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Just One

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I can clearly remember my frame of mind the first time I attended an OA meeting. I had absolutely no idea what OA was about, or how or why it worked. Most importantly, I wasn’t at all sure I belonged there.

I wasn’t sure I fit the profile of a person who needed OA. Because of that, my first meeting was very tentative—a sort of dipping-my-toe-in-the-water experiment. For some reason, I had this image of being approached after the meeting by a whole bunch of well-meaning but overeager OA followers trying to gang-save me or pressure me to join their ranks. Of course, that didn’t happen. Every OA member I’ve ever known has been unfailingly sensitive, observant, insightful, and discerning when it comes to speaking with newcomers.

Because of my own initial misgivings, I find I am always conflicted when I have an opportunity to speak with newcomers. I don’t want to overwhelm them with too much advice, information, and suggestions (and perhaps scare them away). On the other hand, this program has been such an unbelievably positive, healing, loving, and transforming factor in my life—I must fight the urge to tell newcomers all the familiar yet true slogans of OA: “Fake it till you make it;” “Take it one day at a time;” “We’ll love you until you learn to love yourself;” and “This too shall pass.” But I don’t tell them all at once, because I don’t want to overload newcomers with too much information.

Instead, I think I’ll stick with offering the one piece of advice that was given to me way back at my very first meeting— the one that made all the difference to me: “Just keep coming back.”

Edited and reprinted from The Butterflyer newsletter, Chicago Western Intergroup, July 2009

Newcomers: Send your story of your experiences and concerns to Lifeline at info@oa.org.

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