An All-In Proposition

“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone . . . the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. . . . That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pp. 84–85).

When I first came into OA, I read the above passage and said, “That’s what I want!” I was tired of the schemes, micromanagement, and constant battles with food, weight, purging, and futile at- tempts to get it all under control.

What would it take for me to get into fit spiritual condition? Just like physical conditioning, it would require exercise. Yet spiritual fitness differs from physical fitness in an important way. With physical exercise, if I did half of what was pre-
scribed, I would receive some benefit.

With spiritual fitness, however, the benefits I would receive if I did only half the work are explained on pages in Alcoholics Anonymous (4th ed., pp. 58–59):

  • “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program.”
  • “Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.”
  • “Half measures availed us nothing.”

The message was clear. My commitment needed to be an all-in proposition, and I needed to follow the time-tested prescription of the Twelve Steps to achieve a fit spiritual condition.

My first year in OA, I was a sponge. I received my gift of abstinence by absorption. I went to lots of meetings, hung around my OA fellows, and did no Step work whatsoever. Instead I did the OA two-step. I admitted I was powerless over food—that my life had become unmanageable. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of taking Step One, I tried to carry my message of recovery to anyone who would listen, even those who didn’t want to hear it.

A year in, I had lost weight and stopped throwing up. Fortified in knowing I was a compulsive overeater, I left OA, certain I wouldn’t do that stuff anymore.

A year of additional research followed, then ended when I crawled back to OA 50 pounds (23 kg) heavier, throwing up daily, and blessed with the gift of desperation. I was willing to do what was required to become and remain abstinent. I listened to those who had what I wanted: long-term abstinence; ease around food, people, places, and things; orderliness and sanity; joy and happiness. They all shared a commitment to working and living all Twelve Steps.

Through the Twelve Steps, each one had built a sustaining relationship with a Higher Power, and that Higher Power gave them the daily gift of abstinence. Their part of the deal was to maintain a fit spiritual condition. So I start each day asking God for the ability to live each of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. I must take, live, and work all the Steps to become and remain abstinent.

~ Diana G.