Posted by: innerpilgrimage | April 13, 2010

Lucky Number Seven

      Yesterday, in meeting, we read Step Seven in the OA 12&12. I love rereading 12-Step literature, because I get something new out of it every time I do. And when something is read aloud and I read along, it seems to sink in better, that I hear the words more mindfully, and I learn something new. Sometimes something completely different, even.

      In the beginning, I read Step Seven and the whole thing was overwhelming. I wondered how I could even do it! I mean, I was supposed to miraculously come up with the ability to relieve myself of dozens of character defects with one prayer, after years of fruitless petition to my Higher Power!
      In reading it, my HP was with me this time around. I am not expected to be perfect. My character defects are part of me, are part of who I am. To accept them is to understand that I am those things in action, as I am also a compulsive overeater.
      That’s where abstinence plays a part, however. The time I spent being abstinent taught me so much about giving up my impulsive desires regarding food. When I give in to impulse, my day goes worse. When I admit I am powerless over it, my Higher Power takes it over. I have a choice–to assume I am the only person who can change myself or to delegate it to an omnipotent, omniscient, unconditionally-loving Higher Power. That Higher Power takes it on without a problem, in my mind. It gets released to the Universe, where it gets put into its proper place. And once it is set into its proper place, I can appreciate the gifts my Higher Power has dropped into my life today.
      My character defects are precisely like my compulsive need to fight with my eating disorder. I give in to them like I gave in to my eating before abstinence. And as I began to realize that I could live a happier, productive life in abstinence, so I proved through action that anything which harmed me could be treated the same way.
      Step Seven, this time around, was pointed out to me as a process. I practice abstinence on my character defects, remembering that character traits (just like food) can be used productively or abused without regard to myself and others. It takes a daily effort to be abstinent from them. So, I am never really “done” with Step Seven, but the humble willingness to release those defects and work on using those character traits (the book mentions “persistence” as the character trait associated with the character defect of “stubbornness”) productively instead of destructively. The same awareness I was given about trigger foods, eating habits, and other food issues has made me understand that I have that same awareness regarding my character defects. They are worked just like abstinence from compulsive eating. Yes, I will slip sometimes, but I have to start over again, just like I would with abstinence from my eating disorder. One day at a time, through practice, will make releasing my character defects easier until I have good days–just like I do with food abstinence.
      It was a relief to realize I don’t have to be perfect in my eating disorder or character defect abstinence. I just am asked to be aware and work toward the sanity that comes from living each day being mindful. Releasing control of my defects will bring me peace, just like releasing control of my eating disorder did.
      And the hope I get from that is reminiscent of the hope I got when I realized that OA is how I would finally find the answers to my weight problem and attitude problem. It feels good to be there again, and I am humbly grateful for having the opportunity to walk in to last night’s meeting. Of the Eight Tools of Recovery, meeting attendance is the tool I rely on most to keep me sane and abstinent. So, with that in mind, I now see that being given the service of opening and closing the room at my home group is a means for my Higher Power to get me into a seat and make sure the door is open if someone just like me walks in looking for answers about why they, too, are unable to “use a little willpower, already”. Having the keys is a blessing, and I am now thankful for the service I was given–even if I hated being given it at first.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict. The fact I have so much service responsibility means that my Higher Power knows I can do it. After all, my Higher Power won’t give me anything I can’t handle–even if my self-serving ego says it’s too much.



  1. yup, progress not perfection!
    and isn’t it awesome how you can read the same thing but here something different when your mind is ready for it?

    • Progress, not perfection. I love that mantra, and I have been trying to live it recently. Thank you for keeping coming back to my journal.

  2. Fabulous, what a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing that, it all resonated very much.

    • You’re welcome, and thank you for coming by! I checked out your journal and look forward to getting into it and reading more.

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