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The 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous – My Ode to the 12 Days of Christmas for Bulimics and Anorexics

Would you agree the holidays are supposed to be a fun time of year? All of the holiday lights, classic songs, visiting with friends and family – oh, and of course the gifts!

Most people enjoy this time of year with all of the food and festivities they can take in accepting they’ll gain a few pounds before January 1st. However, if you have an eating disorder, this time of year has increased emotional sensitivity on top of the pressures involving food and calories.

In my mind, the holidays are a time for creating traditions and making memories (aka fun!). So I’m going to spice things up on my blog with a festive, but hopefully helpful, guide to the 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous. Let’s call it my Ode to the 12 Days of Christmas especially made for bulimics and anorexics.

This will be the first of a series of posts to explain the 12 Steps of OA, but in a light and uplifting way as you navigate your way from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

So, ready to have a little fun? Great!

In case you don’t already know the Overeaters Anonymous 12 Steps, here they are as taken from their Web site:

1. We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable. (Step 1 of OA)
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Step 2 of OA)
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Step 3 of OA)

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Step 4 of OA)
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Step 5 of OA)
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (Step 6 of OA)
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. (Step 7 of OA)
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. (Step 8 of OA)
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Step 9 of OA)
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. (Step 10 of OA)
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (Step 11 of OA)
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (Step 12 of OA)

Well, there you have ‘em. The 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous. Perfectly clear, eh? Ha! When I first read the 12 Steps of OA it was like reading Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau. If you don’t know who that is, let’s just say it’s as clear as mud.

I was in OA for many years and while I wouldn’t say I was an OA success story, now that I’m a recovered bulimic, I can better understand what they have to teach.

If you’re up for learning my interpretations of OA’s 12 Steps, then stay tuned. This post is just the first of a series. Think of this as the opening act of our unfolding play or maybe the tailgating party before the main event. Good things are coming!

I’ll be posting on my blog over the next 6 weeks what each step has come to mean to me and some exercises or ideas you can take away to help you with overcoming bulimia or anorexia. If these ideas help you, please post a comment below. I always appreciate feedback and knowing what works for you.