OCD DIARIES: The 12 Steps of Christmas

by Bill Brenner on December 29, 2009

The author reviews the 12 Steps of Recovery and takes a personal inventory. There’s really no Christmas theme here, other than that the author found the headline catchy.

I’m reconstituting my OA food plan quite nicely since the Christmas Eve scare. I’m lucky for not having slipped completely. Now I find myself thinking about the 12 steps this program is based on. It’s been a bit since I’ve reviewed them to see where I fit in, so here goes:

Step 1We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

I have this one nailed. Hell, I wouldn’t have started going to OA meetings if I hadn’t realized I was indeed powerless over my addiction. But as I was reminded last week, this step must always be top of mind. Otherwise, you relapse before you know what hit you.

Step 2Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

This one was easy for me. I realized a few years ago that I would be nowhere unless I let Jesus into my life. Thing is, when an addict is busy being an addict, they’re too busy giving in to the Devil to listen to God. Thankfully, God’s voice is much louder as time goes on.

Step 3Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

For this, I direct you toward the post about my conversion: The Better Angels of My Nature.

Step 4Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

This is a tough one. I’ve definitely done a lot of soul searching about where my fault lines lie and how to be better, but I have a lot of work to do on this one. The biggest sign of progress is that I can look back on the past and see that while I was busy smoldering over people who were being jerks to me, I was busy being an even bigger jerk to someone else. [See: Bridge Rats and Schoolyard Bullies] I’ve also realized that I have a bit of an ego problem that needs work. For more on that, see The Ego OCD Built.

Step 5 Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I’ve admitted it to God and myself, and a few other human beings. But when it comes to outlining the EXACT NATURE of my wrongs, I’m not always as honest as I need to be. But I’m working on that.

Step 6Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I’m ready, but old habits die hard.

Step 7Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

I ask Him every day. Of course, I think God helps you see your shortcomings but you have to be the one to work on the removal part.

Step 8Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

I’m willing to make amends with some people but not others. I know for sure I have harmed others in my life and I’m truly sorry for that. Others harmed themselves. I just happened to be standing too close to the tracks when they put their hands on the third rail. Clearly, I have work to do on this one.

Step 9Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

See Step 8.

Step 10Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

I’m working hard on this one every day. I thank you all for being patient.

Step 11Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Doing this step a lot, and believe me — it helps. A lot.

Step 12Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

You could say that starting this blog was my way of working this step. I’ve also started sponsoring people in OA to help them get a grip on their compulsive eating. I’m not sure I’m all that good at it yet, but I’m definitely grateful to those who come to me looking for help. In asking me for help, they are actually helping me to be a better man. It sounds confusing, but it’s true.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann December 29, 2009 at 4:51 am

I’ve never actually read the steps before of a 12 step program. Enlightening!

Become willing to make ammends. I know a couple of people who I believe are OCD, I’m just not sure if they feel the same way. Funny enough, they are the same people I never hear say “I’m sorry”. Hmmm…

Brent February 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I have been going to aa. I think it can work for my ocd/bdd but having trouble with step 4. Ther isnt an oa in my area that i know of . any ssuggestions? Brent

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