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OA VIRTUAL NEWS
RECOVERY IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD – January 2017
I have been in OA more than 30 years and currently have about 13 ½ years of day-in, day-out abstinence maintaining a 100+ weight loss. My experience with virtual meetings started after many years of chronic relapse without gaining a lot of weight. I had begun to believe that was as good as recovery was going to get for me. It was still way better than where I was before OA, weighting 250 pounds, having chronic migraines, joint pain and desperately low self-esteem masked by being a jolly old fat elf.
My introduction to phone meetings came from a new sponsor who was very clear that my way didn’t work. She had decades of abstinence and happy, joyous and free recovery. (What was our choice to be? P. 53 Big Book of AA ). She recommended strongly that I attend a meeting with a particular format, which at the time, was only available on the phone.
At first I had trouble concentrating in phone meetings. When I shared this with my sponsor, she suggested I treat the phone meeting just like a face-2-face meeting… no texting, no washing dishes, no checking my email, no filing my finger nails, no folding clothes, no putting on make-up, no flipping through a magazine. Don’t do anything at a meeting and I wouldn’t do at a face-2-face meeting.
When I shared sometimes I got bored doing nothing but listening, she suggested I take notes about what members shared and their phone numbers and then make outreach calls to those members during the week. Her ideas kept me focused and open to hearing the message.
It was also important for me to realize I needed to support my phone meetings by contributing financially and giving service. At first I thought….. “Why should I contribute? There are no costs for a phone meeting?” My sponsor helped me understand that part of recovery was to contribute and be a responsible member of OA. If I wanted OA to be around for me, I needed to support the home office (WSO) so that literature, the website, conventions and conferences, people to man the phone, public information, podcasts, Delegate Support Funds, translations and much more are available to carry the OA message. These phone meetings changed my life. It took me nearly a year to surrender, but after that I really started to grow under the influence of an effective Plan of Eating, the other Tools, and the Twelve Steps and Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous.
The phone meeting gave me something I needed that I was unable to find or accept in my local face-2-face meetings.
After I was abstinent for a while, another friend and I started a face-2-face meeting of this same format. We now have three of this type of face-2-face meetings in my area.
I have found for myself it doesn’t matter how I get the message only that I get the message that recovery is possible through the Twelve Steps of OA.
Virtual phone meetings saved my life, but there is nothing like a big hug at the end of face-2-face meeting to make me feel loved and a part of the OA community, so I continue to use both types of meetings to support my recovery.
Stephanie – Virtual Service Trustee
SEVENTH TRADITION – FINANCIAL AND SERVICE – WHY DO I NEED TO DO THIS?
I am Dora, a grateful compulsive eater from Brazil. I remember that when I arrived in OA (In online meetings) many times I thought that I didn’t need to give money to OA because …. I had my computer,
my internet and my books ….
Why give money to OA?
My understanding improved and became clear when I studied Seventh Tradition and began to learn about gratitude.
I needed to find OA when I was dying by eating compulsively!!! On the OA website I discovered the 15 questions and I became sure I was a compulsive overeater. I began to learn how to find answers in guidelines on the OA website to buy English literature (and translated too) printed, and shipped by the World Service Office… All this things cost money and who could pay? The grateful member!
I do want to be this grateful member!!!! Although in virtual meetings we may think that we don’t have direct expenses, our service boards and our World Service Office need money to do all things that I need to continue to grow and to help the person who is suffering with compulsive eating find a meeting and the new life in OA like I did more than six years ago.
We can make deposits; we can use credit cards …. We can have a gratitude box near our phone or computer to always remember that OA needs my gratitude and contributions!
And about service? I need to attend virtual meetings every day. I want to be this grateful member who open these virtual doors to save my life. When I think about the gifts that I receive when I give service is impossible forget the Doctor Bob words in Big Book page 181:
I give service because:
- Sense of duty.
- It is a pleasure.
- Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.
- Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip” (Big Book page 181)
Virtual OA saves my life, it is why I keep coming back to this service and to contributions. And have a gratitude box near my computer to save money to 7th tradition after each meeting. Fot this I am responsible.
Dora P – Grateful Delegate from VSCC Committee
Our web site http://www.oavirtualservices.org/
STEPS – ONE DAY AT A TIME
Step one “We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable“
This Step is the cornerstone to all the other steps, Traditions, and Concepts of Service. Without admitting I have a problem with food I can go no further in my recovery. Why would I want to change anything if I don’t believe I need changing? Step one is also a very difficult concept to get my will around. I try to control everything in my life. That’s the way I like it.
Step one tells me I am not in control of my eating and, thus, I’m not in control of my life. I need to eat to stay alive and active. But my eating is killing me, not keeping me alive. I need to accept step one and accept that I have no control of my eating and because of that, I have no control of my life.
Judy – Online meetings
Step Two “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
My name is Jean, I’m a food addict from Massachusetts. I came into OA in July 2004 and since then I’ve lost over 120 pounds and kept it off. My first meetings were face-to-face meetings in the 90-day format in the Boston area but I also found out about phone meetings and I’ve been active on phone meetings since 2005. At that time, the list of phone meetings was very short, maybe one per day compared to the multiple choices available now.
One difference between face to face and phone meetings is the visual component. It is easy to see physical recovery when you are in a room with people who may pass around pictures of themselves or who you might see over several weeks. Seeing is believing.
But how to believe what we cannot see? That is the essence of faith. When all we know of people is hearing their voices, we can hear the recovery in them. Hearing people talk about their connection to HP, how prayer or meditation has helped them through their problems instead of turning to food, those messages provide hope, and hope is what keeps people coming back. You can hear hope on phone meetings. The message of hope is that if it worked for me, it can work for you too.
As the slogan goes, it works if you work it. Putting our faith and hope into action opens the door to recovery. Hope in HP keeps us coming back to hear the message of recovery. If you haven’t tried a phone meeting lately, look one up on oa.org, because there is hope here in these virtual rooms just as in the physical face to face rooms. We may not hug when we meet but our bonds are strong supporting each other on the road to recovery. That is why I believe in the fellowship of OA. Hope is the principle of Step 2 and hope lives here.
Jean – Massachusetts
Step Three – “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
I heard a speaker a few years back, saying: “Step three is very generous—if you don’t make the decision—all your misery will be refunded.”
I came to OA in 2001 after many years of trying to control my emotional problems with food. Weight loss, weight gain, weight obsession, body image issue, bingeing, purging, overweight, underweight—nothing
special—just the typical picture of a compulsive eater. I was miserable, selfish, self-centered and full of anger and resentment.
Step three is my initial invitation to align my will (= belief systems) and my life (=my actions) with my HP’s will, who I chose to call God. G.O.D. could mean Group of Diet survivors (by choosing my home group as my Higher Power working through the power of example); GOD could mean Good Orderly Direction).
My invitation to surrender, to get a glimpse of honesty and accountability, I let go of my old childhood belief system of a punitive, judgmental God. In essence, I let go of my own self. I have punished myself regularly over food and weight – I should have, could have, would have. The shame. The guilt. The remorse.
The Big Book tells me that selfishness and self-centeredness is the root of all my problems. Surrendering my will and life to God’s will means I am learning to let go of my selfishness and self-centeredness.attempting peaceful?
When it feels peaceful, and I am peaceful about it, then I have aligned my will with God’s will for myself for that moment. That is my essential check-list. Simple. But not always easy. My EGO wants otherwise – but Step three gives me peace.
Millie L. – recovered in Atlantic Canada
OA Unity the Focus
Conference Theme Selected “Growing OA Unity Worldwide” is the theme for World Service Business Conference 2017, which will convene from May 1 to May 6 in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. The theme brings the focus of WSBC in line with our Strategic Plan for 2017, and Conference workshops will explore approaches to unity in OA. Virtual Service Boards can be there and vote! More information: https://oa.org/members/events/world-service-business-conference/
Why form a Virtual Service Board?
