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Giving and Living

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When I arrived at my first OA meeting in August 1999, a member greeted me at the door. When I walked into the meeting room, I saw OA literature laid out on the table. One woman sat and talked to me until the meeting started. The meeting started promptly and everyone paid attention to the meeting leader, who shared her story. I heard everything I needed to hear to know I was in the right place for me, and I couldn’t wait to leave.

As I was hurrying toward the door after the meeting, another woman crossed the room to show me her fat pictures. She made me laugh and told me she hoped to see me the next week.

After that first meeting, I dove in. I got a sponsor and committed my food every morning at 6:10 a.m. I followed her suggestions, one of which was to decide on a service to provide for the group. When I told her I hadn’t been around long enough, she told me to try anyway. She said start by attending more and different meetings. I didn’t believe that just showing up was a service, but I did what was suggested.

After six months, a new meeting opened about twenty minutes from my home. My sponsor suggested it would be a wonderful service for me to support the new meeting by attending. When I walked into the meeting on its first night, several women were having a business meeting. As I took my seat, the woman who had shown me her fat pictures asked how many months of abstinence I had. I had just passed the six-month mark. She smiled broadly, “That’s perfect! We need an intergroup rep, and the requirement is six months. You’re our girl!” I stared at her like a deer in headlights. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I go to intergroup, and you can ride with me until you learn the ropes.”

That’s how service started for me. Twelve-plus abstinent years later, more than 120 pounds (54 kg) lighter, and much more spiritually and emotionally fit, I am still providing service to OA.

When I serve, I receive more than I ever imagined. In sponsoring others, I am granted the joy of giving what has been so freely given to me. Guiding someone through the Steps, I gain insight and strength from every moment. Sharing my story, I am constantly reminded I am powerless over food. Each time I talk about my recovery, I remember that together we can do what we could never do alone.

It was scary the first time I went to intergroup, chaired the retreat committee, and represented my intergroup at the Region Seven Business Conference and then at World Service Business Conference. But when I look back, I am reminded of the friends I made, the hope I received when I met people with more than twenty years of abstinence, and the confidence I felt when I was asked to serve on the Region Seven Convention Committee.

Again, what I get back is more than I ever imagined. I learn to laugh, accept, be patient with others and myself, collaborate, listen, compromise, and love. I am reminded that being human is okay, and when I open my heart to working with others—the same way I opened my heart to the suggestions of my first sponsor—I receive strength, courage, trust, and faith. With each service I give to OA, I learn to live a little bit more.

— Edited and reprinted from The Road to Recovery newsletter, South Central Pennsylvania Intergroup, March/April 2012

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