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All the Layers

I recently broke through denial and fear to acknowledge my character defects by attending an OA retreat focused on working Steps Six and Seven. I broke through the fear by engaging in all of the writing and activities throughout the weekend, sharing with my small group, and sharing with the large group at times.

My greatest defect has always been fear. Using the Tool of writing during the retreat weekend helped me to dig deep, get at my character defects, put a name on them, face them, and finally become ready to have God remove them. The retreat leader asked those of us who were ready to write a good-bye letter to our compulsive overeating and associated behaviors. I overcame my character defect of fear by standing in front of the entire group on the last day of the retreat and sharing my letter.

It said, “Dear sugar addiction, compulsive overeating, and any and all compulsive overeating behaviors:

“You have been with me for as long as I can remember. Over the years you have provided me with a substitute for love, comfort, and friendship. Until now I have needed you to cope with all of the joys, sorrows, and stresses of life. With you I often felt safe and protected and in my comfort zone.

“You did serve a purpose for a time; however, today I am informing you that you have reached your “best-before” date, and it is time for me to say good-bye to you. Thank you for literally shaping who I am today. Now, however, I turn you back to God so that I can be reshaped into his image, not yours. Farewell.”

Fear continues to be the greatest threat to my recovery, but writing helped me get in touch with the fact that I fear what lies beneath the layers of my excess weight: years and years of compounded emotions that have been trapped inside me and never released in a healthy way. What great emotional upheaval there would be if I work through and release all the layers!

I was in program twenty-five years ago and left. I returned last July and just purchased a new journal and have committed to writing again to help me get at the emotions that lie beneath the layers in a healthy and safe way. What has helped me continue to break through is remaining in the Fellowship, attending meetings, working with a sponsor, and reaching out to my home group members. Healing does not happen in isolation.

— Jacquie N., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Lifeline October 2015)