- Virtual Service Boards allow virtual groups to have a voice and a vote in what happens to OA as a whole by attending the World Service Business Conference (WSBC)
- Send motions to WSBC
- Set up website presence
- Member phone list
- Moderator training
- Communication – Keep WSO current about meetings and act as liaison to WSO
- Let people know your meeting exists with bulletin boards / community calendars / newspapers
- Sponsor and arrange workshops, marathons, and other special events
- Deal with common problems
- Help to create and support a newsletter
- Allow the Fellowship as a whole to see that members of virtual meetings have strong recovery and are a part of Overeaters Anonymous.
Reflections from a Delegate: New Pathways for Carrying the Message
In 2015 I was a first time Delegate for the World Service Business Conference and I was assigned to the Young Persons’ Committee. I replied, “Okay. But I’m not young.” In fact, my son is five years past young by OA standards! Perhaps my Higher Power has a sense of humor. But, during committee meetings, much to my surprise, I found a new zeal growing—a passion for finding “New Pathways for Carrying the Message” not only to young people, but to all who live and work in the age of technology.
Technology has become integral to all of our lives, and while researching OA’s digital footprint, I found that we really didn’t have one. It seems that in trying to protect our anonymity we’ve come to believe OA must be a kept a secret. But is that really what we want to do? We must maintain the anonymity of the individual members of Overeaters Anonymous, certainly, but consider the positive impact we can make when our Fellowship becomes easily available via internet searches and social media. Overeaters Anonymous is not anonymous, the people are. In 2015 if you searched Overeaters Anonymous on Facebook, you would find an automatically generated page created due to the interest of Facebook users—they are searching for OA. The main content of this page is derived from Wikipedia, a site that anyone can edit at will; so what it says today could be completely different tomorrow. Even more concerning are the “Related Pages”—links to diet books and calorie clubs.
When searching for Overeaters Anonymous on YouTube the first thing I found was a Public Service Announcement created in 1989. It was laughably outdated. Is this truly what we want to present to the world? In addition, there are many video blogs, one of the ways the younger generation communicates. It became obvious; we need to speak the language of today’s culture. There is a great conversation going on—this conversation is virtual, it is vital, and we must be part of this dialog. We must develop willingness and the pathways to enter into this conversation. Social media is the place of first contact.
Working as a graphic artist I’ve had to continually learn technology and as a coordinator of volunteers I interact with people often. Young people do not answer their phones, so to relate to them we need to find other avenues of communication. Our present challenge is to provide access to recovery tools for a generation of digital natives who have never known a world without immediate connection to resources and information via technology. We must boldly go where no OA has gone before, and social media is the place of first contact. We must speak the language of the next generation, and we must speak it into their world. Yes, there is a great conversation going on today, and for the most part we have been mute. This conversation is virtual, it is vital, and we of Overeaters Anonymous must have a voice—we must be part of this dialog.
Delegates at WSBC 2016 voted to amend OA’s Statement on Public Media, opening the door for the Fellowship’s participation and presence on social media. We of the Young Persons’ Committee invite you to visit Overeaters Anonymous YP and ‘like’ us if you like.
Dawn K., Central Florida Intergroup, a proud delegate of the WSBC and the Young Persons’ Committee
“OA Virtual News” is the quarterly newsletter of the Virtual Service Conference Committee of Overeaters Anonymous. The newsletter presents experiences and opinions of individual OA members and is not to be attributed to Overeaters Anonymous as a whole, nor does publication of any article imply endorsement by Overeaters Anonymous or by the VSCC. Comments, suggestions, and articles sharing your personal experience, strength, and hope of recovery in the OA fellowship are encouraged. Articles submitted will not be returned and are subject to editing for clarity, brevity and anonymity.