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Losses and Gains

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Tradition Eight: Overeaters Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.


I am a professional person on several fronts. I have various public personae. I am a person of “wisdom” and knowledgeable about many things, like a trivia guru. I also have worn many masks.

None of this, however, serves my participation in and appreciation for Overeaters Anonymous. Often, in fact, the professional and public side of my life gets in the way of my honesty and humility, qualities so essential for my abstinence and recovery in OA.

For example, when I first came to OA, I thought it was ignorant and irrational for people to say, “Fire your HP if it doesn’t work for you and hire another.” I was also wary of people who were friendly and open without knowing me. Somehow, I assumed my thought processes were better than others’ because I had more professional knowledge and experience.

You know, all of that was a ruse, a mask, a cover-up! It was a fortification mentality, a way to keep from admitting my powerlessness. I was powerless over my disease, unable to control my life, and unwilling to surrender to an outside Power bigger than myself. It was not until I could say inside, “Mr. Self, knock down that wall,” that my fortification could begin to crumble.

Yes, I’ve lost more than 40 pounds (18 kg) in OA. More important, though, I’ve broken through a self-decreed importance that defined and colored my world for many years and kept me distant from many people. Because I was so distant, I was removed from people’s love, concern, support, and help. Because I was not connected, I was unaware of the power of feelings, the strength of dialogue, and the worth of sharing. Because I had become so isolated, I had no hope of healing.

Imagine: if an individual in OA can gain so much by becoming “non-professional,” how much our whole organization of Overeaters Anonymous gains by remaining person-centered, recovery-minded, and nonprofessionally oriented?

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

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