Report by Triangle IG Rep Clare on the SOAR 8 Recovery Convention and Business Assembly in Memphis, Tennessee October 11-13, 2019
Skillfully conducted following the parliamentary procedure of Robert’s Rules of Order. This is to ensure that all have equal rights and obligations to carry out the region’s group conscience. Representatives attended from all over OA’s Region 8, including 3 members from South America and 4 virtual voting members. Our region is the first to allow virtual attendance. Next SOAR 8 Business Assembly will be in March of 2020 in Baton Rouge, LA. The one after that will be in October of 2020 in Nashville. There will be a recovery convention August 20-22, 2020 in Orlando, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of OA. People will be coming from around the world. Registration begins January 1st 2020. Treasurer’s report showed how the contributions from many IG’s help spread the message of recovery in our region. There is a fund to help send IG reps to WSBC meetings. Also funds to help with local workshops and retreats and to send IG reps and committee chairs to the SOAR 8 business assemblies. There are PIPO funds to help set up a booth at a health fair. Secretary reported that there are 55 IG’s in our region, with 607 meetings. 23 of the IG’s sent reps this past weekend; that’s 42% represented. There is a new “Welcome Back” pamphlet for those returning from relapse. The newcomer pamphlet “Where Do I Start?” is now reduced in price to 35 cents. We want young people (in young 30’s or under) to make podcasts. In answer to a question, the Chair commented that HOW and A Vision For You are both registered groups within OA and part of the fellowship of OA, within our fold. If you want to use them for your recovery, please do so. There is still confusion in the health care community about our disease; they only say it is a mental problem, not a physical allergy. Use the tools on the Region 8 website to help set up a local health fair booth or workshop to educate health care professionals. We have no opinion on outside issues, including bariatric surgery. For a standard of healthy weight for you, ask your doctor. We don’t have an opinion on a plan of eating; it is up to the individual, with suggestions from the Dignity of Choice pamphlet. B.I.N.G.E is an an acronym for Believing I’m Not Good Enough. Neill was voted the new Region 8 chair of the Twelfth Step Within Committee. That is in addition to holding that position on our IG and at the level of WSBC. He announced that there are 26 relapse mentors signed up on the Region 8 website. Forms were passed out at the convention for folks to sign up to be sponsors, night owls, speakers, etc available to all by pressing the red “Recovery Help” button on that website. Pat from Baton Rouge will be the new night owls chair and Pat from Little Rock all be the new relapse mentor coordinator for the website. Note that any of the speakers listed are available to speak via Skype at your local meetings. Continue periodically reminding your groups how to access these wonderful 12th Step Within resources on the website. “Ask me about the red button”. Can do during announcement time during a meeting or at holiday serenity recovery days. Gold Coast, FL gave a report on the last Business Assembly which they hosted in April 2019. Ideas of how to do were shared. Also there is a Hosting Manual on the Region 8 website.
The following motions were passed:
to remove the Unity With Committee as a standing funded committee
in both the Policies and Procedures and the Bylaws
to add Unity With Diversity as a subcommittee of the 12th Step Within Committee
to change the word “Chairman” to “Chair” in the Policies and Procedures WSBC already made this change
to change his/her to “their” for reasons of inclusivity
to change the graphic on the home page of the SOAR 8 website and correct our name there
to fund 2 Chairs for the SOAR 8 Tech Web Committee
after hearing talks from 4 applicants, decided to fund them all as delegates from Region 8 to go to the next WSBC.
elected Katrina to continue 2 more years as SOAR 8 Chair
elected Michelle to continue 2 more years as SOAR 8 Treasurer
PIPO’s new Chair is Marissa
12th Step Within’s new Chair is Neill
we need IG’s who are willing to sponsor other IG’s seeking help
PIPO has $2,000 to help IG’s put on health fairs
IGOR members are available to come to our area to put on a service workshop
Tech Web wants to put short podcasts on the SOAR 8 website
Ingrid, the rep from Columbia, announced an OA convention Nov 9-11, 2019 in Medellin. She invited us to come share our experience, strength, and hope. We just need to pay for our ticket; they will pay the registration fee for us. They wait for us with arms open.
