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Not What I Was

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I always suffered from feelings of not belonging and not being good enough, and I was always the biggest one in my class. When I was in sixth grade, we had to be weighed, and the whole class knew I was 250 pounds (113 kg). I wished they had hit me with a baseball bat—it would have hurt less. The whole time I was growing up, doctors gave me diets. They might as well have given me four feathers and said, “Fly!” I weighed over 400 pounds (181 kg) at my high school graduation. It would be another nine years until I walked into my first OA meeting, and by that time, only God knew my weight. My pants size was 64 and my coat size was 65.

A colleague at work told me about OA. She told me every day until I agreed to go to a meeting. At the door looking in, I saw about seventy people, and 95 percent of them were women. I was ready to leave, but my colleague took my arm and walked me in. The speaker told her story of what it was like when she was larger, what she found in OA, and what she became. She passed around pictures to show the progress from her top weight to the person standing before us. She must have seen my pain and my lost look; I heard, “Call me if you want to live.” I did. I called her every day for four years and was the first man she ever worked with.

We read the Big Book and talked about it. We worked the Steps. I went to as many meetings as possible. Service was setting up chairs, putting out literature, making coffee, and putting everything away. After a year I had gone from pants size 64 to 46. I started doing more service: I was an intergroup rep and the person who edited and mailed the newsletter; I represented the region as Vice Chair and Chairperson; at WSBC I served on a bylaws committee.

All these forms of service gave me much more than I gave. I gained selfworth. As my body became smaller my inner person grew. I received the power to do new things for the first time, things that were beyond my wildest dreams. I drove to region with people I’d just met, spoke before a room full of hundreds of people at WSBC, went on my first plane ride, and went dancing. It’s possible to do things with OA members that I could never do alone. At age 29, I went on my first date. I’m living life on life’s terms now with the ability to face whatever comes my way and with people to help me work through it.

“Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless you and keep you—until then” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 164).

— Paul R., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA

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