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Thoughts on Step Three, the step that gives me the biggest problem

I wrote this email to a program friend who needs help with Step Three last night. I am reproducing it here, because Step Three made me walk out of OA back in '99 when I went to it for the first time. It has been edited a little bit, mostly for typos.

Hi there!

First, disclosure: I am sending this to your sponsor and to my sponsor, while protecting _everyone's_ anonymity. That's why everything is BCC. I wanted to give you a much longer answer than I am giving you here with references and quotes, but I have run out of time tonight. It's right up against my bedtime. Here are some of my thoughts:

The OA book is more hardcore about the implications of Step Three than the AA 12 & 12 is. The AA book leads one into the core concepts of how to use an HP a little more gradually. However, the points made about intuition and turning to God (or HP) in every decision of our lives are there in both books as well as in the Big Book [Alcoholics Anonymous]. The OA book simply dumps it all in one's lap rather quickly.

Here's where the AA 12 & 12 really shines. All we have to do, according to it, is adopt the concept that a group can be our higher Power, and get on with working the Steps. It takes a degree of willingness to do that, and to do the work. As Bill W says in the AA book, willingness is the key. A 4th Step inventory is not an easy thing to do, and neither is surrendering one's alcoholic foods & harmful eating behaviors, but we do them by getting support from trusted OAers, life gets better, and thus we can find more faith. For us in OA, we start with the group (frequently), and start with food decisions. As we get results in those areas, we go on to try our new-found faith in other areas of our lives. Faith takes time for many of us. I still wrestle with it after 9 years in program. I really want to do things my way. However, as I have said, that doesn't work. I am still food-obsessed, still dipping into foods that don't serve me on occasion, such as cheese or white flour, and still making the decision to read Facebook instead of doing the things I have to do (chores and taking care of myself with daily prayer and meditation. However, each time I do stop and check myself out, or ask my boyfriend, or even ask my sponsor or her sponsor, I get better answers than I can with my addict's mind alone.

That said (as your sponsor would say), God's guidance comes to us through many forms: talking to another OA member or other trusted advisor about a problem if that's needed, one's own good judgemment, & intuition, as the OA text says.

Intuition doesn't develop overnight. It comes slowly, from taking a moment to pause and do things like reading the feeling in one's gut, or wating for a feeling of warmth (which I have had) or looking for a feeling of certainty, if one has doubt. My intuition is very poorly developed for I have just begun to cultivate that. I don't trust my feelings easily. My sponsor and her sponsor both say, "When in doubt, don't," and that specific guidence helps me.

It starts with trust. We have to trust something other than ourselves and hopefully bigger than ourselves, such as our higher self-interest, if you will, in order to make this program work. We're addicts. Our addicted brain will always go for the quick fix or the shortcut to get what we want, which we all want Right Now. But life that way doesn't work, so we have to find something else. Once we've tried many things, some poeple, those in program, are desperate enough to try using a Higher Power as their guide.

"Faith," as my sponsor's sponsor says, "is the result of results. What results do you see in your life?," she asked me once. Well, I am still under [my top weight], despite some disordered eating that has been going on. I am better able to discern between my appetite and my craving now than I have ever been. I have been given the courage to go to college, I have earned good grades, I have the courage to go back to gointg to two of my home meetings even though I have a rather bothersome post who is seeking to intimidate me at both of those meetings...let me see...I now have friends that are mine, not my boyfriend's with "spill-over" onto me, I feel useful, I feel pretty happy, I have learned a lot about myself in a shorter amount of time than all the years I spent in psychotherapy, and I have made some difficult amends. The friends, the courage, the self-knowledge, and the feeling of usefulness are worth so much to me—more than how my food is going right now, or how much weight I have kept off.

Take trusting in an HP piecemeal, is my recommendation, and look frequently for results. You'll come to trust in your time.

I hope this doesn't send you into a tailspin or drive you out of OA. Be assured that this is a process.

We can talk more about this on the phone, or by email anytime. Everyone else I emailed is welcome to write back, too.

Don't worry about this. After all, I really struggle with this concept. Listen to others, try it a little, and observe the results, but keep on with working the Steps. That process will help you.

with love and a big hug,

Happy Thursday!—Chorale


Wow thank you so much for posting this. I like what you said about trusting HP piecemeal. Very interesting concept. It would be interesting to read responses to this. I recently attended my mother's funeral and have been reflecting a great deal also going through my moms things. Making sure to take breaks to eat regular meals and go to meetings.

How is the summer going for everyone?
My trust in an HP has had to grow piecemeal fashion, and it's barely begun, even after 9 years in our program. I have trust issues, and that especially applies to things more powerful than myself. But if I am to stay in our program, and have lasting abstinence, I have to cultivate trust.

My summer? On one level, it's all right. I'm getting lots of rest and taking walks frequently. OTOH, I keep eating too much food, which doesn't make me happy, and I keep procrastinating on my latest 4th Step. The two are related, I suspect.

My sponsor keeps telling me that I am making progress in recovery. I am giving up being a drama queen more and more. I am now going to two f-2-f meetings a week, too, which feels good.

I'm very sorry for your loss. *hugs*

Edited to correct a number.

Edited at 2014-07-10 04:47 am (UTC)
So baby steps, right? You trust a little here and a little there and eventually there's a wholeness that there wasn't before.

I've been working out of town and haven't had computer access for stretches of time. I'm coming back this fall and working at the same job I had last year though, so I'll be looking to drop back in on a more regular basis. I've been struggling with abstinence and I really really want to get back on the "abstinence train." I feel that I can't remember how I did it before. Any tips on how to get going would be appreciated.

June 2015

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