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Lifeline Through the Years My Name Is Judy . . . I Am One Year Old On February 4, 1967, I was one year old. Like everything else (me). Over a period of years, I felt I wasn’t worth much, and I I do, I did this the hard way. It took me three years and three certainly didn’t like Judy much. I watch this one day at a time months to make one year. This is how it happened. OA found now, aware that I am no better and no worse than anyone else. I me on November 11, 1963. I knew after one meeting that this know now that I have the same opportunity as others to suc- was for me. I had tried to lose weight all the other ways. Diets— ceed in this world. Just have a goal and work towards it, one day I had enough to have them bound into a good size book. They at a time. I don’t blame my family or friends anymore, but I were all good diets and were well-planned ones, but after a few strive for progress continually. Twenty-four years ago, I was a days on a diet, I knew they had been planned for someone with high-school drop out. I finally finished and got my diploma in more willpower than I had or have today. After that first O.A. 1965, and now I am going to night college. I no longer get stuck meeting, I started an eating plan and made it for almost 11 in the school-desk chair, one of the reasons I didn’t finish months, then I slipped. That slip was followed by a series of school earlier. slips. I never let go of O.A. for I knew if I did, I would gain back I was 250 pounds plus when I found O.A. Today I weigh 125 the 60 pounds I had already lost. So for almost a year, I played pounds. From a size twenty-two and a half to a size 12, but around at working the problems, not the program. Then on more than this, I found peace of mind. For the first time in my February 3rd, 1966, I came home from a meeting and knew that life I can accept Judy. What I don’t like about myself, I attempt it would work; all I had to do was work the steps, one day at a to change one day at a time. For the first time I can be friends time, and I could with God’s help. with Judy; no more battles, for today. Having been fat for 25 years, wanting so much to lose I want to give thanks here to O.A. and all the members. A weight, and the diets I had tried, I finally became aware of what very special thanks to the founders, whom I choose to think I had to do. It wasn’t only the extra pounds I had carried around were picked by God to lead the way, for when I reached out for but the lonely lost person I was, the mean and miserable soul I help, it was there. With the help of God, the O.A. members and had become. At last I found I was not alone anymore. the O.A. program, I am a normal size and growing in normal As a child in school I never applied myself, so I never did thinking. I believe together we will make it. I hope all of you are very well. I blamed myself . . . if only I wasn’t so stupid. I blamed making it today. everyone and then put all the blame for all my bad luck on Judy — Reprinted from The OA Lifeline, April 1967 — Reprinted from Lifeline, June 1972 1 Morning Prayer As I open my eyes in the morning From out of the shadows of sleep, The promise of day is a-borning, And the promise I made to keep. I’ve learned through frustration and sorrow To give up my will and my way. No more do I promise, “Tomorrow—.” I promise now, “Just for today —.” In the quiet of morning I hand Him My stubbornness, ego, and pride, To my Maker as I understand Him, And I know I shall not be denied. “One day at a time” I surrender My willfulness, asking, in prayer, An exchange for His comfort so tender, And know that His comfort is there. And so, for these twenty-four hours, As morn’s rosy light fills the sky, I abandon my weak, self-willed powers To the Power that’s Greater than I. — Jean R., San Rafael, reprinted from The Bulletin, August 1964 Convention Song 1968 From Our O.A. Convention Show . . . May be sung to the tune of “I Have a Dream” from “The King — Reprinted from Lifeline, June 1973 and I” I have dreamed of a life worth living, Full of faith, free of doubt and fear. I have dreamed of a world of giving, Now at last it’s all here. I could feel that I had no Power, I needed strength from a source above. When I walked into this place And I looked into each face I discovered the meaning of What it’s like to be truly loved. So lost and afraid, I came to O.A. When all my hopes had flown. The first thing my newfound friends did say Was “You are not alone.” I had searched for a Higher Power, Knowing not what to do or say. Then at last, in my darkest hour You taught me how to pray. How to ask for my own forgiveness, Sacrifice for another’s need. Now at last I truly see — Region Seven, Philadelphia Area Intergroup Retreat, Pennsylvania Miracles are here for me, USA, November 1999, reprinted from Recovery into the Millennium, Most of all I’ve come to believe Lifeline 40th anniversary commemorative booklet, 2000 “As we give, so shall we receive!” — Reprinted from The OA Lifeline, June 1968 2 To The Newcomer For a long time now, I have been concerned by things I’ve to yourself, that’s up to you, also. But I guarantee one thing—if been hearing in meetings from both newcomers and “slippers.” you ever decide to let it out, there will be someone there to lis- Over and over I hear them say, “I guess it takes what it takes” or ten—not laugh or scoff or put you down, but listen and share “I’ll just keep coming back ‘til I get it.” I must say at this point, with you their strength. thank God they keep coming back, for the newcomer/slipper is I have been abstaining from compulsive overeating now for the lifeline of this program. We need the new blood. And I, for better than two years and maintaining my weight for that time. one, am grateful for their return. The fact that I was once 280 lbs and am now 160 lbs is not a big My reason for being concerned, however, is that they are deal. The fact that I have been able to keep it off for over 25 unaware of a simple fact. Whatever they hope to get from this months is to me the miracle of this program. program, they already have. They got it the first time they You can have it the same as I have, by applying the princi- walked into a meeting and heard someone share their experi- ples of this program, the same principles that were given to me ence, strength and hope with them. on April 17, 1968. But I thought, “I’ll get it someday.” Yes, I had a That’s it! That’s all you get! The tools of this program as laid slip on Dec. 31, 1968. All I learned from it was that if I want to out in Chapter Five of the big book. The rest is up to you. Yes, eat, I’m going to eat! This program can’t stop me. Only I can, YOU! It’s up to You to get phone numbers, to get an abstinence, with the help of my Higher Power. to get a sponsor. No one in this world is going to pull out of you That’s the simple fact. Now, what are you going to do about anything you don’t want to say. No one is going to pick up your your problem????? phone and dial it for you. If you’re hurting and want to keep it GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP COMING BACK. — Marty W., reprinted from Lifeline, June 1971 Dear Lifeliners: You are just that! A lifeline to communication, help and Please, more of you write your stories for the Lifeline. I can friendship. see now why it means so much. It represents us all over the I lived in the L.A. area—out in Newhall for almost five years— States. and I never really realized what we had. Just a few ideas I’d like to see happen—a different state have I was always going to a story in each month, a write, but felt it would story of someone who has seem forward when I didn’t had a maintaining weight, know how to write for pub- someone who is strug- lic printing. gling. And, most of all, But remember go to how about a question and any lengths? Well I do. I live answer column? You in a very small town, with could also give address of no O.A., no telephone calls, where to order and cost, no meetings, no O.A. and address of where to friends close, and it would mail your stories. It would be so easy to feel sorry. I’ve be a reminder to us all to had so much experience! write. Then a friend sent me a I will eagerly look for- June Life1ine and I read ward to July Lifeline and I “loners” 1etter and kept think I’ve been long- thinking if I don’t work O.A. winded enough, for this to the very best of my abil- time. In the near future I ity, one day at a time, I can will write some of my be in the same boat. — Region One, a Lifeline meeting group, Wasilla, Alaska USA, 1999, story in O.A. and how There is O.A. in Fresno reprinted from Recovery into the Millennium, Lifeline 40th anniversary much it has changed my and I plan to start Tuesday commemorative booklet, 2000 life, in every way, and so morning. I will be willing much for the better. There to drive forty miles or more each way. So do be grateful and take may be a lot less of me, but it’s a lot better quality than it was. advantage and support your meetings, make your calls, keep Life is for living with joy, pain and growing—all in their your abstinence. It means so much to know you’re there and proper place and each day I say the first three steps and remind that you are. You do show O.A. works. I loved the convention myself—“This is the first day of the rest of my life.” and already I’m putting change aside to help me come next — Ruby, San Joaquin, reprinted from Lifeline, August 1972 year. 3 Life Begins at Sixty-Five It has been said an old dog cannot learn new tricks. Well, I The emptiness within is am writing this testimony to contest that assumption. In OA no longer filled with car- anything is possible through the help of our Higher Power. bohydrates, but rather Now, I have been an obese person since childhood, and a with new life. Instead of compulsive overeater since age 13. Over the last 50 years, I food talking to me as came to believe through my own hard personal experiences, before, now OA and the and from what I had read and heard from other sources, that AA literature speak words compulsive overeating was irreversible. So, I have lived with a of understanding and feeling of helplessness and hopelessness for a long time, and in wisdom. I have grown the meantime getting heavier and heavier until I reached the quiet and peaceful within, top weight of 230 pounds. and am developing an At this point, I thought there was simply nothing I could do, interest in exploring my particularly because of my age, but to eat myself to death, until personal relationship I listened to [a] T.V. show in March 1973. Then for the first time with God, and am also in life, I experienced new hope about myself. As soon as I aware of a deepening learned the place of the OA meetings, I attended them regularly sense of a willingness to and frequently. In no time, I took the first three steps, adopted surrender to OA as a way grey sheet, and was immediately working the program, or vice of living for me. — Reprinted from Lifeline, versa. Not only am I aware of July 1971 I have reduced my weight to 170 pounds so far, but more an internal change in important than that is the finding of serenity and contentment myself, but people with whom I work and live and come in con- with the new food plan. I am most grateful that my compulsion tact with, see a new creation. Not only is my personal appear- has been arrested by an act of Divine Providence with the liber- ance improved, but