Fallen Star

I was the self-appointed poster child for OA: I had physical recovery, I performed a lot of service, and I had several sponsees. My phone rang day and night. I was asked to speak at marathons and retreats. I wasn’t anonymous, and I didn’t want to be anonymous – I was a star.

I was lacking in self-esteem, and OA offered a platform where I could succeed and show my worth. When I attained a normal body weight and performed more than my fair share of service, recognition came my way. People looked up to me! I was finally perched on a higher rung of that imaginary ladder of worth. Self- righteousness only strengthened my grip.

Members began to look my way whenever a service position needed to be filled. By then, my life was full to bursting with service, family, work, and the fixer-upper home I’d purchased.

Then at one business meeting, a question hung in the air, needing an opinion. I always had at least three opinions on the same issue, but this time I didn’t oer any of them – I leaned back in my chair and remained silent, letting someone else take the lead. It was the start of humility.

Building a persona at meetings takes a lot of energy. I imagined myself better than others because that was the only way I felt good enough. Imagine the effort it took to keep up such a sick standard! How you continued to love me defies all reason, but you did.

When the inevitable fall came, I tossed away my abstinence and sank into a three-year, 70-pound (32-kg) relapse. I continued to come to meetings, fearing what would happen if I didn’t. My shame must have been palpable to others in the group, and it took every last shred of courage to show up. Ironically, the only member who ever sneered at my relapse was the other “star” in the group. The rest of you loved me through it.

When I see other OA members repeating my mistakes, I appreciate their willingness to give, and I hope they learn balance before they fizzle out and fall away from our Fellowship, unable to sustain endless service commitments and perfect back-to-back abstinence. I am aware that some members (the “experts”) want to influence decision-making based on the length of their membership. I only know because I did that too.

We can only love the stars blazing in our meetings, make our own decisions, and keep our “expertise” to ourselves. We all have one voice and one vote, and none is more substantial than another. We are all trusted servants, not self-appointed leaders. I’m grateful that OA taught me the difference.

— Cynthia W., Wickenburg, Arizona USA