I was one of those people who, when first arriving at OA is interested in all aspects of OA except for ____. And I had a list of what I was interested in and willing to give my time and attention to. The Twelve Steps? Yes. Telling someone what I ate? No. Getting a sponsor? No!

Then came another bottom in OA, and by something divine I was guided to my first sponsor, who not only had me read the Big Book but also the The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous. I had to study the OA Traditions and write answers to Tradition questions. Well, by George, did my eyes get opened to a whole new way of living—really good, the top-of-the-line, feel-good-about-yourself-and-the-people-you’ve-surrounded-yourself-with kind of living. No longer were my parents responsible for all the crap that happened to me (blaming others). My brother wasn’t hated because he’d gotten everything (resentment)—now he was the sibling I adored. Co-workers weren’t “itty-its” who couldn’t do a damn thing right (expectations). These results were gems of our Twelve Traditions. I have a deep connection with the Traditions, and they are directly proportionate to my sanity and serenity when I practice them with genuine affection in my daily affairs.

I’ve had to learn to re-parent myself in OA, an ongoing process. The Traditions were my yellow brick road to self understanding. Before, my motives were all about selfishness and self-will running riot, but in OA there’s awareness that others’ needs and well-being are important factors. Relationships of all kinds need time and energy. When I’m in the food, I cannot be present for my life or able to be there for you. The Traditions taught me that this self-destructive behavior and way of thinking is the second half of Step One: unmanageability.

There is woven interconnectedness between our Steps and Traditions, and their delicate balance is evident in our spiritual Principles. Being guided by HP and the Traditions helps me get through most days better than picking up the first bite or thinking the first thought that would feed my not-good-enough syndrome. Today, instead of my alcoholic binge foods, I crave love and good living.

I want to be of service to OA. It has given me so much, including long periods of abstinence and some of the best friends a girl could ask for. (Never call a Twelve Step friend when you want to hear something other than the truth, though.) There have been times during a meeting when I’ve interrupted and said, “It’s my observation we aren’t honoring our Traditions right now. We need to bring this to a group conscience or a business meeting.” And there are times when I’ve asked to talk with someone one-on-one to check in with them about their knowledge regarding our Traditions. (For the longest time, I’d presumed other OA members knew what I knew, but I found it’s not so.) When I was sponsoring, I too took sponsees through the Traditions, and they were almost always thankful when we were done. They too felt they had a new lens to see the world and the people in it.

Get to know our Traditions. They do a body—and a mind—good!

— Ruth S.

In “Healing Relationships With OA Traditions,” the writer has come to understand that learning and applying the Twelve Traditions is one of the most basic ways to improve our relationships with fellow OA members and others outside OA who are close to us. Choose one Tradition and explore the ways it applies to your relationships inside and outside of OA.

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