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Accepting All

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Bill W., co-founder of AA, said, “We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 17).

When I first came to OA, at 5 feet tall (152 cm) and 206 pounds (93 kg), I was 80 pounds (36 kg) overweight. I got a sponsor, called her daily, and lost 60 pounds (27 kg). Then I got a new position, my marriage failed, and my sponsor moved away. I became too busy for OA, but thought I could lose the other 20 pounds (9 kg) on my own. Wrong!

When I returned to OA, I weighed 186 pounds (84 kg). Although I only came to support a friend, I stayed because I found help. I quit bingeing and embraced the Serenity Prayer as a guide for my life. Even so, I really didn’t feel a part of the group. Why? I hated the way I looked; I hated being fat. I disdained myself. I had grown up being told I was fat, lazy, and would come to no good, so I never felt good enough. It was no great leap to extend my self-definition to the others in the rooms. If I wasn’t good enough, neither were they.

I was surprised by the acceptance I found in OA. To the group, I wasn’t a bad person; I just had this disease that made it impossible for me to act sanely around food. Since they accepted me as I am, I learned to accept those who also have this disease, although they manifest it differently. No longer could I feel superior or inferior. I had to accept people to hear them. I learned that no matter our ethnicity, religion, or lifestyle, we are banded together by our desire to stop eating compulsively.

Working the Steps was a challenge. Admitting I was powerless? Turning my life and will over to God as I understood God? I thought I was religious, but that kind of surrender was hard for me to do. I thought I was alone in my struggle and that God didn’t care. Yet I saw many of those recovering had an understanding of their Higher Power that worked for them, even though some were skeptics, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, or held other beliefs.

I’ve been abstinent for the last fifteen months. I have completed the Steps and have released about 55 pounds (25 kg). OA recovery works for us all, despite our differing cultural backgrounds; our native language or ethnicity; our religion or non-religion; our politics, nationality, or lifestyle. I realized very early on this path that I must put our common welfare first; my recovery is so very dependent upon OA unity. Together and with our Higher Power, we are doing what none of us could do alone.

— Rosanne K., Portland, Oregon USA

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