One concept I have recognized as a characteristic of the spiritual disease of self-centeredness is that priorities are all askew. In fact, they are inverted. In the disease, we do what we feel like rather than what we know. The misery is that, all of us know people who get these out of order, and even while we spend our lives living the Twelve Steps to the best of our ability, recognizing that perhaps the one who offends us is spiritually sick, we are still affected by the upside-down style of living done by most of the world around us.
We who are recovering from addiction spent a lifetime doing what we felt like at the expense of ourselves and of any who came near us. As we committed ourselves to seeking God’s will for us and to living in the amends for such harm we had done, we often find ourselves absorbing some similar blows. A compulsive overeater recovering from his addiction has to look at every single bite as it relates to this paradigm, and it can be downright perplexing, even aggravating when others do not.
A recovering addict living the Twelve Steps knows that there are certain things that must be done. First and foremost, if he wants to retain his recovery, is to tend to his relationship with God. If he is married, he tends to that relationship also, as well as the needs of himself, the body, soul, and spirit: eating, breathing, sleeping, praying. Next comes the things that need to be done: tending to the routines of home and hearth, buying groceries, doing laundry, keeping the kitchen, yard, and such. Then there are the tasks that should be done: the maintenance and repairs, those chores that allow some lee-way in their deadlines but which deserve attention before the things we want to do. Recreational activities, hobbies, and entertainment are all nice, and somewhat necessary when there is time for them, but they come after all of the above. Last is what we feel like, the category that used to run our lives, but if we are diligent about our recovery, now sits silently at the bottom of the priority pyramid – dead silent, for we put to death the misdeeds of the body when we accepted God’s will for our lives and put Him in charge of our every decision, every activity, and, for the recovering compulsive overeater, every bite. Anything in this category, for the one in recovery, doesn’t matter at all.
Anyone who has read the Big Book’s statement on acceptance knows that “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake” (Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Edition, page 417). So, whether the people of this world are living upside-down or right side up, my job is to fit between them, finding opportunity in every gap to be of service to them all, in the hopes that one day, one or two might ask me why it seems I have a different perspective. If they want it badly enough, perhaps they will ask me how I got what I have, and I will tell them about the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous.