Posted by: innerpilgrimage | January 17, 2011


      Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, and I have been thinking about something I didn’t realize about the OA meetings I have attended.

      I have attended one meeting with an African American at it. Only one, and only one African American. Latinos and Asians? Yes. GBLTs and straights? Yup. Men and women together? Definitely. Nearly every religion, agnostics, and atheists? Yes, indeedy.
      I hope, in my coming travels, I will be able to say differently. Compulsive eating doesn’t belong to any one group of people. In Tradition Three, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively. I enjoy learning about my own addiction story in the stories of others. The connective quality of addiction gives me a chance to humble myself, to gain a sense that I am on the same footing as anyone else who walks in a room looking for relief and (in turn) anyone I meet in daily life.
      I like that OA and SLAA are everything-blind. Addiction belongs to every group. We don’t even have to lose weight, unless it’s part of what someone wants to accomplish through one’s spiritual journey through the steps. Through the steps, we learn to accept reality and embrace real and lasting change. We lose our judgmental attitudes and resentful egos; we learn to love, have empathy for people who suffer like we do and patience for those who think we’re cultists or who don’t understand what it’s like to have an external influence completely overwhelm our lives and imprison us in Hell. We welcome any and all people who are questioning if they even are addicted, if 12-Step groups are right for them. Doors are open right now somewhere in the world; the internet has made getting to a meeting (even if it’s not as desirable as getting to a face-to-face meeting) any time a reality. The fellowship is constant and worldwide, even if the door one walks into is not precisely tailored to one’s addiction. Yet every 12-Step group began in the rooms of another. And they all started with a couple of guys in the 1930s, who decided there had to be a solution until there was a cure. The progression of 12-Step groups since that time, when even those men had ego issues and slid around addictions in order to keep out of their primary one, has been amazing. Though the groups have separated out in order to bring fellowships together who can focus on one particular subject, we are all connected by one overarching hope: A solution to addiction is available to those who want it and are willing to work for it. A solution to unethical and amoral discrimination and injustice is available for those who want it and are willing to work for it. Not a cure. There may never be a cure to the ills of addiction or social injustice. But we can work as individuals within fellowships toward the hope that some day a cure is found.
      Today, we are asked to be of service, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., asked people to be. Service is part of the foundation of all 12-Step groups. In OA, we have a slogan related to it: “Service is slimming”. Service is how we humble ourselves. We are not better than the people, places, or situations we put our creative energies into. We are not groveling beneath those people, seeking their acceptance of us by attempting to manipulate them into liking us. No, we are pursuing our personal wholeness, and service to humankind is a reminder that we are not independent of the world. We are part of the imperfect and miraculous world, where addiction has a solution and a man encouraged led a movement focused on pacifism and non-violent protests in order to establish a future where phenotypes would be overlooked for personal growth and noble action.
      Positive change should not be ignored. Addiction and the delusion that a person’s worth is proportional to their melanin should be addressed. These are things which bring out the greatest achievements in humanity. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reached for this hopeful future through his “I Have a Dream” speech. We are a siblinghood, men and women, seeking humility in the truth that we are all equal despite our unique stories. Every person should be given respect; every person should receive love and acceptance.
      It is a good message, that change is a necessary part of the human condition and that “the other” is not to be feared but offered an open hand to clasp in ours. And I, too, have a dream . . . where we recovering addicts are seen for the content of our character in recovery, not the faces of our addictions.
      My name is Jess, and I am a binge eater and food anorexic, an approval addict and social anorexic. We may not share history, but we do share a common goal–to be respected and appreciated for our achievements as we pursue the things we cannot change instead of be condemned for the things we cannot change.


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