Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Overeaters Anonymous: the meeting

So tonight Jim, formerly large fellow, attended an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
I was visiting the local library in a small town near where I am staying on the west coast. The meeting was being held there and I was invited to attend. I accepted. I had envisioned that the meetings were a big group of people , or a group of big people, all there to cry on each other’s shoulders. Maybe that is the case in some places, but this is a small town and there were only a couple of people there, and I made three.
There is a format to the meetings, which open, and close. with the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the power to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” It is the standard prayer used at all so called twelve step programs, from the original Alcoholics Anonymous to Narcotics Anonymous and so on. A list of the tenets of the group is read, and focus is given on one or more of them, almost as a reminder. Small donations are voluntarily offered up for expenses and then, after the formal part of the meeting is taken care of, it is open floor time. This is where the attendees introduce themselves, tell what their problem is, i.e. “I’m a compulsive overeater” and go on to relate things that happened to them over the time since their last meeting. This evening, a lovely, not overly large woman told about how she has been waking in the middle of the night and has been making peanut butter on toasted bread. It is a habit she has been visiting for a while, and I can relate. I used to wake at odd hours in the night and eat a bowl of cereal, and I would also, at times make a peanut butter sandwich. I related this at the meeting and a dialogue of sorts opened up.
While I have heard that some of these type meetings can turn overtly religious, with a “higher power” being recognized in all of us, and before which we are all powerless, I did not feel it was brought up too much or too strongly this night. Granted, there were only three of us there, but what did happen was that a nice, and I feel productive three-way discussion opened up.
The meetings are a way to find that shoulder if one is needed. They are a place to commiserate with others in the same boat, and to find solutions through talking about what is going on. For a species of animal that can express ourselves through speech, we waste our voices on so much crap sometimes that we don’t hear the things we need to hear. We speak but do not listen. Here, people do listen, even small groups of three.
That can’t be a bad thing. It could come off too “churchy” for some people, but it does put everyone in the same frame of reference. Higher power? To me it is my brain, and the nature that created me. To others, it is God, or another deity. No matter. The problem to be solved is still the same—an addiction. And this approach is at least an attempt to work with it, and any step in the right direction is a good step.
Im glad I went. And I even get it that there were no coffee and donuts. That is for the “Cops Anonymous” meeting.

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