I am viewed as happier looking, and am ation ensuing, and the sense of sheer freedom achieved for the even told my walk is bouncy. Life is, therefore, opening up to a first time in my long life. What a change! Senior Citizen. There is hope for all sufferers. I have been given a new lease on life like I never had before. ., — Hilda P reprinted from Lifeline, September/October 1973 Now That I’m Thin . . . An ex-Seesaw one might ask to what degree my initial expectations as I Club member com- entered the program a year ago have materialized. Have my pares weight loss in problems gone away? Am I a free woman? Let’s take a closer and out of the pro- look. gram. My temper is still not as much under control as I would like it to be. But it’s getting better. My children, husband and friends Like many still do things that annoy me. But my reactions, which were other people, I often in the high-megaton range, are far milder—and they keep walked into OA improving. wanting “only a Food still talks to me, though I haven’t binged. But I’ve diet.” I was con- noticed that it whispers more than it yells. And it’s getting easier vinced that if I to hang on. could lose 50 or 60 So, though my problems are still with me, they have dimin- pounds, all my ished; some greatly, others to a lesser degree. problems would go And I’m thin! away and I would be a free woman. Through the help of many people and a Power outside I honestly don’t know how that delusion could persist when myself, which I need to contact more often, I, who a year ago I had been thin so many times before. I was a charter member could claim very little worth having, can now give to others out of the Seesaw Club: lose 10 pounds, gain 15; lose 20, gain 25. of my growing store of happiness and wellbeing. How could this time be any different? To me, thin is beautiful, even now that it is a reality rather In the course of the past year in OA, many wonderful things than an unattainable fantasy. But thin is not cured. I do not for- have happened to me. I’ve lost 64 pounds of fat which I’ve kept get that for one minute. The disease of compulsive overeating is off for four months. Even better than the weight loss, I’ve shed just as deadly to a thin person as it is to one who is fat. some ugly pounds of character flaws while gaining self-esteem And that seems to sum up this little stock-taking: I’m thin and confidence. I’m proud of myself and my home and family. and I’m making progress—and that’s what keeps me coming No, I’m not perfect by a long shot. I hope never to be. back. Having painted such a glowing picture of myself and OA, ., — K.P Cincinnati, Ohio USA, reprinted from Lifeline, August 1980 4 Great Things He Has Done “Dorothy, I don’t have to tell you. You’re a nurse. You know wanted Him to help me, but I wanted to be in control. How that you are a poor surgical risk. “ could I know that I had it backwards? Through the first three These were the words of my physician after X-rays revealed steps I was able to admit my powerlessness over food and two large gallstones. He was referring to my obesity. But I knew release it to Him. This has worked so well for me that I am that an operation involved another risk for me: I heal very slow- applying these steps to many other problems. ly. Although I solemnly agreed to do everything possible to I must give much credit to my wonderful husband, who is a avoid surgery, I knew it might be necessary at any time. recovering alcoholic with an AA background. He has been my I left the hospital on a fat free, pork free, sugar free, low calo- sponsor, food shopper, cook and a great source of strength and rie diet—knowing full well that the “scare cure” doesn’t work. I encouragement. He has gone out and charcoal-grilled meat, had worked in the addiction unit, and it had not taken long to often in subfreezing weather. He believes meals should be deli- see myself in my patients. I had a good record as a dieter and cious—for everyone. He does most of the grocery shopping, weight loser, but like the alcoholic with short periods of sobri- always looking for something new that I can have. He really ety, I followed a predictable pattern: when my eating binges set scrutinizes the labels. He frequently comes home with some- in, they became progressively longer and more severe. Each thing different. Thanks to his efforts, I have enjoyed a wide vari- time, I gained back all I had lost plus some more. ety of menus. I came out of the hospital on Thursday and on Sunday in We kept an “OA brag book” of my first year. The opening one of our local newspapers an information column included page has the inscription, “Praise the Lord, great things He has an item about Overeaters Anonymous. It gave a first name and done!” in bold print. On the following page is a pre-OA picture a telephone number. I called, and a woman answered. I of me taken at a table laden with food. The remaining snapshots explained that I wanted no part of weight reduction programs show a progressive weight loss. People who did not know me at where you have to weigh in or where you are laughed at if you my former size cannot believe all the pictures are of the same have gained. person. The OA member seemed unconcerned about giving up her I now have more than a year and a half of abstinence and a Sunday afternoon time. She described OA so enthusiastically 128-pound weight loss. I have twelve pounds to go to reach the and answered my questions so well that I was already OA when goal my doctor has set. I can now see that goal on the scales. It’s I hung up the phone. I attended my first meeting the next night. hard to remember when I weighed less than I do now. It was I have missed few meetings since that time, nineteen months before I reached my teens, I’m sure. I have come from a tight ago. twenty-four-and-a-half dress size. My size tens are now too big. At the end of the first year I had another complete physical I am convinced that without OA I would not only have failed checkup. Neither my doctor nor any of the hospital staff had to lose the weight, but I would never have made it at all. My seen me since my last visit a year earlier. When the doctor program, my meetings and my fellow OAs—all of these give me weighed me, he was startled to find that I had lost 104 pounds. the support I need to maintain abstinence and to ride out emo- Though he told me I needed to lose 36 more pounds, he was so tional crises. pleased with my weight loss he has never stopped telling people For AA, OA and the help so many of us have received, I can about it. only repeat, “Praise the Lord, great things He has done!” For years I had prayed to God to “help me lose this weight.” I — D.M, Little Rock, Arkansas USA, reprinted from Lifeline, July 1978 I Love Convention! I had only driven from uptown Baltimore, but I realized how I HATE CONVENTIONS! far I had come: from the depths of the hell of this disease to the Too many people! Nowhere to joyful, recovering person at this Convention. An incredible jour- park! Nobody will talk to me! ney that cannot be measured in miles, pounds, or years. What will I eat? Which work- On Friday night I sat in a room with 1,500 compulsive shops will I attend? overeaters. I smiled at and talked to people I’d never met before. But one of God’s local I felt myself glow. agents (my sponsor) harassed On Saturday when I led a meeting I was very grateful that I me into attending the 1992 had recovery to share. I felt I was in the company of people who World Service Convention. truly love me. I’m beginning to be able to return their love and What a beautiful, enlighten- express it. What a pleasure to express my joy and vitality—to be ing experience it turned out me! I was funky and frivolous, an untouched child and a sexy, to be! I realized that I needed mature woman, and a recovering food addict. I was in great to be a participant, not a company. spectator, and I felt a part of it God has blessed me with a miraculous life which I was able — Reprinted from Lifeline, from the opening meeting. I September 1978 to see and appreciate all over again at the Convention. shared from the podium in front Sign me up for San Francisco! of a large group of people from all over the world—my family! ., — J.P Baltimore, Maryland USA, reprinted from Lifeline, August 1993 5 Twice Two Mark well the place where you have faltered; it is there you’ll find a new recovery. It’s a sunny, hot Sunday. The azaleas are in full bloom and I’m sleepy. I am also excited, and ever so grateful, for I’m cele- brating my second OA anniversary—for the second time. It’s wonderful to have two years of abstinence again, and to be maintaining my goal weight once more; but there are no words to describe how hard it was to get here. The OA program works, but you have to work it—fully, every day. This is where I failed, and now it is where I am finding success: letting go absolutely, surrendering to this simple program and giving God control of my food and me and the rest of the world. I was tiny as a child, but by age ten I was probably as round as I was tall, or so I felt. When boys began to interest me, it was my fat that interested them, and I was the subject of their cruel jokes. I died a little each time, and kept on eating. Nature took care of me for four years. At age thirteen I shot up half a foot to 5’6” and, at 118 pounds, I felt tall, thin and pretty, and I had boyfriends. When I was sixteen I fell hard for a I sought help from OA and, almost immediately, was at goal boy who I expected to save me from a miserable family situa- weight. For two years I did it my way. I two-stepped (steps 1 and tion, but in less than a year he grew tired of my leeching and 12), led meetings, did service, attended retreats—and didn’t traded me in for another girl. Within weeks I was 10 pounds understand why all those fat people couldn’t “get” it. I didn’t heavier and drinking all the time. Eat and drink—that’s how my find a sponsor. I didn’t read the Big Book, I didn’t do a searching family handled pain, and I followed suit. and fearless moral inventory—and I didn’t change much. I ate, drank and dieted my way through college, and when I In the middle of my third pregnancy, I broke my abstinence graduated I took a geographic cure: a one-way ticket to Ireland and gained 40 pounds. I couldn’t walk, breathe, sleep or control where I had relatives. On my return eight months later I had 18 my bladder. I screamed all the time and I hated myself. I was pounds to shed and I was a full-fledged alcoholic. I lost the sure I’d become abstinent after the baby’s birth, but I was weight, then kept a yo-yo going for years. I worked and saved wrong. I kept trying to do it my way, and I ended up on my and put myself through graduate school. That year was lean knees. and mean; lean on food, drink and friends, mean with compul- Two years ago today I reached out to a tough-love sponsor sive work and frequent depression. I couldn’t get through the who also happened to be a nursing mother. That was my new day, so I took pills to help me sleep and pills to wake me up. My beginning. Slowly, painfully, I came to life—but not until I’d had food-alcohol abuse kept me in a state of constant activity, six weeks of sobriety in AA. Abstinence while drinking did not depression and guilt. work for me. In six years I had nine jobs and twelve addresses. Marriage After six years in OA and two in AA, I have learned that the was the answer. I was twenty-six and alone. It was time to be a