By Loretta Gillespie
The twice a week Overeaters Anonymous meetings begin as all do with the Serenity Prayer.
Overeaters Anonymous focuses on physical, spiritual and emotional self-awareness. Literature presented to new members states: “We of Overeaters Anonymous have made a discovery. At the very first meeting we attended, we learned that we were in the clutches of a dangerous illness, and that willpower, emotional health and self-confidence, which some of us had once possessed, were no defense against it.”
Members meet at the Carriage House at Grace Episcopal Church. They have been members for time periods ranging from one to seven years. Those at a recent Thursday evening meeting have achieved gratifying success through the program, loosing from 44 pounds in two years, to 80 pounds in seven years.
Meetings are informal, dress is casual, and conversation is lively and informative. There is no “leader” as they discourage any class distinction; everyone is an equal and valued member of the assembly.
At a recent meeting the group was in the middle of an ongoing discussion of the Seven Deadly Sins as identified in Step Four of the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous.”
The “Sin” which was tonight’s topic was Pride. There was much debate over the meaning of the word, and what it meant to each individual there.
The OA members in attendance contributed many quotes that they collected over the past week in their quest for knowledge about their addiction to food, and their spiritual journey of recovery thus far.
“When I stop denying the truth, it looses its power to destroy me,” read one member.
“I do the footwork, God does for me what I cannot do for myself, ” read another.
The nationally recognized group is not a “diet and calories” club.
They do not endorse any particular plan of eating. Instead they offer experience, strength and hope, and then let each member find the method that works best for them.
Some find that logging their daily food consumption is the best road to awareness of how much they take in.
They share other tips and information about what has worked for them to combat the compulsion to over-eat.
OA members give each other support in many ways. They listen, offer guidance, and hold each other accountable with love and kindness.
They share their thoughts and feelings, but are careful not to voice “opinions,” which was another topic under discussion. The quote about this word was,” Nothing contributes more to peace of soul, than to have no opinions at all.”
They congratulate each other on the successes they have made over the past week, and they reinforce each other with encouragement for the week ahead.
Members of OA learn that “Emotional balance leads to a healthier life style and soon we are eating for fuel, not fulfillment. Healthy foods stock our kitchens and junk food becomes a dim memory. Often health issues are resolved as we are able to partake in a more active life style.”
Attendance waxes and wanes from time to time; mostly there are five or six in the Thursday night meetings. Sometimes there are drop-ins, and everyone is welcome. There are no dues or fees.
The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. No matter who you are or how grave your emotional complications; you are an OA member the minute you declare yourself. They want new members to realize that, “You are not alone anymore,” they say.
The group meets at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, at the Carriage House at Grace Episcopal Church. Meetings last for about an hour. For more information, please contact Arlene Nunn at 775-8491.
The World Service Office of Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. can be reached at 1-505-891-2664, and their website is; www.overeatersanonymous.org
By Loretta Gillespie