In addition to the Business Assembly meetings, there was a rich variety of recovery meetings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, some of which focused on newcomers, relapse and recovery, and Higher Power. Also at least six speakers shared their stories; there were meditation meetings and meetings on the tools. There were two skits, in one of which our own Neill M. /.played the part of Mr Serenity. A long-term recovered compulsive overeater from Canada presented an eight-session program called “The Big Book Comes Alive for OA”, going deeply into each of the 12 Steps.
Some points which resonated with me from meetings I was able to attend:
Some points from speakers’ meetings:
I saw in my first meeting people who had what I desperately wanted: serenity. They could offer me love; I couldn’t do that.
I need service; something to help me stay connected. Otherwise I might start thinking, “What do I need from them?” I thought I was Wonder Woman, that I didn’t need help from anyone.
I got abstinent, but listening to The Promises, I realized I had no joy. So I got a sponsor and walked through the Steps. It is a spiritual program. After Step 9, I was free, dancing in the sunlight of the spirit. The miracle of the program is that it teaches us how to live. I am not alone. There are my brothers and sisters in the fellowship and my HP is always with me.
Looking outside to my comfort foods, meant I was avoiding something inside me: feelings, inner truths, instincts, intuition, heart.
Now I feel alive for the first time in my life, guided by grace, my HP. My HP is fundamental to my program. I have an amazing relationship with my HP.
Nothing is perfect in Nature; everything is evolving. I remind myself that “it’s going to be fine”. Seeking equilibrium and balance is where I need to live. I need to be conscious of my contact with my HP every day, so I can “course correct” when I start to stray. Relax into abstinence; do not fight it. Exercise every day even if I don’t feel like it. Pause and experience life, rather than rushing through it. Focus on gratitudes and positive thoughts even if it seems naive. Reach out for power and strength when needed rather than try to go it alone.
When controlling food, I was not enjoying it. When enjoying it, there was no control.
Prayed to God, “This is all I’ve got. If you’ve got something else for me, you’ve got to bring it and give it to me.”
I lost the weight, but it was a white-knuckle abstinence. The physical allergy was gone, but the mental obsession was still there; I was angry. I was restless, irritable, and discontent. So I did the Steps as outlined in the Big Book. I experienced an awakening, an unfolding, peace, and contentment. All relationships are better. I have neutrality around my binge foods. None of them call to me. The process of coming into full recovery is a miracle, but it is not a mystery.
Friends and family were well-meaning, but they didn’t know how to help. “Just push away from the table.” “Eat in moderation.” “You’d be so pretty if you lost some weight.” I was an “exercise bulimic”, feeling if I over exercised, I could eat whatever I wanted. Once I got to my normal weight, I was told I could eat one Oreo. I ate the whole package. I ate in secret; it is a disease of isolation. At the OA meeting, I answered “yes” to almost all the 15 questions. By praying to God each day, “Please help me be abstinent just for today”, I surrendered my food to HP and I got 30 days abstinence. Then my mind was clear enough to find a sponsor and start the Steps. God showed me the way. God is with me all the time. I’m going to keep listening.
From a few of the Big Book meetings:
The Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous”) is a textbook for how to work the Steps and recover; a set of instructions. Study it and follow its directions.
In order to say I am a recovered compulsive overeater, with a daily reprieve, I no longer am wanting or needing to return to that which I’ve abstained from.
I must take this disease seriously; get abstinent; work the Steps and continue to work them, giving as much as I can to help others or I will go back. The greatest preventable cause of death is compulsive overeating. It is the last socially acceptable addiction. It is hard to take it seriously, but we must.
I wanted to believe that if I ate moderately, I’d be OK. Didn’t want to believe that my body was different from others. But deep down I knew that once I started eating certain things I could not stop eating them. I have an allergy to some foods, defined as an abnormal physical reaction to these substances. Also they overwhelm my mind with the phenomenon of cravings or mental obsessions. Which foods these are vary from person to person. I can eat things you can’t and you can eat things I can’t.
My mind can come up with many excuses for returning to the food: I’m depressed; I’m happy and want to celebrate; I’ve lost this much weight, surely a little taste won’t matter; I’m lonely and no one loves me; any buildup of emotions; they made it especially for me, so how can I refuse; I’m in this town and shouldn’t pass up tasting their renown delicacy; someone offered something and I forgot and accepted it; it’s organic. My mind could find a way to give a reason which in hindsight was insanity.