program is the way, the God of my understanding is the healer, wife and mother. I found a man who was educated, successful and outside resources such as professional counseling can be and single, and I grabbed him. I lied a lot and hid my illnesses. helpful. I work all the steps now, centering my life on the The diets were working then and I was dry. I was bright, cre- eleventh and twelfth. I lost the weight I’d gained and I have a ative, hardworking and fun. happy abstinence. I do whatever is asked of me to the best of But the flip side of me was soon revealed—the crying spells, my ability, for service requests are my eleventh-step answers shouting matches and depressions, the missing half-gallons of from God. ice cream and the hidden food. I saw my husband as my daddy, My marriage and family are in pieces, but with the help of the one who had it together and would show me how to func- God, this program and counseling, we hope to build something tion. I was a good student, and his every wish was my com- new and healthy. My daughter is now one of us—a new OA. mand. But I resented him and lived with anger. I am changed. I have new freedom and new happiness. I am The answer now was children. After the first, a girl, I sought what I never was and always wanted to be. I love and trust psychiatric help for depression. Three years later I had a son. A myself, and I belong to God and this Fellowship. I have a hum- year after his birth, I sought counseling for a marriage that was bler attitude about fat OAs and members who slip. I’ve been falling apart. I was thirty-five and thin, and I wanted to die. there and I know what it’s like. But I also know that, if you want The counseling helped build up my self-esteem, but I had what we have, it is yours—if you follow the directions. There is lost my grip on food control. I couldn’t stop eating, and the no situation too hopeless. Look at me and mine! weight was slowly coming back. — Anonymous, reprinted from Lifeline, August 1983 6 . After giving an intergroup report at her home meeting, writes M.P of New South Wales, Australia, she was pleased to see a newcomer approach her with a question. “What is this intergroup thing?” asked the first-timer. “Is that the OA heavies?” *** Our Down Under correspondent passes on another quotable quote, this one courtesy of a member who had been relieved of a huge bay window. Describing what he was like before program, the now lean and trim O.A. said, “I could pass for normal from the back, but it was hard trying to go through life backwards.” *** Speaking of paunches, the leader of a hundred-pounder meeting struck a responsive chord among newcomers and oldtimers alike when she said, “At this meeting, we share experi- ence, strength and gastrointestinal damage.” *** Maybe heartburn was troubling an OA who was called on to read “How It Works” at a din- ner meeting. “Rarely,” he began, “have we seen a person thoroughly follow our path.” Bet that made the members put their forks down! *** A burning desire to follow the right path may have led a new member of that same group to call her sponsor earlier than usual one morning. The sponsor answered sleepily, listened for a moment, then said, “Call me back later. I haven’t turned my will and my life over to God yet.” —Reprinted from Lifeline, August 1986 Equals in the With some of my questions answered and more literature, I Fellowship headed home once again. This time my problem was to develop Now I understand a plan of eating suited to my shift work. How could I make all how the first female news that I was learning about OA work for me? Then I got it. Just reporter felt when take every day and break it into three equal parts: work time, allowed into a men’s sleep time and off time. I felt this would work if I did this every locker room! Being a day, just one day at a time. male, I was not happy to Now I’m starting to realize that each day I can stay abstinent discover that the OA is as important as the next. Each abstinent meal I eat is as meeting I had chosen important as the next. Each meeting I attend is as important as to attend was just teem- the next. Every effort is equal in importance. Yet, nothing is ing with . . . you guessed more important than me and my Higher Power working togeth- it . . . WOMEN! This was a er. Nothing. concept I had never I’ve been going to that same meeting for over two months, dreamed of—me listen- and I can now see that everyone in that room is equal. There is ing to a room full of no race, creed, color or gender at that meeting, just a group of women. equals working with God to control the disease that is in every So home I went after the meeting with some literature in one of us. But what I have found most valuable is that all OA hand. I spent the next few days reading, trying to fully under- members will do their equal share to help pick each other up if stand the concept of OA. Now, I had a few questions, but where anyone stumbles and falls. could I go for answers? Back to that room full of the opposite Thank you, and God bless. sex, that’s where! — R.G., Wickatunk, New Jersey USA, reprinted from Lifeline, February 1996 7 A loving tribute there for a new- My Sponsor, My Friend comer was the My sponsor brought me close to God by teaching me that highest of all hon- God is love. ors. She was there when my father died twelve years ago; she When I close my brought calm. She sat between my ex-husband and me at my eyes I can hear her child’s graduation and, for a while, the violence between us saying: “Well, dear, stopped. With my sponsor there, life could go on. what do you really When a man I lived with left, she didn’t say told you so! want to do?” or Instead, she asked me how I could turn this horror into a won- “What is the truth derful learning experience so I could help others. here?” or “You did- When my sponsor entered the restaurant at my daughter’s n’t screw up, you “Sweet Sixteen” party, my daughter relaxed because she knew just made a discov- that my behavior would be guaranteed appropriate with my ery about some- sponsor in the room. thing you don’t Before I underwent major surgery, she helped me to fill my have to do any- body with God’s warm light and I became peaceful. She guided more.” me into building a house where God and I could be alone When we met I together anytime, anywhere. know I scared When one of my children was deathly ill, she helped her feel her—I was 300 less fearful and taught me about gratitude. pounds of pure I called her from retreats and from intergroup board meet- rage and fear. I had ings. I called her sobbing from phone booths with a broken run wild on the streets using drugs and food and had brought heart or my job on the line. I called her with tears of joy. with me two very small and frightened children. But she never My sponsor nurtured and cared for me. She spoke to me of refused me entry to her home and never appeared to be rigorous honesty and the principles in the steps and traditions. ashamed of me. She always had time for my children and my She taught me to count to ten slowly before reacting. She sponsorees. She truly loved me. glowed at the revelation of every self-discovery I made. She I began to believe in God because she believed. She intro- rejoiced at the new situations I began to handle and was ecstat- duced me to a huge family of OA sisters who are still my friends. ic each time I wrote my feelings down on paper. She constantly In return all she asked of me was to stay active in OA and to told me how terrific I was. She also allowed me to share her fail- pass on the message. If there is one thing I believe after nearly ures as well as her victories. fifteen years in Overeaters Anonymous, it’s that you cannot do My sponsor served OA for twenty-seven abstinent years at this alone. every possible opportunity. She had dreams of an intergroup I thank God for my sponsor, my friend. clubhouse and OA meetings on radio. She believed that being — N.B., Los Angeles, California USA, reprinted from Lifeline, May 1991 ery On t ecov r Power R e igh it y H h e W i n gs OA A b st inence ce e en Pea Ser Hop Wo rds of — Reprinted from Lifeline, January 1999 8 Surprise Package “Oh my God, I’m pregnant! How did pregnancy will undoubtedly have on your emotions. I cried this happen to me? I know how, but HOW? I easily over mundane things like a crumb left on the table or am not ready for this. I didn’t plan to get preg- my husband’s shoes sitting where I normally put mine, and nant. What’s going to happen to my body? My other trivial situations. I had to be aware of what was really abstinence? My serenity? Am I going to become me and what was a HOI (Hormonal Outburst of Insanity). an obese, polyester Momma? The phrase HALT became vitally important to me. HALT “No! I have a choice. I can choose how my reminds me not to become too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or pregnancy will go. I am choosing to be absti- Tired. nent. Of course, it will change during my preg- When the birthing day loomed closer, I became afraid of nancy, but not yet.” the inevitable. I became edgy, angry and, yes, even resentful These were my thoughts when my life began a of what took over my body. All this forced me to get on my new course. The next weeks were filled with doc- knees a lot more and depend on my Higher Power. It tor’s appointments, meetings, phone calls, more brought the three of us closer together. doctor’s appointments and rest. My food plan changed, but it On a Friday in March, my water broke. During labor I became what I needed, not what I felt I wanted or even how my was not a maniac, but was full of anticipation, excitement doctor dictated. I did listen seriously to what my doctor said. I also and energy. I chose to have my parents, sister, a dear OA listened to my body. We all came to an agreement, and life expand- friend and my husband with me during labor. They all took ed wondrously. turns supporting me emotionally, spiritually and sometimes I realized how many choices I had in front of me and the mag- physically. I stayed connected with my Higher Power and nitude of the decisions. I made choices about my food, my activi- envisioned what was going on inside my womb. I was ties, my healthcare, my childbirth experience and my attitude blessed with a marvelous natural childbirth experience. At towards it all. I made phone calls to my support network, some- 2:30 a.m., I delivered a beautiful, red-haired, blue-eyed baby times at strange hours. I read a lot of literature, listened to many girl. Her eyes seemed to say, “So, that’s what you look like OA tapes and wrote. Momma.” What they don’t tell you in the doctor’s office is what effect your — T.M., Grove City, Ohio USA, reprinted from Lifeline, April 1998 And just for today You’ll believe in the Power, The God you have chosen To carry you through, Just for today Let the miracle happen, The light of our love Is reflected in you. When you are finding it Hard to believe That the miracles happen To people like you, — V.D., reprinted from Lifeline, March 1999 Believe for today You will know that the answer Is not about Burying feelings with food, And just for today Just For Today . . . You’ll hand over the power When you are feeling And trust in your God, Alone in the darkness, Not in what you can do, When it is hard Just for today To imagine the light, You can look in the mirror, Believe you have friends Believe in the beauty Who are standing beside you, That we see in you. Believe