My name is Sharon.

My old life was one of constant bingeing and restricting, obsessive thoughts of food and weight, a false belief that “thin” equals “happy and loved,” and feeling immense shame, self-hatred, and self-centeredness. I did love people and wanted to do better, but active addiction was my higher power, and I was enslaved to it.

Today, I am abstaining from all of these obsessive behaviors. I accept my imperfect body (and yours!). I am old, wrinkled, and arthritic, but I am content. I’ve been the same healthy size for several years. I eat sanely and exercise with pleasure daily. I usually feel very tired by evening, but it’s because I’m tired out from an active, useful life and not from bingeing and obsessing.

How could I have changed so radically? By abstaining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors and by following our simple program of the Twelve Steps, which I’ve worked every day since I became abstinent in January 2014.

I’m on my fourth round of working all the Steps in order… I work almost all of the Steps every day.

I take the Steps in two different ways: 1) thoroughly working them in order over a period of weeks and months and 2) working them quickly every day.

I’m on my fourth round of working all the Steps in order, this time very slowly, digging deeper and sharing every word I write with my co-sponsor each week.

I also work almost all of the Steps every day. In my written Step Ten inventories, I discover areas other than food over which I am powerless (Step One), and I turn to God, as I understand her, to restore me to sanity (Step Two).

Steps Four, Eight, and Nine are built into to Step Ten, and as I address all of this writing to God, stopping frequently to ask her for inspiration and then listening for an answer, this is also part of my Step Eleven prayer and meditation for the day. I review the Step Principles I practiced or failed to remember, and list those that I especially want to bear in mind for the new day. I also list the service work I did or plan to do (Step Twelve).

Step Six comes up naturally, since my character defects are nearly always the cause of problems I have with other people or the harm I do myself. I take time to honestly consider whether I am ready to be relieved of these defects, and if not, why.

Step Seven is a precious moment of surrender, when I get to let go and stop trying so hard and so unsuccessfully to change defects myself. I entrust their healing to God, humbly saying, “in your time, in your way.” This takes a lot of faith and trust since experience has taught me that her way is not always something I like! I wasn’t suddenly showered with the gifts of patience and acceptance as if they were fairy dust; rather I was given service work that was very hard for me and received lots of patience and acceptance from people whom I’ve come to love.

And Step Three? It is dearest to my heart. Oh, I have so far to go! I take back my own will many times throughout the day, but each time I truly surrender, the tension leaves my body and I sense a bubbling of joy arise. I feel calmed and energized, humbled and confident. Knotty problems and anxieties relax and dissolve.

It isn’t easy, this wonderful program. It takes a lot of work and willingness. Profound changes take time, but they are so worth it!