In a dictionary, “family” can be defined in several ways: people occupying the same house, relatives, a tribe or clan, or a group sharing common features. Metaphorically speaking, we all belong to the “House of OA.” We all are related through the disease of compulsive eating.
A thesaurus may compare “family” to a fellowship or group that is close, friendly, intimate, confidential, or kindred. That sure sounds like the experience, strength, and hope offered by our OA family. I associate so closely with OA this way, and also with the Twelfth Step Within Committee.
Just a few months after joining OA in 2001 (my first miracle), my husband and I moved to Heidelberg, Germany, which was exciting, but scary too—I didn’t want to lose my newfound OA Fellowship. Well, never fear, HP is here! We were in the only city in all of Germany that had an English-speaking OA group (my second miracle). That small-but-friendly meeting immediately felt familiar. These were my people.
I learned we were part of the Region Nine English Language Service Board, and pretty soon my OA family expanded when conferences, workshops, and service positions allowed me to meet kindred spirits all over Europe, the USA, and the Middle East. Region Nine ELSB even hosts a yearly retreat in a castle! Service helped me come to a deep understanding: Together we get better. Although I was far from home, I had my OA family; they knew me, loved me, and helped me as we stuck together and recovered together. Now I’m back in the USA, and as a Region Eight Twelfth Step Within Committee member, I try to share that recovery.
OA’s Twelfth Step Within Handbook says: “Anyone who is abstinent and working his or her own recovery can do this service. No special qualifications are necessary; only willingness is needed” (p. 1), and “We can all help carry the message of recovery through abstinence and working the Steps by 1) being well ourselves; 2) giving service, sponsorship, and friendship; 3) encouraging membership retention; and 4) attending meetings and OA events” (p. 2). These Twelfth Step Within principles apply everywhere.
I’ve always believed gifts and miracles bear responsibilities. This March will be my fifteenth OA birthday, and when I look back on my miraculous recovery, I realize the Twelfth Step Within concept is what it’s all about. Everyone in OA can reach out with “carefrontation” to other members who are struggling. Just think what can happen when each one of us does.
So, I challenge you, my OA family: Let’s all work the Steps, receive a spiritual awakening, practice the OA Principles in all our affairs, and reach out to give the OA message of recovery to compulsive eaters in our groups and service bodies. You may be the one helped most.
Yours in blessed recovery,
~ Chris J., Huntsville, Alabama USA
From e-Lifeline, November/December 2016
December 12th is Twelfth Step Within Day!
Twelfth Step Within was created to strengthen Overeaters Anonymous by sharing information and ideas that generate recovery within the Fellowship. Twelfth Step Within does not focus on attracting new members – though new members are always welcome to partake in all fellowship activities – it explicitly supports the ones we already have. Twelfth Step Within Day gives those of us who wish to share our recovery a chance to do the service of carrying the message. It gives those of us who are still struggling a chance to infuse our program work with experience, strength and hope.