that a new day — R., Southampton, England, reprinted Will follow the night, from Lifeline, January 1999 9 Coming Back, No Matter What sliding downhill. By this time I had been in OA several years Thank you, Lifeline, for the many years of service to my with off-and-on abstinence. I felt that I would not be able to recovery since 1977. endure the humiliation of another relapse. (This was in the days In 1979 Lifeline published a story called “Visit to a Small before Twelfth-Step-Within and open discussion of the forbid- Meeting.” A woman from an area with lots of meetings visited a den “R” word.) By keeping the doors open for our meeting, the meeting that consisted of one member and a tape recorder. The day came when I got help. A woman walked into our little meet- lone member was abstinent, planning her meeting week after ing with that look of serenity that only an abstainer with the week as if there were others. A few months later the same writer compulsion removed could have. I asked her to be my sponsor. returned to this meeting, which by then had acquired one other If I had let the meetings die, I may never have met that sponsor member. The leader of the meeting was still and begun the 12 years of abstinence I now abstaining, grateful and uncomplaining have. about the size of her meeting. A few years later I became a delegate to World When I read these stories, I was living in Service Business Conference. I met a delegate Baltimore, which had 20 regular meetings. from Montana, told her my story and asked if Many OA friends supported my new absti- she knew the writer of the Lifeline story. She did, nence. In late 1980 the military transferred my and the woman was still abstinent. At the 1994 husband to Germany. My husband happily Conference, I asked about my still unknown informed me that the paper listed three OA writer. It was then that I had the opportunity to meetings. Twelve hours after I arrived, I set out write her a quick thank you note, which was for my first OA meeting in Germany. It wasn’t hand delivered, to express my gratitude for her there! The paper had listed meetings without story and to tell her how it had helped me. And checking for accuracy. the circle continues. At Convention 1995 in So I started up that meeting again. I discov- Minneapolis, I obtained the address of a lone ered there were three OA meeting locations member in Australia. I sent to Australia copies of with probably a total of five members, and these stories along with my story. often we were all eating. The nearest of those My experience in Germany taught me that was a German-speaking meeting an hour’s willingness and the Twelve Steps really are the drive away. Our meetings went reasonably requirements to begin recovery. Everything else well until the next summer, at which time is extra. Someone did service by writing to most members returned to the States to see Lifeline and helped someone else months later family during school vacation. That is how I and thousands of miles away. I did service and became the only member attending meetings received 12 years of abstinence. that summer. I was not abstinent, but in com- Right now there are other lone members pany with my tape recorder and my “Big struggling. I hope this story gives someone out Book,” I kept the door open. Knowing what that writer in Lifeline there the courage to keep coming back no matter what. experienced kept me coming back. If Lifeline were ever discontinued, it would be a tragedy for In the fall people returned to our meetings, and I achieved me, because I would lose something that has been indescrib- some abstinence. My abstinence was shaky at best and slowly ably precious in my life. — B.G., Harmons, Maryland USA, reprinted from Lifeline, May 1999 Crisscross Match 1. Third-Step Prayer A. Page 449 2. Resentment verse B. Page 83 3. How it works C. Pages 68 to 70 4. “Acceptance” D. Page 63 5. Seventh-Step Prayer E. Page 452 6. Outline of Fourth-Step inventory F. Page 76 7. Serenity vs. expectations G. Page 65 8. Reviewing our sex lives H. Page 552 9. The promises I. Page 58 Answers on page 24 — D.F., Quincy, Illinois USA, reprinted from Lifeline, 10 June 1999 d Anna My Frienarrassed me. mb loud e Short Takes Reading a say “anonymity.” uld be, I could n ” where an “n” sh ” I put an “ out as “amonim And it ca ot m me o ity. , ary friend nd an imagin m to an end. But I fou ht my proble Avid r broug me, Reade g my new Who na, said to This friend, An na Nimity.” evourin tion me An “Just call ., Napa, Californ ia USA I was d AA medita ay, f the rs a D — M.H copy o nty-Four Hou a friend w e and book, T phone rang Great,” I the when w I was d oing. “ reading ho been Written in Dust asked happily. “I’ve Day.” “Oh,” I work as a consultant in different told him Four Hours a t of time to - Twenty ed, “that’s a lo sites each week. Last Tuesday, I absent- he repli mindedly drove to Monday’s work site. eading!” ton, spend r J.S., Washing When I realized this, I exited the inter- — A state to correct my mistake. At the exit’s D.C. US end, a long freight train kept switching I was Absti back and forth. Each time I tried to call local n the psyc ence? o n the work site to say that I would be late, hospi hiatric I had to creep forward. As I neared the and w tal for ward a a o arks he acros s given an ttempted s f our train, a box car went by. Scratched on Remmeeting twill ing e first O s the A street to hour’s pass t uicide its dusty side was the phrase “Easy Does Clos e of th “We s t silen nervo meeting. attend my o walk u A It.” I laughed aloud, realizing that e clo ced, nearly s and appr rriving extr ery v Higher Power does have a sense of At th announ ment of renity everyo ehens emely r mo Se nence ne pr ive, I humor and is always with me, even as I leade with a nd the meeting . the ho ” Well, that oclaiming eard h grumble and berate myself. When I told close cation a ded the o mean haw out o just about s “absti - this story at work, everyone said, i n med r.” We e gh. t sex! f Imagi me! I thou cared ye au port, relief “Thank you for sharing” or “Amen.” I Pra good l , McKees A w ne g a . referr hen I lear my imme ht they thought I was at a meeting, or at least with — M.W vania US ed on ned th nse syl — K. ly to food at abstin working the Twelfth Step and practicing Penn P., Re nton, . ence these Steps in all our affairs (see “Big Washi ngton Book,” page 135)! USA — M.S., Dubuque, Iowa USA Oops! I sometimes find that I race through my morning prayers and don’t really listen to what I’m saying. I caught myself doing just that the other day. I was saying the Eleventh Step Prayer recommended in the AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Instead of saying the line, “Grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console,” I said, “Grant that I may not seek so much to be controlled as to control.” Another character defect presenting itself for examina- tion, this time in the form of prayer. — Anonymous, Albuquerque, New Mexico USA Se An ason card amusing s Gre mad I receive slip on etings e d a wish me won from a Christm were ing m der w n OA as son.” , “Ha e a quie hether s member ve a t h —K peac binge. H e was .J., N eful, er w feast o ew S outh ive s rds ea- Wale s, Au stral — Reprinted from Lifeline, July 1999 ia 11 OA GOALS Holiday Coping Just for today Last year before Thanksgiving, our small meeting devoted time for each of us to offer our plans for coping with the holi- Physical day. The plans could be as specific as the speaker wanted them to be, and they could include coping with any activities the members saw as important to work- ing their programs physically, emotionally and spiritually. People found this simple step so use- ful that they decided to continue it Emotional throughout the holidays. Each person in turn reviewed his or her coming week and identified potential pitfalls, then spoke of a plan for coping. Some plans included: • Scheduling breaks during long events or outings so you don’t get too hungry and allow yourself to make bad Spiritual food choices. • Anticipating beforehand the folks who want you to just “take a taste,” or who wonder aloud and loudly why you are or are not eating something. The solu- tions for dealing with this situation var- ied. That’s not the point. The point is to Other have a plan that you commit to out loud in a safe, public place (a meeting). • Avoiding special events if they involved food choices that might cause problems. This comes under the heading of “whatever it takes,” since a very pleas- ant social time may have to be sacrificed This I do believe . . . for serenity. Even when plans had to change, the I can be happy, joyous and free. act of sharing ideas — brainstorming — Reprinted from Lifeline, November 1999 about problems and solutions in detail, one week at a time — helped people con- sider what was ahead, be responsible for taking care of themselves and commit in public to having and making choices. The act of public commitment helped. In sharing at the next meeting about how the week went, support was offered anew — no matter what happened — so in all cases self-love continued during the holi- days. — Anonymous, reprinted from Lifeline, November 1999 12 Lifeline January 2000 Attracting Newcomers Young People Anonymity Issues 13 Practical Pointers for Reaching Out to a Member in Relapse “How are you doing?” How many times have you asked or • Take a walk and talk. been asked that question? Perhaps you’ve seen pain, isolation • Don’t give advice; just listen. and avoidance in another OA member’s eyes when you’ve • Ask how you can help. asked. Perhaps you’ve even been that member in trouble: strug- • Share your own struggles. gling, striving to come back, wanting to leave, present in body • Encourage without enabling. but not in spirit. • Pray for guidance about how you can be the best vehicle of Often we hesitate to reach out to the member in pain. We recovery. don’t want to offend, intrude or impose, yet we want to con- • Let those in relapse know they can be honest about food nect. We share a common bond . . . but don’t know what to do without fear of judgment. or how to do it. • Take the member in relapse to a share-a-thon, workshop or Here are practical pointers from relapse survivors who know retreat. how it feels to need help and to give help: • Take the person to a Step meeting. • Encourage others to keep coming back. • Share literature that has helped you. • Ask someone to come to a meeting with you, and • Remind the person that helping helps you. volunteer to drive. • Tell people they are welcome in OA no matter what. • Offer to be a temporary sponsor. • Keep reaching out with kindness. • Go to out-of-the-area meetings with a member in relapse • Ask, “How are you doing . . . REALLY?” (sometimes members are ashamed to go back to their — M.B., Massachusetts USA, Twelfth-Step-Within Committee usual groups; it’s okay—just get to a meeting). 1997, reprinted from Lifeline, November 2000 A Peek into the WSO — Reprinted from Lifeline, July 2001 14 Crossword Challenge, OA Style 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Spreading the OA Message Across Down This bench ad is a sample of our 2. Our primary 1. Searching and Seventh Tradition at work to help reach 3. First compulsive 2. Attraction not the still-suffering compulsive overeater. 