Tradition of the Month: 8 ways to live OA unity every day

1Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.

Is there anyone in our program who doesn’t believe in OA unity? In order to be a listed OA meeting, a group need only meet a precious few requirements. Primarily that it welcomes all compulsive eaters and that it follows the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of OA. This is the most basic unifying principle of OA. It’s everything after that where things get tricky. After all, no one in OA believes in the power of factionalism to arrest our illness.

Whether it’s our disease talking through our pride, or it’s our zeal to share our experience with others, we sometimes get a little off the beaten path. As we do we may find ourselves feeling apart from other members and perhaps even recruiting others to help us make things “right” with our meeting or the program. Thus disunity emerges from a wish to do good.

Here are ways that we can ensure we don’t interrupt the unity of OA and jeopardize our recoveries and those of our fellows. There are many others, but these represent seven common situations that can arise in OA (and all human endeavors).

  1. Let others use the food plan of their choice.
    In the past, OA has been so divided by the question of what food plan is best that factions broke away and formed their own independent recovery program. When we advocate for a specific food plan, we may be making others’ plans “wrong” without even realizing it.
  2. Identify as a willing sponsor.
    The Steps and Traditions of the program are best learned from an informed sponsor. When we raise our hands for sponsorship at a meeting, we create opportunities to pass along the message of OA unity.
  3. Let other do the 12 Steps by whatever means they wish.
    We all have our own path to finding recovery through the 12 Steps. Just because one way works for us or many of us doesn’t make it right for all of us. Besides, it may be that a person needs to do it one way at first and will eventually try it your way. In which case, you may find yourself able to help them.
  4. Let others make mistakes.
    Decades after its inception, it should be clear that no one person can topple OA by making mistakes that violate a Tradition or a part of a meeting format. Take the opportunity to gently remind the mistake maker of the Tradition in play. Most of these mistakes arise from ignorance, not belligerence. Live and let live.
  5. Give those we disagree with the benefit of the doubt.
    Our OA fellows are not enemies or extremists. We’re all trying to get better together, and we’re all going to be sick with this disease for our entire lives.
  6. Keep speculations between our ears.
    When we begin to place motives on people or divine their true intentions, we engage in a form of dishonesty that can be harmful to our abstinence if we let it fester. But gossiping with others about those speculations can lead to rifts between members and lay groundwork for factionalism.
  7. Let God guide the group’s conscience.
    If ever we find ourself rallying consensus and counting votes, we’re politicking rather than seeking God’s will as expressed through our group conscience.
  8. Ask our Higher Power to open our minds and our hearts.
    If we are in intense disagreement with another member, perhaps we are clinging too strongly to our own beliefs. We can ask God to show us why. Better yet, we can ask our HP to show us the question at hand from the other person’s point of view. And even better, we can ask God to show us how to be loving to that person even when we are in disagreement.

In the end, we could surely sum up these and many other ways to adopt a unity stance this way: Practice OA’s 12 Steps and 12 Traditions in all our affairs. If we can embody those principles and practices, we’re going to feel great, our fellows will respond with greater kindness and respect to us, and we will be doing our part to keep OA unity healthy and strong.

Together we get better!!!

Reflections from Unity Day #3

In two previous posts, we’ve dug into things our Unity Day speakers shared. Here’s another, this time a big hunk of hope.

“I don’t have to diet anymore,” one of our speakers said. “My clothes fit from one year to the next.” This was next to impossible to imagine when we were in the throes of our disease—when we ate compulsively, swore we wouldn’t again, and then found ourselves once more at the bottom of a bag, box, or bin of food. We couldn’t envision ourselves at a normal weight, let alone for a year or more.

But OA has allowed this miracle to happen. When we became abstinent, we began to release our excess weight. We saw progress. Sometimes this progress felt awkward because we weren’t used to being thinner. This feeling intensified when others, with the best of intentions, commented on how much better we looked. Buying clothes that fit our newly smaller bodies felt odd too. How many times in our pre-OA lives had we lost some weight and bought new clothing, only to find ourselves unable to wear it when we went back to the food?

Obviously, the idea of being able to wear our clothes one year to the next speaks powerfully about the physical aspect of our recovery. But when considered just a moment longer, and in light of our previous attempts to be rid of the weight, there’s something deeper going on. How does someone who could never lose weight or keep it off, who is addicted to food, now have the power to stay at a normal weight?

Part of the answer is that OA helps us with our emotions. The first bite never occurred in isolation. It could always be traced back to some feeling, some emotion, some discomfort that we had to get relief from. OA’s fellowship and meetings give us safe ways to speak about the highs and lows so that we don’t have to eat when we are, as the slogan goes, happy, mad, sad, or glad.

But our program stresses that this isn’t enough to keep us safe from our own addictive minds. Our literature reminds us that no human power can save us from the first bite. Without something more powerful than us in our lives, we are doomed to eat again. Why? Because people are people, and at some time human beings will fail us. In other words, we can’t trust ourselves or others with our recovery. None of us has the needed power to keep ourselves or others food-sober. If we did, we would have done it a long time ago!

