About a month or so ago a friend of mine invited me to check out Overeaters Anonymous with her. Since the group is anonymous and my friend has asked me not to share her name, I’m going to refer to her as E. (that’s not one of her initials so don’t start going through my old posts trying to figure out who E. is).
I wasn’t able to go with E. for a while, but then she asked me again recently. This time, she asked me to attend a particular meeting because she would be celebrating her 1 year mark with OA and wanted me to be a part of it. I was honored to go, so even though I’ve had my reservations about going to OA in the past, I wasn’t going to miss this meeting.
This meeting was held in the valley right after rush hour. So if I was going to attend meetings in the future, it probably wouldn’t be this one (it took me over an hour to get there). But I got to the meeting early enough to get to hang out with E. and catch up a bit before we went inside.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve done group therapy before. It was a major component of the RFO diet that I did in the past. So I’m used to sharing with a group and getting feedback from fellow members. But OA was very different from any other group therapy I’ve done before.
In all the past group therapy I’ve done, the entire time was spent letting people talk about their problems/victories/concerns and letting other people respond and give advice or encouragement. In this particular OA meeting, the meeting was an hour-long but over 30 minutes of that was doing going over rules and other administrative items such as reading the 12 steps and traditions of OA as well as a member sharing her story (she has been in OA for decades). Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not what I expected. E. told me that there are several meetings that are over an hour just so there is more time for talking.
After all the administrative talk at the meeting, it was time to celebrate people’s anniversaries with OA. E. got a candle to celebrate her 1 year mark and there were some other women celebrating 3 years. I was so proud of E. for many reasons. She’s stuck with something for a year, and that’s so tough to do. And she was open to sharing this with me, which is also incredibly tough to do. I remember when I wrote about my eating disorder on here for the first time I cried for about 3 hours and almost didn’t publish that post.
Next, people had a chance to talk. But they are only given a certain amount of time (I’m not exactly sure of the time limit, but I think it was about 4 minutes). There is someone at the meeting with a timer and they let people know when their time is up. Again, this is not something I’m used to. In other group therapy, we could easily spend 30 minutes on one topic with multiple people chiming in. But perhaps with the time restrictions on the OA meeting, they’ve discovered that they need to keep people on time so they can do everything that needs to be done.
One of my biggest concerns and reasons I hadn’t checked out OA in the past was the issue of God. I don’t believe in God (and I don’t want to start a debate on here about that). But when I looked over a lot of the information about OA, it talks about letting a higher power guide you and things to that nature. While I do believe in putting things out into the universe, that’s not to have the universe guide me. I guide myself.
This particular meeting was very “God-ish” as E. and I put it. But she told me that most meetings weren’t this way and this particular meeting was one of the most “God-ish” that she’s been to.
Overall, the meeting was some of what I expected and a lot of what I didn’t expect. After the meeting, E. and I talked in my car for a while about it and she listened to my concerns and addressed all of them (including telling me about meetings that are longer than an hour and how this meeting seemed very “God-ish”). I’m not 100% sure that I’m going to check out another OA meeting soon, but I’m so glad I went. I got to see what it was all about and I did meet some really great people there (I wish I could tell you about them but that would defeat the “anonymous” part).
Sorry if this post seems scattered (it feels that way to me when I’m reading it and I’ve edited this several times now). The OA meeting wasn’t super recent. I waited to share this for me to gather my thoughts a bit more about it. If any of you attend OA and are ok with sharing your thoughts, I’d love to hear them. But I also understand if you don’t want to “out” yourself. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I’m so glad that E. “outed” herself to me and I was able to share in one of her victories.