Once I start, I can’t stop. And I can’t stop from starting. This meant I had the disease of compulsive overeating.
So I made a list of those foods which I’ve overeaten. Also I had to look at my eating behaviors, which for me meant volume issues. I followed the 301 plan (3 meals a day; nothing in between; one day at a time). At each meal, I stopped eating before I was totally filled up. I lost the weight and have kept it off. Each person needs to figure out what they need to abstain from, including eating behaviors. If I find I’m starting to need a particular substance to the point of overeating, then I get rid of it from my plan of eating.
I try to be as honest as I can. It is not up to a sponsor to tell someone how to be abstinent. Don’t force sponsees to eat specific things or abstain from others. I don’t care what you choose just so long as you eliminate your binge foods and honestly do what works for you.
Step One tells us we are powerless. We can’t manage our consumption of certain foods. I want a sane mind that tells me, “Why would I eat these foods? They will kill me.” Accept my limitations and don’t eat my binge foods, nor practice unhealthy eating behaviors. For me, this food and that behavior is poison.
There is no need to feel guilty. I have a physical problem. Just as I am near sighted and use glasses to manage that condition, I have a physical problem which renders me unusual around food. When offered one of my binge foods, I say, “I’m allergic to it.” An allergy is defined as an abnormal reaction to a substance, so my response is true.
Step One is the acknowledgement of the seriousness. Step Two tells us that OA gives you sanity. Step One is a description of the problem, the powerlessness, the despair. Step Two is a description of the solution, the power, and the hope. Step Two is about the willingness to try. It’s only a matter of being willing.
It can be useful to study the chapter called “We Agnostics” in the Big Book. Pages 48-51 shows the scientific process, that theory is grounded in fact. It works. Pages 51-53 reveals that the willingness to change our belief system leads to innovation and success. Why not try something different? It has worked for others. Pages 53-54 show that whether you believe in God or whether you believe in truth and science, it will work. Your deepest values can be your HP. I honor truth, love, justice, and beauty and that pulls me in the true direction to do right. Whatever is your conception of your deepest values deep in your heart. Whether you are religious or not, this chapter is useful in sponsoring others who may not be.
Working the Steps unplugs the blockage in the pipeline, so that the deepest values flow in my life until eventually I act via intuition connected to my own God. Prior to that I was blocked, so I couldn’t hear my God. Steps 4-9 unplug the blocks to the connection to God. Steps 10-12 keep it open. Be tolerant that there are different ways of working the Steps.
When writing out Step 4, don’t need to go into the details; that would mean going back and reliving the trauma. Just say things like “hurt me badly”; “made me feel guilty”; “doesn’t allow my life to go forward.” Write what’s bothering you, what’s on your mind from little annoying things to serious transgressions. “I say yes for the wrong reason and feel hypocritical.” “That inconsiderate person took 2 parking spaces and I had to walk an extra distance.” We often find little things on the list obscure big issues. Dig deeper to look at fears, resentments, dishonesty, and self-centeredness. Where was I inconsiderate and self-willed? Go through each fear and see what HP would have me be. The sponsee gets rid of of what’s bothering them and the sponsor is compassionate: “Well, I think everyone feels that way sometimes.”
If after Step 5, we feel delighted; we can look the world in the eye; we can be alone at perfect peace and ease; our fears have fallen from us and we begin to feel the nearness of God, then we can move on to Step 6. If not, we can review our Step 4, pray to God, and ask if we have omitted anything.
A miracle is that now I can watch others eat my binge foods and not only have no interest in eating them too, but am happy they can enjoy them.
The Big Book urges us to get going; go forward; don’t stop. One can work all the Steps in a matter of weeks. Be dedicated; do it as fast as you can. When you finish a thorough Step 9, you’ll no longer want to yield to temptation. The Promises on pages 83-84 are there for you.
It is actually simple to go through the Steps. Recognize you are hopeless. Get honest with yourself. Be honest with another human being. Make amends. Pray for guidance. Help others without any need of reward.