Peggy (mom) : The first time I went to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, I could not begin to understand how they were going to help me. First of all, I wasn’t religious…at all. I was spiritual but organized religion made me angry and uncomfortable. ALL of the OA meetings I researched seemed to take place in churches. I had gotten out of overeating rehab and made the commitment to go to 90 meetings in 90 days (or as many as I could) but I didn’t think I could stomach even the first one.
I drove 45 minutes away from home…good idea, didn’t want anyone to recognize me…as if I were Angelina Jolie or something! I walked up to the glass doors and saw a sign on the door that said, “OA meeting in prayer room to the left”. Oh I did NOT want to go in that room. I glanced inside and there were only about 5 people in there….some of them were huge, a couple were normal sized. Did this not work? Why were they still huge if they were in OA? Why were the thin ones there? Just to laugh at me? They were sitting on a couch and a few chairs all around in a circle. There were paintings of Jesus all around the room (this was a church afterall). Deep breath….just sit down and no one will notice.
The leader for the day irritated me from the get go. She was weird and she was being overly friendly. Leave Me Alone. I just want to disappear into this couch and have you ignore me. She hugged me. Yes, she HUGGED me. I don’t even know you! Get away from me! She then handed me a laminated piece of paper and asked me to read the Twelve Steps outloud to the group. I later learned this wasn’t typically given to someone at their first real meeting but I hadn’t told them I was a total newcomer so they had no idea. I felt really awkward…..before I read the Twelve Steps, I had to introduce myself with my first name followed by “I’m a compulsive overeater”. I knew I was one but saying it to a group of people I met 60 seconds earlier seemed a little daunting…but never one to step down from a challenge, I said it, “I’m Peggy, I’m a compulsive overeater”…they quickly replied, “hello Peggy”. How goofy is that? I read the steps and then breathed a sigh of relief. I guess I was owning up to my addiction. I really was a compulsive overeater…it was official.
After the leader and a few others were done reading text that seemed like rules of the road or something, we started reading out of the “Big Book”. Now, this is a common name for what is formally called Alcoholics Anonymous. I knew the Big Book was the basis of most 12 step meetings so I wasn’t shocked to see it but I did wonder what people would say when the text talked about drinking too much or being sober…would they substitute the words “overeating” and being “abstinent”?
This particular group read the book “as is” and didn’t substitute anything. After someone was done reading, they would speak about the passage or about something on their mind. I found out later this is called “sharing” and the one thing you don’t do is talk back or give advice. You just let them talk and talk…..nodding your head but saying N O T H I N G!
How is this going to help? I have so much advice for these people and they are never going to know it! “They” (the powers that be) really need to allow crosstalk…..these people need help, I need help….I want advice….let them talk to me for goodness sakes! No, this is NEVER going to work…..how could it? It certainly isn’t the way I would organize OA…..and of course, I knew better than all those people who had years of recovery!
The meeting ended after about one hour and closed with the serenity prayer. You’ve probably seen it before and you will know it by heart if you go to a 12 step program:
The others gave me a “Newcomers Packet” with all their first names and phone numbers on it. I don’t understand? Isn’t this supposed to be Overeaters ANONYMOUS???? Why are you giving me your phone numbers? This is so confusing………I hoped I would make it to another meeting but I wasn’t sure if it would happen. I wasn’t sure at all…….