7. Carried in Step Twelve 4. Came to The artwork setup fee was $75, and the 8. Fourth Step requirement 5. The capacity to be monthly fee is $50 for a year. Several 9. Beyond our wildest 6. Steps, Traditions, local groups donated $50 from their 11. Attends first meeting 10. Number of Steps funds, and at least one anonymous 15. Ours are unmanageable 12. Rio Rancho, New member gave $50. The ad will stay up 16. Return to overeating 13. “A Step ” for a year from March 2002 through 17. And when we were 14. Made in Step Eight March 2003. We hope to spread the OA message. .B., — P Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA, reprinted from Lifeline, August 2002 Answers on page 24 — Reprinted from Lifeline, February 2001 My Home Group We meet in our hometown once a week at a set time. We meet on holidays if the building is available. We are a small group, and our room is comfortable because we are comfort- able to be in the room. Once a month we have a Step or Tradition meeting and a “Big Book” meeting. We formed in the early 1980s, and one of the founders is still with us. As you can see from our picture, we are into the Steps and Traditions. This is my home group. Keep coming back! — Anonymous, reprinted from Lifeline, December 2001 15 Felling Tall Oaks Do you know what it is about this program that angers me? It’s that simple little word “daily.” I want to do something about my compulsive overeating today and have it done for the rest of my life. Is that too much to ask? I go to the doctor to get a vaccination for measles that is supposed to last the rest of my life. I go to the dentist with a dying tooth, and I get a root canal that is supposed to last. Why do I have to work this program, particularly Steps Ten and Eleven, every day for the rest of my life? I am willing to expend whatever massive force of willpower is required, but please don’t ask me to pid- dle around with it every day for the rest of my life! I have bet- ter things to do. Do you know what I love about this program? It’s that sim- ple little word “daily.” For Today includes the quotation, “Many strokes overthrow the tallest oaks” (p. 13). Before OA, I scoffed at the idea. Why bother with many little strokes when you can do it all at once and get it over with? Then I started working the OA program. Problems that I fought unsuccess- fully for years slowly began to fall. How could this be? I didn’t understand it, but in front of my eyes was proof that daily “lit- tle strokes” were removing problems that my largest efforts had failed to budge. Then another slogan came along, and I decided to resign from the debating society and count my blessings. Wonderful changes have happened in my life that I could not have dreamed of when I first came to OA—many of them without my even knowing it. One day I would just realize that a particular problem was no longer with me. Other times I would get on the scale and have lost several pounds. I won- dered how it happened because I didn’t remember trying to lose weight or feeling deprived. I just worked my program daily, and the miracles kept happening. I don’t know how many other OAers suffer from all-or-nothing thinking. I want to do Steps Four through Nine, and then relax, knowing it’s done for the rest of my life. I want to take a week off to “get in touch with God,” and then enjoy the peace and serenity until I die. These solutions worked as well as most of my other solutions. They didn’t work at all, at least in the long term. Today I am starting to accept that I can’t do it all at once and have it done, because it doesn’t work that way. Today, that is reason enough. It isn’t such a hard concept to grasp. I don’t expect to plant an apple tree, cultivate it and harvest apples in one week. It simply doesn’t work that way. I guess the same is true for my life and my recovery. — K.G., Goshen, Indiana USA, reprinted from Lifeline, March 2001 — Reprinted from Lifeline, May 2000 16 and a “Big Book” study group. Journaling helps me. I can think more clearly and get in touch with my feelings better when I write. Looking through my past journals helps me see patterns in my life. I can see where my Higher Power has brought good out of what I thought was a bad situation. I realize that every- thing passes, no matter how terrible I thought it was at the time. Danger lies in believing the untruths my dis- ease tells me, such as: “Just one won’t hurt. I’ll eat today and get right back on my food plan. I’ll substitute this food and not tell my sponsor. I’ve measured long enough; surely I know how much to eat by now. I don’t have time for meet- ings. I can do this without a sponsor. These sponsorees take up too much time.” Without staying connected to OA, to my sponsor and sponsorees, to my Higher Power, to all of my program, I can begin to listen to these danger- — S.T., Frederick, Maryland USA, reprinted from Lifeline, ous lies. April 2001 I have attracted others to OA by living my program. Only by weighing and measuring my food in front of others, year after Maintaining Long-Term Abstinence year, was I an attraction. Only by gratitude for my abstinence, Thanks to my Higher Power’s grace, I have been abstinent by seeing it as freedom from slavery to food and to the ravages since 1981. Without abstinence, my relationships with people of the disease of compulsive overeating did I attract others. and with God are much less satisfactory because my focus is on In dealing with Traditions breaks that might have caused me food and dieting. In all circumstances of life, whether vacations to leave OA, I have remembered the slogan, “Principles over or difficulties, I consider my abstinence first. personalities” and talked about my difficulties with my sponsor I keep my program fresh by going to at least two OA meet- and with other abstinent members. I have recalled the value of ings a week. As I listen to the pain in a newcomer’s voice, I abstinence in my life and realized I cannot be abstinent alone. I remember my pain. When I see someone return to OA having have prayed and journaled about the difficulties. As I look back gained 100 pounds and hear that no other answer was out over 18 and a half years of abstinence, I see that these difficul- there, I remember that abstinence is “the easier, softer way.” I ties have passed. always speak at meetings, even if only to identify myself. I vol- My abstinence is a gift that I receive anew each day. I am unteer to lead meetings because I need to hear my story. free of the mental and physical slavery to food. I suffer none of I always have a sponsor, and I am a sponsor. I commit my the health problems overweight has caused to so many mem- food to my sponsor every day at our agreed-upon time. I bers of my family. I have the benefits of a support group in all arrange my schedule so I have an hour each morning to take my life’s trials. I continually learn a new way of life. calls from my sponsorees. Talking to my sponsor and my — K.H., Austin, Texas USA, reprinted from Lifeline, April 2001 sponsorees is like have a meeting each day. They keep me connected. To serve my group, I have been note taker, key keeper, literature chair and treasurer. I speak to other groups, intergroups or conferences when asked. Service keeps me involved. I feel needed by the group and by others. This sup- ports my abstinence. I prepare for food situations. If I am going to a restaurant, I call ahead to see if they have the food I need. Sometimes I pack all my food for a weekend retreat, so I can focus on my spiritual life. I plan, shop and cook my food for a week at a time, so I will have what I need. I make the Twelve Steps a part of my life. I take Steps One, Two and Three daily. I have taken Steps Four through Nine at least five times. I have used OA and AA literature to help — H.S., West Babylon, New York USA, me. I have participated in a Step-study group reprinted from Lifeline, July 2000 17 Talk about going to any lengths! I live in a small town 10 minutes south of Jerusalem that has two small but vibrant weekly meet- ings. Most of the members work in Jerusalem, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult and sometimes dangerous to travel to meetings. Who would have thought that a short visit to town to see a movie or meet friends would become so complicated? Sometimes I wear a bulletproof vest when traveling, and sometimes a closed road means a 90-minute detour. Life is not the same for any of us. In these stressful times, our local meet- ing has been a lifeline for me. I have attend- ed meetings for many years because I know that “I eat because of what’s eating me,” and I need the wisdom of others to help keep me sane. I need this now more than ever. When a bomb explodes downtown, and I don’t know where my family is, when my kids are out late (they’re not so young, but I worry anyway), my insane, compul- sive instinct is to suppress the feelings with food. Thanks to OA, I don’t have to eat com- pulsively anymore. Meetings help me more than any other tool, and I never regret mak- ing the effort to attend. Sometimes I need to share what’s on my mind, and other times I’m content to listen. I also represent our group at the English-speaking inter- group. I’m grateful that meetings are a con- stant in my life. I recently heard someone say, “I firmly believe that everything in my life is precise- ly the way it’s meant to be right now.” It’s calming and reassuring to realize that I’m Worth the Risk not expected to know the answers, and I don’t need to fix whatever’s wrong. I only need to trust and believe that my HP loves me and wants the best for me. I don’t have to run the show. I only have to accept the way it’s playing out. What a relief! Thank you, OA, for this program for liv- ing. — S.B., Efrat, Israel, reprinted from Lifeline, June 2002 18 Sharing Willingness and Faith to meetings quit. In my country, our Fellowship has had many It’s 10 p.m., and I just had a slip with food—an extra meal. difficult moments, and now we have only two small meetings— Thank God I threw away part of the food as I started reading the one in Spanish and one in English. Most people who were there articles from long-timers (Lifeline, September 1998). I then felt when I came the first time have quit—even the leaders and the desire to write an article for this wonderful magazine. cofounders. I started my recovery in May 1992. My life was unmanage- I think people don’t come back for many reasons: personal able, and I was desperate over my obsession/compulsion with conflicts, resentments, absence of a warm welcome, too warm a food. I knew there were OA meetings in my country, but I welcome, a feeling of being “cured,” too many commitments, couldn’t find them. I was desperate enough to start a group. I childbirth, no results, a sense of rejection or a “sick” group. I posted two big signs in the city I used to work in; some people think most of these reasons are excuses to reject the recovery called, and we started our meetings using the AA “Twelve and and to practice the illness of compulsive eating. I say this also Twelve.” to remind myself about the importance of coming back and A month later, we contacted the OA people. They had start- practicing the program. As a compulsive overeater, I must deal ed their group in 1989, and we became part of the Fellowship. with the powerful issue of denial. When I deny my disease, I’m In my six years of recovery in OA, I have experienced many in danger of returning to my destructive habits. changes: marriage, one miscarriage and the birth of two beauti- Looking back, I thank my HP for giving me the strength to ful children, a career change and