the old excuses of glands and metabolism for my continued overweight? Those rationalizations and the mental gymnastics they involve may keep me fat.
If I remain obese, what indication does a newcomer have that the program works? I need to face the truth, starting with my definition of abstinence. I may also need to replace sponsors who, out of misguided kindness, are helping me keep up the myth of spiritual recovery while I stay fat.
For today: I believe in the OA principle that each person is the sole judge of his or her healthy weight, but honesty is honesty and is not subject to interpretation. How honest am I?