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Accessible to All

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When I showed up at my first OA meeting, I did not have the desire to stop eating compulsively. I was morbidly obese and had lost and gained large amounts of weight throughout my life. My desires back then were different. I wanted to be thin. I wanted the emotional pain to stop. I wanted a reason to continue living. It took time in program before I came to understand that if I stopped eating compulsively my desires would become actual possibilities.

Like many members, before I found OA I had tried multiple diets, both sane and insane, and attended more than a few weight-loss programs. My obsessions—with food and eating and weight and the scale—were sick in the extreme. My connection with a Higher Power was nonexistent; I was without hope. What a thrill, then, to discover that OA did not ask me what I weighed, what I wanted to weigh, or how often I was going to weigh. I was not given a timetable for weight loss, or told that there was only one way to eat. Instead, I was welcomed, loved, and accepted as I was. I was shown that there was a spiritual solution to my problems. The desire to stop eating compulsively was mine to work toward, to understand in my head and take into my heart. That did not happen overnight, but it happened eventually because OA is not burdened with rules that could exclude me from its camaraderie.

In meetings, I am privileged to gather in fellowship with other compulsive eaters. Some are obese, some are underweight, and still others are at or near a healthy body weight. Some have been in the program for over twenty years; others are just beginning. Some have long-term abstinence; others are living in the pain of relapse. Each one is as welcome as the other. Each one is considered an equal member. No matter what walks of life the members come from, each is entitled to experience the fellowship our program offers and to work his or her program without the threat of complicated or punitive rules of membership.

In The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition it says, “Nobody is expelled from OA for not working the Steps, not getting a sponsor, not respecting the Traditions, or not adopting the Tools and practices many of us employ” (p. 108). The Tradition Three chapter goes on to say, “The purpose of Tradition Three is to ensure that the road will always be accessible to all who wish to travel it” (p. 108). I love that phrase “always be accessible to all.” What a gracious and healing policy this is!

— Edited and reprinted from OA Today newsletter, St. Louis Bi-State Area Intergroup, February 2015

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