How has the slogan “First Things First” helped me recover from addictive eating? My sponsor made it very clear to me that her recovery comes first, above anything else in her life. I trusted her, as she was in recovery, so I was willing to follow her example and her suggestions.
My priorities in life today are my recovery in Addictive Eaters Anonymous, my two daughters and my work, in that order. As far as possible, I plan my work schedule around calling my sponsor at the suggested time, having three food plan meals a day, praying and meditating. My life has changed for the better, and my relationships with others have improved.
I prioritise Addictive Eaters Anonymous (AEA) meetings and attend four meetings a week. On the evening of my daughter’s 8th birthday, although my mind was screaming not to, I attended a meeting. My ex-husband drove five hours to surprise our daughter on her birthday, and she had a wonderful evening with him, while I was attending the AEA meeting, as had been suggested. I followed my sponsors’ suggestion which resulted in an outcome I could never have orchestrated.
Good Orderly Direction for a new way of life
As an addict, I am undisciplined. The slogan “First Things First” has helped me to bring ‘good orderly direction’ into my life. My sponsor suggested I read pages 86 to 88 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, every morning. I do this, although I must admit it took me awhile to do everything that is suggested on these pages. Reading it was not enough, I needed to take the action to follow the directions on how to go through my day from the moment I wake up.
Once I had admitted, and accepted, I was powerless over food and my life was unmanageable (Step 1), I became more willing to follow the suggestions and example of others because I knew I needed a solution to my addictive eating. I have come to love my daily practice of reading the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, meditation and prayer each morning. If I ever miss a morning, it is akin to going to work forgetting to get dressed. In other words, it has become an essential and integral part of my day.
Connecting through daily prayer and meditation
In short, I think about the 24 hours ahead and ask God to direct my thinking, to be clear of wrong motives and consider how I can help others. I incorporate a guided meditation followed by a prayer. I turn my life and will over to my Higher Power and ask him to show his will for me, and the strength and power to carry that out (Step 3).
These daily actions help me to connect with a Power greater than myself. I need this connection as running my life on self-will led to obesity, emotional instability and disharmony. I wreaked havoc, not only in my life but in the lives of those around me..
Very recently, I came to realise I can meditate during the day too, not just in the morning – what a wonderful revelation. It’s like being unplugged from the busy-ness and activity of life and plugging into an inner power and recharging my battery!
My mind would tell me I don't have time to meditate during the day, but this is dishonest. Paradoxically, when I do meditate during the day, I seem to become more efficient, my mind seems to have more space, and I am closer to my Higher Power. Then there is greater tolerance, patience and love for my family and work colleagues. There is harmony.
Practicing “First things First” and these Steps brings order to my life
Following my morning spiritual practice, I make my bed, shower, put dirty clothes in the wash basket, get dressed, have breakfast, parent the girls, (e.g. teaching them the benefit of routine and helping others, including family, while trying not to nag!), so they empty the dishwasher and I reload with breakfast dishes, all before 8.30 am.
This may sound simple for some people, but not for me. I would get easily distracted, for example, checking and getting engaged in social media or work emails on my phone, leaving a trail of unfinished chores and domestic chaos.
This discipline of “First Things First” has brought order into my life. I make my bed each morning, which gives me the security that whatever happens during the day, I have a welcoming bed to get into at night. This was not the case prior to sobriety. I spent a lot of time eating and obsessing about food. My mind told me that I didn’t have time to finish the chores. My thinking was scattered and foggy, resulting in my behaviour being unfocused and inattentive.
“First Things First” has been particularly useful while working from home full-time, as the discipline of maintaining a regular start time for work, having my three pre-planned food plan meals within the suggested times of day, calling my sponsor at the suggested times, attending four AEA online meetings a week, have all been actions that have been critical for my recovery from addictive eating, as well as providing structure and routine.
Rather than using food I have a spiritual solution today
When issues arise (real or imagined), or I am agitated or doubtful, “First Things First” has helped me use the directions in the book, Alcoholic Anonymous, to pause and ask my Higher Power for the next action. I tell myself that right here, right now, I am okay, I am well. I then do what is in front of me and concentrate on that action. This is in stark contrast to projecting and worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. I am far more productive as a result, as I have connected to my Higher Power and my mind is less cluttered and fearful.
Rather than using food as a solution to any problems that arise, I have a spiritual solution through the AEA 12-Step program, my Higher Power and the fellowship. Just for today, “First Things First” and recovery in Addictive Eaters Anonymous is my priority. I am a very grateful member of AEA.
“We lacked the perspective to see that character-building and spiritual values had to come first, and that material satisfactions were not the purpose of living…We never thought of making honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God the daily basis of living.”
(Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pages 71 and 72).