travel abroad. I’ve had many keep coming back, despite the problems. When I was in a “sick” ups and downs with my food and emotions, but one thing is meeting, I looked for a better one, or I started a new one. When certain: my life has changed in a very positive way as a result of I was too busy to work the program, I always had a sponsor to practicing the program. My food habits are much better now. I help me get back on track. When I was in a relapse, I used a refrain from eating sugar, white bread and other trigger foods. I tool. love myself and others in a healthier way. I have a closer rela- This program works if we work it. I think we need willing- tionship with my HP, and I am more open to receiving and giv- ness and faith: willingness to pass through the ups and downs ing love. I’m much happier with my life, and I wish every new- in life without using food as a drug, and faith to believe that we comer would stay to receive the miracles of this program. can have better and happier lives; but we cannot do it alone. However, reality has shown me that most people who come — A.N., San Jose, Costa Rica, reprinted from Lifeline, March 2002 The Serenity Prayer’s Power Worldwide Connections I woke up this morning with words of a song repeating in my head: “We are all con- nected.” With eyes closed, I reflected on this and the Serenity Prayer and wondered how many other Twelve-Step people in the world were saying the Serenity Prayer at the same moment, asking God for the wisdom to make sane choices for the next 24 hours. Feeling connected to others who struggle brings me a sense of calm and the realiza- tion I am not alone. I opened my OA journal to write and noticed the Serenity Prayer printed in Spanish on the bottom right corner of the page. Borders, governments and language separate us compulsive people, and we don’t all suffer from the same com- pulsions, but this one prayer, said in many languages, unites us. The Big Book says, on page 17, “We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is inde- scribably wonderful. . . . The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have dis- covered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action.” Thank you for being there for me, my OA friends! ., — E.P New Brunswick, Canada, reprinted from Lifeline, November 2002 19 Why Cross Talk Can Hurt The dictionary says that cross talk is “interference in one OA strongly discourages cross talk for several reasons: track of a tape recording caused by another track.” In OA the • We need to feel safe about expressing our experience, term cross talk is used to describe various forms of interference strength and hope without fear of direct or indirect response in meetings. OAers speak of cross talk with reverence or vehe- (indifference). For many members, OA meetings are the first mence, but many of us are confused about its definition within place they have felt safe talking about their experience. the Fellowship. • Cross talk is frequently judgmental, expressing an opinion I called world service for help. They had no single, approved of the person’s share. Being judgmental is a character defect definition, saying, “It’s a gray area.” Their suggested guidelines many of us are trying to overcome. are: • Cross talk can break a person’s anonymity by introducing • The only appropriate comment about anyone’s share—a information not mentioned in the person’s share, revealing rela- speaker’s or another member’s—is, “Thank you for your share.” tionships outside the meeting. • Any comments, negative or positive, about another’s share, • Avoiding cross talk helps to guarantee safety, protect priva- experience, life, program or remarks are cross talk—that is, cy and ensure anonymity for all of us. World service recom- interference. mends that each meeting do two things to help eliminate cross • A member may talk about his or her own experience as it talk: relates directly or indirectly to another’s share but should not 1. Define cross talk in a group conscience at a steering com- refer to that person’s share. Even saying that a person’s share mittee. reminds you of your own experience may be inappropriate. 2. Include the definition and the prohibition of cross talk in • Any form of interruption, such as remarks, side conversa- the format at the opening and closing of the meeting. tions, gestures, laughter, extreme facial expressions or sponta- Avoiding cross talk in our meetings should not discourage any- neous outbursts, is cross talk. one from sharing, but rather guarantee that each member • Any advice given during the meeting, whether asked for or speaks only about his or her own experience, strength and not, is cross talk. If a person asks for advice, members may offer hope. it after the meeting or by phone. — Edited and reprinted in Lifeline, March 2003, from New Beginnings newsletter, Central Florida Intergroup, June 1999 Can This Meeting Be Saved? Can or should two or three people try to save a dying meet- able and supportive. Some former members returned, and ing . . . with some help from our Higher Power? That is the ques- newcomers joined and stayed. After five months, attendance tion three of us pondered five months ago. became steady with six to 10 attendees. Five to 10 people had been attending a particular meeting. A Many of us believe that a meeting is greater than the sum year or two ago, a change occurred. Members began unloading of the people attending. Shared experience shows strength in an angry way, bringing in outside topics that included men- and gives hope to people who may have lost it. Higher Power tal-health issues. Cross talking (defined as advice-giving and working through the people at the meeting made it possible speaking directly to another person) occurred. People in recov- for this dying meeting to continue. ery felt uncomfortable. They didn’t know what to do and Possible reasons why the meeting was saved: stopped attending. Some weeks no one came or a newcomer • The remaining member contacted the intergroup. came and no one was there. • Some intergroup members supported the effort by One person in recovery was carrying the whole meeting and attending the meeting to help decide what to do. doing the only consistent service (acting as treasurer and key • One person was determined to keep the meeting going holder). She would soon be moving out of state but felt a strong as long as rent could be paid. commitment to the meeting and contacted the intergroup for • Communication between the anchor people ensured help. The intergroup decided to make this dying meeting a that at least one of the three would attend. “meeting of the month.” • It was the only OA meeting in that town. Three intergroup people who lived nearby said they would • The nearest meeting on that night was a 20-minute support the meeting. Each week for five months, at least one drive. would attend the meeting. One person committed to attend as • We made a consistent effort to change a negative atmos- long as the rent could be paid. She believed that people in the phere into a positive one. area wanted the meeting. She was right. • We spread the word by mentioning it when appropriate. For a couple of months, the Step meeting consisted of the • We called people who had attended once or twice to say three anchor people coming each week. We posted flyers in gro- hello, and several of those people returned. cery stores, laundromats, the addiction department of a nearby • We stayed connected with our Higher Power. hospital and an AA office. Attendance increased, with one new — Member of the 2003 WSBC Twelfth-Step-Within Committee, person each week. By week six, 10 people were attending. The reprinted from Lifeline, February 2004 word had gone out that the meeting was once again comfort- 20 Notice the Young People In 1985, at the age of 16, I had a terrible choice to make. I had reached my highest weight ever, and my main form of weight con- trol—vomiting 10 times a day—had stopped working. The choice was to attempt suicide or go to OA. By the grace of God, I tried OA first. The speaker at my first meeting was a well- respected longtimer who has since passed on. He said, “One day at a time I live free of the obsession with food,” and he promised the same miracle to everyone in the room. I was like, “Yeah, right. That could never happen for me.” But I felt welcome in the meetings, which I didn’t at home or at school, so I kept coming back. One day almost a year later, I noticed I too was living free of the obsession with weight, food and my body! I graduated high school with honors. I went to the college of my choice. I later traveled in 30 countries and lived in four (starting OA meetings in two). I held down increasingly respon- and identification. I was lucky and so are all the young people sible jobs and enjoyed periods of financial prosperity as I coming into the program today. They have been spared years of worked the Twelve Steps. Last year I became a first-time home- overeating hell, mental anguish and possibly death. owner. As a young person starting on this journey, I saved I urge everyone to notice the young people in their meetings, myself years of physical and mental torture, hospitalization and offer them rides and make sure they’re okay. If you notice a maybe death. young person showing up early each week, arrange to have oth- I had to grow into OA. Seven years passed before I could ers show up early and talk with that person. If a young person is work the Steps and understand their implications. I picked my quiet or leaves the meeting early, see that someone follows him first sponsor because she was wealthy, beautiful and always had or her out of the meeting. If a young person calls you from an a boyfriend (she also saved my abstinence and probably my OA phone list, don’t be too busy to answer the call. When young life). Some years later, I picked my second sponsor because she people pick up the phone, it’s usually an emergency. Doing all knew the Big Book. this is more than just service. You could be saving a life. I did not sponsor during my first 10 years in program. After — Edited and reprinted from Lifeline, June 2003, from Region that, I made countless mistakes with sponsorees. I did no OA One News, September/October 2001 service my first six years in program; then someone foisted a position as coffee person on me. I never thought I would do service at the intergroup level, but somehow I became chair of Have you the Young People’s Committee for Oregon intergroup. Thanks to ever wondered a great committee, which we affectionately call “The Young and the Immature,” Portland meetings are a welcoming place for young overeaters, anorexics and bulimics. why Lifeline uses reprints from intergroup and region ? As a former young (and immature) person in OA, I ask all newsletters? OAers to warmly welcome our youngest members, help them feel safe, and treat their concerns as real and valid, which they Many fine stories of experience, strength and are! When I came into OA, my worries included proms, sweet- hope appear in region and intergroup newslet- sixteen parties, clothes, pimples and the seeming eternity until I ters but are not submitted to Lifeline. Some could leave home. Because I grew up in recovery, instead of in authors may feel their letters do not meet the the disease, my worries now include whether to put a deck in guidelines for Lifeline publication or believe their writing is not good enough to appear in my