Staying in our clothes year after year is a reflection of our ability to be open-minded about allowing a Higher Power into our lives. A Higher Power is the only thing that can keep us from that first awful bite. Our own willpower is not enough, but our Higher Power will augment our willpower so that we can avoid eating compulsively. If we ask for the help, that is. OA’s Twelve Steps are a proven method for going from the spiraling hopelessness of compulsive eating to the sureness that God will keep us in the same clothes year after year if we only step aside and let God run the show.

Once we invite God into our lives, the fellowship takes on new meaning. We look for ways to help other OA members, and we share the hope of our recovery. We demonstrate to others, by wearing the same clothes year after year, the power of our program.

Reflections from Unity Day #2: Surrender

In our previous post, we started to look back on what we heard at Unity Day. Here’s another gem from our speakers.

Compliance, they said, is not the same as surrender. Before we came to the program, many of us would comply with a diet program, lose the weight, then gain it all back…with “interest.” Why? Because we were just obeying. We didn’t surrender.

Surrender to what? To a lot of things. Surrender is a process that begins even before we walk in the door. “Step Zero” is surrendering to the idea that we’re in so much pain we have to do something about it. So we go to a meeting. That’s as far as some of us get because we may not yet be ready to surrender the idea that we can control our eating. Or our life. That’s the surrender of Step One, to the hopelessness of our disease and the damage it does to us.

As we hear others talk about their recovery in spiritual terms, however, we come upon another place to surrender. For many of us, Step Two feels like game over. We won’t go down the spiritual path because we’ve had negative experiences with religion, and we don’t want to admit we are insane. We might be able to surrender to the idea that God exists and has the power to help us, but we may not be convinced God cares about our food. We may believe that a Higher Power cares about others but not about ourselves. We might be able to surrender to the idea that we are bonkers about food, but at least that insanity is our own. Admitting to all of Step Two can be a lot to swallow, and we may need time, perhaps a lot of it, to fully surrender ourselves to it. Some of us require more “research” into the pain of compulsive eating before we reach a place of surrender. But that surrender must be ours.

Then comes Step Three with what feels like a monumental surrender. “We turned our will and our lives over to the care of God….” Even if we can surrender to Steps One and Two, we’re in a tough spot. Will we still be ourselves? Can I really trust a Higher Power? With my very life? Here’s the catch, though, we’ve trusted ourselves, and it’s gotten us misery. We turned our will over to food and let it drag us around to the fridge, to minimarts, to restaurants, to garbage cans, to other people’s plates, and worse. This was the best we could do with what we had, but now it’s time to try something else or, more accurately, Someone Else. We decide to surrender our will and our lives because it’s our last, best chance to live a life worth living. We didn’t come to OA on a winning streak. We didn’t sit through meetings to stay sick with this disease while others got better. We surrender to Step Three because the alternative is continued pain. It’s not until later, after we’ve tried it for a while, that we learn how joyful and how much easier life can be when we aren’t trying to run the show.

Merely complying with the Steps because a sponsor says we need a Higher Power just prolongs the issue. Pretending to turn our will and lives over to God doesn’t allow the solution to fully take hold. Even if we must “fake it ’til we make it” and “act as if,” we find at some point that we’ve stopped struggling and that even more surprisingly we’ve started accepting, if not downright believing, that this solution will work for us.

Unity Day 2015 Coming to the Seacoast

Unity Through DiversityIf you haven’t heard, Seacoast OA is hosting Unity Day in our area. It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to do so, and we’ve got a dynamite day  planned. Details below!

What is Unity Day?
A day to recognize the strength of the OA fellowship worldwide. As the first Tradition says—”Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon OA unity.” The Traditions, the solution we find in OA, and our group conscience bind us together in unity and common purpose. “I put my hand in yours and together we can do what we could never do alone!”

Who’s invited?
Everyone! Come one, come all! Newcomers, returning members, and long-timers alike! A great opportunity for sponsors and sponsees. Bring a program buddy for a fun and inspiring afternoon.

How will Unity Day help my recovery?

  • You’ll hear three diverse experiences of attaining and keeping the abstinence that helps unify us, with speakers from Intergroups in the nearby region.
  • You’ll join OAs worldwide at 2:30 PM for a powerful moment of reflection that reaffirms the strength inherent in OA’s unity.
  • You’ll enjoy a special focus on our common solution to compulsive eating with a workshop on Steps 1, 2, and 3, guided by a member of the NH Intergroup.

When will it be?
Saturday, February 28th, 2015 from 1 PM to 4 PM.
SNOW DATE IF NECESSARY: March 14th, 2015 from 1 PM to 4 PM.

Where will it be?
Portsmouth Community Campus
100 Campus Drive
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Is there a fee or registration?
No, there is no fee and no registration.

Is there a flyer I can share with members at my meetings?
Yes, you can download it by clicking on the 2015 Unity Day flyer, and you will find it on our front page and under the Meetings menu above.