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

This step is full of hope and directions for recovered compulsive eaters. I’ve been in a recovered state for about 36 years now, and I’ve only recently qualified as “living in a recovered state”. Instead, I would identify as “recovering” since I was still alive and still have the disease of compulsive eating, though arrested. As I reflect on my motives for saying “recovering” instead of “recovered,” fear was the reason. I could always say, if I relapsed, “Well, I was only recovering, after all.” In truth, I am free of compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors and have been at the same weight for many years and have had a spiritual awakening to a Higher-Power-driven life. I am living in a recovered state, for which I’m very grateful.

Step 12 has three components:
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps Yes, I have a relationship with a Power greater than myself that came about in the “educational” way as described in the “Spiritual Experience” appendix of the Big Book: slowly. I have struggled to understand what HP is, so for today it’s enough to know that HP…is. HP is bigger than the disease and helps me always with all of life’s decisions, including food choices and amounts. I set aside morning time for prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with HP, as step 11 outlines. Here I ask for direction, and the directions come in Step 12.

We tried to carry this message to other compulsive eaters
The longer I am in OA (43 + years now), the more I realize the importance of the word “tried”. The 12th step does not promise that my message, my experience, strength and hope, will be received by other compulsive eaters. Or that my words will have such an effect that they will recover. That is HP’s job. I’m a messenger, not a healer. How do I try to carry the message that recovery is possible? With my stories, shares, emails, texts, presence at meetings, sponsorship with others, and service.

And to practice these principles in all our affairs
I love the words “practice” and “all” in this section of step 12. I’m learning every day how to weave the step’s principles (a wonderful list: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, self-discipline, love, perseverance, spiritual awareness, service) into every area of my life. Sometimes I let fear fester in my head, so I need to look to step 3’s principle of faith. Sometimes my ego gets in the way when I compare myself to others, and HP messages me about humility. Sometimes I think I can control others and their opinions of me, but honesty and courage help me let that go.

Step 12 is not graduation—it’s a commencement, a beginning. I am grateful to be on a path of this fellowship, with all of the steps guiding my thoughts and actions, led by a loving HP.

In grateful service,