backyard, go to New Mexico or save for my next house the magazine. Other authors may not think emergency. about submitting to Lifeline. Back then I would ride my bike to a meeting in Los Angeles All newsletters received by OA are reviewed every Thursday evening one hour early (to escape my house), for stories suitable for Lifeline. Not only does because I knew the coffee person would be there setting up and this give authors broader exposure for their I would have someone to talk with. That woman was in her shares, it also provides Lifeline with a wider fifties, but she listened to me as a peer. I credit her and my selection of articles. It is a win-win situation for sponsor with saving my life. authors, editors and readers. Thank you for your Many OAers tell me I was lucky to find OA at 16, but a stories! teenager will only keep coming back to a place of acceptance 21 How Atheists and Agnostics Find a Higher Power An Agnostic’s Recovery I remember my first Twelve-Step meeting. I was overjoyed at first. It felt good to be around others who shared my suffering. I knew this was where I would find help. Then, to my horror, one person after another started talking about God. I felt deeply hurt and disappointed. I had come to OA to find help for my eating compulsion, and instead I had found a bunch of reli- gious zealots. After being raised in a fundamentalist faith, I intensely dis- liked organized religion. I remember being six or seven years old and the preacher walking through the pews picking people at random, pointing at them and yelling that they would burn in hell forever. Sometimes he picked me. I hated that place. What was my answer? I spent the next two years eating as much as I could. I did not even try to stop because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to fight the compulsion, and I wasn’t will- ing to become one of those religious nuts. When the pain became bad enough, I went to my second OA meeting—not Story of an Ex-atheist with any more belief in God than I had at that first meeting, but I came to OA as an atheist. My family looked down on reli- at least with a willingness to take what I wanted and leave the gion as something for weak people. It was illogical, my dad said: rest. I thought maybe I could work the program and not do the If there was a God, why did churches burn down? God part. I had spent many unhappy years as a compulsive overeater. I had been going to meetings for months, where I enjoyed Many good things had come to me, yet I was often unable to listening to a guy who told great stories about his disease. I enjoy those things because of envy, resentment, self-pity and loved his sense of humor and honesty. He said a few things at other negative emotions. meetings that gave me hope. One was that God alone couldn’t When I came to OA, found a sponsor and quickly became keep him abstinent. He also needed the meetings, the Twelve abstinent, I felt I had to consider the Higher Power idea I was Steps and the fellowship of the program. He said we are not hearing about. The first thing that popped into my head was responsible for what we believe, that belief itself is a gift from that I could be grateful for the good things in my life. I knew I our Higher Power, and we can do nothing to make ourselves had been lucky, but it had never occurred to me that I might be believe something we don’t already believe. grateful to anyone or anything for that good fortune. Since this guy had years of recovery and I needed a sponsor, I started practicing gratitude. I mentally thanked whatever I finally summoned the courage to ask him to sponsor me. I was Higher Power might be out there for the good things I had. pleased and grateful when he said yes. I asked him what he did Immediately I sensed the presence of something larger than for a living and was stunned when he said he was an Anglican myself that had been sending good things my way. priest. I had clutched my imaginary “control” of life tightly for I owe him my life. His teachings have allowed me to remain many years, but I started to let go and let Higher Power do some in recovery despite my agnostic tendencies. The concepts of things for me. For instance, I let Higher Power carry me through “acting as if” and that prayer works whether I believe in a God the aftermath of a serious car accident. In the past, I would or not were the most important things I learned from him. I had have eaten through that period because of my self-pity, but been telling him that I’d been abstinent for over a month with- instead HP gave me the gift of not needing to overeat. I knew out resorting to prayer. He asked me how many meetings I went that was a little miracle. to a week. I told him. Then he asked me how they opened and My Higher Power continued to respond every time I turned closed those meetings. Have I mentioned how much sponsors something over. The response was unmistakable and fast—per- annoy me sometimes? fect for a doubting atheist like me. By going to meetings, staying in contact with others in the I have continued to build my relationship with my Higher program and praying—even when I didn’t believe anybody or Power as Step Eleven of the OA “Twelve and Twelve” suggests— anything was listening—I was able to remain abstinent. I could- . by taking time to be with HP I have added prayer and medita- n’t explain it, but those rooms contained magic. The more I tion to my day, and I do a daily Tenth-Step inventory. I go to went, the stronger my abstinence became and the more hope I many meetings, make three program calls a day, do service and gained that recovery was possible. The recovery process itself check in with HP throughout the day. became my Higher Power. Now I’m a recovering compulsive overeater and an ex-athe- — Edited and reprinted from Intergroup Scoop newsletter, ist, and my life is better than ever. Oregon Intergroup, February 2003 — Anonymous — Reprinted from Lifeline, September 2003 22 OA WORD SEARCH Anonymity A B H J H I G H E R P O W E R Higher Power H N O E P I H S R O S N O P S Let Go Let God Y L S N T E L E W L I T E H L Literature G K N S E R V I C E F K I T E Meetings L Y O L S D T F E L T G U A T One Day at a Time P T I I T P A K G I H R M D G Plan of Eating C I T T F M D Y B E P K L Y O Service S M I E H E R S A O W P A N L Sponsorship A Y D R D E A P S T E P S D E Steps J N A A O T B C R P A O N L T Telephone B O R T F I G H W R I T I N G Traditions K N T U R N I T O V E R I D O Turn It Over S A Y R S G J W D E R U T M D Writing T E P E K S T E L E P H O N E R S G N I T A E F O N A L P T — M.B., Kalamazoo, Michigan USA For answers see page 24 — M.B., Kalamazoo, Michigan USA, reprinted from Lifeline, June 2004 I was in a new-to-me meeting of another Twelve-Step Fellowship when at the end of the meeting they formed a circle for the closing prayer. We SIDE DISHES all joined hands, and I was surprised and pleased when the leader began to recite the familiar OA prayer, beginning with “I put my hand in yours.” After the closing was finished, I commented to the group, “In Overeaters Anonymous, we close with that all the time. That’s called Rozanne’s prayer.” I wondered why silence followed my comment. Finally, one man asked in a stunned tone of voice, “Rozanne Barr?” — L.W., Walnut Creek, California USA On my 40th birthday, my sponsor gave me a card with “40 con- fetti” in it. I sprinkled some in my hair and went to an OA meet- SIDE DISHES ing. There a friend asked, “Why do you have OA confetti in your hair?” Is that a break of anonymity? Keep up the good work. — Reprinted from Lifeline, March 2004 — Z.L., Menlo Park, California USA An OA member struggled to remember the two slogans that kept her from breaking her abstinence: “Nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels” and “Don’t take that first compulsive bite.” Instead she said, “Nothing tastes as good as that first compulsive bite!” — S.T., Frederick, Maryland USA 23 — Reprinted from Lifeline, April 2005 OA in Cyberspace when I missed my usual online meet- ing, I found the difference. It helps to share with other compulsive overeaters and to read other people’s shares. Now I try to plan one to three online meetings each week. In September I signed up for an email “loop,” and the email messages give me encouragement between online meetings. I see some of the same nicknames that I see in the online meetings. Some people share gratitude lists, others write “Dear God” letters and others share journal- like entries. I enjoy them all, and they help my recovery because I can relate to most of them. Yea for Sharing Online! OA in cyberspace lets me know I Overeaters Anonymous in cyberspace helps my recovery! My local group folded over a am not alone. year ago, and I have not found another Twelve-Step group that fits with my work sched- Thanks to all who share experi- ule. On the OA Web site, I found links to some online meetings. I was skeptical and didn’t ence, strength and hope online! think spending time in an online chat room would make a difference in my recovery, but — Anonymous, Maryland USA Answers to Crisscross Match Puzzle Answers 1-D, 2-H, 3-I, 4-A, 5-F, 6-G, 7-E, 8-C, 9-B Crossword Challenge Answers OA Word Search Answer Key 1 2 F P U R P O S E 3 B I T E R A B H J H I G H E R P O W E R A O 4 B 5 H H N O E P I H S R O S N O P S 6 7 Y L S N T E L E W L I T E H L C R M E S S A G E O G K N S E R V I C E F K I T E O L O L N 8 L Y O L S D T F E L T G U A T I N V E N T O R Y I E P T I I T P A K G I H R M D G 9 C S I D R E A M S C I T T F M D Y B E P K L Y O 10 E S O T V T S M I E H E R S A O W P A N L P 11 N E W C O 12 M E R A Y D R D E A P S T E P S D E 13 14 J N A A O T B C R P A O N L T T A E E L B O R T F I G H W R I T I N G S H L X I 15 K N T U R N I T O V E R I D O E V L I V E S 16 S A Y R S G J W D E R U T M D R E L A P S E C T T E P E K S T E L E P H O N E 17 D W R O N G R S G N I T A E F O N A L P T 24 share recovery. I found face-to-face Overeaters Anonymous eight years ago. I live in a somewhat rural area, where few OA members live and little support is available. Shortly after I had found OA, and feel- ing desperate one day, I logged on to my computer and typed “Overeaters Anonymous” into the search engine, not knowing what I would find. Perhaps some inspirational reading would get me through until my next meeting. What I found was an online fellowship of compulsive eaters—people around the We’ve Never Met world willing to share their recovery at any time, day or night, and who wanted to hear what I had to share. I attended an early morning OA meeting today. I arrived Online recovery has saved my life. I needed to hear recovery early and spent a few minutes chatting and laughing with shared in meetings and to hear that long-term recovery is pos- friends in recovery. A newcomer came into the room, and the sible. I found these online. And to stay in recovery, I must share members welcomed her. with others what I have been given. The leader opened the meeting with the Serenity Prayer, People come to online meetings for a variety of reasons. read the Steps and introduced the topic. Members took turns Some (like me) use meetings to augment their face-to-face sharing on the topic and on how they use the principles of meetings. Some live in areas where face-to-face meetings don’t recovery to walk through their lives. When the meeting ended, exist. For them, online meetings are their only chance to inter- the leader reminded us of the Seventh Tradition and closed act