Overeaters AnonymousYesterday I returned to Overeaters Anonymous after a seven year absence…which was preceeded by some 23 years of fairly continuous participation.

Please note that during my extended absence from OA that I never stopped working the 12 Steps. Between my involvement with One Bite Fellowship (a group I started especially for MALE food addicts) and participation in a couple of other 12 Step communities (in person and online), I continued working on my recovery.

I stopped attending face-to-face OA meetings for a number of reasons. In 20/20 hindsight, I now believe that most of the problems I left over involved important issues. Seven years ago I believed that ALL of the reasons I left over involved “serious issues”.  Having attended OA meetings in many cities around the US (in Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky), I still believe that most of the reasons I left the OA fellowship had to do with problems that are unique to the fellowship here in Louisville, Kentucky.

When I write about OA, I’d like to believe that I know a lot about this organization, having spent over half my life in this particular 12 Step fellowship. Yeah…I’m 50 years old and attended my first OA meeting when I was a wee lad of 20 years old. Where did my youth go? It was spent in 12 Step meetings! 😀

The meeting that I attended yesterday wasn’t what I’d call “terrible”. In fact, it was pretty good for an OA meeting here in Louisville. Then again, I’ve attended some truly AWFUL OA meetings in this town over the years! Meetings where men were bashed. Meetings where the 12 Traditions were repeatedly violated. Meetings where I could have sworn that the fellowship should have been re-named “Excuses Anonymous” (due to the lack of recovery being shared by those in attendance).

Some of the things about Louisville OA meetings that used to drive me NuTs were present in yesterday’s meeting. My Short List: 20 – 25 minutes worth of readings being read at the start of the meeting  (Why can’t these people in Louisville simply follow the SUGGESTED MEETING FORMAT offered by OA’s World Service Office? YAWN!!!), a request to “NOT mention foods” by their ACTUAL names (for fear we would trigger another member to OVEReat compulsively — PLEASE!!!) and sharing about food plans and physical recovery (both during and after the meeting) that DISTORTS the OA message on these matters.

I plan on continuing to attend OA meetings for the time being (One Meeting At A Time), while remembering to “Take what I like and leave the rest” — or ar least “NOT OVEReat compulsively over the rest”.

Instead of the “larded-up” meetings here in Louisville, I much prefer just NO NONSENSE OA where the REAL message of this wonderful fellowship is CLEARLY and CONCISELY expressed! The OA meesage is NOT one that encourages FEAR and/or RIGIDITY about “sugar and flour”. It is NOT (and NEVER has been) a message of promoting rigid food plans. And the Suggested Meeting Format from OA World Service Office has PLENTY of essential readings that do not distort how recovery works.

Some positive things I experienced at yesterday’s meeting include…

I appreciated the warm welcome I received at yesterday’s OA meeting! The degree of warmth I experienced is a BIG improvement over the ice cold welcome I’ve observed being extended to newcomers at many an OA meeting I had attended in previous years. I hope that I extend an equally friendly welcome to newcomers that I experienced yesterday!

The topic (actually FOUR topics to choose from) were based on topics found in actual OA-approved literature! And what members shared was actually ON TOPIC! This is a BIG improvement over MANY meetings I’d attended previously.

If you read my previous journal entry about how I view my recovery journey as an “A La Carte Experience”, then you’ll hopefully understand why I wont (I did at one time, but wont just for today) put “all of my eggs” in the “OA basket”. Some OA members may believe that OA is ALL they need to recover or that they have (and follow?) the ONE food plan that I “should” be following (Please don’t “should all over me or others” — Just for today!). They are free to believe what they believe to be true…Just as I am free to believe what I believe to be true.

My recovery journey is influenced by numerous sources and OA is just one of them. My Christian faith guides my spiritual recovery. Weight Watchers offers a positive, sane influence in dealing with food and emotional issues that trigger overeating (At least at Weight Watchers meetings we CAN mention foods by their SPECIFIC names! and NEVER get lectured about the EVIL of “sugar and flour”. The philosphy that guides my One Bite Fellowship has been heavily influenced by my OA, AA, Al-Anon and Narcotics Anonymous recovery. And I can’t emphasize how important it is for me to TRUST the “earth people” who help guide my physical recovery, including my doctors, physical therapists, diabetes educators and dieticians.