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Living in the solution

Surrender, sponsorship, spirituality and service help me to achieve sobriety.

For me, living in the solution means going to meetings on a regular basis, not just when I feel like it, and getting a sponsor. My sponsor shared what she did to get well and took me through the 12-Step programme. Right from the start, I followed suggestions to the best of my ability.

Soon after getting sober from food and other substances, for the first time in my life, I had hope that if I did what the people in the meetings did, then my life would get better, too. I fairly quickly found that the things suggested were very simple actions. For example, I was encouraged to sit down beside somebody at a meeting and ask them how their day had been. I was told to listen and I thought, yes, that's right, it's one thing to ask somebody how they are; it's another thing to actually listen. I did that.

Another example was during my working day in gardens with a crew of people, it was suggested I get a cushion out of the van for every person to sit on at lunch time before I took care of myself.I didn't want to do it but I did it anyway and found it made me feel so good. I started to feel better just by doing the things that were suggested.

There is a lot more to sobriety than just not eating addictively

Sobriety is an action programme, which gives me comfort because I can take actions like the ones I just described. I heard how you acted your way into better thinking and into better living. I heard about stinking thinking and how I shouldn’t go ‘upstairs’ (into my thinking head) alone. I learnt about how addiction is a disease of self-centeredness and that it is cunning, baffling, and powerful. Like a tumour, I have a terminal disease, that leads to the gates of insanity and death.

I had seen that level of sickness in my father's life and in my own life. Thankfully, I wanted to get better and I wanted what was on offer. I was told I wouldn't know myself in a year's time, and I liked the sound of that, even though I wouldn't have been able to tell you that I hated myself.

My life continues to change and get better in Addictive Eaters Anonymous

One day at a time, I have been sober from food and other substances for just over 20 years. It is amazing how that has happened, one day at a time. I don’t think I will ever reach a point where I’m finished with the 12 Steps ready to head off and live my own life without the fellowship of Addictive Eaters Anonymous. I am not cured of this disease. But even if a cure for addictive eating were discovered, I wouldn't want that. I really love my life. It's such a gift, one you can't go out and buy. I'm so grateful to have found the solution. I attend meetings regularly because I know I'm not cured, and I want to be in the room for the newcomer who comes to a meeting for the first time. If there hadn't been anybody in the meeting when I arrived, where would I be today? There is also nothing more rewarding and joyful than seeing new people coming and finding there is a solution and getting well too. So I need to be there for my emotional sobriety. You know life is challenging, regardless of whether you have recovered or not. It's challenging. And I get a lot of support from being at meetings.

Service is a major component of recovery

Thankfully, I like service and service is a way of giving. The meetings would not happen if somebody didn’t put their hand up and say, yes, I will take responsibility for opening this meeting every Monday night for the next year.

You know, we all put a little bit of money into the basket because we need to pay for the rent. So if somebody did not put their hand up and say, I'll be treasurer, the money would not get banked.

I'm on a public information committee where we look at how we can get our fellowship known and we do very simple things. Collectively, we are responsible for carrying the message.

I’ve found that if I do a bit of this kind of service, any kind of service that is carrying the message, it really can be the highlight of my day. It is the most important thing in life that I have to offer. My recovery is a unique gift, and I love trying to carry the message.

Initially an atheist, I soon embraced the spirituality of the 12 Steps

I find it amazing that when I walked into the room, seeing God on the wall was the least of my problems. I think that sums it up in a nutshell.

Early on, I found myself getting on my knees. I don't think I was told to do that. I probably heard that's what some people did. But I started getting on my knees and praying to a power greater than myself. I just thought Thy will, God, not mine. And that gave me a lot of comfort because I heard, and I completely understood, that we are beyond human aid. For 37 years, I had been receiving human aid up until when I came in. Especially for the final ten years of my addiction, I had been receiving a lot of self-help therapy. So I didn’t need convincing that I was beyond human aid and thank God I could get on my knees and pray to a power greater than myself, which I didn't need to understand. I absolutely know that I am not able to control my eating with my own willpower. I accept that. My experience is that problems have been removed and I know they haven't been removed by me.

In our introduction to the AEA fellowship, we talk about the spiritual concept of surrender. I think that is the key. Admitting defeat, asking for help and taking actions that I hadn’t previously been willing or able to take, was incredibly freeing, a freedom from the bondage to self.

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