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Give Love A Chance

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When I attended my first OA meeting, I was beyond nervous, and I was overwhelmed with debilitating shame. Overweight since age 7, I had tried every diet and magical fix available. Each failure chipped away at what little self-esteem I had, and the “mean girl” in my head would remind me that I was worthless and ultimately unlovable. As I walked into the meeting that morning, the mean girl was telling me I was wasting my time.

Several people were already there, and I was greeted and warmly welcomed. The space was full of comfy seating, and I chose a seat toward the back so I could silently observe. To my dismay the leader sat down about a foot away. “Great,” I thought, “Now everyone will see me.” I had been counting on invisibility so I could sneak out if I didn’t like what I heard. The leader welcomed everyone to the meeting and shared his story.

I was shocked. His admissions were my deep, dark secrets. He talked about his life before program and how powerless he was over his compulsions. The more he revealed, the more uncomfortable I became because it was glaringly obvious I belonged there. Then he spoke about the serenity and abstinence he’d found in OA and how the Twelve Steps had granted him freedom from the prison his life had become.

As others shared, I felt my walls crumbling. These people no longer seemed like strangers. My voice was shaky as I found a little bravery in me and volunteered to share. With eyes downcast, I repeated the harsh words of the mean girl who’d berated me for over two decades. I truly believed I was worth less than someone skinnier than me and my accomplishments were nullified by my lack of self-control. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I confessed my greatest fears. “I feel so hopeless and alone. Why would anyone love me? I’m just a waste of space.”

After the conclusion of the meeting, members offered hugs and commiserations. They told me to keep coming back and give the program a chance. The warmth, love, and acceptance I felt in that room inspired me to attend more meetings. With each passing day, my gratitude for the people and the program swelled.

Today I have six months of abstinence, a feat I never thought possible. I have a wonderful sponsor. The mean girl in my head is much quieter now and easier to ignore. I am no longer lonely or hopeless; I no longer have to be a slave to my disease. Letting go was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, and I still try to take control sometimes, until I remember there is a power greater than myself to take care of me.

Now it’s my turn to welcome newcomers who may be unsure of themselves. I will never forget my first meeting and the feeling of coming home.

— Hannah L., Portland, Oregon USA

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