Multiple Gifts of OA

by Alan S.

I joined OA 25+ years ago have been as much as 150 pounds overweight. I hated being fat and knew I couldn’t stop binging and overeating. I was blessed to find a step sponsor who guided me through OA and at the same time found the OA-HOW program that disciplined me in working a very clean weighed and measured food plan combined with a daily commitment to reading program literature, writing, sponsor calls and daily program calls (three or more a day). This led to abstinence, getting to goal weight for over twenty years (though not all back to back, the longest run was 14 years and other times in the one to two years time frame).

That said, the reason I have been coming back for so long is for the multiple gifts of OA. The fellowship and the community of safety and support is a gift I value and cherish. As a child I lost my dad as an infant and was raised by my mom and grandmother who were my world as a child. When I was 12 my grandmother had a stroke and soon died. That triggered a deep depression in my mom, and when I was 13 she overdosed on sleeping pills, and I lost her as a mother (though she didn’t die she was institutionalized and I went into foster care). From that point on I felt deeply alone in the world. My child soul yearned for a sense of family to protect and guide me in life but it wasn’t there. As my heart cried out for help it fell on a deaf world. I can recall in school I would doodle the word HELP in my notebook barely aware I was doing it and then look down at the paper to see it written hundreds of times. I filled volumes with the word HELP but nobody heard it. So the only way I knew to get help was to go to the refrigerator and gain 170 pounds over a few years.

I tell you this so that you can hear that when I came to OA people for the first time heard my cry and opened their arms and hearts to create the community I lost as a child. In my 25-plus years in OA I have made close friends and learned that family is not a function of your biological kin but rather the people you choose to share life’s journey with. The greatest surprise gift of OA is a space where my heart can be authentic and safe. The woman who 12th stepped me into OA is decades later my sister of choice and I continue to grow my OA family every time I pick up the phone or talk to somebody at a meeting.