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Young, Now Hopeful

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I always have to applaud newcomers because coming into my first OA meeting was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was 15 years old when I started, and I had a monstrous fear of being judged or laughed at. I could already hear what other members would say about me: “You’re too young! What could you possibly contribute to our group?”

I used to be, and still can be, very critical of myself, wanting nothing short of perfection. When the stress of maintaining perfection reached a critical peak, food was what I used to cope. A close relative (an OA member) suggested OA to me, and I dismissed it. Instead, I justified why OA would not be the place for me and why the program would not work. Truthfully, I did not want to go to meetings with my relative because then all my faults would be known.

I finally reached the bottom of despair. I was done being miserable and would go to any lengths to be happy, even if it meant going to a meeting with my relative. I swallowed my pride and went to my first meeting. For one of the first times in my life, I was able to be open and honest about my food addiction and listen to—actually listen to, not just hear—the experience, strength, and hope of other members. At my first meeting, I saw a hope that I never could’ve found in a payand-weigh program. That was four years ago. I left that night feeling like I’d just bought a new pair of shoes, and I’ve been coming back to meetings ever since.

Part of OA’s magic is our tradition of togetherness. I realized at my first meeting that I was not alone. Others have felt the same struggles I’ve experienced. What’s more, I do not have to fight my illness alone. God gave me friends in OA to help me recover. Without OA, I might never have been able to grasp true serenity and a reprieve from food obsession. Even if I fall, my OA family gladly gives me a hand so I can stand on my own two feet again, instead of judging or condemning me.

Today, I can greet newcomers with hope. I have been in their shoes and know it isn’t easy to come to a first meeting. I can give them the love and acceptance that was given to me when I was a newcomer. Recovery has been an arduous journey, one that was impossible for me to do alone. With a little help from my OA friends, together we can make it! — Edited and reprinted from Looking Up newsletter, Tri-County Intergroup, November 2014

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