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After being in OA for a while, I see it’s really the Traditions that keep our program running and solid. Tradition Four indicates autonomy, and that’s such an important part of our program.

It allows groups to run their own meetings without having to follow a specific rhetoric or method. We can basically do whatever we want as long as it doesn’t threaten OA as a whole. We hold business meetings to determine what works best for our group, and then we apply what works best to the meeting format. We can decide to move to a better place, incorporate greeters, or even change the actual format of the meeting. What freedom!

When I first came to OA, I didn’t understand this Tradition at all. I was very controlling and toxic. I wanted someone to be in charge and get these unorganized people in shape! Later, I found out I’d just wanted to have someone or something to blame and then complain about. (Alas, no one stepped up to the plate.) It used to throw me off completely when one meeting would have different people leading each week while another meeting had the same leader for a month.

Looking back, I realize I was desperately trying to figure everything out and control my uncontrollable life. The best thing OA did for me was to continue practicing the Traditions. I still have meetings to attend, no matter what the format!

— Edited and reprinted from OA Today newsletter, St. Louis Bi-State Area Intergroup, April 2016

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