with recovering compulsive eaters. Some mothers with with the Serenity Prayer. small children find it difficult to attend face-to-face meetings, After the meeting, members visited with each other and but they can attend online meetings while their children play or again welcomed the newcomer, answering her questions and nap in a nearby room. Some people have physical handicaps sharing contact information. that prevent them from attending face-to-face meetings, while It was an average meeting, yet none of the members present others have work schedules that preclude them from attending had ever seen one another. Our “meeting room” is a URL in meetings in their area. cyberspace. We have a regular meeting time and place and loyal My computer is a tool of recovery for me. It’s hard for me to members. Each meeting has a leader and topic. Members share separate my online recovery from face-to-face recovery meet- by typing on a computer keyboard, and the other members ings. I am grateful that my Higher Power has given me this read the shares on their respective computer screens. Wherever means to recover and to carry the message to others. we are in the world, we can meet together at the same time to — Anonymous, Alaska USA Savoring a Cool Lifeline Even after joining OA, I have been tempted to eat compulsively, but Lifeline has been there for me. Instead of reaching for something in the refrigerator, I reach for a Lifeline. OA members like me write the stories, so the articles are from the heart. People laugh when I share what I did years ago when feeling the urge to eat compulsively. I wanted to do anything to stay abstinent, so in addition to calling my sponsor and OA friends, praying to my Higher Power and committing to my spouse I would not eat until mealtime, I put a couple of Lifelines in the refrigerator! When my compulsive side wants to flirt with what’s inside the fridge, the pres- ence of these Lifelines stops my compulsion cold. I laugh as I take out a nice, cool Lifeline and savor every chilly article instead of a chilly not-on-my-food-plan food. I have had the privilege of membership in OA since January 1990 and have sub- scribed to Lifeline since then. Lifeline, in conjunction with the tools, Steps and Traditions, gives me an amazing life and keeps me at least 75 pounds (34 kg) from my heaviest weight. I hope OA members will make room in their refrigerators and mailboxes for Lifeline. The program works when I work it—any way I can! — M.B., Baltimore, Maryland USA, reprinted from Lifeline, February 2006 25 Anorexia and Bulimia — Reprinted from Lifeline, March/April 2006 Life’s Choices Bright Lights of OA I’ve often heard that we can be sure of only two things in My anorexic/bulimic mind kept me from Overeaters life: taxes and death. Just as surely as we are born, we are also Anonymous for a long time because I thought it meant going to die. My compulsive personality also believed: Why “Overweights Anonymous.” should I deny myself the satisfaction of bulimia or overeating? As a child, I refused to eat for days at a time—until I found What difference does it make, since I am going to die anyway? I sweets and bingeing. Like many anorexic/bulimic people, I was used other clichés, such as “death by chocolate” and “I’d rather an overachiever. I debuted in a Broadway show at 21 and trav- live dangerously and die in my prime than live to be old and eled with the jet set during my three years in stage and film. helpless.” Eventually the overwork, overexercise, overeating and starving I came to OA believing my life could not be any other way cut my feet from under me. Injuries prevented me from using than filled with bingeing, purging and dieting. I just wanted to exercise to purge, and I turned to vomiting. control it. Then I saw life as people in recovery lived it. Those An obese friend joined OA, but I didn’t think it was for me with abstinence know peace and serenity. They focus on living because I was not overweight. A 5-foot-9-inch (175-cm) man, I rather than on defying or rationalizing death. weighed 118 pounds (54 kg). Later I went down to 108 (49 kg) I will face death like anyone else. However, I can choose how and thought, “I’m almost rid of my potbelly.” After I binged, I I will live until my Higher Power calls me. By choosing how I would think, “I’m glad that’s over; I’ll never do that again,” only will live my remaining days, I may also be choosing how I will to find myself rummaging through cupboards at 3 a.m. looking die, or at least I am decreasing my chances of dying from com- for something to fill that hole inside that told me life was empty plications of bulimia or obesity. and meaningless. I would starve myself for days. This cycle I am grateful to the tools and Steps of the OA program. went on endlessly. Before OA I didn’t believe I had many choices. Now, through the One day my OA friend called, and by this time she was grace of my Higher Power, I have hope, strength and recovery healthy. I told her about my secret life. She said I would be wel- from this baffling, cunning and deadly disease. I’m learning to come at OA meetings. Unlike in my performing career, I was not believe I have a life worth living. an immediate success in OA (probably because this program — D.W., Coopersburg, Pennsylvania USA requires humility, a quality unfamiliar to me). People feared for my life. I finally surrendered to my Higher Power, worked the Steps and started helping others. This gave me a new life. My OA Shakespeare on Sharing friends have supported me all the way. I have had seven years of healthy eating, normal weight and freedom from bingeing, vomiting, starving and overexercise. The gift of abstinence My mathematical brain just can’t decide: When we share do we multiply or divide? remained even through five surgeries on tendons that were strained and damaged by muscle wasting (a side effect of being An apple that’s shared is smaller sized, underweight). But its sweetness, then, is multiplied. Gone are the glittering lights of Broadway and Hollywood, A burden shared is lighter by half, but God’s light has replaced them. Today I am back in university But a joke that’s shared means two will laugh. and spending my spare time helping sponsorees work the My mind is boggled and I can’t decide: Steps. This program has given me a daily reprieve and the When we share, do we multiply or divide? absolute certainty that my life is a success if I abstain from Will you please share in my weighty decision? compulsive eating today. Thank you, OA, for welcoming all Is it multiplication or is it division? compulsive eaters. — M.H., Napa, California USA — D.M., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada — Reprinted from Lifeline, September 2004 26 OA AROUND THE WORLD . . . Japan From a one-person meeting in a Tokyo church in 1980 to 27 meetings around the country in 2004, OA in Japan has grown by leaps and bounds. In 1980, a Texas OAer came to Japan for a new adventure. After six weeks she hit bottom, feeling desperate and lonely, and decided to go to any lengths to find fellowship and recovery. For the next few months, every Saturday she took the train one and a half hours each way to attend the Tokyo AA meeting. When she realized she needed to talk to people who could relate to her compulsive eating, she tried to start a meeting. She advertised in local English newspapers, rented a room, used some OA literature of her own and contacted WSO for a meeting kit. Week after week, she sat in the room alone. Then an American reporter on assignment in Japan called, saying only, “I just realized I can’t eat potatoes” before the connection was lost. The Texas woman felt overjoyed at receiving her first OA call in Japan and disappointed it had ended so quickly! Eventually, the two women began meeting on Thursday nights. Soon, others joined to create a small, English- speaking Tokyo meeting. Later, a California expatriot started a Saturday-morning English-speaking meeting. In 1983, a woman from Washington State came to Tokyo and developed Tokyo Greater Intergroup, which became part of Region Nine. Also in 1983, a few Japanese-speaking people joined the English OA meetings. Unfortunately, after a few months, this group dissolved. Most English-speaking members were compulsive overeaters, with very few bulimics. Most Japanese members were bulimics. In 1984, the Japanese members branched off into Bulimics Anonymous (BA) using the AA “Twelve and Twelve.” Despite being separate institutions, OA and BA in Japan kept in close touch. In 1993, the Region Nine OA trustee came to Japan and encouraged the BA groups to change to OA so they could receive support from the OA World Service Office (WSO). Japanese BAs changed their names to OA and registered with the WSO. In 1994, the expanded OA groups raised money to send their first representative to both the World Service Business Conference and Region Nine Assembly. During that Conference, Region Ten was born—an important step in the development of OA in Japan. Region Ten includes countries and territories in the Far East, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Western Pacific Basin. As with all things, it takes ups and downs to progress. Membership fluctuated in the first few years. As members learned more about the Twelve Steps, recovery blossomed and meetings increased as members gave service. Some years strong meetings with many newcomers predominated; other times attendance fell as members moved away. Intergroup dissolved a few times for lack of interest and service. Today, the Tokyo intergroup meets regularly, planning events. It is an exciting time of growth for OA in Japan. — B.K., Iwate-ken, Japan, reprinted from Lifeline, December 2004 SHARE IT The deadline for publishing letters commenting on earlier Lifeline stories is five months from the time of the original story. Support Lifeline I was sad to read the announcement that Lifeline would now be 10 issues per year and not 12. Sad because I have looked forward to its arrival at the beginning of every month. It always seemed to arrive just when I needed that extra shot in the arm with my program. I love Lifeline and appreciate all the people who write in and support the publication. I love to give gift subscriptions to my sponsorees, my spon- sor and people I think would be tickled to receive it. (I call it “my random act of kindness.”) I feel the subscription rate is very inexpensive for the amount of recovery packed into it. Considering the cost of some OA literature, Lifeline is a steal. I would not have opposed a rise in the subscription rate if that would have allowed the publication to still be 12 issues per year. I hope more people will catch on to this wonderful gem of recovery and get a subscription for themselves, or better yet, get two: one for themselves and one for their sponsoree, a newcomer, a doctor’s office or someone who can’t afford it right now. It would be great if each meeting could have its own subscription. Groups could also give Lifeline subscriptions to newcomers—a great way to increase subscriptions and carry the message. I appreciate all the thoughtful work and discussion the board did over the various ways to produce Lifeline in a financially sound manner. Thank you to the folks at Lifeline for their hard work putting the publication together and to all the members who write in to share their experience, strength and hope. — C.W., Ashburnham, Massachusetts USA, reprinted from Lifeline, May 2006 27