One of my favorite OA literature quotes is from the chapter on Step Three in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous: “Once we compulsive overeaters truly take the third step, we cannot fail to recover” (p. 27). I find it a promise on par with any other; however, I understand that promise in the context of my experience as a recovered compulsive eater and what it means to truly take the Third Step.
Before taking the Third Step, I have to know deep in my core that I am powerless over compulsive eating and my life is unmanageable. I know that I am physically allergic to certain foods, and I have a mental obsession that tries to convince me I can eat anything I want without suffering consequences.
When I acknowledge both the compulsion and the obsession, it follows that on my own I am unable to recover. Therefore, if I am to recover, I must access a power greater than myself and greater than the disease of compulsive eating. Otherwise my condition is hopeless.
But how do I access that power? My experience is that I develop a relationship with that power by working all Twelve Steps—in order and in every single aspect of my life.
So to truly take the Third Step includes the sure knowledge that I must immediately take action to continue the inventory process, which includes Steps Four through Nine. Once I have done that, I continue to take inventory, acknowledge my character defects, and make amends by working Step Ten.
In Step Eleven, I enhance my relationship with that power still further through prayer and meditation. In Step Twelve, that spiritual relationship comes into play in all aspects of my life, and I have a strong, compelling message of threefold recovery to carry to the compulsive eater who still suffers.
If I have experienced recovery on all three levels—spiritual, emotional, and physical—then why must I continue to work OA’s Twelve Steps? Very early in my life, food and compulsive eating became my only real coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s problems. Today, using food for any reason other than nourishing my body is not an option, so I need a new way to deal with life. Working the Twelve Steps has proven to be my solution to all my problems, real or imagined. I no longer want or need to eat compulsively because I have a better way of dealing with life.
Step Three in the Twelve and Twelve goes on to say, “As we live out our decision day by day, our Higher Power guides us through the remaining nine steps” (p. 27). So when I truly take Step Three, it means I actually use all of the Steps on a daily basis to abstain from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors and to achieve and sustain threefold recovery.
~ Theresa K, from A Step Ahead, First Quarter 2015