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Always a Newcomer

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As I approach the anniversary of my twentieth year of abstinence from compulsive overeating, I’m reflecting on the miracle of finding my way to the rooms of OA, as well as my first years of recovery.

When I entered OA in late August 1999, I was a nightmare of a human being. I lived in self-centeredness, self-absorption, and self-pity. I blamed everyone else but me for any problem I had. I believed God hated me and that’s why I was fat and alone. I was completely deluded, believing my behaviors and choices had nothing to do with my endless misery. Yet, in one month’s time, I had followed direction from those working the program, gotten a sponsor, surrendered to a food plan, and became abstinent on September 15, 1999. If that isn’t miraculous, I don’t know what is. The only explanation I have is a Power greater than me stepped into my mind and heart and changed me.

As I reflect on this part of my journey, I recognize that all the self-centeredness, self-absorption, and self-pity still lives within me. What is different today is that the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions have changed the way I look at and think about everything and everyone. They have become my blueprint for living.

The Big Book is, as far as I am concerned, a gift from God to any person suffering from addiction. It has paved the way for many Twelve Step programs, and I look to it for guidance on a regular basis.

I am consistently overwhelmed with gratitude for OA. It has truly saved my life by saving me from myself. This gratitude is very important to me, but more important is my attendance at meetings and my work with others who still suffer. I must never forget the pain of active compulsive overeating. I must never forget those first days, months, and years in recovery. Working with others reminds me of my powerlessness and my need for the Fellowship. It shows me how much my being a newcomer helped the long timers whenever I walked into a meeting, called for help, asked for guidance, or overshared about something personal in a meeting instead of keeping the focus on the solution of the Twelve Steps.

I “will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 83). Every part of my insanity—before I entered OA and during those crazy first years of my recovery— has helped someone, most of all myself! When I hear a newcomer who sounds the way I sounded back in those days, I am truly humbled that I am clean today. I am amazed at the power God has in my life, even when I can’t see it until years later. Every time someone I sponsor follows direction, even when they don’t want to, I am reminded that I will always be a newcomer. Just as much as I am filled with hope and gratitude when I watch the miracle happen to others, that’s how much hope and gratitude my journey has brought to those who came before me.

While twenty years of abstinence is certainly something to celebrate, it really isn’t mine to celebrate. Yes, I showed up, followed direction, and kept my food clean, but the power to do those things definitely did not come from me. (Anyone who knew me in 1999 will confirm that fact!) I am forever indebted to those who have gone before me, and to those who have asked me for help since I have been abstinent. You have all shown me that it is only together that we can overcome the disease of compulsive overeating. — Jessica M., Shillington, Pennsylvania USA

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