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The Biggest Deal

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I am a compulsive overeater. I have been abstinent in Overeaters Anonymous for over twenty-five years by the grace of God, the patience of sponsors, the kindness of friends, and the consistency of meetings. I use the Tools, work the Steps and try to the best of my ability to practice the Principles of this program in all my affairs. As a result of living this life one day at a time, I have children who love and respect me; a job that I’m good at with employers who trust me; friends who depend on me; and self-esteem, self-acceptance, and solid faith in a Power greater than myself that solves my problem and gives me what I need to walk through whatever is in front of me.

When I came to OA, I was scared of everything and angry at the world. I hated myself and had lost all faith that anything would ever change or go right for me again. I was big on the outside and small and shriveled up on the inside. I wanted to die. OA saved my life. Abstinence— from the foods and eating behaviors that kept me from the “sunlight of the Spirit” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 66) and kept me in bondage to my disease—has saved my life and is the most important thing in my life. When my children were little, I’d read to them, but they knew if a call came from a sponsee or a newcomer or from the OA hotline then Mommy had to put the book on hold and take that call. And I wouldn’t have my children if I didn’t have OA.

A few weeks ago, I heard something in a meeting that shook me to my core. In sharing about service above the group level, someone said, “It’s okay if you don’t meet the abstinence requirement. Lots of people are serving as acting treasurer or acting rep when they’re not abstinent. Don’t let that stop you. It’s not a big deal.”

It’s not a big deal? It’s a big deal to me. I know who I was before I put down the food. I know I was not capable of practicing the Principles, working the Steps, or being of service. I was in service to my disease, and it had me 100 percent.

Maybe I was just a low-bottom overeater who wouldn’t be able to show up and be of use without abstinence. Maybe that’s why the comment scared me: because I was imagining myself in those shoes. But maybe it scared me because implicit in “it’s not a big deal to do service without being abstinent” is “it’s not a big deal whether or you are abstinent or not,” and that idea terrifies me.

Decades of abstinence do not make me immune to the disease, to the little voice inside that is quieter now but still chatters away, waiting for a vulnerable moment when I’m hungry, angry, lonely, tired, sick, or feeling sorry for myself. If I let down my guard, if I ease up on my spiritual program of action, if I am not in fit spiritual condition, then that little voice gets loud, it gets powerful, and it gets me.

Overeaters Anonymous saved my life and continues saving my life every day. I would not be abstinent today were it not for the men and women who taught me that abstinence is the most important thing in my life. It is a big deal. It’s the biggest deal. For me, it’s the only deal.

If you are new, please keep coming back. If you are not abstinent, ask your Higher Power for help. Everything you need to get and stay abstinent is in this program. It is possible, one day at a time.

— Anonymous

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